~ A John Lennon Story ~
by Peter R. McCormack
At the risk of telling one John Lennon Story too many, I have a short tale
to tell about a group of enthusiastic Beatle fans and the events leading up to one of their annual Beatle events.
Althought the story begins in 1965 I will spare you the details of the next 15 years and
begin with the narrative. Sometime in 1978 two avid Beatle fans, Gregg Finley and Rob Feltus organized the first "Beatle Extravaganza". I shall be ever grateful for their creativity and initiative, for without them the events of this story would never have taken place. Following a successful Beatles' Extravaganzas in December 1978 and 1979, I offered
to take my turn in organizing the 1980 fest which would end up being called "Magical Mystery
Tour 1980." The event was another success for this small group of Beatle fans
celebrating the Christmas Season and the Extravaganza in Saint John, New Brunswick on Canada's
east coast. Complete with: the usual contests; a Magical Mystery Tour by bus in which even
the bus driver didn't know where he was going; and a stop for fish and chips, served on
paper, of course. I still have my wizard suit today, nearly 20 years later, but that is another story. My story begins several months before the December 1980 event.
"Night Before" Pin
"Roll Up" Pass
Beatles' Extravaganza Admission Buttons
Beginning in late August, I began writing on a weekly basis
to invite John Lennon to the Annual Beatle Extravaganza. Regular as clockwork, I
churned out one letter after another which I mailed to the Dakota in New York City. The
theme of these letters was bold, consistent and humorous (at least from my perspective). A portion of the letter mused
"John, we are have an Annual Extravaganza celebrating the music of the Beatles and are cordially
inviting you to attend the festivities. In the unlikely event that you will not be attending
this premier happening would you kindly have the courtesy to send off a short note that I could
share with my friends at our event. Yours truly, Peter McCormack." I'll spare you all the
additional groveling details and just let you know that I mailed out ten of these literary masterpieces.
If any of them surface in the New York area I will be suitably embarassed should my the creative attempts
to capture John's attention ever become public.
Late in November 1980, I visited the post office and found a form in
my mailbox notifying me that a parcel had arrived. I handed in the form to the postal clerk who
tossed me an oversized envelope in a friendly and carefree manner. It was constructed of a very rough brown material,
addressed in blue writing and had a couple of postal marks stamped on it. In the upper left hand corner
was the return address "Lennono Studio One, 1 West 72nd St. Datoka, NY NY 10023." I began to shake
and quickly took the package out to the car. I gazed futher at the envelop which described the contents
for customs purposes a simply "record." I just sat there in the car staring at the envelope...
Envelope from LENNONO STUDIO ONE
I began to open it but then remember stopping for just a moment to savour the moment
and quickly scan the postmark. Two things were going through my mind. Could this really be from
Lennon? Is it possible that this is just some public relations response that has nothing to do with John Lennon in any direct way? After all the
envelope says "record" I want a note. I can buy his records pretty much anywhere. So when was this
package sent and by whom. One last glance before I open it. Why am I not ripping it open? So what does the postmark reveal...
Package Postmarked November 21, 1980.
I tear open the right side of the envelop and pull out the contents quickly.
There is another envelope sealed inside that has "LENNONO STUDIO ONE" stamped in the upper right hand corner
and a repeated pattern of printed words that reads "Promotional Materials." I can now clearly see and feel that this is indeed a record album.
Although excited, I am a little disappointed that there is no accompanying note. I tear the right side of this envelope, just as I had the brown outer package,
drinking in all the visual and tactile sensations I can.
Inside envelope of Lennon Package.
At this point I start to slow down a bit and as I see the mess I have made tearing the
promotional materials sleeve, I gingerly slide out the record album. On the front side of the
"Double Fantasy" Album I notice a bold stamp printed into the surface of the record album sleeve that reads...
Double Fantansy Promotional Record Seal.
Of course I am thrilled. The response, the handwritten information on the outside of the envelope. This is from "THE DAKOTA." Could John Lennon have
asked that this be done? Had John even seen my letters?
Ten weeks of creative literary juices. Were they all for not? I mean promotional materials, surely Lennon must
have someone take care of such things. He must have someone to deal with persistent fans like myself. So I turn the album over and
there is a nice picture of John and Yoko outside of a building that I assumed must be the Dakota in New York.
As I gaze quickly over the album I notice a note in the upper right hand corner that has been indeliably etched
in my heart and the temporal lobes of my brain for the past 18 years. "For Peter and friends, Love John Lennon and Yoko Ono 1980."
Complete with drawings. I have included this image below along with an enlargement of the note, signature and
Note and Signature on Back of Double Fantasy Album.
Enlarged John Lennon Signature, Note and Drawings.
This was an experience of which I could only have hoped to dream. I was never lucky enough to
see the Beatles perform live but I will cherish this memory forever. You can just imagine the expression
on the faces of friends at the Extravaganza as they received their personal message from John. This helped in some
small way deal with the tragedy of his death on December 8, 1980. Strawberry Fields Forever.
Article Submitted on October 9, 1998
© 1998 Peter McCormack. All rights reserved.