Live 8 Prophecy from the Walrus

A timely excerpt from David Sheff’s September 1980 Playboy interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Sheff Just to finish your favorite subject [the Beatles], what about the suggestion that the four of you put aside your personal feelings and regroup to give a mammoth concert for charity, some sort of giant benefit?
Lennon I don’t want to have anything to do with benefits. I have been benefited to death.

Sheff Why?

Lennon Because they’re always rip-offs. I haven’t performed for personal gain since 1966, when the Beatles last performed. Every concert since then, Yoko and I did for specific charities, except for a Toronto thing that was a rock-‘n’-roll revival. Every one of them was a mess or a rip-off. So now we give money to who we want. You’ve heard of tithing?

Sheff That’s when you give away a fixed percentage of your income.

Lennon Right. I am just going to do it privately. I am not going to get locked into that business of saving the world on stage. The show is always a mess and the artist always comes off badly.

Sheff What about the Bangladesh concert, in which George and other people such as Dylan performed?

Lennon Bangladesh was caca.

Sheff You mean because of all the questions that were raised about where the money went?

Lennon Yeah, right. I can’t even talk about it, because it’s still a problem. You’ll have to check with Mother [Yoko], because she knows the ins and outs of it, I don’t. But it’s all a rip-off. So forget about it. All of you who are reading this, don’t bother sending me all that garbage about, “Just come and save the Indians, come and save the blacks, come and save the war veterans,” Anybody I want to save will be helped through our tithing, which is ten percent of whatever we earn.

Sheff But that doesn’t compare with what one promoter, Sid Bernstein, said you could raise by giving a world-wide televised concert – playing separately, as individuals, or together, as the Beatles. He estimated you could raise over $200,000,000 in one day.

Lennon That was a commercial for Sid Bernstein written with Jewish schmaltz and showbiz and tears, dropping on one knee. It was Al Jolson. OK. So I don’t buy that. OK.

Sheff But the fact is, $200,000,000 to a poverty-stricken country in South America…

Lennon Where do people get off saying the Beatles should give $200,000,000 to South America? You know, America has poured billions into places like that. It doesn’t mean a damn thing. After they’ve eaten that meal, then what? It lasts for only a day. After the $200,000,000 is gone, then what? It goes round and round in circles. You can pour money in forever. After Peru, then Harlem, then Britain. There is no one concert. We would have to dedicate the rest of our lives to one world concert tour, and I’m not ready for it. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

(h/t colby cosh)

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