Today marks what would've been John Lennon's 73rd birthday if he wasn't tragically
murdered in 1980. It's easy to ponder "what could've been" if Lennon survived his
assassination or it never happened. Considering the success of his Double Fantasy
album, which was released three weeks before his death, signs pointed towards John hitting
the road for the first time since The Beatles stopped touring in 1966. Now, a terrible
story has come out of Hollywood, where a miscreant defaced Lennon's star on the Walk of Fame with of all things Grateful Dead
lyrics, but in honor of the peace-loving Lennon's birthday we wanted to share a story
showing the appreciation John had for Jerry Garcia and vice versa.
In 2005 Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann's son Justin wrote a post on
Blogcritics.org about an encounter Lennon had with Garcia. Jerry had covered John's
"Imagine" just after the Lennon's second solo album was released and also recorded a
version of the tune with Merl Saunders for Saunders' Heavy Turbulence LP in 1972.
As Kreutzmann recounts, Lennon was appreciative that Garcia was the first artist to cover
one of his solo songs and came by a Jerry Garcia Band show in New York City to thank him.
Justin explains that Jerry and John hit it off and even discussed a potential sit-in,
"After the show they talked for a while and Jerry invited John to come back the next night
to join him on stage. John said he would return the following day and do a sound check
with the Garcia Band so they could work up a few tunes." Unfortunately Lennon never turned
up the next day - another one of rock's "what could've beens." Both Garcia's JGB and the
Grateful Dead covered plenty of Beatles songs before Jerry passed in 1995. Here's hoping
Jerry and John have met and jammed in the afterlife.
[Published on: 10/9/13]