August 24th, 2010
Preview Excerpt

Watch a clip from the AMERICAN MASTERS: LENNONYC, a new film that takes an intimate look at the time Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son, Sean, spent living in New York City during the 1970s.  The film premieres nationally Monday, November 22 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings). In this clip see archival performance footage and interviews with the musicians and recording engineers who worked with Lennon – Jim Keltner, Jack Douglas, Roy Cicala, Andrew Newmark, Klaus Voorman, and Earl Slick – all discussing John Lennon’s particular genius.

  • Steve Desrosiers

    WGBH you are the absolute best for doing this kind of programming. GBH-fields forever;)

  • Digital Soup

    This is such a cool project! John was and still is amazing!

  • IH

    I applaud the making of this and look forward to seeing it but… since when was Lennon American?

  • Michael

    Fascinating. Thank you, American Masters and PBS.

  • Virginia Schwandke

    Not American??? I guess we adopted him because he is so well loved.

  • Roger Green

    Lennon had to fight to stay in the US; American Masters, indeed!

  • James Bennett

    “On July 27th 1976, John Lennon was issued his green card, allowing him to remain permanently in the United States. This came on the tails of …”

  • Cyd Carlson

    John Lennon is STILL instrumental in shaping American Rock and Roll as it is now….yes, I consider him a Citizen of this World, which makes him an American, A True Music Master. Thank you Yoko and PBS! This entire series….great job!

  • James

    I cannot wait for this show. Lennon has always been a hero of mine.

  • Locke

    Oh, Lord!!! How come people from Brazil being not able to take a look at this video?????
    Please, let us, people from South America be part of it as well.
    Thanks. I would appreciate a lot.

  • Robert Carver

    I often wonder what our culture would be like today if we still has Lennon here to use his music to comment on the issues facing our country and planet. The songs he wrote during the Vietnam and Nixon years were scathing about those who abuse power. Just Imagine what he would have written about the Reagan/Bush era corruption and the BushII/Cheney run of lies, deception, war mongering, Constitution subverting, hyper-partisan assault on our American values. I live in New Orleans and I am sure Lennon would have been here using his unique talent to bring truth to power holding our government accountable for their malicious neglect after the levee failures. Lennon may have been taken from us physically in 1980 but his spirit, vision, and music will live forever and inspire humanity for as long as homo sapiens survives as a species. John was a dreamer but he wasn’t the only one and I hope one day humanity will join his vision and our world will live in peace as one. Imagine. I look forward to this American Masters episode along with the other events that will mark this legendary icon’s 70th Birthday. Peace.

  • Patricia

    Up close–and personal. That’s the way I like it! Thanks, American Masters.

  • Marie

    Thanks, Robert Carver. You said it all.



  • aron pieman kay

    this is so hard to believe that i am still a beatlemaniac 46 years later…….it is like having gone thru so many lifetimes listening to the likes of lennon and the beatles

  • John Bezzini

    Where is episode #5?
    Excellent series!

  • Jennifer Jackson

    I am listening to and watching the “preview” on the eve of John’s 70th Birthday. So many emotions, good and bad, have come to life today as I have “Googled”,YouTube’d (spelling?), and Twittered searching for events to commemorate John’s birth and life. The Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, the screening of LennoNYC taking place in Central Park scheduled for tomorrow. Generations of fans remembering John’s remarkable life – too short but impactacted us so tremendously. IMAGINE…

  • Jim Hoffman

    Count me in! Yes.. I will be in attendance to watch this film for sure.Special thanks to all that help put this great viewing event together. Strawberry Fields.. forever! Happy 70th Mr. Lennon. The world misses you.

  • Helen Stirling

    Happy 70 Birthday John, October 9th 2010, RIP X, will always love you.

  • anthony garrett

    Saw the movie lennonnyc last night & it was awesome

  • James Hyden

    I noticed that Paul McCartney wasn’t listed as one of the persons that contributed to this series. Here is an excerpt:

    With unprecedented and exclusive cooperation from Yoko Ono, access to never-before-seen material from the Lennon archives and conversations with those closest to him — Ono, Elton John, the photographer Bob Gruen, Ringo Starr — AMERICAN MASTERS tells John Lennon’s story as it has never been told before — and as it will never be told again.


