Five Life Lessons From John Lennon's "Lost Weekend"

Rocks Off would like to wish a very happy 70th birthday to one of the coolest pop cats out there, Harry Nilsson (wherever he is now). Four times out of five, whenever we play the jukebox at Warren's, we put on something from his Greatest Hits - like Martin Scorsese, we usually leave the lime in the coconut and jump into the fire, but you can't really go wrong with "Without You," "One" or "I Guess the Lord Must Live In New York City" either.

This would be an especially remarkable milestone for Nilsson, considering his somewhat legendary taste for the good life, except he passed away in 1994. But until then, he was a survivor and, some would say, the chief enabler of good friend John Lennon's "lost weekend," the period when the former Beatle separated from Yoko Ono and relocated to Los Angeles with his personal assistant/paramour May Pang.

What ensued quickly became rock and roll legend. Since we may have had a few lost weekends ourselves - we can't remember - Rocks Off combed through sites like For the Love of Harry to see what we might be able to learn from these two's. Watch this space for the day we actually take our own advice.

Time Passes Differently For Celebrities. Lennon's "lost weekend" actually took up the tail end of 1973, all of 1974 and the early part of 1975, during which time Rocks Off was both conceived and born.

Three Is Not A Crowd, It's A Party. When Lennon came to L.A., he crashed at Nilsson's pad, where Ringo Starr and Keith Moon were already staying. Cue mayhem.

The Smothers Brothers Rule. Somewhat obvious, but always worth repeating. (Steve Martin wrote for them!) The highlight, or lowlight, of Lennon's lost weekend came when he and Nilsson went to see the Smothers at L.A.'s Troubador in March 1974. Lennon began heckling the comedians, which didn't sit well with Rat Packer Peter Lawford, who was sitting nearby. A brawl ensued that WWE announcer Jim Ross would have called a "slobberknocker," and might have gotten Lennon deported had the LAPD decided there was enough evidence to press charges.

Hindsight Is 20/20. The lost weekend is perhaps as close as Lennon ever came to reuniting the Beatles, perhaps with Nilsson on board as well. He was already hanging out with Ringo, and Pang insists John was considering meeting Paul McCartney in New Orleans when he decided to head back to Yoko and New York City instead. "We talked about reuniting the Beatles. At one point he wanted to do it," she told in 2008. "For the hell of it. Because there wasn't any pressure, any contracts. He'd say, 'That'd be fun.'"

We Should All Be So Productive On Our Own Lost Weekends. When Pang's photo book Instamatic Karma came out in 2008, The New York Times noted that, partying aside, while he was in L.A. "Lennon completed three albums -- Mind Games, Walls and Bridges and Rock 'n' Roll -- produced albums for Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson, and recorded with David Bowie, Elton John and Mick Jagger."

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray