Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Lennon Companion: Updated and Expanded Edition

Edited by Elizabeth Thomson & David Gutman

The deportation case had its roots in a concert-rally John and Yoko gave in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in December 1971--a benefit for a local activist named John Sinclair, who had served two years of a 10-year sentence for selling two joints of marijuana to an undercover cop. Lennon and his movement friends regarded the Sinclair concert as a trial run for their proposed national tour. They wanted to see how a typical rock audience would respond to a rally that combined music with radical politics. The FBI was interested in precisely the same question. Its undercover agents were salted among the 15,000 excited Midwestern college kids who came to Crisler Arena to see John and Yoko and their friends.

The concert-rally began with Allen Ginsberg, who led the crowd in chanting 'Om-m-m-m-m'. Phil Ochs sang a song about Nixon. A local band played Elvis Presley's 'Jailhouse Rock' for the man behind bars, and a version of Chuck Berry's 'Nadine', with new words about Bernardine Dohrn, a member of the Weather Underground: 'Bernardine, sister is that you?/Your picture's in the post office/But the people are protecting you'.

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