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John Lennon’s all-star 31st birthday party in Syracuse, New York

Following the opening of Yoko Ono’s art exhibition This Is Not Here at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, a party was held at a nearby hotel room in celebration of John Lennon’s 31st birthday.

Before the guests arrived, however, Lennon began composing Attica State, which would later appear on the Some Time In New York City album. “It was conceived on my birthday,” he later explained. “We ad libbed it, then we finished it off.”

Ono had ordered a cake for her husband, which was decorated with the words: “To John from Yoko and the whole world”. Much of the party was recorded for posterity on audio tape, as were much of the couple’s activities at this time.

The guests included Ringo Starr, Maureen Starkey, Phil Spector, Klaus Voormann, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, Eric Clapton, Allen Ginsberg and Jim Keltner.

The all-star cast sang drunken versions of songs including What’d I Say, ‘Yellow Submarine’, On Top Of Old Smokey, Goodnight Irene, Take This Hammer, He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands, Like A Rolling Stone, a medley of ‘Twist And Shout’/Louie Louie/La Bamba, Bring It On Home To Me, ‘Yesterday’, Tandoori Chicken, ‘Power To The People’, Maybe Baby, ‘Peggy Sue’, Bring Out The Joints (a Lennon-Spector composition), My Baby Left Me, Heartbreak Hotel, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, ‘Crippled Inside’, ‘Give Peace A Chance’, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Imagine’ and ‘Oh Yoko!’.

Also during the party, a Japanese reporter interviewed Lennon and Ono. The recording, which featured a high degree of tension between the couple, became known as The Argument Interview, and was later aired on the US radio series The Lost Lennon Tapes.

Following the event, Lennon and Ono sent a postcard to Ringo and Maureen Starkey thanking them for attending. The card, which was later reproduced in Starr’s book Postcards From The Boys, featured Arnold Bocklin’s picture Spring Evening 1879, which had been customised to show Ono’s head on the body of a naked nymph, and Lennon-style glasses drawn on a panpipe-playing satyr.

Dear hello Ringo and More-Reen
thankx a lot for coming to my birthday chaos, looks like some good things will come from the Museum Show too!
lost of love to you and yours
from bonnie John + Yogurt

hello Maureen!!
Mrs. Lennon and her husband

Last updated: 23 December 2010
Yoko Ono's art exhibition This Is Not Here opens in Syracuse, New York
US single release: Imagine by John Lennon
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  1. alias Wednesday 8 July 2020

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