JOHN LENNON, YOKO ONO, FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS Live At The Fillmore East, June 5, 1971

Live At The Fillmore East
June 5, 1971
Lennon’s Mix & Zappa’s Mix, Side By Side

FROM 2009: It stands as John Lennon’s most daring live performance. The night he and Yoko Ono stepped onstage with Frank Zappa’s Mothers during the final days of the Fillmore East. Lennon released the tapes on Sometime in New York City in 1972. Zappa re-edited the material 20 years later for his own Playground Psychotics. Both mixes differ and have their own strengths. Still, either version of Lennon & The Mothers’ hair-raising opening, the Cavern Club-era cover of “Well (Baby Please Don’t Go),” must be considered one of John Lennon’s finest live recordings (acting as a reminder of how good Lennon was with a great band behind him). Yoko detractors routinely dismiss this entire show because of her equal presence. Instead… it might be her shining hour, and maybe Lennon and Ono’s live high-water mark, filled with sounds most people had never heard before… including improvisational adventures via Lennon’s noise-making and Yoko’s two-ton balls. It would be decades before Sonic Youth and Yamatsuka Eye would make this show’s raw guitar feedback and genre-shattering vocals appear cool, though… this history witnessing crowd seemed to get it OK. Say what you will about the credibility of their experimentations together, John & Yoko’s antics introduced millions of teens to their very first taste of mind-altering anti-music with “Revolution #9,” and then got weirder after that. Lennon’s artistic revenge (HERE) for Zappa’s We’re Only In It For The Money (HERE).

LENNON’S MIX (Sometime In New York City 1972)
Well (Baby Please Don’t Go) (4:40)
Jamrag (5:36)
Scumbag (4:28)
Au (8:02)

ZAPPA’S MIX (Playground Psychotics 1992)
Well (4:43)
Say Please (0:57)
Aaawk (2:59)
Scumbag (5:54)
A Small Eternity With Yoko Ono (6:07)


  • W
    December 13, 2009 - 20:45 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • Colin H
    April 17, 2012 - 20:26 | Permalink

    a corner of (ex)Beatledom I have never explored somehow. Well, OK, I know why, too, but your writeup has convinced me a) to give it a try, and b) to do so in the absence of my 2 year old, in case she likes it and I don’t

  • Willard
    April 17, 2012 - 20:40 | Permalink

    A lot of it is noise, but “Well” has always been one of my fave Lennon tracks.

  • Colin H
    April 17, 2012 - 21:17 | Permalink

    I liked quite a bit of Yoko’s Double Fantasy-era stuff… in time, and I managed a nice single disc or so comp from the Ono box when you posted that… but a 2 year old into Yoko at her shreikiest I don’t need.

    • Willard
      April 17, 2012 - 22:25 | Permalink

      Well… some say that, musically, they have a lot in common.

  • KD
    June 14, 2014 - 16:57 | Permalink

    I was there! Zappa started the show that night by saying “Something tells me you’re going to remember this show.”

    I wasn’t so sure, because I way preferred the original Mothers. But this group did a fine show. John and Yoko came out for the second encore, and a moment later I was standing on my seat howling with joy, like everyone else.

    It was beyond exciting. Fantastic music.

    After the show a bunch of people including myself and my cousin stood outside one of the 6th St exits. Who didn’t want to see Beatle John up close? Finally they opened the door a crack and everybody crowded in. And John and Yoko escaped out the other door and into their limo.

    I live in the same part of LA where Howard Kaylan lived. Maybe he lives here still, but 30 years ago I used to see him around. (He was half of Flo and Eddie, who were singing with Zappa that night.) I used to sneak up behind him and quietly say “I saw you on stage with John Lennon.” He always got a grin out of that.

    • Willard
      June 14, 2014 - 20:46 | Permalink

      You’re one of the chosen.

  • shashibiya
    June 16, 2014 - 00:51 | Permalink

    I was also there. KD’s description nails it. It was indeed, “beyond exciting.” The unprecedented and jaw-dropping lewdness of the lyrics that evening, coupled of course, with Zappa’s blistering chops and balls-to-wall showmanship, would have on their own been enough to send the crowd staggering into the street, but this was witnessing rock and roll history, and everyone knew it.

    • mnw
      June 20, 2014 - 13:43 | Permalink

      I wasn’t there, but I did see the sequel: Sean Lennon and Cibo Matto in a full-on epic raging noise jam with the Butthole Surfers at Liberty Lunch here in Austin. Here’s my review: (there’s bootleg audio of it out there somewhere, too, but I don’t think it would be the same…)

      I was so transfixed that I barely noticed the thundering hooves as 90% of the crowd headed for the exit doors as fast as they could manage!

      – mnw

      PS: Former Manson family man White Rabitt (sic) useta tell me about how him and Zappa would supposedly do drive-by shoutings at Micky Dolenz’ house. My old buddy Ed Hamell has the best running-into-Lennon story ever, btw:

  • bslakie
    June 17, 2014 - 23:22 | Permalink

    KD & shashibiva…I cannot comment on these recordings….I was NOT there. Thanks for being there! Please….tell us more

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