Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meeting John 1979

Here is another fan story about waiting around the Dakota Building and meeting John. I know from the last story similar to this one that I posted that a few readers left comments comparing the fans to John's killer. I have to strongly disagree. The fans that hung around the Dakota building the late 1970's and in 1980 were just fans who wanted to meet John. They did not carry a gun with them. They did not travel hundreds of miles to kill him. There is a big difference in my mind. Yes, maybe to you waiting out in the rain to maybe see John Lennon is a bit odd and crazy. But the people that were doing this meant no harm and they did no harm. From the stories they told, John seemed to really enjoy seeing them and was friendly to them.

Anyhow....this story was written by Jennie Swenton as was originally published in Beatlefan magazine in the Oct/Nov 1980 issue. I am pretty sure that I found the photo they took at the end of these story and have included it. If anyone else has any photos that might belong with this story, please let me know.


As most of you probably know by now, seeing an ex-Beatle isn’t all that easy; you have to go through plenty of headaches and hardships. But no matter what it takes to see one of them, it’s always worth it in the end. My “partner in crime”, Patti, and I spent a considerable amount of time in the spring of 1979 trying to see John Lennon.

The weather report that Saturday morning called for mild temperatures and “showers” – true to form; it was raining an hour before we even got to New York. Patti and I arrived about 11 and, wonder of wonders, found a parking space right away, up at the corner. Our friend Jude was already there waiting for us.

We figured John wouldn’t be coming out in such awful, cold, damp weather. Periodically, I wiped the windshield clean – partly out of boredom, partly so we could have a good view of the doorway “just in case.” About two minutes after I’d wiped them clean for the 100th time, I looked up just as Patti said, “Oh…” and I saw John (with his back to us) talking to the doorman. Then he went back into the archway and the doorman went looking for a cab. We thought he had seen us sitting in the car as he’d looked over our way for a second, and we quietly got out of the car and “casually” strolled over.

John and Yoko were waiting in the driveway, John smoking a cigarette. He looking terrific – his hair was getting longer and he was wearing smoke – grey round specs. He had on a bone color raincoat, dark blue jeans and beautiful black boots. Yoko was standing a step or two away from him – she looked as lovely as ever and was wearing a brown bulky knit wrap sweater.

We all said hello to them and John pleasantly replied “Good Morning” (at 1:15 p.m.?)

The cab arrived then and he said to the doorman, “Oh is that it?” As they went to get into the cab, both John and Yoko said, “Have a nice time.” John adding “I think we’ll be gone a long time, though.”

The cab drove away and we were in such a state, so glad to have seen him and had the chance to talk to him! After we’d calmed down a bit, we tried to guess what he’d meant by “a long time” and figured they would probably be back before Patti and I had to leave. It had begun to rain hard again so we got back into the car.

At 2:30p.m. or so, we thought it would be wise to “hit the streets” and watch for them to return, so we got out of the car. Luckily the rain had stopped again so we were reasonably comfortable, but as it got later, we started to worry we’d have to leave before they returned. Patti and I had planned on leaving at 4 p.m. so we’d be back to Connecticut by 6:30 but as it got later we decided we could stretch it and stay until 4:30.

Well, 4 o’clock came and went and still no sign of the Lennons.

Then at 4:25, Patti spotted a horse drawn cab at the park and said, “Who’s that in the hansom cab?” I looked and thought I saw Yoko (I couldn’t see the entire cab) then Patti said, “Yet, it’s them…” Sure enough, it was! They got out and started walking to the Dakota form the corner.

As they came down the block John was looking down, smiling a bit, and it looked though he was trying not to laugh. We glanced at the doorman, and HE was trying not to laugh, and we were trying not to laugh! No one wanted to look at each other for the fear we’d all crack up! As John got to the driveway, he looked at the three of us and tipped the brim of his hat, then bowed low saying, “That’s it for tonight, then.” He seemed genuinely amused that we were still there.
Patti and I said, “Goodnight John” and Jude said to him as he was on his way into the driveway, “Say goodnight John.” He looked over his shoulder and said, “Goodnight” dragging it out in a silly voice.

