The two icons had previously collaborated on “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” they’d had a bet about the song, which Lennon lost, as it climbed to the top of the charts. True to his word, Lennon agreed to perform on stage with his friend.
Lennon had not appeared on stage since 1972 when he played at the same venue. He had such terrible stage fright that he nearly quit public appearances altogether. Lennon later recalled, “I hadn’t heard such hysteria since the Beatles. It was like Beatlemania all over again.”
Even John Lennon, who was no stranger to stages and hordes of screaming fans, wasn’t completely immune to stage fright. He may have gone on stage eventually, but he had been busy being panicked out of his mind until it was time to join Elton.
Lennon, jittery and nervous, reached out and asked for help. He insisted that Elton John’s songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, accompany him to the stage, which greatly amused Taupin. The songwriter claimed that Lennon was so terrified that he was literally throwing up into a bucket.
Before John Lennon launched the Beatles classic, “I Saw Her Standing There,” Lennon humorously introduced the song as one that was written by “an estranged fiance of mine,” referring to his Beatles songwriting partner, Paul McCartney.
The concert at Madison Square Garden in 1974 marked the reunion between John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who had been separated for over 18 months. Lennon moved back to his Dakota home with his wife, and the two remained together until Lennon’s death in 1980.