Yes, that really is John Lennon and Yoko Ono barrelling around on a snowmobile, courtesy of their pal Ronnie Hawkins

It must have been a nice time for John and Yoko to get away from being Beatle John.  The Beatles had all but dissolved, and John was getting down to the business of promoting peace, and being John.  Oh to be a fly on the wall seeing John and Yoko hanging out with Ronnie Hawkins.  It must have been a fun time hanging out in the snow. 

I have seen footage of the time John and Yoko spent with Hawkins.  It looks like a great laid-back time hanging out, and riding snowmobiles.  I can just imagine a late night with the guitars pulled out.  I wonder what the music, if there was any, was like between the two.  Who knows… 

The article also mentions John performing “Give Peace a Chance” at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival Festival in 1969.  We hadn’t seen it in a really longtime, so we decided to post it, as well, for your enjoyment.
 

Here’s what we’ve read.

In a Mississauga pub they raised a toast to the spirit of John Lennon.

A snowy night on Erin Mills Parkway seems like a million miles from Liverpool and certainly hundreds from where the famous Beatle was slain 27 years ago — Dec. 8, 1980 — outside the Dakota apartment complex just off of Central Park in New York City.

But the truth is Lennon does have a profound connection to this neighbourhood and it has a lot more to do with the fact this pub is called Abbey Road and that its walls are lined with pictures and posters from the early days and that popular Beatles tribute band Daytripper is on stage.

On this very land, 29 years ago this month, the legendary Lennon was frolicking like a kid on a snowmobile in what was then nothing but farmers’ fields.

“I can’t believe how built up it is now. There are houses and shopping malls there now,” said Rompin Ronnie Hawkins, who will never forget the week John and Yoko stayed with him and his wife at their then Mississauga home, just 1 km as a crow flies from this pub.

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The English-style Tudor house still stands just off Mississauga Rd. on the way to Streetsville and there are no markers or signs to illustrate John Lennon was here.

But he was. And it was quite a show. “He was quite a guy,” The Hawk said from his home on Stony Lake. “I never seen anything ever again like it after I spent a week with him.”

He joked he has “one foot in the grave and one in WD 40” but more than enough gray matter left to know it was a monumental event in his and his wife’s lives.

“Yoko brought in all these phone lines and she could get a hold of anybody — Princess Margaret and Queen Elizabeth. Anybody. The world was crazy that week. It was something because here I was nothing but this little ol’ bar act being involved with all of this.”

The “little ol’ bar act” ended up jamming with Lennon in the living room and somewhere out there someone in the Lennon entourage has those tapes. At least there are some pictures. The best one is of John and Yoko on the Hawk’s snowmobile.

‘BIGGEST ACT’

“They had so much fun. He loved snowmobiling and having a blast,” said the Hawk. “I still couldn’t believe I was hanging out with the biggest act in the world.”

When they left, word was they also left a $9,000 phone bill. It was later paid. “But even if it wasn’t, it was worth the publicity,” the Hawk said, laughing.

The idea of them staying there was legendary rock writer Ritchie Yorke’s. “I thought they’d get more privacy than staying at the King Eddy where they had stayed before.”

Yorke also recalls the time a few months earlier when John headlined the Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival show before 20,000 fans at Varsity Stadium, as part of the Plastic Ono Band featuring a guy named Eric Clapton on guitar. On YouTube you can find a video of him singing Give Peace a Chance. “It was his first concert after splitting from the Beatles and he was so nervous,” said Yorke. “But in the end it was a classic.”

Also out in Mississauga, Terry Sylvester dug out the song Imagine and played it quietly at his home for his old neighbourhood chum. “To me Imagine is John Lennon.”

The Liverpool-born Sylvester, a member of The Hollies who now lives in Canada, remembers John so well from the days before anybody knew him. “He was always interesting,” said Terry. “Even then he was unusual in that he was writing books of poetry and thinking in terms of art.”

It’s all very sad for Terry who played on the same stage the very night the Beatles played their last show at the Cavern Club. “It’s strange when you think of all that happened,” he said. “It seems like yesterday I was riding with John in Liverpool on the bus.”

Toronto entertainment industry producer Gene Mascardelli remembers talking to Lennon just months before he died while they were in the studio recording his final album Double Fantasy. “He was in good spirits,” said Mascardelli. “Who would have ever known what was too come?”

Mascardelli has a theory why so many people mark this anniversary.

“For a lot of people John Lennon was the profane Christ of the new millennium,” he said. “His death is right there in people’s memories like that of JFK or Princess Diana. John was good but his real goodness was not really understood until years later. This guy was real, like a cold shower.”

It seems like yesterday his life was stolen and whether it’s at Abbey Road on Erin Mills, Abbey Road in London, in Liverpool or in Manhattan, people have not forgotten. “A certain kind of energy died with him that has never been seen again,” said fan Kathy Duffy.

Except for occasion on Beatles nights in pubs like Abbey Road.  

Source: Toronto Sun

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One Response

  1. While Lennon was staying with Ronnie Hawkins, he paid to have a plane write giant words in the sky over Toronto. I was 11 years old and tobogganing at the time; we all stopped to look at the sky; the skywriting said WAR IS OVER,

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