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How Elton John made John Lennon “physically sick”

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John Lennon was without a doubt the most outspoken of the Beatles. And not just that, he also had some really controversial opinions that sometimes landed him and The Beatles in trouble. But, he was also pretty bold and didn’t hide his displeasure. And that’s what he did when he lost a bet against Elton John once. The Rocketman recalls Lennon telling him that he made him “terrified” and “physically sick”. Here’s what happened.

The bet that Elton John made with the former Beatle

How Elton John made John Lennon "physically sick"

John Lennon and Elton John placed a bet when John played the piano on Lennon’s song “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”. John then persuaded the former Beatle to release the song as a single in 1974, and that’s when Lennon bet that if the song reached number 1, he would appear on stage with Elton John. What happened then was that not only did the song become a number 1 hit, it was also Lennon’s only song that topped the charts in his solo career.

And so, on November 28th, 1974, Lennon appeared at New York’s Madison Square Garden to take part in Elton John’s show. In the upcoming BBC documentary John Lennon at 80, the Rocketman recalls, as reported by Music-News.com:

I don’t think he’d played since the Peace Concert in Toronto, to be honest with you, and certainly not in New York, I don’t think, since the Beatles. He was terrified.

It had been a long time since John Lennon last appeared on stage. After Beatlemania ended and the Beatles stopped touring, all of the fab four mainly avoided tours and on-stage performances. So, stage fright does make sense. However, it was still an exceptionally iconic performance, as Elton John further recalls:

I can tell you that he was physically sick before the show, absolutely physically sick. … When he came onstage he was fine, because [of] the recaption that he got. … I’ve never heard a noise, a roar like it. … We all get goosebumps thinking about it. A lot of us cried and there were tears running down our faces, because here was one of the four people that were the biggest band ever.

John Lennon never recalled such a stage fright

On the other hand, John Lennon recalled that live performance in Madison Square Garden slightly differently. He didn’t remember being that sick but was left ecstatic by the crowd, which reminded him of the Beatlemania days. He said:

I was thinking, ‘Thank God it isn’t me,’ as he was getting dressed to go on. I went through my stage fright at Boston so, by the time I got to Madison Square, I had a good time – and when I walked on, they were all screaming and shouting. It was like Beatlemania. I was thinking ‘What is this?’ ’cause I hadn’t heard it since the Beatles.

One of the last three songs that he played was Paul McCartney’s “I Saw Her Standing There”. And as he prepared to play that song, Lennon told the audience:

“We tried to think of a number to finish off with so I can get out of here and be sick.”

Other than Elton John, Paul McCartney also revealed in this upcoming documentary that he wrote some bad songs with John Lennon. John Lennon at 80 will air from 9 to 10 pm on the 3rd and 4th of October. Make sure you check it out!

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