One of the most significant figures in the development of rock and roll was John Lennon. He helped change the music business as a founding member of The Beatles and leave a lasting impact.
Tony King has been in the music industry for over six decades. He has also spent time with various rock icons including John Lennon. King is a man who partied with The Beatles, who was the first person outside of the Rolling Stones to hear “Satisfaction,” and who once had no qualms about interrupting a dazed David Bowie while he was using cocaine in a Beverly Hills restroom. Recently while talking with BBC Radio 5’s Nihal Arthanayake, he looked back on the day John Lennon had a big breakdown.
Lennon was a skilled musician, songwriter, and performer, and his well-known songs have cemented their places in the history of rock and roll. He was a vocal supporter of civil rights and world peace, and his songs frequently touched on contemporary social themes. Many people in the rock and roll scene looked to Lennon as an inspiration, and his impact is still felt today.
According to Tony, Lennon was in a bad place. He had been drinking a lot and doing drugs, which had a negative impact on his mental health. Even though he was having an affair with May Pang, Lennon experienced depression, especially after he and Yoko Ono split up in 1973. Tony recalled,
“One night, I was asleep. [It was] three o’clock, the phone rang, and it was May. She said, ‘John has gone crazy; you’ve got to get over here!’ So, I had to jump in my T-Bird, which I’d rented, a great tank of a car, and drive over to the house that I’d managed to get him, which belonged to Lou Adler, who produced the Mamas and the Papas and Carole King. He had a lovely house opposite the Bel Air Hotel in Bel Air.”
“I arrived, and May was in the street. I happened to hear this bellowing sound. I said to May, ‘What is it? What’s going on?’ She said, ‘Well, John got really wild in the studio, they brought him home, and I think they tied his hands behind his back to stop him lashing out. He broke free, and he’s now gone a bit mad in the house.’ So, I went to the house to see him, and he was standing in the doorway, screaming and shouting.”
He added, “I looked over his shoulder and saw all these gold records were bent, the Mamas and the Papas and Carole King’s tapestry bent, windows smashed, and Lou’s collection of walking sticks broken. He was standing there, and I thought, ‘How am I going to deal with this?’ So I just said to him, ‘John, what’s the matter?’ And he fell on my shoulder and started crying. He said, ‘They tied me up, Tony, they tied me up. I’m so scared. I’m so scared.’
I said, ‘Well, come on, let’s go inside, sit down and talk it over.’ So, we got in, and then he went into a blackout situation. He started fighting with me, and I was rolling around the floor with him. I managed to lay completely on top of him, with my nose one inch from his. At that point, he came out of the blackout and looked me in the face. He said, ‘Oh,I didn’t know you were so strong, dear,’ started laughing, and then we went and sat down. That kind of broke it.”
John Lennon struggled to move on after his split from Yoko Ono, and the drugs he used had a negative impact on his mental state. Lennon was also known to have struggled with various addictions throughout his life, including alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Thankfully, that day Tony King helped the deceased star ultimately regain consciousness because he was in the right place at the right time.