New York City- My husband Franco Pietoso and I had a feeling, a feeling deep inside that we were in for a spectacular evening, but it literally was downright unforgettable. As we expected, “Imagine: John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert” at the theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City was jam-packed with fans on December 5th, 2015.

This was a landmark concert featuring multiple generations of musicians who performed some of John’s greatest songs. We highly recommend that you see this concert that was taped and will air on AMC on Saturday, December 19th at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

We felt fortunate just to be in that room for a one-night performance. The excitement was palpable. We videotaped some of the concert and shot photographs as well for our readers to preview before the big show is aired.

The tribute was obviously bittersweet because we were celebrating John’s 75th birthday without his presence, yet his music and messages remain so relevant and invaluable even today. In fact, these are timeless. He was not only a rock icon regarding his cutting edge solo work, but he created the world’s greatest rock band ever, The Beatles.

His social activism and golden music changed the world, in my opinion.

Black Bird Presents and AMC presented the tribute. They deserve kudos for giving a portion of the funds to help poverty stricken people. That gesture seemed like a nod to Lennon’s social activism.

At 40 years old, John Lennon died because of gun violence at the hands of a maniac. Ironically gun control remains a paramount issue in the United States.

We will always miss John.

Fortunately, the music of this evening was inspirational, and exciting. Every note that rang out in tribute to Lennon was dear.

An emotional Yoko addresses the crowd at Lennon Tribute at MSG Photo: Franco Pietoso
An emotional Yoko addresses the crowd at Lennon Tribute at MSG
Photo: Franco Pietoso

The sweetest moment of the night was a surprise address by Yoko Ono. She appeared to be overly choked up, yet felt compelled to say thank you to the audience.

Ono said that every song told a story, and that rock ‘n’ roll will never die. She was given some enthusiastic applause, and Franco and I were among those clapping.

I believe that John would have been pleased that she attended, and by the support the audience gave to Yoko. Finally!

John’s two sons, Julian and Sean Lennon did not participate at the show but are musicians in their own right. It would have been a special pleasure for us to see them share in this historical concert.

The remaining Beatles, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney were absent but sent videos to express birthday greetings. Ringo also included a video of his performance of a song entitled, “I’m The Greatest.” Ringo said that John had written that song for him. It was a fabulous choice!

In Paul’s video message, he called John a “beautiful boy.” He wished him a happy birthday, and it was a typical jovial sort of McCartney thumbs up kind of greeting.

Still, I believe that Paul and Ringo were sorely missed in that room. They should have known better with fans like us! We would love for them to sing at the show too.

Still, we were in for a stimulating, beautiful show. The line-up for the night was positively eclectic, mixing newer and older seasoned artists. Steven Tyler clearly was the heavy weight of the night. It was my first time seeing him perform live, and he wowed me most with his delivery of Come Together! This mustached drama king was a powerhouse. He also sang Revolution. I enjoyed his theatrics, and grew up when Aerosmith was a big name among teens.

John Fogerty opened for the night, and set the tone for the evening with his selections. He first sang, Give Peace a Chance, an anthem for social change. Next, Fogerty sang a beautiful rendition of In My Life, but made an instrumental mistake on guitar.

We will see if it gets edited out on the tape.

We loved seeing Fogerty, a fellow activist who appeared on Bruce Springsteen’s Concert for Change tour years ago.

Willie Nelson performs a soulful rendition of "Imagine" Photo: Franco Pietoso
Willie Nelson performs a soulful rendition of “Imagine”
Photo: Franco Pietoso

Willie Nelson is a musician with tender vocals, and he sang the crowd pleasing hit, Imagine. I managed to videotape this for you (and me!). It was just wonderful to see Willie. He conveys such warmth, and rebellion all at once.

Sheryl Crow rocked the house with A Hard Day’s Night. Her voice was a candy apple treat to my hearing. Great to see Sheryl shine on!

Another stand-out moment was a lesser known musician named Aloe Blacc who nailed a lesser known song called Steel and Glass which is on Lennon’s Walls & Bridges album. It was an emotional song, and Blacc’s vocals had some fine beautiful timber. He is an R&B singer, who blew us away!

Sheryl Crow performs a rocking version of "Hard Day's Night" Photo: Franco Pietoso
Sheryl Crow performs a rocking version of “Hard Day’s Night”
Photo: Franco Pietoso


The star-studded line-up also included, Kris Kristofferson, Peter Frampton, Juanes, Eric Church, Chris Stapleton, Brandon Flowers, Tom Morello, Pat Monahan, The Roots, and Spoon.

I wished we could talk to each performer. There was a feeling of love and peace in the air, and a room filled with people who share a passion for John Lennon.

My favorite performances of the night were when several or more performers got together such as in War Is Over If You Want It and All You Need Is Love.

Pat Monahn, Kevin Bacon, Sheryl Crow, Steven Tyler, Tom Morello, Aloe Blacc Photo: Franco Pietoso
Pat Monahan, Kevin Bacon, Sheryl Crow, Steven Tyler, Tom Morello and Aloe Blacc
Photo: Franco Pietoso


If the presenters pressed us, we would argue that the concert was gorgeous. If they put us on the payroll, we would recommend to them to simply add MORE Lennon gems to the set list like Grow Old Along With Me, (Just Like) Starting Over, Out The Blue, and God.

I would have recommended seeing the show firsthand. But, if you see it at home know that this was a pricey ticket that ranged from $99 to $1,000.


A portion of proceeds from the concert will be donated to Robin Hood, New York’s largest poverty-fighting organization. It creates and funds over 200 of the most effective programs to help 1.8 million New Yorkers learn and earn their way out of poverty.

For more information, visit For all concert event details and for the official concert event website, visit,


  1. Can you identify the man who played electric guitar with John Fogerty in the John Lennon 75th birthday special aired this month, December 2015? I’ve read that neither of John Lennon ‘s sons participated in the show but I feel I recognized Sean several times, primarily with the band playing with John Fogerty. I can imagine that Sean might not have wanted to be named because it was a tribute to John. It’s entirely possible that I am absolutely wrong but it’s making me crazy. I’m hoping that you can help me out. Thank you!!

  2. Excellent, touching & poignent review. Thank you so much. Please respond to the question of the ‘mystery’ guitarist that looked surprisingly like Sean who appeared several times on stage but is not listed anywhere.
    Of the many stellar performances my favorites performances were by Aloe Blacc, Spoon, The Roots, Pat Monihan, Tom Morello, amazing.

  3. I hope your students have some small inkling of what a fine teacher you are, Counterlight. Having been a music professor in an earlier career, I am quite familiar with the many many blank stares of incomprehension along with the few faces lit up with understanding.

  4. Interesting fact about the real-life incident behind "Argo:"The faux-movie was going to be based on Zelazny's "Lord of Light."I remember a news story from way-back-then about a theme park based on the books. I wonder if this was a planted item, designed to give "depth" to the cover story.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here