Watch rare footage of John Lennon performing ‘Imagine’ on television, 1972
We’re stepping back in to the Far Out Magazine Vault to revisit the iconic moment when John Lennon performed his classic song ‘Imagine’ live on television in 1972.
The performance, coming as part of ‘The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon’, was broadcast from the Americana Hotel on 7th Avenue in New York City. With Yoko Ono on the keyboard, the duo was backed up by Elephant’s Memory band and rolled through a rendition of ‘Imagine’ as well as Yoko’s political song ‘Now or Never’ and ‘Give Peace a Chance’.
Introducing the pair to the stage, Lewis described Ono and Lennon as “two of the most unusual people in all the world, and I don’t mean just in the world of entertainment.” With the somewhat unusual intro continuing, he adds: “They fit no patterns, meet no standards except the standard of excellence. Ladies and Gentlemen, John Lennon and Yoko.”
The performance, which came just a few days after Lennon and Ono headlined the ‘One to One’ concert at Madison Square Garden, was a major hit and helped dispel some negative press Lennon was receiving amid claims the US were attempting to deport him after being found in possession of marijuana.
As Lewis led the crowd into chants of “John, Yoko, John, Yoko!” in a bid to get them back on stage for an encore, the duo has quickly left the building via the back door. “I would suspect that John Lennon is probably one of the wisest showmen I’ve ever met,” Lewis said upon realisation that the encore wasn’t not going to happen.
“He knows what he’s doing. He did two things tonight. He, one, came here to help, the primary purpose of his visit. And, two, he meant to say something. I think he did both those things. He has split. Let’s thank him very much.”
Below, see Lennon’s performance after the rare footage has been restored into colour.