Video: John Lennon’s final public performance, 1975

John Lennon did not make many stage appearances during his short solo career after departing The Beatles. However, Lennon’s final performance before a live audience is largely forgotten today. Lennon appeared at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on April 18, 1975, to perform on “A Salute to Sir Lew Grade”, supported by Dog Soldier.

On this television special, Lennon performed “Slipping and Sliding” and “Stand By Me”, both from his latest release, and his most popular solo composition, “Imagine”. He wore a unique ‘two-faced’ mask he had designed to project his true feelings of Sir Lew Grade. Sculptor Ruby Jackson created masks for Lennon and his backing unit especially for this television production.

Incidentally, John’s backing band, Etcetera, is actually the group BOMF, which stands for Brothers Of Mother Fuckers, a name still visible on the bass drum during their performance. (BOMF had actually originated from the group Community Apple, whose previous lead singer Joey Dambra sang backing vocals on John’s track ‘No. 9 Dream’. At John’s suggestion, BOMF will later change their name to Dog Soldier – the words from one of his songs.)

John returns at the very end of the Salute To Sir Lew show to take a bow with the rest of the cast, this time dressed in a more formal blue shirt and white trousers, plus, of course, his trademark cap and scarf. Joining him on the star-studded bill tonight is the host, the Irish comedian Dave Allen, plus singing stars Tom Jones and Julie Andrews, comic genius Peter Sellers and the Dougie Squires Second Generation dance group. The show is watched by an equally star-studded audience, which includes from the world of American entertainment, George Segal, William Conrad, Shirley MacLaine, Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, Goldie Hawn and Lauren Bacall. The 52-minute videotaped show is first transmitted in America on June 13, 1975, while the UK TV screening takes place one week later, across the ITV network on June 20 at different times throughout the evening. Both US and UK versions of the show cut ‘Stand By Me’ from John’s three-track live performance which will turn out to be John’s last.