John Lennon’s Birthday

October 9, 1971 at the Hotel Syracuse, Syracuse, New York, John Lennon and company at an impromptu celebration, his 31st birthday party, following the opening of Yoko Ono’s “This is Not Here” exhibition at the Everson Museum, Syracuse

Another treasure from the  Ginsberg Stanford archives – John Lennon‘s 31st birthday. Check out this priceless footage from Jonas Mekas (from his movie, “Three Friends”)

The Ginsberg recording of this occasion (from October, 1971) can be found – here

A longer (a full twenty-minutes longer) recording, including Allen singing along with Lennon’s “Attica State”(not included in the Ginsberg recording) is available here  (note Allen’s solo (available on both versions) on Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene”

See more about the occasion – here 

Ringo Starr was in Syracuse for the exhibition (but not George Harrison or Paul McCartney)

Among the assembled company, Allen, Phil Spector (sic), Eric Clapton, Jim Keltner, Nicky Hopkins and Klaus Voorman 

Lennon received a guitar-shaped birthday cake that read “A Gift to John from Yoko and the Whole World.”

The group sat on the floor and performed impromptu for approximately forty-five minutes, with Ringo  kicking an overturned trash can for percussion.

Not the greatest of fidelity, but so what?    As the audio reveals – “a fine time was had by all”.

The tape (that is, Allen’s version) begins with a spirited version of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say?”, followed by the Beatles” “Yellow Submarine” (also attempted Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” and “Uncle Albert” – Lennon songs include  “Power To The People”, “Crippled Inside”, “Oh Yoko!”, and, of course, “Imagine” and “Give Peace A Chance”)Rock ‘n roll classics – Buddy Holly’s “Maybe Baby” and “Peggy Sue”,  Sam Cooke’s “Bring It Home To Me” and Ritchie Valens’  “La Bamba” – Among the standards “On Top of Old Smokey”, “He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands” – What have we left out? a riotous improvised version of Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone”, a little Elvis, “Happy Birthday To You”… 

Allen can also be heard regaling the company (at the beginning and the end of the extended version ) with a rendition of William Blake’s “Nurses’ Song”

Happy Birthday, John!

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