John Lennon's 'Lost Weekend' With Phil Spector
With the conviction yesterday of legendary 60s music producer Phil Spector. Uncut here presents extracts from our Phil Spector special, which featured in Uncut in September, just as the trial for the murder of cult-actress Lana Clarkson got underway in LA.
Here, May Pang, Al Coury and Jim Keltner discuss their memories of the recording of:
JOHN LENNON/ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (1974):
Lennon’s “Lost Weekend”: the former Beatle abdicates his creative role to Spector for an album of covers. Chaos ensues.
MAY PANG (Lennon’s girlfriend): John called Phil, and he said that he didn’t want to have any of the burden of being a producer, he said, “I just want to be the singer.” Phil asked a number of times, “Do I have full control?”, and when he did that I wondered, “Did we make a mistake here?”
AL COURY (then Executive VP, Capitol): Phil had recently consummated a production deal with Warners, and was in the process of finding new artists to record. This John Lennon thing came up in the interim, and Phil was not going to blow that, because even if he did a lousy album with John Lennon it was going to sell millions of copies.
MAY PANG: The guys (in the studio) were all drinking – and John was being one of the guys. Everyone was as blitzed as he. One of the bass players got into a car wreck. We got kicked out of A & M (studios) when someone threw a bottle of liquor down the console.
JIM KELTNER (Drums): John was exercising all his bad habits, as were we all, including Phil. The only problem with that was that Phil was the producer, and somebody had to be, you know, sane. Phil’s style was always to have as many people playing at one time as possible – that was how he made his old, great records, and that’s how it was with the Rock ‘n’ Roll album. At the beginning of the evening, it was amazing: John had not drunk as much he would do later.
MAY PANG: Nothing was getting done. Then Phil’s gun went off. We were coming up to the Christmas break, and Julian was coming to visit, and he hadn’t seen his father for four years. Phil had a custody case with Ronnie (Spector, ex-wife).
AL COURY: What happened was that Phil Spector got into a very bad car accident, and from what I heard, he had some facial lacerations from the car accident. Phil took off and disappeared, he wanted to go off and take care of his facial injuries.
MAY PANG: I just remember calling Phil and he said he was in a car accident. We lost our tapes.
AL COURY: I got through to Phil Spector’s lawyer, and he said “I can get you all those tapes back for…”something like $198,000. I had called John, who was in New York, he said “No way. You’ll never get them.” And I didn’t call him back til the tapes were in my possession.
JIM KELTNER: The stuff we did with Spector, I was so messed up doing that stuff that I was looking forward to hearing that back. I didn’t realize how bad it was.
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Pic credit: PA Photos