How Elton John gave John Lennon his first number one

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Elton John and John Lennon‘s friendship was like that of siblings. Back then, The Beatles changed the world, and when the news of their disbandment came through in 1970 everyone was in a mess. What followed was the band member’s own solo careers.

By 1974, Paul McCartney already had three number-one hits in the US, and Geroge Harrison and Ringo Starr had one for each. John Lennon was lacking in that part, he was going through a mid-life crisis. The commercial success was not as expected for John and a dark cloud reigned over him.

That’s when Elton John came to be his savior. According to Far Out, Elton John entered the studio to assist John Lennon with ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night‘. John was going through a dark period back then. That’s when Elton made a deal if the song got it to number one, then John would make an appearance at his Madison Square Garden Show for Thanksgiving in 1974. By that time, he was already back to his usual self and came back on the stage with a smile.

Sadly, it was the very last time he appeared on the stage. Lennon called this stage of his ‘Lost weekend’ which was more than 18 months. From the spring of 1973 to November 1974, he drank and had a bad time. It was because he was having difficulty with his marriage to Yoko. That’s when 32 years of John went out for cigarettes and didn’t come back.

John had fled away from the scene with his assistant girlfriend May Pang. For 18 months there were many headlines that grabbed the attention of his fans. In an interview with the New York Times in 2008, Pang recalled, “At night he [John Lennon] loved to channel-surf, and he would pick up phrases from all the shows. One time, he was watching Reverend Ike, a famous black evangelist, who was saying, ‘Let me tell you guys, it doesn’t matter, it’s whatever gets you through the night.’ John loved it and said, ‘I’ve got to write it down or I’ll forget it.’ He always kept a pad and pen by the bed. That was the beginning of ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’.”

Elton and Lennon now. Lennon has talked about Elton in different interviews. Recalling Elton John’s involvement in his songs, he once said, “I was fiddling about one night and Elton John walked in with Tony King of Apple — you know, we’re all good friends — and the next minute Elton said, ‘Say, can I put a bit of piano on that?’ I said, ‘Sure, love it!’ He zapped in. I was amazed at his ability: I knew him, but I’d never seen him play.”

“A fine musician, great piano player. I was really pleasantly surprised at the way he could get in on such a loose track and add to it and keep up with the rhythm changes — obviously, because it doesn’t keep the same rhythm… And then he sang with me. We had a great time.”

John has also looked back on this particular moment and said, “That was the kind of wonderful two or three-year whirlwind romance we had, and it was such an important thing in my life, Sean. It just really helped me. It gave me so much confidence. Your dad was as kind and as generous and sweet, and we just hit it off immediately.” In this, chart-topping anthem, that really shines through.”

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