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Raspberries Meet John Lennon

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THE RASPBERRIES MEET JOHN LENNON

By Peter McCormack

Wally Bryson, guitarist with the Raspberries played one of two Rickenbackers he owned on two of the group’s greatest hits namely: “I Wanna Be with You” and “Let’s Pretend.” These songs were written by Eric Carmen for the Rickenbacker 12 string as this is said to be a sound that he always loved. This love continues to the present day as Eric apparently bought a Rickenbacker 12-string at the Guitar Center in the mid 80’s. A photograph acquired recently shows Eric playing a Rickenbacker 12 string at one of the Raspberries last performances. Scott McCarl played a Rickenbacker bass similar to Paul McCartney’s 4001.

Eric Meets John

Eric Carmen is said to have met John Lennon for the first time at the Record Plant where the Raspberries were recording their Starting Over album. It was quite the introduction with Eric hitting John in the face with the men’s room door. Eric and Raspberries’ drummer Mike McBride were invited by Lennon to hand-clap in the background for the Harry Nillson track “Loop de Loop” on the Pussycats album. John Lennon is said to have loved the Raspberries album and rumour has it that John assisted the group with the mix of their song “Overnight Sensation.” The Raspberries had a poster in their recording studio that Lennon painted over including eyeglasses and other swirls of color, signing it at the bottom. Surprisingly, none of the group members took the poster home from the studio and its current whereabouts remains unknown.

Rumoured Lennon Rickenbacker

It had been rumoured for some time that Lennon was so taken with the Raspberries’ music and Eric Carmen’s interest in the Rickenbacker 12 string that he present a member of the Raspberries with a Rickenbacker 360/12 Fireglo. It was not possible to document this through any written source either than the interesting comments made in preparation for a Bonham’s Auction. Repeated visitations to the site were unable to determine whether the instrument was purchased, and if so, for what amount.

Bonham’s Auction Lot 762

February 18, 1998 at 56-59 Lots Road Chelsea London England JOHN LENNON: A rare 12-string Rickenbacker custom red GLO Serial No. G.1.3950 1967 owned and played by John Lennon. £2500-3000 This guitar was used in New York’s Record Plant Studio whilst recording with Harry Nillson. The USA band, The Raspberries, were also recording at the Record Plant at this time. A member of The Raspberries played this guitar on a session with John and Harry and expressed a liking for the guitar. John later gave this guitar to The Raspberry band member (the vendor) for his help on the session. With full letter of authenticity.

Raspberries’ Reaction

All of the previous members of the Raspberries have a busy schedule and of their email response to date only one has commented the “Rumoured Lennon Rickenbacker.” After sometime Eric Carmen graciously responded to my query about the instrument. A quote from Eric was received late in 1998 and was as follows:

To Peter McCormack: "I heard about this auction some time ago and to the best of my knowledge John Lennon didn’t give any Rickenbacker 12-string guitar to any of the Raspberries. I’m not sure how this story came about, but I’m pretty sure if John HAD given any of us the guitar we would remember."

Thus ends the story and speculation regarding yet another Rickenbacker guitar owned by John Lennon.

— RickResource.com, January 10, 1999

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Kirk   

So, they were trying to authenticate that Rick for an auction.  Eric pretty much squashed that rumor...

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LC   

I wonder if Lennon gave the Rick to someone associated with the Raspberries, but not actually a member of the band? Somebody, who, you know, might not have mentioned that he got a guitar from John Lennon?

I don't mean that to sound accusatory in any way. I'm speculating only because of the odd mention of the words "the vendor" in this quote from the auction listing:

John later gave this guitar to The Raspberry band member (the vendor) for his help on the session.

 I don't know why the listing author would include a parenthetical "the vendor"—it makes no sense.... Leading me to believe that maybe there's some other party involved? All of which is to say, Eric may have squashed the idea of himself, Wally, Scott, or Mike receiving a killer gift from John Lennon... but it doesn't mean Lennon didn't gift somebody related to the 'berries with a Rickenbacker! The mystery lives on! 

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LC   

And another thing: 

I love the rumor that John Lennon ducked into the control room and did some tinkering on "Overnight Sensation." I love it, and I've always bought into it.

After all, it's totally within the realm of possibility. "Overnight Sensation," my favorite among Eric's Raspberries masterworks, has a distinct Lennon aura (and hints of McCartney, too). And the rumor had to have started for a reason. So it's a wonderful visual if you let your mind wander....

The great ex-Beatle was enjoying his freedom from the Fab Four, married life, and touring pressure, so he was bopping around in the studio, and he was "feeling" the kinship of "Overnight Sensation," so he took the liberty of doing some subtle "product improvement." Why not? As long as he was in the house, maybe he felt like he should make himself useful. And would anyone associated with the Raspberries have objected? You could just hear Eric or Wally if John had said, "Can I make a couple of suggestions for that nice bit you've got in the works...?" "By all means, Mr. Lennon. Have at it!"

 

 

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Kirk   

It is fun to speculate.  "Overnight Sensation" is indeed Eric's masterpiece, but, in addition to John, Paul, and anybody else you might mention, Eric heard this as his "Good Vibrations", so through in some Brian Wilson; this song is the pinnacle of what Raspberries stood for!

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susie b   
On 8/22/2019 at 4:54 PM, LC said:

And another thing: 

I love the rumor that John Lennon ducked into the control room and did some tinkering on "Overnight Sensation." I love it, and I've always bought into it.

After all, it's totally within the realm of possibility. "Overnight Sensation," my favorite among Eric's Raspberries masterworks, has a distinct Lennon aura (and hints of McCartney, too). And the rumor had to have started for a reason. So it's a wonderful visual if you let your mind wander....

The great ex-Beatle was enjoying his freedom from the Fab Four, married life, and touring pressure, so he was bopping around in the studio, and he was "feeling" the kinship of "Overnight Sensation," so he took the liberty of doing some subtle "product improvement." Why not? As long as he was in the house, maybe he felt like he should make himself useful. And would anyone associated with the Raspberries have objected? You could just hear Eric or Wally if John had said, "Can I make a couple of suggestions for that nice bit you've got in the works...?" "By all means, Mr. Lennon. Have at it!"

 

 

Bumping this topic that Darlene and I had been debating and decided to post... Lennon hommage to Carmen with a title swipe of "Starting Over".

 

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Kirk   

Susie, thanks for fleshing that out- I almost forgot how alive the board was when Eric was still active- although this topic pretty much coincides with the last of Eric's posts.  Good read!

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The facts? John was at the Record Plant producing Nilsson when Raspberries were recording their “Starting Over” LP. Lennon may have assisted in mixing “Overnight” and both Eric and Wally lent hand-claps and backing vocals to Nilsson’s “Loop-de-Loop.” Eric “met” John by wacking him with the Men’s Room door — Eric going in while John was coming out. Also, Lennon reportedly scribbled mustaches and blacked out teeth on a Raspberries picture or poster hanging at the studio, which nobody had the foresight to save. Everything else is speculation.

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