  • Tom Doyle

    I got to work with John the best memory was when he handed me the lyrics of “Luck of The Irish ” when we rehearsed it on Bank street for the Ann Arbor concert That was the night the band David Peel and The Lower East Side was called The Plastic Ono Band he had an interesting concept of why he kept the TV on without the volume .”That way me guests wouldn’t get bored staring at the walls”. Happy 70th to my mentor

  • richard handwerk

    the best.

  • Tim Hurley

    If John were alive, im sure he would have plenty to say and write about today with the situation that this country is now. I could only imagine the peaceful rallies and the music that would come from John and Yoko. The guy is loved and missed greatly. Peace

  • Paul Bachem

    Can’t wait for this one!

  • christopher jose

    he is the one i who inspired playing instrument i remember i got mop top chords his music will never die forever

  • Danny Cohen

    First.I’mglad Tommy Doyle is still around.I worked with John t the rehearsals for the OneTo One benefit@ the old Fillmore East(Thanks to Mr Peel).It was a pleasure working with a real live”working class hero”

  • Dan

    Lennon = pure genius,,,controversial, human, inspiring, musical,,,,genius

  • Doug

    John has meant so much to so many for all these years. An extraordinarily creative and special person who has inspired millions. This American Masters will be avidly watched and appreciated. We all miss him very much…

  • Richard

    I think we Americans gave the Brits T. S. Eliot for John Lennon. Seems like a good trade for us.

  • Nathaniel Wallis

    “I often wonder what our culture would be like today if we still has Lennon here to use his music to comment on the issues facing our country and planet. The songs he wrote during the Vietnam and Nixon years were scathing about those who abuse power. Just Imagine what he would have written about the Reagan/Bush era corruption and the BushII/Cheney run of lies”

    Purleese. Lennon used his music to push his political views for three years – after Sometime in New York City bombed and he realised political activism didn’t sell records he dropped the whole idea like a hot potato and drifted into the world of middle aged muzak he once so ferociously (sp) attacked McCartney for. Mind Games, Walls and Bridges, Rock’n'Roll, Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey were about as threatening as a Carpenters release.

  • Schuyler

    John is one for the ages…a Mozart or Beethoven of our time. 30 years after his passing, his music is no less powerful, no less beautiful, no less than the day he sang it. Musicians come and go and few stand the test of time, but Lennon and his cohort McCartney still draw new generations including my grown 20 something sons and my latest boy who is now as old as I was when I first heard the Beetles for the first time in’63. Regardless how you first hear John, once you do you don’t forget. His thoughts and feelings live through us as they should. For there has not been a more empathic musician in my live time.

    Like millions, I Imagine everyday what our planet could be.
    May John and his music Live forever!

  • heyjude

    to nathaniel wallis: john was not a poser – he ardently believed in his cause – but one cannot go on protesting forever; even joan baez went on to other topics in her songs, esp. once the war wound down. and i strongly disagree that his solo albums were ‘muzak’ – far from it, they were songs from the heart and good rock’n'roll, unlike mccartney’s pop slop. so don’t watch the show — but i sure will be watching!

  • nathaniel wallis

    hi heyjude. Not sure where you got “poser” from, and I agree, people can’t go on protesting forever. What irks me though is this notion that he dedicated his life to peace (when in reality he dedicated the years 1969 to 1972), or that he would still be threatening the establishment when nothing he recorded after that, or any statement he made, shows that this was likely. It’s just wishful thinking. I’m just interested in the truth.
    And I can’t help suspect that the fact that his Great Political Opus SomeTime In New York City only reached #48 (it’s attendant singles doing little better) influenced him in his decision to abandon political activism in music for a return to his so recently (and much pubilcy rejected) “dreamweaver” personna.
    One man’s muzak is another man’s “good rock and roll” so it’s an arguementy that’s quite hard to win. But Double Fantasy, to me at least, sounds like bland, slick, coffee table rock. Not too far removed from McCartneys alledged “pop slop.”
    I hestitate to put one over the other, but would rather suggest that the self proclaimed genius John Lennon turned out to be not too different from his old mucka after all.

