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John Lennon’s 1971 ‘Imagine’ Completion Party Remembered

John Lennon
Harry Benson, Getty Images

John Lennon may have been the host with the most if this raw video footage tells the tale correctly. After wrapping up sessions for his seminal ‘Imagine’ album in July of 1971, the newly ex-Beatle and his girl (that’s Yoko to you!) threw a mega party to celebrate.

As the Gothamist points out, the party was held at the home of the notorious Alan Klein and with a stellar list of guests, the shindig was caught on film by Jonas Mekas, a friend of John and Yoko’s. Rubbing elbows, and possibly more, were the likes of Miles Davis, Phil Spector, Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, and Ringo among many others.

Watching the film is like spying on some fantasyland gathering. Trying to spot the famous as the camera jumps giggles and shouts (to quote Gene Vincent) is both engaging and frustrating. Look, there’s Jerry Rubin! Miles’ wife Betty! Someone’s ass!

It’s a jumbled mess to be certain, but a fascinating one as well. There’s Lennon shooting hoops while his famous Rolls Royce is parked in the garage. Now cut to Warhol fidgeting about. No sign of George Harrison and, obviously, Mr. Paul McCartney was persona non grata at that point for Johnny. The party footage was included in Mekas’ 1996 short film ‘Happy Birthday To John.’

And what’s Mekas been doing lately? Occupying Wall Street! Making his way to the protests, coincidentally the week of what would have been Lennon’s 71st birthday. Mekas told Indiwire, “as a film-maker and a poet, I feel it’s my duty to be an eye and an antenna to what’s happening around me. I always felt a solidarity with those who are desperate and confused and misused and are seeking a way out of it”.

What was that John? Oh yeah…Power to the people, right on!

Watch John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ Completion Party Footage

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