Saturday, October 9 marks what would have been [lastfm]John Lennon[/lastfm]’s 70th birthday, and in honor of the occasion, EMI today releases remastered versions of the entire John Lennon solo album catalog. (A highlight of these reissues is a “stripped down” version of Double Fantasy–iTunes is currently offering “(Just Like) Starting Over” as a free download–get it while you can!)
We’re paying our own tribute to Lennon by taking a look back 35 years to an historic and exclusive interview with John Lennon from 1975 (conducted by WNEW‘s Scott Muni), for the premiere of one of these solo albums, Rock ‘n’ Roll. Listen as John Lennon talks about his musical roots, working with [lastfm]Phil Spector[/lastfm], and the first time he ever met [lastfm]Paul McCartney[/lastfm].
Rock ‘n’ Roll was a collection of 1950s and 60’s rock standards that [lastfm]John Lennon[/lastfm] handpicked himself, outlining his major influences and crediting artists like [lastfm]Chuck Berry[/lastfm], [lastfm]Ben E. King[/lastfm], and [lastfm]Buddy Holly[/lastfm] as part of his musical roots. Taking over a year to record and produce, Rock ‘n’ Roll was a musical feat doubted by many: Not only did those involved have misgivings, but many more wondered whether Lennon could create such a compilation without it coming off ‘cheeky’ or ‘campy.’
Surrounded by “jinx,” as Lennon would say, the initial sessions with Phil Spector encountered many setbacks, fueled by alcoholism, broken equipment, disagreements, and Spector’s general insanity.
Even outside of the studio Lennon struggled, as this was during the time he and [lastfm]Yoko Ono[/lastfm] had separated.
[lastfm]Gene Vincent[/lastfm]’s “Be-Bop-a-Lula” was the premiere single released from Rock ‘n’ Roll, and it holds a special, historic place in [lastfm]Beatles[/lastfm] lore. Without that tune, Lennon and McCartney may never have met.
Lennon also highlights the second single “Ain’t That a Shame” by [lastfm]Fats Domino[/lastfm] as one of his all-time favorites, as well for personal reasons.
Muni and Lennon also reminisce about the social and racial implications of some of Lennon’s musical selections.
The original title for Rock ‘n’ Roll was in fact Oldies but Mouldies,but the photography of John Uomoto inspired Lennon to rename the record (the original artwork wound up repurposed for Lennon’s Walls and Bridges).
The most recent reissue of Rock ‘n’ Roll hits shelves this week in conjunction with Lennon’s 70th birthday. The occasion has also has spawned a tribute show, set to take place at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on November 12. Performers will include [lastfm]Jackson Brown[/lastfm]e, [lastfm]Patti Smith[/lastfm], [lastfm]Cyndi Lauper[/lastfm], [lastfm]Aimee Mann[/lastfm] and [lastfm]Shelby Lynne[/lastfm]. All proceeds will go to the Playing for Change Foundation, which promotes peace with music.
And just for fun: here is [lastfm]John Lennon[/lastfm] reading his own sponsorships.
The tracklist for Rock ‘n’ Roll: