Today we are taking a trip into the Far Out archives to revisit this gloriously in-depth interview with John Lennon from ‘The Tomorrow Show’ which was recorded on April 8th 1975, and would tragically turn out to be the final major broadcast interview that the former Beatle would give before his premature death.
The one-hour long special is hosted by Tom Snyder, typical of the era, is a somewhat corny interviewer but he does successfully manage to navigate a truly fascinating conversation with Lennon, one that offers a tremendous level of insight into the Imagine singer’s life at that moment in time.
At the time of the interview, Lennon was facing potential deportation proceedings from America over his 1968 controversial conviction for cannabis possession in London and, after the first part of the interview during which Snyder steered a regular conversation, Lennon’s legal representative — immigration attorney Leon Wildes then joined the panel to discuss the case.
Following Lennon’s tragic murder on December 8th 1980, the interview was replayed in its entirety the following night and was then even released on home video where it became a cult favourite. With Snyder introducing the clip by saying on his part, the interview was “not terrific, not terribly entertaining or enlightening, containing no historical information or anything new, but having little bits of stuff and substance of a man who was part of the change, a revolution if you will, in popular music during the 1960s”.
Some poignant moments from the conversation include Lennon discussing why it took so long for The Beatles to be accepted in the States and why rock ‘n’ roll was frowned upon in the early 1960s, he states: “People have always been trying to stamp out rock ‘n’ roll since it started, I always thought that it’s because it came from black music and the words had a lot of double entendre in the early days. It was all this ‘our nice white kids are gonna go crazy moving their bodies’, y’now the music got to your body and The Beatles just carried it a bit further, made it a bit more white, even more than Elvis did because we were English.”
Another moment of reflection, Lennon opened up about his calmer lifestyle following the demise of The Beatles, divulging: “Having gone through the whole Beatlemania thing, now it’s nothing like that. I can walk down the street and someone will go ‘Hi John’ and they usually say ‘how’s your immigration?’ if it’s in New York and they don’t hassle me. I might sign one or two autographs and I don’t get hassled. I went through a period where I couldn’t go anywhere, now I can go eat, go to the movies and we go wherever we want.”
He also discussed how The Beatles were a cash cow but not for The Fab Four: “A lot of it got siphoned off before we got anywhere near it, we didn’t know anything about business. There’s a lot of millionaires around the world from it but that’s part of the action too.”
Lennon also talked fondly about Ringo and how happy he was that the former Beatles drummer had made a success of his solo career, revealing: “I’m most happy for Ringo’s success because it always went round that Ringo was dumb but he ain’t dumb. He just didn’t have that much of a writing ability and he wasn’t known for writing his own material. There was a bit of a worry, although he can make movies and he does make movies and he’s good at it, but how was his recording career gonna be? And in general, it’s probably better than mine actually,” he added with a self-deprecating laugh.
Watch the candid interview in full, below, which captures John Lennon at a point in time just before he was leaving fame behind and was on sincere form which makes for remarkable viewing.