Friday, November 30, 2012

When Snoopy Died

On November 23rd, 1975, Derek Taylor, now managing director of Warner Brothers Records in the UK, sent a semi-serious letter to John Lennon at the Dakota, asking him to sign with the "very reasonable and extremely rich" label.

By this time, John was truly relishing his role as a stay-at-home father to Sean, and had no intention of signing with anyone when his EMI contract expired in January. On December 11th, friend and photographer Bob Gruen was invited to the Dakota to shoot the first professional pictures of Sean with his parents.

Around this time, John received a request from WNEW disc jockey Vin Scelsa, who was assembling a radio tribute to New York City, which was suffering from major financial problems. Scelsa mailed a questionnaire, along with a tape and recorder for John to return with his responses, to the Dakota. John duly replied, sounding disinterested and drowsy.

In contrast, John was downright goofy when he used the same questionnaire as a springboard to record the first-ever "interview" with his two-month-old baby. Unsurprisingly, Sean has little to say about New York, cab drivers, or a balloon mishap during the recent Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (actually Underdog, not Snoopy), only becoming agitated when his godfather Elton John is mentioned.

Bob Gruen was also present just before Christmas when two surprise guests showed up at the Dakota: 

"There was a big flash of paranoia when the doorbell rang. It was like, ‘Oh my God, who can that be?’ In the Dakota, every visitor gets announced from the desk downstairs, so when the bell on your apartment door rings suddenly, it's a real fright. It wasn't just a little paranoia - they were very scared, very nervous.

They said to me, ‘Go see who it is, don't open the door until you know what's going on,’ and I went to the hallway and I heard what sounded like kids singing Christmas carols. So I called back to John and Yoko, ‘Don't worry, it's some kids from the building singing carols,’ and when I looked through, it was Paul and Linda. They were singing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’, very cute, kind of adorable, just standing there singing.

I said, ‘I don't think you're looking for me; come on, I'll take you into the bedroom where John and Yoko are,’ and they kept singing all the way in. You know, you read about all the animosity between them, about how the Beatles' wives don’t get along, but they all seemed like giddy old school chums. Hugging, patting each other on the back, the guys were like high-school buddies who hadn't seen each other in a long time and really liked each other. The girls were very chatty and pleasant. If you didn't read the magazines, you wouldn't know Yoko and Linda were supposed to hate each other, they were getting along just fine. They all went into the next room to look at Sean, who was just two months old. 
Paul told them about the pot bust in LA and how they'd been denied a Japanese visa, and how much he and Linda wanted to go to Japan. John and Yoko really loved Japan and went there a lot, so they talked about that. It was all pretty general, nothing about any business between them, and then when they got up to leave there was lots of hugging and kissing, general holiday good cheers. It was so fascinating seeing the two of them together like that with their wives, and everything totally pleasant.

After they were gone, John and Yoko were saying, ‘Wow! Do you believe that?’ And they seemed to be so happy about the visit. Whatever fights were going on between their lawyers, they knew each other too long and too well not to be glad about seeing each other.


  1. Fantastic post, just when I thought 1975 was done!! I've heard this before but didn't realize it was from late '75, thanks. Great story too from Bob Gruen.

    Had no idea about Derek Taylor working at Warners and asking Lennon to sign! Man oh man, if YOU'RE not the Walrus, no one is! We need to have a Beatles trivia contest! John Winn vs. Mark Lewhisohn!!!! I'd pay good money to see that, like Ali vs. Frazier!! (have a great weekend!)-mg

  2. Oh my gosh, I actually hadn't heard the Sean "interview", soda came through my nose when John said "Are you enjoying having your diaper changed? I do believe people pay to have that done". Oh man.

    Here's a picture of Underdog (Snoopy to John!) "dying" at the 1975 Thanksgiving parade....

  3. Oh my god, John....I'm sure you've seen this already:

    WHAT GOES ON '63!!! And "Granny Smith" acetate!

    If Macca doesn't put an injunction on the sale.....let's chip in and get it, man! I've got about 50 bucks in the bank! Dang!!! You think we'll ever hear it???!

    We'll have the complete contents of March 5, 1963! The From Me To You session! Or as I like to call it: The Day John Snapped At Each Of The Other Beatles At Some Point Or Another!

    What Goes On....with Johnny Rhythm singing lead! (presumably!) Possibly with a different middle eight, or lyrics (pre-Ringo's "about 5 words" contribution!)

    Wow. Damn. We'll never hear it. I know it. :( We'll never hear that, and we'll never hear the Cavern Club gig, with Pete Best, where they do "If You Got To Make A Fool Out Of Somebody".

    I'm going to start chanting Hare Krishna, maybe that'll help!


