On June 6th, 1971, an unlikely meeting of two musical legends occurred at the historic Fillmore East in New York, NY when Frank Zappa and John Lennon shared the stage.
Just a short while after The Beatles‘ reign had ended, Lennon continued to perform with his Plastic Ono Band. Meanwhile, Zappa was just making a name for himself with his off-the-wall style and sharp wit. It was certainly an exciting time for these legends to share the stage.
The performance itself, however, is particularly bizarre. The three-song collaboration starts off with a blues-ish number, “Well (Baby Please Don’t Go),” a song that Lennon says he hadn’t played since his Liverpool days. Yoko Ono is caterwauling throughout this entire performance, an asset that comes into the limelight on the next song, “King Kong.” Zappa seems at times both amused and annoyed by the vocal contribution. They finish off the session with a jam on something called “Scumbag,” a free form jam based on the word scumbag.
Fortunately, video footage of this show was captured as part of an eventual live release for Lennon. Though the album tanked, this video certainly captures an incredible moment in rock and roll history.
Watch the three-song segment below.
Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention w/ John Lennon & Yoko Ono – 6/6/71
John Lennon – guitar, vocals
Yoko Ono – bag, vocals
Frank Zappa – guitar, vocals
Howard Kaylan – vocals, tambourine
Mark Volman – vocals, tambourine
Bob Harris – keyboards
Don Preston – Minimoog
Ian Underwood – keyboards, alto sax
Jim Pons – bass, vocals
Aynsley Dunbar – drum