  • Dana

    With John’s burtal whit & honesty, Imagine what a cameo appearance on the upcomming NYC season of Curb Your Enthusiasm might have been like!

  • Norwegian Wood

    I have never posted a reply to anything I have read online, but when the subject is John Lennon and Nathaniel Wallis’ comments about him, I will take the leap.

    From everything I have recently read and based on several films which have been released about John Lennon’s life in the last few years, I don’t think it is fair or accurate to say, in essence, that he “sold out to pop.” “Double Fantasy” has to be put in perspective. Lennon had essentially become a private person when Sean was born in 1975 and spent most of his time being the father to him that John never had himself. When he released “Double Fantasy” I recall John describing the album as his effort to reconnect with the world using the best method of communication he possessed: his music. He said in an interview not long after the release of the album that “Double Fantasy” was his way of saying “Hey, I’m back. Weren’t the ’70’s a drag? Let’s push forward.”

    The fact that John was murdered not long after he began recording again cannot be overlooked. No one will ever know what he would have done with his music or how he would have used his celebrity in response to the events of the day. That is the real tragedy for those of us who love and admire John Lennon and all that he stood for during his life. However, based upon what he did during the extremely limited time he was with us, one can only Imagine that he would have continued to actively promote the beliefs he professed: the need for peace and basic human dignity around the world.

  • Vincent Piraro

    Just read your comments Robert Carver, it was exciting to read. Imagine in our future more Lennons’ that seek and speak the truth for humanity…. it will happen, time is answer, love is the healer, and there are those like yourself speaking as John did, looking for a better safer future…

  • Kevin

    In an interview from Guitar Legends magazine they talk about a different version of two Beatle songs that Lennon wanted to play in an up in coming tour, which never happen because he died. Have you heard these songs and which one’s were they.

  • Nathaniel Wallis

    Ouch! I never said that he “sold out to pop.” After the failure of Some Time In New York City it is undisputable that Lennon returned to the dreamy look-at-the-face-in-the-clouds imagery of Imagine and Pepper. It’s all #9 Dream and Mind Games rather than Power To The People or Woman is The Nigger of The World. THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING. Many people think the former is what he does best. He wasn’t selling out, he was returning a more successful style.
    My point is that maybe that change was prompted by his desire to produce music that actually sold. That’s not selling out.
    Finally – my original point is that many people here seem to assume that Lennon would still be writing biting satires about todays poltical situation, WHEN ALL THE EVIDENCE POINTS TO THE CONTRARY (sorry for shouting.)
    I like John Lennon. A Day In The Life and Walrus are my two top songs of all time. But somehow a very short period of his life is coming to dominate every aspect of his legacy.
    I like the irony of the fact that Lennon left the UK for New York because he truly believed that was where he belonged and where he could shed his old Beatle image of “the dreamy one”. But the US public largely rejected this New Lennon, while his political material did much better in the UK (STINYC making an almost respectable – for an ex-Beatle- #11 in the charts.) Lennons return to his more whimsical, less direct style (Mind Games – basically Son-Of-Imagine-but-without-the-great-tunes) did quite well in America but not so in the place he’d built that image in the first place. Until his death Lennon’s singles were to never bother the UK top 10 again. Go figure.

  • Dr Winston O Boogie

    John was so great!! We need him back today to fight all the injustice in the WORLD!!

  • Tom Degan

    Dream. Dream away. Magic’s in the air….

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  • Ocean Child

    Thank you so much for presenting this wonderful film about the late, great John Lennon. His music and his legend will live forever.

  • Chris

    I believe the world is a better place because of John Lennon’s music. We will miss him but never forget him.

  • Sam Kowal

    Could you IMAGINE, if John were alive today; what an Inspiration he would have been; even more so. God Bless You, John, Peace.

  • tommy2×4

    When I heard that Lennon was killed, I was 21 years old and instantly became an old man. I was in the U.S. Navy at the time and a new father.

  • Raven Bocachica

    I’ll never forget where I was and what I felt when I learned of John Lennon’s death. My entire winter winter was affected. John and George were the most amazingly talented people and a gift to the Beatles. Without John Lennon, there is no one brave enough to speak out on world issues in an inspiring and creative manner. I still miss you John!

