The four Beatles are generally regarded by people who knew them as kind, good-hearted people, but their wholesome image during the ‘60s was largely due to savvy publicists.
By the time the Fab Four hit their mid-20s, John, Paul, George and Ringo did plenty of celebrating in their own way.
Longtime Elton John guitarist Davey Johnstone got a brief window into the Beatles’ rather ~adult~ pre-show routine minutes before taking the stage with John Lennon at Madison Square Garden in 1974 — Lennon’s final live performance.
“It was comical because John was so nervous, obviously … since the Beatles, he hadn’t played a show; he was incredibly nervous,” Johnstone recalled.
“He came into the tune-up room where I was doing Dee [Murray’s] bass and all my guitars and stuff. He brought his guitar and said, ‘Davey, will you tune me guitar. I can’t even think straight right now.’
“So I took it and I’m tuning his guitar and I’m looking at him — he is actually green. He was a pale shade of green ’cause he was so scared and so nervous. I said, ‘John, are you okay?’ He went, ‘Yeah … how long till we go on?’ I said, ‘About 15 minutes.’ He said, ‘Oh, we used to get a bit of fanny ’round about now.’ (Laughs)”
Johnstone continued saying that was the famous line he’d tell other musicians.
“They go, ‘Are you kidding? He actually said that?’ … So I said, ‘God bless the Beatles!’ Nobody rocks harder than the Beatles if you’re telling me that.”
While Lennon never toured as a solo artist, he and Yoko Ono performed at a benefit concert at The Garden two years before the Elton John gig, so its entirely understandable he would be nervous after so much time away from the stage.
As for the 15 minutes thing… it’s not a race, John.