(Photo: Steve Morley)
This surprising performance came after two years that John Lennon didn't appear live on stage, and was the result of a bet between him and Elton John. It was also John Lennon's last appearance on stage in front of an audience, and it also revived the relationship between Lennon and Yoko Ono, after the long hiatus known as "The Lost Weekend" - a period of 18 months in which Lennon lived separately from Yoko.
So as we noted, what led to John Lennon being a guest on Elton John's performance was a bet that took place between the two during the recording of "Walls and Bridges" - Lennon's album released that year. Elton was featured on two songs from the album - "Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)" and "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night".
During the recordings Elton and Lennon made a bet on the song "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night". Elton told Lennon that if the song reached number one on the charts, he would have to return a favor and perform with him on stage. It did happen, in early November 1974 John Lennon's song overtook "Bachman-Turner Overdrive's" "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" when it reached number one on the charts, and Lennon was forced to do his part and join Elton John's performance held today in 1974.
John Lennon's entrance to the stage left the audience speechless and overwhelmed. His guest appearance was not known before hand and did not appear in ads to promote the show. Lennon was greeted with loud applause and it is evident that he himself was surprised by the reaction of the crowd that was reminiscent of the days of "the Beatles".
Lennon performed with Elton John three songs. "The bet song" - “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” and two songs by the Beatles - "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" and "I Saw Her Standing There", which John Lennon introduced to the audience as a song by his "fiancée in separate" - Paul McCartney:
"We tried to think of a number to finish off with so I can get out of here and be sick, and we thought we'd do a number of an old, estranged fiancé of mine, called Paul. This is one I never sang . It's an old Beatle number, and we just about know it".
As mentioned, this was John Lennon's last appearance in front of an audience.
This historic moment was captured on video as can be seen here:
Yoko Ono was waiting For Lennon behind the scenes. She was separated from him at the time. They each returned home, but this meeting between the two led to their reunion shortly afterwards.