Lennon’s “One to One” Concerts due soon?

From one of the concerts. Photo: John Skelson.

In January 2010, The Daily Beatle suggested that the material from the One to One concerts should be used, not only to bring us a remastered CD, but that a rethinking of the home video is in order, taking material from both concerts to bring us a more complete DVD/Blu-ray concert experience in surround sound, as well as in stereo. This was answered in September 2013 by the unexpected announcement from Jack Douglas.

On 30 August 1972 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Lennon performed two shows, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, to raise money for children with mental challenges at friend Geraldo Rivera’s request. The benefit concerts, billed as One to One, also featured other performers in addition to Lennon, including Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, Melanie Safka and Sha-Na-Na. These concerts were Lennon’s only rehearsed and full-length live performances in his solo career, and his first – and last – formal, full-fledged live concerts since the Beatles retired from the road in 1966.

When ticket sales moved slower than expected, John reached out to Paul McCartney to see if he would join him; as he had a year before with George Harrison, Paul declined on the basis of not wishing to give any goodwill gifts to Allen Klein. The Lennons ended up buying up $59,000 worth of tickets and giving them away, which ended up filling the seats for the evening and the added second matinee show. The first show was dubbed “the rehearsal” by Lennon, owing to the band’s relative lack of experience performing live to such large audiences.

The setlist was (as pieced together by The Amazing Kornyfone Label from amateur recordings):

– Power To The People intro / New York City
– It’s So Hard
– Move on Fast
– Woman Is The Nigger Of The World
– Sisters, O Sisters
– Well, Well, Well
– Born In A Prison
– Instant Karma
– Mother
– We’re All Water
– Come Together
– Imagine
– Open Your Box
– Cold Turkey
– Hound Dog
– Don’t Worry Kyoko (only performed at the matinee performance)
– Give Peace A Chance

“Give Peace A Chance” was the final song, and Lennon and Ono were joined on stage by the other stars and the organisers of the concerts.

Assistant May Pang on stage behind John, handing out the hard hats.

A 40 minute special from the evening performance was shown on ABC-TV on December 14th, 1972 as a pilot for the future late night music series “In Concert”, with a simulcast on FM radio. The special included “Come Together,” “Instant Karma!,” “Sisters O Sisters,” “Cold Turkey,” “Hound Dog,” “Give Peace a Chance” and (over the credits) “Imagine”. There were also three tracks from support acts: “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and two from Roberta Flack: “Reverend Lee” and “Somewhere”.

From 1973 the King Biscuit Flower Hour live radio show produced a six song edit of highlights from the evening performance, which was played on radio stations via a transcription LP (with Yoko’s song usually not being aired subsequent to its initial airing in 1972).

Yoko’s performance of “Move On Fast” was seen on British TV in BBC2’s late night Rock programme “The Old Grey Whistle Test” on 30th January 1973, in order to promote her album “Approximately Infinite Universe”.

In 1986, Yoko Ono decided to release a concert video, as well as a CD from the “One To One” performances.

1986 release, never remastered.

The concert video, released on VHS, Betamax, Laser Disc and the little known format VHD Video Disc was a 55 minute edit of the afternoon performance, containing the following:

Power To The People (merely a part of the record played over the PA during the introduction, the video used the afternoon show intro), New York City (from the afternoon show), It’s So Hard (afternoon), Woman Is The Nigger Of The World (afternoon), Sisters, O Sisters (evening), Well, Well, Well (afternoon), Born In A Prison (afternoon), Instant Karma! (afternoon), Mother (afternoon), Come Together (afternoon), Imagine (afternoon), Cold Turkey (evening), Hound Dog (evening) and Give Peace A Chance (evening). John’s introductions were also a mixture from the afternoon and evening concerts, many of which did not match the choice for the actual performance. As you’ll gather from the above, Yoko also performed four other songs that were not included on the video, these were Move On Fast (afternoon & evening), We’re All Water (afternoon & evening), Open Your Box (afternoon & evening) and Don’t Worry Kyoko (afternoon show only).

The soundtrack was radically remixed and issued as an accompanying album (omitting Yoko Ono’s tracks all together) to the home-video, both were first released in the USA by Sony on 24th January 1986, and international releases followed in February.

Upon its release, Yoko Ono was criticized by former members of Elephant’s Memory for using the first – and weaker – performance instead of the stronger evening show. They also took issue with the video release of the concert, which it was alleged had been edited to show Ono as prominently as Lennon.

However, in fact, on the album release, Ono’s vocal performances on such numbers as “Hound Dog” had been mixed out completely.

“John Lennon: Live in New York City” reached #55 in the UK, and surprised many with its US appeal where it peaked at #41 and eventually went gold.

A 1992 Laser Disc from the TV Special

In 1992, the original 40 minute ABC TV Special surprisingly made it’s reappearance, as an international VHS and Laser Disc release. It has also recently been aired in high definition quality on TV in several countries.

1992 Laser disc back

Three songs from the evening performance later saw release on The John Lennon Anthology boxed set in 1998: “Woman Is the Nigger of the World,” “It’s So Hard,” and “Come Together,” as well as Rivera’s spoken introduction.

“The most recent issuance of One To One material was the inclusion of three tracks and Geraldo Rivera’s introduction from the evening on Anthology. Although the performances are considered to be superior to those of the matinee, they were considered unusable at the time of Live In New York City’s release due to unacceptable noise levels. Advances in digital restoration software allowed their inclusion on Anthology.” [Madinger & Easter, p. 80]

The performance of “Mother” was released as a bonus track on the Classic Albums: Plastic Ono Band DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment on 28th April 2008.

Douglas has said that for the new release, unlike the 1986 LP and video cassette versions, he plans to include material from both the afternoon and evening charity concerts. Douglas said that he wants fans to be able to relive the moment with the benefit of modern technology: “What I’m proposing is that we get the One To One concert, get it to be at its proper status and sound and do a stereo and 5.1 (mix) that are worthy of the experience and make a proper DVD and get it to the fans. I would hope that we would do everything that I could get my hands on as far as footage and sound. That event really deserves more than, than we have right now.”

In a May interview with hit-channel.com, Gary Van Scyoc from Elephant’s Memory was asked about the upcoming release. He replied that we are getting really close to a release, as he recently met Jack Douglas who confirmed that it will be released soon.

9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am pretty positive this release will coincide with what would have been John's 75th birthday next year.

  2. Foxx says:

    Great. I hope for a good remaster with excellent sound. And please, please edit out the insecure introductions by John, with lame jokes like 'since I left the Rolling Stones'.

  3. Unknown says:

    Did they forget about this? It's been 2-1/2 years…

  4. Unknown says:

    was this ever released?

  5. Unknown says:

    When is this going to be released?

  6. Mackey says:

    *Sound of crickets*
    It’s 2023. Something, Anything?

  7. Mackey says:

    *Sound of crickets*

  8. Sonny says:

    I s this anything happen to do with live Toronto 69 give peace a chance?

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