How an Elton John Concert Saved John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Relationship

John Lennon and Yoko Ono were a famous couple, but the pair did have a long separation in the 1970s. They did get back together, and another musical artist could be the reason for their reunion. Elton John and John Lennon performed at a concert together, which could save Lennon and Ono’s relationship.

John Lennon performed with Elton John after losing a bet

Elton John and John Lennon perform at Madison Square Garden
Elton John and John Lennon | Steve Morley/Redferns

After collaborating on a few songs, Elton John and John Lennon had a budding friendship. Lennon assisted John with his cover of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” The cover reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. The two also collaborated on Lennon’s “What Gets You Through the Night,” which became Lennon’s only number one hit. 

While working on the song, Lennon and John made a deal. If “What Gets You Through the Night” reached number one on the charts, then Lennon would perform with John. Once it happened, the “Imagine” singer made good on his promise by playing with John at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 

A source says Elton John’s concert may have saved Lennon and Ono’s relationship

Lennon and Ono first married in 1969. In July 1973, the pair separated, and Lennon began a relationship with his personal assistant, May Pang. After an 18-month split, the two were back together. However, Elton John’s guitarist, David Johnstone, believes the two reunited in 1974 after the Elton John concert. In an interview with Yahoo!, Johnstone said Ono had been at the show and wished Lennon good luck before his performance. 

“That night, Yoko came to the show, and John didn’t know she was in the audience,” Johnstone revealed. “I think he would’ve been really nervous if he’d known Yoko was in the crowd. But they got [back] together soon after that, and it was very special for them.”

Johnstone believes Elton worked behind the scenes with Lennon’s assistant, Tony King, to get Ono to the show. 

“They knew she was coming and all the rest of it,” Johnstone added. “And Yoko actually sent some beautiful gardenias for John to say, ‘Good luck with the show.’ If you look at the footage — there’s not very many pictures from that show; God knows why not, but there aren’t — you’ll see in John’s button hole, this gardenia that he’d gotten from Yoko. But he didn’t realize she was at the concert at the time.”

Lennon felt sick before going out on stage

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The reunion between Lennon and Ono came close to not happening as Lennon felt sick before going out on stage. According to Johnstone, Lennon was incredibly nervous before going on stage because he hadn’t performed in such a long time and was on the verge of throwing up. 

“The night of the concert, I was tuning all the instruments backstage, and John came into the dressing room looking terrified,” the guitarist recalled. “And I said, ‘John, are you OK?’ And he was like, ‘Well, no. I think I wanna throw up. I feel so nervous!’ — because he hadn’t played forever. It was so long since John had done a live performance. … But I tuned his guitar up, and I kind of gave him a hug and said, ‘Look, I’ll see you up there. It’s gonna be great!’”

Fortunately, Lennon did go on stage and received a massive ovation from the crowd. Unfortunately, it was Lennon’s final performance in front of a large-scale crowd before his death in 1980.