  • James From Brooklyn

    John Lennon was someone who meant alot to many. To me, he was my idol and I wanted to be just like him: A creative genious!

    And yes, he was an American by choice! He loved this country. This man could have lived wherever he wanted and he chose the USA, NYC to be exact. He loved it here and raised his son here. He was a great, caring man who let us all IMAGINE PEACE!

  • Taxman

    Mr. Wallis-son:

    What and where is All this Evidence that you speak of in vague terms? Can you lay it out for us instead of making such strong assertions in overly loud language? And why are you so fixated upon commercial success as a measurement tool of quality rock and roll music? Seems just a tad superficial to many of us.

  • Bertrom

    If only we all could imagine.

  • Rick

    Lennon STILL rules!

  • helen reyes

    I just love him.. always have…always will!!

  • Hippiecowboy420

    I can’t wait to see it as John Lennon is and always will be an inspiration to me through his Music, but also through his LOVE of Humanity and his thought’s of a BETTER WORLD. TO ME HE WILL ALWAYS BE A WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING.

  • bobeddy

    The fact that we are all here discussing John and his might have beens…..shows the power of who he was, and that power came from telling the truth, whether it be unpopular or even embarrasingly personal. Mother. Help. Beautiful Boy. Oh Yoko. Gimme Some Truth. Woman. It is very rare for an artist to bare his soul on such a large scale and with a combination of honesty, raw emotion and lyrical beauty. And, I doubt very much that he wrote Give Peace a Chance because it would be a hit. Miss you John.

  • Anita Koser

    If only we could carry on his desires we would live in peace. I loved him in life and love him now. Thank you John.

  • Nikki

    Let’s NEVER forget the other half, Sir Paul. It was never the same, one without the other. The “genius” is from the two of them together.

  • Gary Lane

    Being a big John Lennon fan and a photogragher back in 1974 I was fortunate to photograph John at various NY locatations including his office ,central park, 5th ave, beacon theater ….. both in color and black and white for 4 hours (very personal and museum quality photos,from the May Pang period).These photgraphs have never been published, I am looking to put together a show of these photo,so these photos can be shared with all who loved him.If you know of a quality gallery that might be interested in doing a show or a part of a show using these pictures please contact me at I really enjoyed the show tonight, and really am looking forward to tomorrows show. May the words of Imagine come true.

    Gary Lane
    Nov 21, 2010

  • John Manzione

    I have considered John Lennon a hero of mine since 1967. The night he was taken from us is still a raw nerve for me. I was playing poker with friends, the football game on the TV in the background. We heard the commentator deliver the news and the next 2 hours are a blank. I was found by my friends under a stairwell, in shock, and taken to the hospital. I cried for a month, every day, hard sobs that are reserved for family members. Yea, it was and is an unhealthy attachment to someone I never met. At 57 years old I still can’t watch a John video without collapsing into a puddle of tears. My grown children think its rather sad, but I would rather suffer the pain than not to have known Lennon’s presence in realtime.

    If I could have I would have happily given my life in exchange for his, which I often wonder about. “Why do I get, so far, 17 more years on this planet than John? Surely he is more worthy of life than me.” Than I become hopeful that in an infinite number of alternate universes John is 70, happy, and productive.

    BUT… People like Robert Carver drive me nuts. John Lennon was NOT a bleeding heart liberal. He was a caring man, yes, and he believed in the power of love. But he was also a capitalist, and he believed in personal liberty, personal responsibility, and he trashed ALL politicians during his political days (because they are ALL corrupt), not just Republicans. I can’t believe people who claim to know Lennon would think otherwise. Would Lennon support Glen Beck? No, I’m sure he wouldn’t, but he should as hell would support Beck’s RIGHT to do what does. People say John was a pacifist, but he really wasn’t. He would fight for what he believed in, and he believed WWII was a just war, so please spare us the liberal slant because you want to claim John as your own. Yoko should be more responsible for John’s image too, since she’s been selling his image as a leftist since the explosion of the internet (John would have LOVED the internet).

