Thursday, September 20, 2018

A helluva way to live

Another fan story from The Write Thing Jan/Feb 1976 issue.  This John encounter was written by Sharen Uzarewicz.

Photo by George Tebbins
December 29, 1975

As we drove past the doorman, he waved at us but we thought it was only in recognition and we didn't stop as we were going a few blocks down for something to eat. When we returned, Nancy got out to talk to him, and it turned out that hew as waving at us to follow the limo a few cars ahead of us which contained John and Yoko!

Knowing how much it meant to me to see John, Nancy and George agreed to wait at least a few hours (it was about 10pm), but then we'd have to leave to start the drive home.  Eventually, George fell asleep in the back seat, and Nancy curled up by the steering wheel.

It was 3am when the silver Lincoln continental pulled up, and without seeing its occupants, I knew it was them.  I shook George and Nancy and tried to gather my photos, camera and jump out of the car.  When I turned around John was standing there looking very, very paranoid.   What I learned later was that when I woke Nancy, her first reaction was to start the car, gun the motor and flash on her headlights.   I guess I was bursting out of the car at the exact same time.  John not knowing our intentions literally jumped a foot.   I hurried over to him and said, "John, we're from Chicago, and I have some photos I'd like to give you."   His face relaxed, and he replied, " Oh sure."  Then George asked if we could take some pictures and he said alright.  I pulled out the photo I wanted to give him, and he took it and said, "Yoko, look at this."  He genuinely seemed to like it and asked me where it was taken.   I said Chicago, and he looked down at me and said, "But when was that?  What was I doing there?"   Being completely freaked out by that point, I told him he'd just been in town to visit Dick Gregory, and he replied that was strange because he'd just been talking to Dick that very day.  In the photo I gave him he was wearing a scooped neck black t-shirt and denim jacket, and when he looked at it he said, "What was I wearing?  A low cut black bra?"  and "Was I fat then."

Photo taken by George Tebbins 

Nancy asked if they'd gotten our cards and he said, yes, and they were sorry they couldn't come down before, "but we're very busy - with the baby shittin'"   He added that they get cards and letters all the time even from Rome.  "But we can't come down and look for the Romans."  It was as if he was actually apologizing for not coming down and that he really wanted us to understand why.  George asked if he'd pose for a photo and he seemed very willing.  After I took two shots I wanted to get in a photo myself, but I was too shy to ask him.   Instead, I sort of walked in back of him while he was signing something and leaned my head around his side just so it would get in some of the photos George was taking.   I didn't think John knew I was there, and I was waiting for George's flash to go off when suddenly John ducked his head down next to mine making a funny face.  Overcome I touched his back and mumbled a thank you, moving away.

John and Sharon
Photo taken by George Tebbins

Someone mentioned that we'd been in the car for three days and he said, "That's a helluva way to live." It wasn't a put-down, it was more like, you must be crazy to go thru all that for me, but I'm pleased you have.

Then I remembered I had more photos with me and I handed them to him telling him he could have them if he liked.   He genuinely seemed to like them, and he went thru them more than once showing them to Yoko.  He looked down at me and repeated, "But I want to know what Iw as doing when I look at these."  It was incredible of him to say something like that.  Whether he intended to toss them out or not, it was still fantastic of him to give the impression that they meant something to him and that he'd be looking at them again.

Yoko was rather quiet, but once, out of the blue, she looked at me and very sweetly said, "I like that top you're wearing."  I was so stunned that she even noticed, all I could think of to say was, "Thank you, I got it just for the trip."  When we finally left she wished us all a happy new year.   John asked us if we had everything (at least three times we'd asked him for one more photo and he didn't seem bothered at all) and then they walked to the gate and rang for the doorman.

No matter how many times I repeat it, I just can't' convey how absolutely marvelous he was toward us.  He really seemed to care about us, he understood what we'd been thru, and he was pleased to give us a little of his time.  He must have been tired, but he didn't rush us in the least.  He was fantastic.  He also looked fantastic.  The most recent photos I had seen of him made him look old and tired.  When we saw him in the flesh, he looked like he was in his early 20's -- healthy and happy.  His hair was drawn back into a ponytail, and he was wearing a blue beret and a long navy blue pea coat and beige slacks.  I didn't get a good look at anything but Yoko's face.  Her hair was very long, and she was pale but looked beautiful to me.  She was incredibly sweet to us.  Not at all the way the doorman had described her (the doorman said she was jealous of the fans and always called the police on them for hanging around).  She talked to us but mainly stayed in the background and didn't seem to mind how hysterical we were becoming over her husband.  It really proved to me how little of what you hear 2nd and 3rd hand can be believed.

Was it all worth it?  You better believe it was worth it -- it's just "a helluva way to live."


  1. When I read these accounts, I always feel sorry for the former Beatles. So many crazy, obsessive, or compulsive people who force themselves on John, Paul, George, and Ringo. And, of course, John had good reason to be "paranoid" when getting out of a car to go into the Dakota.

  2. She seemed rather a sweet little thing and the whole piece struck me as so innocent.

  3. it always amuses me when fans would give the lads photos they took of them - wonder how many they actually kept

  4. I tried to bring out a little of the original color in the fan photo with John.