Rock And Roll People

Menlove Ave album artwork - John LennonWritten by: Lennon
Recorded: 4 August 1973
Producer: John Lennon

Released: 3 November 1986 (UK), 27 October 1986 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, guitar
David Spinozza: guitar
Klaus Voormann, Gordon Edwards: bass guitar
Ken Ascher: keyboards
Jim Keltner: drums

Available on:
Menlove Ave

Rock And Roll People was written by John Lennon in 1970, but remained unreleased until 1986, when it appeared on the posthumous collection Menlove Ave.

Lennon recorded a home demo of the song towards the end of 1970, when he was writing songs for the follow-up to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Performed on a piano at Tittenhurst Park, the demo showed how the song was originally intended to be a celebration of the 1950s music Lennon always loved.

The song was evidently considered unsuitable for Imagine, Lennon’s next solo album. It remained ignored until mid-1973, when Lennon recorded a number of new demos, of songs which mostly found their way onto Mind Games and Walls And Bridges.

This time Rock And Roll People was performed on a guitar, played with a slight Bo Diddley rhythm, and featured some improvised percussive noises seemingly performed by Lennon slapping his knees.

It was finally brought to the studio during the Mind Games sessions. The band of session musicians attempted it a number of times on 1 and 4 August, but the workmanlike performance and uninspired lyrics made this far from a vintage Lennon recording.

Shelly Yakus, who engineered Mind Games, suggested that Johnny Winter record Rock And Roll People for his 1974 album John Dawson Winter. Lennon granted permission for its release, although he did not contribute. This was the first commercial appearance of the song.

Menlove Ave was released in 1986, six years after Lennon’s death, and contained a number of studio outtakes from 1973 and 1974. The version of Rock And Roll People was a composite edit of takes six and seven, recorded on 4 August 1973.

On the sleeve of Menlove Ave the song was titled Rock And Roll People, but a facsimile of Lennon’s handwritten lyrics included with the original vinyl album had it as Rock ‘N’ Roll People.

A promotional single of Rock And Roll People was issued in support of Menlove Ave, but failed to generate much interest for the album.

3 responses on “Rock And Roll People

  1. Juan

    Are you sure that Johnny Winter didn’t play lead guitar on this? I always heard that he played on this Lennon cut and that’s how he later came to record and release it himself.

  2. Jack Dawson

    Lennon recorded “Rock & Roll People” in 1973 during “Mind Games” sessions, but the song was cut from the album and he gave it to Winter, who recorded it for his LP “John Dawson Winter III.” He also released a live version of the song on the LP “Johnny Winter Captured Live,” but he is not on Lennon’s recording, which was finally released posthumously the “Menlove Ave.” LP in 1986.

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