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John Lennon Hated the Idea of a Charity Concert With Mick Jagger (or Anybody Else)

John Lennon’s music has inspired many people to live better lives. That doesn’t mean he wanted to get onstage and do a charity concert with The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger. The “Imagine” singer had a very negative view of certain types of philanthropy. Despite this, he didn’t think that philanthropy was always bad.

John Lennon joked people wanted him to do concerts with Mick Jagger and God and Jesus
John was associated with peace and love, but charity singles weren’t his thing. George Harrison released “Bangla Desh,” the first charity single, in 1971, the year after The Beatles broke up. George also did The Concert for Bangla Desh with other stars such as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Badfinger, Ringo Starr, and Billy Preston (often called the Fifth Beatle). Both were designed to raise money for the survivors of the Bengali genocide.

During a 1980 interview in the book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the “Give Peace a Chance” singer explained why charity concerts weren’t his forte. “You’ll have to check with Mother [Yoko] because she knows the ins and outs of it, I don’t,” he said. “I will tell you that whenever people think they can get a Beatle, they can get other people — ‘and friends’ is the big game.

“That means Dylan, God, Jesus, Mick, and Elton [John] will happen to show up, too,” he added. “They get a Beatle and they want to pad the show with 40 other acts. They don’t understand that there’s always this terrible atmosphere, equipment problems, double time for the unions — the guy who is putting on the lights, carrying the bags, for promoting it — everybody else is getting paid except for the musicians.” So much for the guy who sang “All You Need Is Love!”

John Lennon felt artist used charity to look like good boys
The “Imagine” singer saw charity concerts as a way for singers to improve their public image. “It’s an absolute rip-off, but it makes the artist look good,” he said. “‘Isn’t he a good boy!’ It’s all a goddamn rip-off. So forget about it.” John asked the reporter to get rid of the word “goddamn” and replace it with “f******,” joking that “goddamn” was a horrid expression.

While John was opposed to charity concerts, he wasn’t opposed to tithing. “Anybody I want to save will be helped through our tithing, which is 10 percent or whatever of what we earn,” he revealed. John asked that nobody send him information about using his money to aid war veterans or anyone else.

Mick Jagger had no issues with charity concerts
Jagger’s attitude toward charity concerts was very different. Rolling Stone reports that, in 1973, The Rolling Stones performed their first concert in Japan for charity. That same year, they also held a concert to raise money for the refugees who had been affected by an earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua.

John’s statement that artists only do concert fundraisers to improve their images doesn’t seem to apply to The Rolling Stones. Jagger and company have long had a “bad boy” image, singing about sex, drugs, and Satan. If they thought raising money would make them look squeaky clean they might not have done it.

John and Jagger both defined the 1960s and 1970s but they didn’t see eye-to-eye.

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