    1. Yes, I saw that, and I think people are jumping to conclusions about the contents of the WGO acetate. All the description says is "guitars and vocals demo". Could be from '63, could be from '65, might have John and Paul singing, might have Ringo. Might just be the basic tracks of the released version, might be a fake. Hopefully we will get to hear it someday, though!

    2. Aha!!!!! Thank you, O Wise One!!!!! I didn't read carefully enough!-mg

  4. Hi, I didn't see a contact address for you so I'm writing a comment.

    I just wanted to let you know that I've reviewed your site, "Beatle Chat" on this month's edition of the Beatles Blog Carnival.

    I would appreciate it if you could link back to my site.

    Thanks, I enjoyed your site.

    Jim Liston

  5. Hey Beatlepeople, maybe this'll cheer someone up....yesterday a crowd in Times Square starts spontaneously singing "All You Need Is Love" in response to an anti-Muslim tirade some guy is "preaching":


  6. Yeah, when Snoopy died, ain't that the truth.....

    ...RIP, little Beatle fan.... :(


    "Seventy miles from where Benjamin Wheeler was killed, mourners gathered to remember the irrepressibly spirited boy who loved The Beatles, sprinting across a soccer field and riding the No. 7 train to Sunnyside."

  7. Happy New Year, John Winn! You - and you alone- made 2012 bearable!! Everything else stunk! This blog is what I've been getting out of bed for since I discovered it a year ago! Thank you, thank you, thank you for your generosity, both with the material itself but also with the great "liner notes"....this blog is like the best Beatle book ever!! Always love your writing, I keep "Way Beyond Compare" and "This Magic Feeling" on my desk right next to my computer, your words are never far from me! And then you add to that this blog, this resource.....all I can say is I hope the new year brings you good fortune and happiness because you deserve it! You've filled in many, many pieces of the jigsaw, stuff I never thought I'd hear or see (let's not forget the great pictures, even just the titles of each blog post are great!) I know I've said this many times before, including Thanksgiving, but you cannot be thanked enough!

    The most "happy" I got in the old year was this blog, and I have no doubt that most of the "happy" of the new year will be listening, studying, scrutinizing and digesting the embarrassment of riches you have bequeathed to us! -mg

    1. Wow, thanks for the nice sentiment. I hope 2013 is better for you and everyone else who follows this blog. I'm not sure when I will get back into it, or what the content will be. Now that John Lennon is out of the picture, I don't exactly relish the thought of trawling through Wings tour interviews, but we shall see. Happy 2013 to all!

    2. Of course, totally understand! It’s ok, you’ve done enough! You can sit back and look at your labors and pronounce them good! Or just post random stuff, as you began, the odd random Ringo Starr 1979 interview! (if there is such a thing!). Beatlegs, whatever you're feeling at the moment!

      Anyways, we already know what happens! George and Ringo team up for an album they title "Sgt. Pepper II" which outsells every other Beatle solo release. It's so big that the two ex-second-class Beatles are soon knighted! Paul’s next single flops and never has a hit again, and John becomes the first Beatle to be launched into space! Brian Epstein surfaces in Argentina, having faked his own death in 1967, Pete Best records an album under the name The Beatless, and George Martin gives an epithet-ridden interview to Playboy in which he claims he always hated the Beatles music and never understood what was all about. Right?

      Hey, one request, I can't even believe I deign to ask after everything you've shared but... before you close down the blog! – is if you somehow come across that Brian Epstein-Murray The K interview from ’67! Oh man, that would be the capper! Tragic Brian, I know, but also Murray The K, for all his faults, was always good at conducting an intelligent interview, an extended interview with those 1967, no less..... Other than “Carnival Of Light”, the 20 minute of Helter Skelter, the 1960 tape of “Ask Me Why” "Winston's Walk" and “When I’m 64”, and the Cavern Club tape with Pete Best on it, it’s that interview that I've been most dying to hear ever since I heard about it, I search You Tube for it all the time, just in case!

      Lastly, it's a long story but check this hilarious video of Joe Franklin being interviewed in the 80s by this girl I used to know. So weird, I mean this is hilarious on so many levels....but I wanted to ask you, Joe mentions that John Lennon had been on the show 3 times! And tells a very plausible story about you believe his story (in a way, I don't! He gets a little shifty eyed as he tells it!)...have you ever heard about John Lennon appearances on the Joe Franklin Show? It would make total sense, Franklin would have been totally Lennon's taste!

      Sorry for so long of a comment. Happy New Year John!-mg

    3. Wikipedia agrees that John and Yoko were on Joe Franklin's show, and it does seem like the kind of show John would have watched on a regular basis, but I've never read about what dates they appeared, or any audio copies surviving (Joe says he didn't save the videotapes).

      As to your request, I'm glad to fill it for you!