A Christmas Eve delivery to John Lennon


Guitarist Kevin Sullivan of the Beatles cover band Abbey Rhode shared this story — parts of which appear in Albert Goldman's controversial book, "The Lives of John Lennon" — about his holiday meeting with the ex-Beatle and his then-estranged wife, Yoko Ono, in 1974. At the time Mr. Sullivan, who grew up in Portsmouth, was 24 and living in New York City.

“I was friends with Yoko’s psychic. His name was John Green and he wrote ‘Dakota Days.’ I was over there Thanksgiving dinner and Yoko came by; she was delivering turkeys to the homeless. She was separated from John Lennon at the time. I was there with some friends and she was sitting around on the floor with us, having some wine.

“Then I got a call about two weeks later from John Green: ‘Kevin, Yoko had a good feeling about you. She wants you to do this special job for her. Go see her at the Dakota.’ I went to find out (what kind of job it was). I was ready.

“So I get to the Dakota. The elevator opens up and I’m greeted by Yoko. There’s a white rug, a white little pyramid in the hallway and she’s dressed in white. I’ve got a blue jean jacket, blue jeans and clogs. We go into the room overlooking Central Park and there’s a white grand piano, white couch.

“She says, ‘I’ve got this job for you to do. I want you to fly down to Florida and deliver these papers to John Lennon. Make sure you hand them to him.’ She gives me the envelope, she gives me a check and she gives me money for expenses along the way. She books the flight. I’m going on Christmas Eve.

“While I’m on the plane, I see that the envelope she gave me is not sealed. And I opened it up. It’s the dissolution papers of Apple Records, signed by George Harrison, Ringo Starr and I think it hadn’t been signed yet by Paul McCartney.

“I go down to Florida and I get out of the airport. It’s Christmas Eve and the only cab drivers are Jewish. I give him the address and he says, ‘You know where that is? It’s West Palm Beach.’ It’s like a $70 cab ride.

“So I get to the condo and who greets me at the door but May Pang (the woman in a relationship with Lennon during his 18-month “lost weekend” away from Yoko). And it’s (music industry executive) Morris Levy’s condo — the guy who produced the ‘Rock 'n' Roll’ album by John Lennon, the one he didn’t want released.

“John, I see him in the other room on the floor with (his then-11-year-old son) Julian, watching a Disney special — cartoons and stuff. He comes out and we shake hands and I hand him the stuff and May Pang’s making small talk with me.

“That was my little moment of closeness to the Beatles. The funny thing is that about seven years later, I joined a band in New York and two of the members actually played with John Lennon on his ‘New York City’ album.”


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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.