WELL (BABY PLEASE DON’T GO). → Recorded 16 Feb 1971.

Discover the story behind 'Well (Baby Please Don't Go) - a Deep Cut from 'Imagine - The Ultimate Collection' recorded 16 Feb 1971.

Well (Baby Please Don’t Go)

Original Recording
John Lennon: guitar, vocals
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Klaus Voormann: bass
Jim Gordon: drums
Jim Keltner: percussion

Recorded: Ascot Sound Studios
Date: 16 February 1971
Engineer: Ken Scott

Written by: Walter Ward
First performed by: The Olympics, 1958 (B-side of the single ‘Western Movies’)

Ultimate Mix (2018)
Producer: Yoko Ono Lennon
Compilation Producer & Production Manager: Simon Hilton
Mixed & Engineered by Paul Hicks at Abbey Road
Mastered by Gavin Lurssen, Reuben Cohen & Paul Hicks at Lurssen Mastering
Multitrack & ¼” transfers: Matthew Cocker at Abbey Road

John: I did an old Olympics number, the B-side of ‘Western Movies’ – it was a 12-bar kind of thing I used to do at the Cavern.

Yoko: This was just done as an improvisation at Ascot, to have some fun. We performed it again later, live with Frank Zappa and The Mothers at The Fillmore East in New York
in June.

John: I was an art student and I was an artist and a writer all my life. I did occasionally dig into music. Apart from meeting Yoko, the biggest experience of my life was hearing rock ’n’ roll and black rock ’n’ roll. Liverpool was a port where there were many black people and they still have the slave rings on the front of the docks there. But one thing about being a port is that it’s usually a bit hipper. The next biggest town is Manchester – big industrial town – they ain’t half as hip as us. The music – the sailors would bring it in. We were hearing old funky blues records in Liverpool that people across Britain or Europe had never even heard because they didn’t know about them.

I grew up with blues music, country and western music which is also a big thing in Liverpool. One of the first visions I had was one of a fully dressed cowboy in the middle of Liverpool with his Hawaiian guitar, you know? That’s the first time I ever saw a guitar in my life. He had the full gear on.

The first music I got hooked on was blues. My earliest influences – the first black music I heard – was Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Sleepy John Estes, people like that. From that I went into Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and the early R&B artists, whether they were rhythm and blues or rock ’n’ roll or whatever you’d call it then. It wasn’t until the Sixties that we discovered B. B. King and Albert King.

The first thing that amazed us about America was – when we came over here in ’64 – all the reporters said, ‘Where’s your influences from? What kind of music do you like?’ Everything we said was black except for Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. And they didn’t know what it was and we didn’t know about all this race record business. We had no idea there was a separate division. Music was music. It comes off the record. That’s it. It’s music, man.

We were talking about all these black people and all their faces were changing. ‘Oh right, you don’t go for The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean and all that?’ We said, ‘Come on man, that’s rubbish!’ So one thing we always did was to tell where we got our music from. In fact when we arrived in ’64 we only ever talked about Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard. And by then they were not as big as they had been in the Fifties. They had already been and gone but we virtually resurrected them. We did their songs again. The Stones did that again and made a really interesting amount of music.

The only whites I ever listened to was Presley on his early records who was doing black music. The body movement. Presley was in Memphis. Obviously he was listening to the music. I don’t blame him for wanting to be that music because that’s what I wanted to be. I copied all those people and the other Beatles did, and all the groups did until we developed a style of our own.

People talk about the Beatles and Sgt. Pepper and all that jazz. It doesn’t mean a thing. All I talk about is 1958 when I heard ‘Long Tall Sally’, when I heard ‘Johnny B. Goode’, when I heard Bo Diddley. That changed my life completely. I dropped my art, I dropped out of school, I got me guitar and that was the end of it. I dropped everything. And my auntie who brought me up all my life, all the time she was saying, ‘The guitar is all right as a hobby, John, but you’ll never make a living at it.’ So I got that on a plaque for her and sent it to her in the house I bought her.

The plaque John gave his Aunt Mimi in 1965, inscribed with her own words.

Black music was my life and still is. Of course, there’s lots of good white music these days and they’ve learned a lot. One of the black guys said, one of the black leaders, ‘We blacks loosened them young middle-class white kids, we gave them back their bodies.’ And I was given back my body in the Fifties and I appreciate it, and I never stop acknowledging it.

I met Chuck Berry for the first time in my life and it was a beautiful experience. It was like meeting a Soul Brother. It was like we’d known each other forever. And I was nearly crying meeting him because he’d been my idol all my life.

Black music started the revolution in the world. This so-called youth revolution, the whole change of style was started by rock ’n’ roll. And rock ’n’ roll was black. They created the best 20th-century art that has released more people than any other kind of art, ever, in the history of man.


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