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no conservative. I believe in gay marriage, abortion before brain waves, legalize pot, and a whole lot more, but I’m no liberal and neither was John. I understand Yoko wanting to position John as a leftist, because Yoko was always more left leaning than John, and Yoko has controlled his image for 30 fricking years. You want the real truth about John, the greatest man that ever lived? (Yea, I’m not religious either), then read HIS words. In those 5 years he was raising Sean he was more “family values”, more “financially conservative” than at any point in his life. In fact, Esquire (the NOW LIBERAL magazine) did a HIT piece on John as a Cover feature, just a few months before he died. As he would have, should have, gotten older he would not have supported much of the progressive agenda, and to twist history, even by Yoko herself, is wrong. Truth has a funny way of disappearing when you leave the truth in the hands of someone with an agenda.

    I won’t be watching this tonight, but I will read several reviews to see how they slant it. If it is a true representation of John’s NYC years than I’ll buy the DVD and try and watch it, and if not, than I will sadly realize that as the years move forward Lennon’s legacy will continue to be framed by others, not John, and no one will learn the truth about him. That is a tragedy, but I suppose it has happened to every great, and not-so-great, hero through the ages.

    I would give my life in exchange for John Lennon’s, in a New York Minute, he was a truly great man who was wise beyond measure, a man that wore his heart on his sleeve, and touched all of us in deep and meaningful ways through his songs about love, loss, and much more.. We need to teach others the truth about Lennon, not gloss it over by people who weren’t born yet, or were babies the day he died. When you talk about John, please speak the truth, or someday (today?) no one will be left to remember the REAL John Lennon.

    I hope that this film is not a propaganda piece by the progressives of today. But I have a feeling it is.

  • Chris Stornable

    The day we went to war in Iraq and I saw protesters on the Tv all I could think is I wish John was here. He would have given us the inspiration we needed to go to the streets and stay there until the gov’t had no other choice but to listen. We miss you John.

  • Nancy Pelosi

    Robert Carver, too bad no one is singing about the atrocities happening to this country and government now. Back in the USSR definitely reflects today’s standards of American government.

  • rladd

    John Lennon was an artist who did about as much as anyone could to express himself honestly and to make the world a better place. He was never primarily a political activist, nor did he need to be. Nathaniel, I agree with you that Walrus and A Day in the Life were two of the greatest songs ever recorded… certainly among the very best of the Beatles. I would add a vote for Nowhere Man. Of course Paul did a lot of great songs too.

  • John Pompa

    I’m looking forward to watching this program tonight. John with or without the Beatles was a great musician and above all else, human being. Thanks for broadcasting this for all to watch.

  • Karen

    He would not want any of us saying we “wish” he was back to stand up for the injustices in the World. He would have hoped he had taught us how to do it ourselves. From all of our small corners of this universe, eventually coming together and living in peace.

    He was a great teacher.

  • Diana Small

    We are in Italy and can’t watch this preview because it is not available in this region. Why not?
    Please allow the preview. We would love to see it.
    Thank you.


    As an arts critic, my opinion about this film is published elsewhere. But as a John Lennon fan who had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know him, I must say that although this is a fairly well produced work of fiction, it takes an unintentional pratfall as a documentary. Ms Ono’s odd determination to rewrite history, giving herself the starring role, of course, could be just another joke made about the woman whose very name means bad news in popular culture. But this PBS co-production raises hopes of a definitive account of the New York years. It also cuts those close to her late husband. Neither Paul McCartney nor Ringo Starr participated in this film. With the exception of some craftily edited quotes, also missing is May Pang, John’s longtime lover and the one who encouraged a reunion with his (also missing) elder son, Julian, during the 18 months the couple lived together. By painting over the cracks in the Lennon/Ono marriage, it drops that often called “Lost Weekend” when John Lennon enjoyed his most successful and prolific period since the breakup of the Beatles. Times are tough, but shame on you, PBS.

  • Tamara

    Sid Berstein the legendary concert promoter who brought the Beetles to America is 92 years old now! He brought not only the legendary Beetles but also The Rolling Stones into the states! He also promoted Ray Chrales, James Brown, The Rasceles and many more! if iit wasn’t for Sid there may have been no Beetles, or Rolling Stones, or some of the many legendary artists who changed the future of music! So to all who does not now Sid Bernstein started it all!! We should send letters to any popular show like Oprah or Larry King Live to have him on the show. He is a great man and deserves to be recognized!!

