Following the break-up of the Beatles, John Lennon left for New York with Yoko Ono to escape. Escape from years of Beatlemania, the death of Brian Epstein and a rapidly deteriorating home life. In a sense, Lennon was growing up. In the midst of a creative transformation. Lennon definitely grew up as his New York years gave the world some of his most acclaimed songs and albums of his career.
A fixture in Manhatten’s Upper West Side, both Lennon and Ono experienced a love affair with the city of New York that was equally as important for both parties. You can look at Lennon’s music and see how important the city was to his artistic emergence. For New York, it was a time of record high crime and a potential crippling economic collapse. Both Lennon and Ono made it a point to be seen at restaurants, sporting events and political demonstrations. They embraced each other in a time of need for both.
Tonight’s broadcast of LENNONYC as part of the American Masters series on PBS is one incredible film. Focused solely on these New York years of 1971-1980, the 2-hour program features never-before-seen studio recordings from his Double Fantasy sessions along with concert outtakes and home movies.
For those that know the story, it wasn’t all a bed of roses for Lennon, Yoko and their son, Sean. Constant efforts by then President Richard Nixon and the FBI to harass, intimidate and, ultimately, deport the pair, haunted them along with some, according to Lennon, undeserving negative media reviews of the “Sometime in New York City” album.
Filmmaker Michael Epstein, commented on why Lennon’s murder, 30 years ago next month, is, thankfully, excluded from the film. “Chapman killed John for two reasons, one was he thought John had sort of become a phoney… the other was that he wanted to be famous. I didn’t want to give Chapman more fame – another platform, another pat on the back for killing John”, said Epstein.
LENNONYC, tonight at 9p ET as part of American Masters series on PBS. John Lennon fan or not, this is something you don’t want to miss.