John Lennon's brief relationship with Phil Spector began in early 1970, when the Beatles (without Paul McCartney), asked Spector to go through more than one hundred hours of recorded material, for an accompanying album for the yet to be released film, Let it Be. John Lennon said in his interview with Rolling Stone magazine later in the year, "He worked like a pig on it. I mean he always wanted to work with the Beatles, and he was given the shittiest load of badly recorded shit with a lousy feeling to it ever, and he made something of it. When I heard it, I didn't puke." Despite McCartney's complaints (well documented in his lawsuit against the other Beatles in 1971), Spector then went on to co-produce several albums by John & George Harrison’s in the early 70's.
John was so impressed with Spector's work on Let it Be that Spector co-produced his next three albums, (John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band, Imagine and Sometime in New York City). During John's extended period in L.A., he decided to record an album of Rock 'n' Roll classics from the 1950's, and asked Spector to produce it. The Phil Spector-produced tracks were recorded between Oct. and Dec. 1973. Right after the sessions ended, Spector locked himself up in his house and refused to hand over the master tapes to Lennon for final production. One day after Lennon found out where Spector was hiding, John showed up at his residence in L.A. Spector, dressed in a three piece suit and armed with two six shooters had Lennon forcibly removed from his residence by his bodyguards. It is known that Spector was unhinged and had irrational behavior, even during the recording sessions. Lennon finally threatened legal action to no avail. It wasn't until June 1974, while John was just beginning to record Walls and Bridges in New York City, that Capitol Records head of promotions in California, informed John that the tapes have been retrieved for a sum of $90,000 (which Capitol paid).
When John finally received the Spector-produced sessions, he found a collection of over produced, badly out of tune sessions performed by a sometimes inebriated Lennon and backup band. The thirty piece Rock 'n' Roll orchestra that Spector brought in had been recorded playing out of tune and was totally unsalvageable.
On Oct. 21, 1974, John resumed work on the Rock 'N' Roll LP with most of the musicians from Wall and Bridges. Only 4 tracks from the Spector produced session appeared on Rock 'N' Roll - "You Can't Catch Me," "Sweet Little Sixteen, " "Bony Moronie," & "Ya Ya." Four other songs appeared on Menlove Ave. in 1986: "Angel Baby," "Here We Go Again, " "My Baby Left Me," & "To Know Her Is To Love Her." Incidentally, "Here We Go Again" is the only known John Lennon/Phil Spector composition. I believe the track was given to someone to record in the mid 70's, but I forget whom.
In Feb. 1975, the LP John Lennon Sings The Great Rock & Roll Hits (Roots) was released via heavy TV and radio mail order promotion. Morris Levy poorly produced this LP without John's permission from an early mix of the Rock 'N' Roll sessions. John promptly sued Levy claiming it was an illegal release. Almost a year later, the Judge declared a mistrial because the defense attorney showed a copy of John & Yoko's Two Virgins LP (with the naked couple on the cover) to the jury. The trial did finally end (without a jury) with the Judge awarded John $144,700 in damages. Nine days after Roots was released, Capitol rush released the Rock 'N' Roll album.
Roots has become a highly collectible LP since then. Going for upwards of about $300, only 2500 LP's and 500 8-Tracks were produced. It's important to note, not only because it is a different mix of Rock 'N' Roll, but it contains "Angel Baby" & "Be My Baby" from the Spector sessions not appearing on the final Rock ‘N’ Roll album but later appearing on Menlove Ave. & John Lennon Anthology respectively.
Also, on the John Lennon Anthology 4 CD set released in 1998, are 4 tracks of dialogue between Spector & Lennon during the sessions. The Anthology set also contains alternate takes of "Be Bop A Lula," "Rip It Up/Ready Teddy," "Slippin' and Slidin' ""Peggy Sue" and "Bring it on Home To Me/Send Me Some Lovin” from the 2nd Spector-less Rock ‘N’ Roll sessions. Also appearing on Anthology is the unreleased Spector produced track "Be My Baby," previously only appearing on the unofficial Roots LP. By listening to this track, you'll understand why John practically scrapped the Spector sessions.
The probable last time that Spector & Lennon might have had contact, was during the 1975 Grammy awards, when John was a presenter & Spector was present-but this is unlikely. Their last conversation probably occurred in late '73/early '74 concerning the Rock 'N' Roll tapes. I never heard any reaction from Spector concerning Lennon's death, and have spoken to a couple of musicians who worked with Spector, and the overall impression I get of him is a sort of odd eccentric.
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