John Lennon’s Unforgettable Performance: A Salute to Sir Lew Grade (1975)

ByQuyen Anne

Jan 18, 2024

In the annals of music history, few names resonate as profoundly as John Lennon, the enigmatic and influential co-founder of The Beatles. The year 1975 marked a momentous occasion for Lennon and his fans—a night that would be etched into the collective memory of music enthusiasts worldwide. The occasion was “A Salute to Sir Lew Grade,” a television special that not only celebrated the iconic Sir Lew Grade but also showcased Lennon’s return to the stage after a brief hiatus. 




By 1975, John Lennon had undergone a period of self-imposed musical exile. The years following The Beatles’ breakup saw Lennon focusing on his family and personal life. However, the lure of the stage and the call of his artistic instincts beckoned him back. “A Salute to Sir Lew Grade” provided the perfect opportunity—a chance to pay tribute to the influential entertainment executive while marking Lennon’s return to live performance.

Sir Lew Grade


Sir Lew Grade, the honoree of the evening, was a pivotal figure in the entertainment industry. As the head of Associated Television (ATV) and later as the founder of ITC Entertainment, Grade played a crucial role in shaping the landscape of television and film. The salute to Sir Lew Grade was not only a recognition of his contributions but also a testament to the symbiotic relationship between artists and the industry titans who propelled their careers.

Preparation and Rehearsals


Lennon’s decision to participate in the salute signaled a renewed commitment to his craft. The preparation for the event involved intense rehearsals and collaborations with a stellar band of musicians. The setlist, carefully curated to showcase Lennon’s evolution as an artist, spanned his Beatles days to his solo career. From the upbeat energy of “Twist and Shout” to the introspective depth of “Imagine,” Lennon aimed to take the audience on a musical journey that reflected the various facets of his artistry.

The Night Unfolds


The night of “A Salute to Sir Lew Grade” was charged with anticipation. The audience, a mix of industry insiders, celebrities, and die-hard Lennon fans, gathered to witness a moment that had been years in the making. As the curtains rose, revealing Lennon and his band, the atmosphere crackled with excitement.

Lennon’s stage presence was as magnetic as ever. The opening chords of familiar tunes elicited cheers from the audience, and as he delved into the setlist, it became apparent that this was more than just a tribute—it was a reclamation of his place in the musical pantheon. The live renditions of classics like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Instant Karma!” demonstrated Lennon’s ability to captivate an audience with his raw, unfiltered talent.

Surprises and Collaborations


The night wasn’t without its surprises. As a nod to his Beatles past, Lennon invited his former bandmate, Paul McCartney, to join him on stage. The reunion of the two musical titans sent shockwaves through the audience and became an iconic moment in the history of rock music. The chemistry between Lennon and McCartney was palpable, a testament to the enduring bond forged during their years as the creative force behind The Beatles.

Collaborations with other artists added layers of excitement to the performance. Whether it was a soulful duet with Elton John on “Whatever Gets You thru the Night” or a high-energy rendition of “I Saw Her Standing There” with Mick Jagger, Lennon demonstrated his versatility and willingness to embrace new musical horizons.

Impact and Legacy


The impact of “A Salute to Sir Lew Grade” extended far beyond the confines of the television screen. Lennon’s return to live performance signaled a reinvigorated phase in his career, inspiring a new generation of musicians and reigniting the passion of long-time fans. The collaborative spirit of the event also underscored the interconnectedness of the music industry, showcasing how artists from different genres could come together to create something truly magical.

In the aftermath of the salute, Lennon’s live album, derived from the performance, enjoyed commercial success. The concert film, capturing the electrifying atmosphere of that night, became a cherished artifact for fans eager to relive the magic of Lennon’s onstage comeback.


“A Salute to Sir Lew Grade” stands as a pivotal moment in the trajectory of John Lennon’s career. Beyond being a tribute to a key industry figure, it marked a personal and artistic renaissance for Lennon. The night showcased not only his musical prowess but also his ability to connect with an audience in a way that transcended the confines of time and space.

As we reflect on this historic event, we recognize “A Salute to Sir Lew Grade” as a celebration of legacy, collaboration, and the enduring power of music. John Lennon’s return to the stage was not just a concert; it was a reaffirmation of his place in the cultural tapestry of the 20th century – a testament to the timeless impact of an artist who, even in the face of personal and creative challenges, continued to push the boundaries of musical expression.

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