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As the 50th anniversary of The Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show draws near, CBS has dug deep into its archives to unearth memorable moments remembered through audio, photos and video.
Groundbreaking broadcaster Scott Muni — a member of the legendary WNEW in New York City for roughly three decades — had former Beatle John Lennon in his studio on February 13, 1975, just days prior to the release of his sixth studio album, aptly titled Rock ‘n’ Roll, on February 17.
Lennon and Muni played each cut from his album of covers from the late 1950s and early 1960s, beginning with its opening track: Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula.” Coincidentally, “Be-Bop-A-Lula” is one of the first songs Lennon ever sang in public with a band while performing at a church hall garden party. It was on that same day that Lennon would meet his future bandmate and songwriting partner, Paul McCartney.
“We hadn’t left our little town of Liverpool,” Lennon tells Muni when asked if the duo had met in London. “I was performing with a mutual friend of Paul and mine’s [sic], only I hadn’t met Paul before.”
“Another mutual friend — who lived next door to me — brought Paul along and said, ‘I think you two will get along.’ And we met that day when I was doing ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’ that day,” Lennon continues.
The recording of Rock ‘n’ Roll began in October 1973 at A&M Studios in Hollywood, California. Lennon gave producer Phil Spector full control, which led to complete chaos: alcohol covering the control board, a gun being fired in the studio and Spector withholding the master tapes from Lennon. When Lennon finally got a hold of them in 1974, he was able to finish the record.
“The ones I did with Phil, we spent more time changing them,” says Lennon. “I finished it up quickly because it had been lagging behind and it was like I was constipated with the album.”
“With the stuff that I finished off, I left it pretty much… how the originals did it,” adds Lennon.
Rock ‘n’ Roll charted very well for Lennon, peaking at #6 on both the US Billboard 200 and the UK charts.
Listen to Scott Muni’s complete interview with John Lennon, as they dissect each track from his sixth studio album, Rock ‘n’ Roll.