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Remember When: John Lennon Fended off a Lawsuit by Making a Chaotic Covers Album

11 June, 2024 - 0 Comments

If you listened to John Lennon’s 1975 album Rock ‘n’ Roll and knew nothing else about it, you’d probably hear it as a bit of a lark that allowed the ex-Beatle to pay homage to the music he grew up idolizing. And it is that, to an extent. But when you know why and how the record was made (and how it almost wasn’t), you’ll appreciate that Lennon was able to hold this thing together at all.

With lawsuits upon lawsuits, gunplay, and stolen tapes involved, the album at times felt more like international espionage than simple Rock ‘n’ Roll. And, oddly, the whole saga started with a Beatles song. The opening song off Abbey Road, the final album The Beatles recorded together before their breakup, was “Come Together,” credited to Lennon/McCartney but pretty much 100% written by John Lennon. That’s why Morris Levy came after Lennon, claiming the song sounded a bit too much like the Chuck Berry song “You Can’t Catch Me,” for which Levy owned the publishing.

These claims took place a few years after The Beatles had broken up and Lennon was in the middle of his solo career. He didn’t want to be sued, so he agreed with Levy to record and release a few songs from Levy’s publishing catalog of golden oldies as a kind of goodwill gesture. Studio time in Los Angeles was squared away in late 1973.

Source: Jim Beviglia/


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