John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar
Yoko Ono: vocals
Frank Zappa: vocals, electric guitar
Mark Volman: vocals
Howard Kaylan: vocals
Ian Underwood: vocals, woodwind, keyboards
Bob Harris: vocals, keyboards
Jim Pons: vocals, bass guitar
Don Preston: Minimoog
Aynsley Dunbar: drums
John Lennon recorded a cover of The Olympics’ 1958 song ‘Well (Baby Please Don’t Go)’ during the Imagine sessions in February 1971, and performed it onstage with Frank Zappa later that year.
The live recording was included on a bonus disc with the Some Time In New York City album. One side consisted of a performance a Unicef charity concert which took place at the Lyceum in London on 15 December 1969, and the second half was from the Fillmore East in New York City on 6 June 1971.
The Fillmore East show had Lennon and Ono appearing onstage with Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention. They performed four songs: ‘Well (Baby Please Don’t Go)’, ‘Jamrag’, ‘Scumbag’, and ‘Aü’. ‘Jamrag’ was actually an uncredited Zappa song, ‘King Kong’, from his 1969 album Uncle Meat.
The appearance was the encore for a Mothers Of Invention concert. It kicked off with ‘Well (Baby Please Don’t Go)’, a cover of the b-side to The Olympics’ 1958 single ‘Western Movies’. The band was evidently unsure of how to end the song, and it dissolved into a melange of screams by Yoko Ono and members of The Mothers Of Invention. This was cleaned up when it appeared on Some Time In New York City. The entire set was also released by Zappa on a 1992 compilation, Playground Psychotics.
Lennon introduced the song with the words: “This is a song I used to sing when I was in the Cavern in Liverpool. I haven’t done it since, so…” His description wasn’t quite true. He had recorded the song at Ascot Sound Studios in February 1971, during the session for ‘Power To The People’. At the same time he also recorded several other songs, including ‘I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier’ and ‘It’s So Hard’.
This studio version of ‘Well’ featured Klaus Voormann on bass guitar, Jim Gordon on drums, and Bobby Keys on saxophone. It was later released on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology as ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’, and on the highlights disc Wonsaponatime.
The studio version of ‘Well (Baby Please Don’t Go)’ was reportedly recorded for Yoko Ono’s 38th birthday on 19 February 1971. A tight R&B performance featuring chugging rhythm guitar, King Curtis-style sax solo and rasping vocals by Lennon, it was one of the sessions’ strongest recordings.