Saturday, July 28, 2012

John Lennon: An Asshole with a Kotex on His Head

Rolling Stone, 14 February 1974, p. 24

Random Notes

John Lennon went to the Troubadour to hear Ann Peebles, and for the occasion he wore a Kotex on his head. There were about 11 people in his party; he didn't leave the waitress a tip, and in response to her scowl he said, "Do you know who I am?" "Yes," she said. "You're some asshole with a Kotex on your head."

Rolling Stone, 5 June 1975, pp. 48, 68

Long Night's Journey into Day: A Conversation with John Lennon

By Pete Hamill

What actually did happen those nights at the Troubadour when you heckled the Smothers Brothers and went walking around with a Kotex on your head asking the waitress, "Do you know who I am?"

Ah, y'want the juice...If I'd said, "Do you know who I am?" I'd have said it in a joke. Because I know who I am, and I know she knew, because I musta been wearing a Kotex on me head, right? I picked up a Kotex in a restaurant, in the toilet, and it was clean and just for a gag I came back to the table with it on me head. And 'cause it stuck there with sweat, just stayed there, I didn't have to keep it on. It just stayed there till it fell off. And the waitress said, "Yeah, you're an asshole with a Kotex on," and I think it's a good remark and so what? Tommy Smothers was a completely different night and has been covered a million times. It was my first night on Brandy Alexanders and my last.

[That conditional sentence he starts with gives me the impression that Lennon doesn't remember the remark, while the rest of his answer establishes that he believes it happened. -- bc]

Larry Kane, Lennon Revealed (Philadelphia: Running Press, 2005), p. 100

One night, John, May Pang, and legendary guitarist Jesse Ed Davis got together for an early evening dinner at a restaurant in Santa Monica, where John got famously drunk before disappearing into the bathroom.

“He returned from the bathroom with a Kotex on his forehead,” May recalls. “I pleaded with him to take it off. He just smiled.”

The trio headed to the Troubador where John continued to drink and ignore the pleas of May Pang. This episode ended unceremoniously when John said to the waitress, “Don’t you know who I am?” The waitress, in one of the more direct retorts in John Lennon’s life, said, “Yeah, you’re some asshole with a Kotex on his forehead.” 

Philip Norman, John Lennon: The Life (Anchor Canada, 2009), pp. 723-4.

One evening, about halfway through Julian's visit, John went with May and the Keltners to the Troubadour, the famous club on Santa Monica Boulevard that had given Elton John and many others their first big break. Headlining that night was Ann Peebles, a rather dour soul chanteuse whose single, "I Can't Stand the Rain," had lately been on the U.S. and British charts. Before going to the club, John's party ate dinner at Lost on Larrabee, a restaurant popular with the rock crowd. As they were leaving, he slipped into the women's room and rifled a cabinet full of Kotex sanitary pads. When he reached the Troubadour, he took a Kotex from his pocket and clamped it to the center of his forehead like an unwieldy caste mark. (Even this may have been a symbol of missing Yoko. Not long after their first meeting in 1966, she had sent him an artwork called Mend Piece, consisting of some Kotex and a broken cup, which he'd unwrapped in the presence of both his then wife and mother-in-law.)

As Jim Keltner recalls, Ann Peeble's appearance onstage was slightly delayed, so the club's whole VIP section had ample opportunity to share in the joke. According to hallowed legend, John snapped at a dilatory waitress, "Do you know who I am?" and she snapped back, "Yeah, an asshole with a Kotex on his head." Neither May nor the Keltners recall any such words being said.

[The following incident, also at the Troubadour, occurred later, on 12 March. The waitress in this case wasn't so witty in her response to the drunk rock star.]

Rolling Stone, 25 April 1974, p. 13

Trouble at the Troubadour
Lennon's Hard Day Night

There is a special raised platform at the Troubadour informally known as the VIP section. Lennon was sitting with a female companion, May Pang, and Harry Nilsson in that section the night of the altercation. The Smothers Brothers, on the comeback trail, were about to start the second act of their first Los Angeles appearance in five years.

During the intermission, according to [Troubadour owner] Doug Weston, Lennon and Nilsson were harmonizing, barbershop style, on the Ann Peebles song, "I Can't Stand the Rain." A few photographers began snapping shots of the Lennon party. Lennon, according to a Troubadour waitress, barked "fuck you" to a male photographer, who responded, "Did you say 'fuck you' to me?" Lennon replied, "No, I said it to the waitress."

"Well," said the waitress to Lennon, "fuck you."