Sunday, February 27, 2022

Get Back Observations #4: John Lennon's fur coat


 

If you look up information about the clothes The Beatles wore while making the "Get Back" album, you will always read a sentence that says "John was wearing his wife's coat," (even though they weren't married at the time).   Some articles even state that ALL of the Beatles were wearing their wives' coats during the rooftop performance.    

We all know that Ringo was wearing Maureen's red jacket.  Ringo has never denied that.   But was John really wearing Yoko's fur coat?  Where did that information originally come from?   Let's take a little deeper look.




The first time we spot the brown fur coat was May 22, 1968, during the press launch of Apple Tailoring.   As you can see in the photos, the coat appears to fit John very well, and Yoko is carrying her own coat that day. 




On July 24, 1968, John is once again wearing the coat while he, Yoko, and others were shopping at the antique market, including Jenny Boyd's boutique, Juniper.  Yoko is wearing a coat that looks really big on her during this outing.  




A few days later, on July 28, The Beatles took part in their famous photoshoot known as The Mad Day Out.   There were several changes of clothing for the photo shoot, and in some shots, John is once again wearing that fur coat. 




Yoko seems to start wearing a brown fur coat while The Beatles were making the White Album in August 1968.   There are many fan-taken photos from August - October 1969 with Yoko wearing the coat.   In the photographs of Yoko wearing it, John is usually wearing a black jacket or a denim jacket.


 


The most well-known sighting of Yoko wearing a brown fur coat is when John and Yoko were in court on October 19, 1968, after being arrested for marijuana possession.   I have always thought that Yoko looked so small in this coat in the photos from this time.  




On December 11, 1968 John can be seen once again wearing a brown fur coat during the Rock n Roll Circus.   Yoko is also seen wearing what appears to be a new black jacket.  


Then we move on to January 1969 and the Get Back Sessions.    It is obviously cold weather at this time and the one and only coat we see John wearing just about every single day leading up to when he wore it while performing on the roof.    While they were in Twickenham, you will see him walking into the studio wearing it and then he hangs it off the back of his chair. 




So what is going on here?   Did John borrow Yoko's brown fur coat before heading up to the rooftop to perform?   Let's look at the choices.


1.  John and Yoko both wore different brown fur coats.  

This theory is easy to disprove because you have never seen both of them wearing a brown fur coat at the same time.   It is possible, but John and Yoko wore matching clothes frequently, and you would think that they would have both wore the same coat on the same day. 

2.  It was Yoko's coat and she just let John wear it -- all the time (unless she wanted it).   

If you want to believe the entire story that John is wearing Yoko's coat that was borrowed, then this is the only thing that makes sense.  John was first seen wearing it just a few days after he and Yoko got together.   Maybe John saw Yoko's coat and liked it and so, she let him borrow it constantly.   If this is the case, then I start to wonder when does an item stops being one person's possession and a couple's shared possession.

3.  It was John's coat and he just let Yoko wear it -- occasionally.

So this is what I believe.  The coat fits John better than it does Yoko.   John wears it much more than Yoko does.   It is John's winter coat in January 1969.  Being the nice that John could be, he let his lady wear his coat if she was cold or needed a coat.   



4.  They bought the coat together and both of them shared it. 

Regardless of who actually purchased it, it is obvious that they shared it.   That is not unusual for a couple to share clothing, especially jackets or coats.   Perhaps no one thought of it as either his or hers, but theirs.   


Final Thoughts:   So in the end, it does not matter who owned a brown fur coat over 50 years ago.  While the image of John Lennon singing "Don't Let Me Down" on the Apple building is an iconic Beatles image, who owned the coat that he wore is irrelevant.    The bigger picture is that you don't need to believe what everything people on the internet or writers in a book inform you.   Every single thing I have read recently about the rooftop concert has mentioned John borrowing Yoko's coat.  That did not add up to me and so I decided to dig a little deeper and see what I could discover.   Those blanket statements were just wrong.    What else do we read about in Beatles history that doesn't add up?


14 comments:

  1. Good job, Sara! I never realized the coat was so ubiquitous before. I've seen comments in the past that the coat was a little small on John at the rooftop gig, but it may be the case that the sleeves rode up a little. It might be worthwhile to try and dig through the literature to find out when the idea of it being Yoko's coat first appears in print.

    It's amazing just how much Beatles history is built up of anecdotes that turn out to be totally fabricated.

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  2. I truly have no idea whose coat it was; but while the length seems right for John the sleeves seems short. Either way, this is the kind of thing that we true Beatles fans obsess over!

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  3. Why would anyone be wearing a fur coat in July? Or May? (MarkZapp?

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    1. Fashion? Who knows?? But the did.

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    2. I wondered that too. Newspaper records indicate the temperature in London was 64 F at noon on July 28, 1968.

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  4. Has anyone seen a photo of Cynthia wearing it before May 1968?

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    1. Oooh good question! I will have to look into that as well.

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    2. The coat actually belongs to Yoko 🤷🏽‍♀️ there’s a photo of yoko in a coffee shop in Paris in February 1968, and she is wearing that damn coat

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    3. That being the case then -- John sure took it over, didn't he? I still stick by the fact that he did not "borrow" Yoko's coat to go on the rooftop because he was wearing it every single day in January 1969.

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  5. Good detective work! Sara is Mrs Columbo. Minus raincoat.

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  6. The coat is short in the arms because it's a women's coat. In the photos where Yoko wears it closed, the buttons are on the left side of the coat. He probably bought it (or more likely walked away with it) from Apple Tailors, the shop he stands before in the second photo.

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  7. Hi Sara
    the coat pre dates 1968. John is wearing it in 1967 - including when he went to watch the Beach Boys in Paris. You can tell it is the same coat by its short rounded lapels and puffy shoulders.

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  8. https://64.media.tumblr.com/0d6745c86a6c6854e136b8ea17127cbc/tumblr_oysgiuZ2yD1ud40qpo1_500.jpg

    1967

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  9. There is a photo that exists of John wearing the fur jacket with Cynthia. He has a flower pinned to it.

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