The Beatles officially broke up in the spring of 1970 but it was the fall of 1969, a few months previous, that John started his solo career rolling. Rewind two weeks before the big show, two promoters John Brower and Kenny Walker thought they’d take a shot in the dark and ask John Lennon to MC the Toronto Rock N Roll Revival that would feature Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard AND Jerry Lee Lewis sharing the stage with Alice Cooper, Chicago Transit Authority and The Doors (who headlined). Did you know members of Toronto’s Nucleus backed Jerry Lee Lewis and Alice Cooper’s band backed Gene Vincent (also on the bill)?
According to John Lennon in “Anthology”“We got this call on a Friday that there was a rock ‘n’ roll revival show in Toronto with a 100,000 audience, or whatever it was,” Lennon recalled in ‘Anthology.’ “They were inviting us as king and queen to preside over it, not play. But I didn’t hear that bit. I said, ‘Just give me time to get a band together,’ and we went the next morning.” The band was Eric Clapton, drummer Alan White (Yes) and bass player Klaus Voorman (who designed the cover for “Revolver”) and they flew to Canada day of the show. They rehearsed on the plane. Oh yes and there was Yoko too. Screaming for 20 minutes while everyone in the audience took a pee break.
According to critic Robert Christgau who was at the show wrote, “John looked nervous—it was his first appearance in three years but was in good voice”. But it was when “Live Peace In Toronto” was released that Robert turned on Lennon stating he gave the album a “C” (a bouncy C?) He says, “I happened to be there and it wasn’t so hot live. It is worse recorded, The anti-Yoko reaction has long since passed beyond boorishness, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear her keen for 20 minutes, and the rock side is raw and badly recorded, with Clapton’s masterful lead obscured by Lennon’s rhythm. Of value primarily as a document.”
Thank god someone pushed record…damn the critics.