OF course, by then it was 4:30, Patti and I had no time to waste in starting for home, so we all freaked out again while we walked Jude the half block to the subway. We were in hysterics that we wouldn’t have been there if he’d arrived a few minutes later. What incredible luck we’d had! We hastily said our goodbyes to Jude, then jumped into car and rushed away.

It was so special and terrific! It was the first time Patti or I had seen him for any length of time since November 1976. We’d seen him some other times in New York but it had always been very quick, barely time to say hello to him. Little did we know there was even more to come.
We continued making our weekend trips to John’s as often as possible but didn’t see him again for several weeks.

One weekend in mid-June we planned to go but didn’t, and it was on that day that our friends Jeri and Jude saw him and asked if they could take a photo or two – he most graciously said yes, and seemed more concerned than they were about whether or not the photos would come out! When Patti and I learned what we’d missed, we decided there was no way we’d miss another chance of seeing him, and made plans to go the following weekend.

We set out for New York early on Saturday morning and everything went well. Our friends Jude and Jeri were already there, and had some sad news to relate. One of John’s cats had fallen out a window and hadn’t survived the fall. We sat on the step near the driveway and the filled us in on the details of their meeting with John the week before, also telling us their pictures hadn’t come out as it had been too dark. The best either of them had gotten was one print in which you could see only John’s white hat and his shoulders!

Eventually Sean went out, looking very sad and lost – not at all his usual exuberant self. Not long afterwards, a limo pulled up and we thought it might be for John and Yoko so we stood up and walked a ways into the drive. Sure enough, a few minutes later, they came out – John wearing faded jeans, light blue t-shirt, sneakers, a textured weave (maybe linen) jacket, straw fedora with a dark band on it and square black sunglasses. We all said hello and Jude and Jeri quickly showed him the photo form the previous weekend, and with a puzzled expression he said, “What the hell is that?” Yoko waved to us as they got into the car and they were off.

We didn’t know how long they’d be gone but it was a good chance for us to get some lunch so that’s exactly what we did, and then took positions on the step. At about 3:30pm, we saw the car coming back. We all scurried over to meet it as John and Yoko got out.

John was carrying a carton. He opened it and held it out for us to see. There were a couple of cats inside. Jude said, “We heard about the cat, we feel terrible.” “One of ‘em went crazy, went out of the window…it was only open a little bit…” he said, as though he couldn’t understand why it had happened.

Then he pointed and said, “Oh, hi, Paul” to someone behind us. We turned and Mitch Weissman (the guy who played Paul McCartney in Beatlemania) was standing there. Mitch said to John, “I enjoyed your letter” (meaning the one in the New York Times). John said thanks and they shook hands.

“How are ya doing?” John asked him, adding “I hope you survive all that (The Beatlemania show). “Well you did,” Mitch replied. John gestured with a pinch of his thumb and index finger “Just barely. We ought to get together…” He started to go. “…get together and do something as a gag,” he said as he kind of laughed.

Jude said, “John, about the pictures – do you think we could have a rain check sometime?” Jeri explained they hadn’t come out. John said, “Sure! Why don’t we do ‘em now? Where do you wanna do ‘em? Let’s go over here,” heading back towards the sidewalk, “there should be enough light ... but let’s make it fast—I have to get the cats upstairs before the other one goes crazy.” He was still carrying the box with the cats inside.

John turned to give the carton to one of the doormen but no one was there so he kept holding the box. He posed out in the bright sunlight with Yoko and teased us, “You couldn’t miss an elephant in this light!” He wasn’t hurried at all, and seemed very happy to pose for us.

