Tuesday, March 24, 2009

April 18, 1975 - Salute to Sir Lew

Taped: Friday 18 April 1975
Aired: Friday 13 June 1975

For tonight's show, John, sporting a pair of dark round glasses, appears with his long hair tied back into a ponytail and is dressed in a bright red boiler suit covered in zips. Clutching an acoustic guitar, he performs live vocal versions of 'Slippin And Slidin' ', 'Stand By Me' and, rather nervously, 'Imagine', in which John changes the lyrics to "brotherhood and sisterhood of man", a reference to his espousal of feminist politics. He is joined by the eight-piece band Etcetera, who appear dressed in matching boiler suits and, rather strangely, face masks attached to the back of their heads. John is naturally asked about the significance of these masks. He replies: "It was a sardonic reference to my feelings on Lew Grade's personality!" (His resentment stems from Grade's ATV company taking control of The Beatles' Northern Songs in 1969. The Beatles, most significantly John and Paul, were forced to sell their remaining stock in Northern Songs to ATV for a sum reputed to be in excess of $5 million.)

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. (Incidentally, Sir Lew Grade died in London, aged 91, during the early hours of December 13,1998, following complications with a heart operation.)

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