  • Kevin

    Well done. Thank you. Also glad the ending made no mention of his assailant by name. We know who it was, and didn’t need to hear it. It was an omission that did not go unnoticed, and was appreciated.

  • Hollykc

    Thank you for this WONDERFUL biography of a great artist. I was post high school/college at the time; and involved in my own affairs. I felt like this was the TRUE picture of Lennon. The 1970’s media put such a black mark on Lennon and the constant efforts to have him deported. I have no doubt how much he loved America, and how much American music and life influenced him. LENNONYC redeemed the true artist that John was; and put the dark media of the time regarding the deportation efforts where they belong- in the garbage.

  • Berenice Weber

    I’ve always loved Lennon’s music, and thought I knew something about his life, but this superb documentary, with all these wonderful interviews with the musicians he worked with, and then Mrs. Yoko Ono sincere insight, reminds you of the great artist and man he truly was!

    thank you for this PBS, what a wonderful way to remember a genius, and one cannot stop smiling when listening to him having fun at the studio, great times shared!

  • nathaniel Wallis

    Hello Taxman.

    Okay. Evidence to support my statement that Lennon did not dedicate his life to political activism, nor after the abject failure of Sometime In New York City did he have any intention of continuing it in the future…..
    At a rough count Lennon released 77 songs as a solo artist, of which 15 could be deemed as “political.” (And I’m being very generous in what constitutes a “political” song).
    This represents a paltry 19% of his output. Couple this with the fact that the vast majority of this was released during or prior to SMTINY and I think that’s pretty strong evidence.
    Regarding my “fixation” with commercial success; i.e. the charts. Quality is subjective, and my (and your) opinion of what is good or not is meaningless beyond our own little worlds. So in an effort to measure what people thought of his work at the time (I’m not getting involved in any post-murder rose-tinted retrospection here) the only measure I can think of is chart placings and contempory critical reception. Not perfect I know (marketing can have as much effect on sales as the product itself) but the best I can come up with. I’d welcome any suggestions as to a better way to measure contempory opinion. His big political statement, Sometime in New York City bombed in the charts(showing the public didn’t think much of it) and was almost universally panned by critics (showing they didn’t care for it either)
    Finally, as to his intention to resurrect his long dead political activism, we have the politically free last albums Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey. But maybe most damning of all is this statement by the great man himself in a September 1980 Newsweek interview:

    Q: “How do you look back on your political radicalism in the early ’70’s?”
    JOHN: “That radicalism was phony, really, because it was out of guilt. I’d always felt guilty that I made money, so I had to give it away or lose it. I don’t mean I was a hypocrite. When I believe, I believe right down to the roots. But being a chameleon, I became whoever I was with. When you stop and think, what the hell was I doing fighting the American Government just because Jerry Rubin couldn’t get what he always wanted – a nice cushy job.”

  • mike

    Preview excerpt from LENNONYC
    What you cannot show this in the uk where does he come from again?

  • peter

    This is why PBS is so great. They really try to recognize great souls like Lennon


    Lennon was one of the greatest song writers who ever lived. It is just so great that PBS did something like this

  • Gustvao G° L

    Thanks for magic.
    Lennon and the Beatles always shine.

  • Arturas Zuokas

    Excellent movie.

  • Tom Degan

    In my life….Nothing to do to say his life, call his wife in.

    Remembering December 8, 1980

    Tom Degan

  • Tom Degan

    Remembering John Lennon thirty years later:

    Give peace a chance!

    Tom Degan

  • Zenia Emiliano

    good Kharma keeps the wheel turning…

  • Jefferson Younan

    Out of all of this, I think I laughed hardest at JL’s last post when he called him “Bob”. Truly sumptuous reading.

  • James Walsh

    LOL. Well, i assume he stopped putting the D string on his Guitar slightly flat by the time he was in the Double Fantasy sessions. Like Neil Young, John’s a force of nature!
    After all, that’s hilarious considering that he’s so good a Singer – Songwriter . I wonder if Paul or EC ever noticed how funny he is with the tuning… It might go something like this: ‘John, here’s yer Gold Record from the oven and it’s a Db in bar 4.’ LOL. John was a true free spirit and he is truly missed.


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