The four of us gathered round and each shot a couple of pics. A guy passing by on the street stopped and said, “I don’t have a camera, but…” and he shook hands with both John and Yoko.

Since a small group had started to form, John got anxious to go in. “Between all of you,” he said, “you should come out with something.” Patti called, “Thank you John – thanks a lot.” Then he and Yoko went on in as we all said goodbye.

It was just wonderful seeing him again and an added bonus that we had a chance to take photos to him.

It was certainly worth the times we'd been there and not seen him. All the pain of endurance finally paid off!!


  1. Thank you for your info on my Apple Meeting article (http://beatle-girls.blogspot.com/2009/10/apple-meeting.html)I updated the article :)

  2. No problem at all. I actually have some photos I would like to send you. You might already have them...I don't know. I have been spending HOURS looking at your blog tonight and enjoy it!

    What is your email so I can send you the photos?


  3. Seriously? People compared fans waiting outside the Dakota to a murderer? The fact that he took advantage of those fans as camouflage and abused John's trust doesn't mean that the fans did anything wrong. Further, has anyone ever said the same thing about all of those fans who waited outside Cavendish? I somehow doubt it.

  4. Hi, great reading this again, i think 'Jude' was one of the fans who was waiting outside the Dakota on the day of the 8th of December, weird that so many of the big fans from that time are not known or dont participate on the net or any forums, they would have the best stories ever.

  5. Jude is a wonderful gal. Once John called her his "1 fan" to Yoko!!!
    Patti, Jennie, Jude and I (with some others)have met up at the Dakotas and had wonderful expierences there. To compare us and others who waited there to get a glimpse of J&Y coming and going to the killer of John is so, so wrong! That is such a cruel comparison!

  6. I dont know... I can undestand (as a fan myself)the anxiety of seeing someone you admire...
    now you google it and say "well, he/she 's still live" or "looks happy" and you know everything witha couple of clicks...

    back then nothing was certain, maybe he was in the Dakota, "special delivered" information that we can get

    So ,the only way of seeing him (coz he wasnt appereing on the news)was waiting for him...

    The only comparison i can made is that "MDC" at 5pm ,when John signed his copy of DoubleFantasy, looked just like anybody else, just like a fan...

    NOBODY COULD KNOW what was going to make him "different"

  7. awesome blog
    dont take it down ever
    give my regards to dakota and rip john
    beatles 4ever!
    - jack from stockholm sweden

    1. Yes, what JackH said back in 2011....don't take it down ever!!!!

    2. Great Blog. Hope it is still running. In 1979 A person in Florida says she met John Lennon on a beach in Puerto Banus, Spain.
      After frolicking near the shores they had dinner at the Sinatra Bar. trying to verify this. Any idea where John Lennon was in June of 1979?

    3. Yes---the blog is still alive and striving! I will have to look in the book "Lennonology" to see what John was doing in June of 1979. As far as I know, he never returned to England or Europe at all.

  8. Thank you Sara. I noticed a picture you had posted from 1964 from the Peppermint Lounge. Please believe it when I tell you;as a 22 year old Shoe Store manager, I was at a meeting in New York city the day the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. After watching it on TV from our hotel room, we went to the Peppermint and watched "The Younger brothers" band. Only about 25 people were there. I sat at a front row table and around 12am, John, Cynthia, Paul, George and Ringo come in and sit at my table. As the band was playing their hits, and the now overflow crowd screaming, I got all 5 to sign my Peppermint lounge post card, that was on the table. People were passing their cards to me to have them sign and I yelled out jokingly, "From now on this will cost you $5.00." Paul said to me, with a smile, "make it 10."
    The sad part of the most fantastic night of my entire life (don't tell my wife, I said that) I displayed the post card in my store near a pair of "Official Beatle Boots" Some one took it!! If you have anymore pictures of that night, perhaps I can find myself in the photo. Would love to be able to talk to Paul concerning that wonderful night. Thank you for your blog and response.....Brady