John Lennon and Frank Zappa Jam in New York City in 1971 — Video
by Damian Fanelli
On June 6, 1971, former Beatle John Lennon performed at New York City's Fillmore East with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
It was a strange night, as you'll see (and hear) in the three clips below.
For starters, Yoko Ono also "performed" with Lennon and the Mothers. In reality, all she did was scream her head off, just as she did when Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band performed in Toronto in 1969.
John Lennon and Frank Zappa at the Fillmore East in 1971.
And then there were the odd song choices; they played a little something called "Scumbag," another little something called "Jamrag" and an actual song, Walter Ward's bluesy "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)," which featured Lennon on vocals and Zappa on lead guitar. It was the highlight of the jam, for sure.
"For those of you in the band who have no idea what's about to happen, this is in A minor, and it's not standard blues changes," Zappa says as he introduces "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)." "But it's close."
"This is a song I used to sing when I was at the Cavern in Liverpool," Lennon adds. "I haven't done it since." Zappa's powerful guitar solo starts at 2:05.
Below, you can watch pro-shot—but somewhat poor-quality—videos of both songs, plus a third clip of "King Kong." If you happen to enjoy what you hear, the performance was released as part of Lennon and Ono's poorly received (and not very good at all) 1972 studio/live album, Sometime in New York City.
That said, it's cool to see Lennon—who was back to his 1967-length hair at this point—having fun onstage with his Gibson SG, standing, acting and looking very much like "Beatle John." Enjoy!
"Well (Baby Please Don't Go)"
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado. His New York-based band, the Blue Meanies, has toured the world and elsewhere. Fanelli, a former member of Brooklyn jump-blues/swing/rockabilly band the Gas House Gorillas and New York City instrumental surf-rock band Mister Neutron, also composes and records film soundtracks. He writes GuitarWorld.com's The Next Bend column, which is dedicated to B-bender guitars and guitarists. His latest liner notes can be found in Sony/Legacy's Stevie Ray Vaughan: The Complete Epic Recordings Collection. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.