As hard as it is to believe, today marks half-a-century since John Lennon performed a full concert on stage. It was August 30th, 1972 when John Lennon headlined the “One to One” benefit concert at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
“One to One” saw Lennon, with Yoko Ono and Elephant’s Memory, sharing a bill with Stevie Wonder, Robert Flack, and Sha-Na-Na. The all-star benefit concert supported the Staten Island facility called Willowbrook, which helped intellectually disabled children. Lennon was always eager to raise awareness and support those who need help so the musician was quick to accept his invitation by Geraldo Rivera to take part in the event.
Two concerts took place on the late August day. The daytime matinee show was Lennon’s first full-length concert since The Beatles’ final show at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966 so nerves were definitely prevalent. During the first show, Lennon joked to the audience, “Welcome to the rehearsal,” as the band struggled a bit to capture their magic.
However, the second nighttime show was considered a masterpiece as the band was warmed up for this one. The set featured Lennon’s solo tunes including Power To The People, New Yorck City, It’s So Hard, and Instant Karma before he threw in some Beatles hits like the classic Come Together. The finale saw all of the concert’s previous performers joining Lennon for a powerful version of Give Peace A Chance.
The concert was a massive success, even in John Lennon’s eyes. “That Madison Square Gardens gig was the best music I enjoyed playing since the Cavern or even Hamburg,” Lennon told NME in 1972. “It was just the same kinda feeling when the Beatles used to really get into it.”
Following the “One to One” concerts, Lennon would made guest appearances on stage, but would never perform a full length show again until he was murdered on December 8th, 1980.
Watch John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Elephant’s Memory perform The Beatles’ Come Together at the “One to One” evening concert here: