Music News from ABC

Bernie Taupin recalls John Lennon’s last concert appearance with Elton John

Steve Morley/Redferns

On November 28, 1974, John Lennon surprised fans by joining Elton John onstage at Madison Square Garden for what would be Lennon’s last major concert appearance. Well, it turns out Lennon really didn’t want to take the stage alone. 


Elton’s songwriting partner Bernie Taupin tells ABC Audio Lennon wanted him to come out with him, but he refused. 

“I said, ‘To do what? What am I going to do? Just stand there, you know, like a wallflower?’” he shared. “I said, ‘I can’t do that. This is where you’re on your own.’ And that’s when he was propelled onto the stage. And the rest is history.”

Lennon eventually dragged Taupin out, but Bernie doesn’t think anyone noticed.

“Nobody could have cared less that I was on there,” he said. “I mean, I was just one of many and he was the one in the limelight and much deservedly so.”

Lennon’s appearance was the result of losing a bet with Elton over “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night,” which features Elton on backing vocals. Elton bet Lennon the song would go to #1 and if he won, Lennon would have to join him onstage.

Well, the song did hit #1, becoming Lennon’s only solo #1 single in his lifetime. He made good on the bet, performing three songs with Elton: “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night,” plus The Beatles tracks “I Saw Her Sanding There” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” 

Bernie recounts the night in his memoir, Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton and Me, telling ABC Audio, “That was such an important part of our lives and our careers and my interaction with John in general, that it was necessary for me to include that.” He added, “It was my fly on the wall part of that situation.”

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