John Lennon and Yoko Ono had a volatile relationship in the early 1970s. In late 1973, the famous Beatles star separated from his wife of four years and left his home in New York City to move to Los Angels. Lennon turned nocturnal and began drinking, heavily, every night in the city’s rock clubs. He even had an affair with 22-year-old May Pang, Ono’s former assistant. The rocker also took a sabbatical from Las Vegas, where he was banned from venues.
Tony King was a fixer and friend to many rock stars during the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to becoming close confidantes to the likes of Freddie Mercury, The Rolling Stones, and Elton John, he also spent a lot of time with Lennon and Ono. In his new book, The Tastemaker: My Life with the Legends and Geniuses of Rock Music, King recalled the Lennon era when he drank heavily and how he constantly got into trouble.
King “looked after” Lennon during his estrangement from Ono, a period of his life that he would later call his Lost Weekend. This name referred to Charles R Jackson’s 1944 novel of the same name and the subsequent 1945 film.
King recalled attending a Las Vegas show with Lennon during this time, but the Imagine singer got too drunk and out of control.
Before long, King grabbed Lennon and pulled him out of the situation before it escalated in any way. King later wrote that he, too, wrestled “a drunken, violent John Lennon on the ground” during a different incident.
This isn’t the only time Lennon got super drunk and messy during his Lost Weekend in Los Angeles. He himself later recalled being kicked out of the Troubadour rock club in West Hollywood in March 1974. He was molesting the Smothers Brothers at the time.
Speaking in a television interview, he said: “I got drunk and yelled. It was my first night at Brandy Alexanders, that’s brandy and milk folks. I was with [American singer-songwriter] Harry Nilsson, who did not receive as much [press] cover like me, the bum. He encouraged me. Usually I have someone there who says, ‘Okay, Lennon. Shut.'”
Ono also opened up about how he cheated on Lennon with his new girlfriend, Pang, after they briefly broke up.
Ono looked back on 2012: “The adventure wasn’t something that hurt me. I needed a break. I needed space.”
She added that fans of The Beatles insisted that she was the one who broke up the band. “Can you imagine every day getting this vibe from haters?” she said. “You want to get out of it.” She continued, “I started noticing that he became a bit restless on top of that, so I thought I’d better give him a rest and myself. May Pang was a very smart, attractive, and extremely efficient woman. I thought they would be fine.” .
Lennon and Ono got back together a little over a year later, in 1974. Lennon quickly moved back to New York City. Six years later, on December 8, 1980, he was assassinated in front of his apartment building.
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