March 12, 1974: John Lennon Kicked Out of Nightclubby Best Classic Bands Staff
It happened during John Lennon’s infamous, 18-month “lost weekend” when he was separated from Yoko Ono and had moved out of their apartment in the Dakota in Manhattan and was spending time in Los Angeles. He was producing the Pussy Cats album for his friend Harry Nilsson, who was also Lennon’s partner in crime during the Beatle’s L.A. stay.
The Smothers Brothers were playing the Troubadour nightclub, on the comeback trail after having their prime-time variety show canceled by CBS TV. Lennon and Nilsson arrived for the late show lit on Brandy Alexanders (brandy and milk).
John had already drunkenly acted out at the club at an Ann Peebles show a few weeks before, wearing a sanitary napkin on his head and infamously asking a waitress, “Don’t you know who I am?” Her reply: “Yes. You’re some asshole with a Kotex on your head.”
This time the drunken John and Harry proceeded to loudly heckle the Smothers and disrupt their show. As accounts go, either club owner Doug Weston or Smothers Brothers manager Ken Fritz or both confronted the two soused musicians, and an altercation ensued. A table was overturned. Lennon lost his glasses in the scuffle. He was ejected from the club by security. And then got into another fracas in the parking lot. The incident soon made worldwide news.
The next day, Lennon and Nilsson sent flowers to the Smothers Brothers with a card that read: “To Tom and Dick: Please accept these flowers as a gesture of peace. We humbly apologize for our bad manners. Love and Tears, John and Harry.”
It was a stain on both men’s public image. “That incident ruined my reputation for 10 years,” Nilsson later said. “Get one Beatle drunk and look what happens!”
Lennon was genuinely ashamed of his behavior, but also looked at the affair philosophically. “When it’s Errol Flynn, the showbiz writers say, ‘Those were the days, when men were men.’ When I do it, I’m a bum. So it was a mistake, but hell, I’m human.”
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