Today marks what would have been John Lennon’s 74th birthday, and on Wednesday, the nonprofit Theatre Within announced the first recipient of the John Lennon Real Love Award. At the 34th Annual John Lennon Tribute this year, set to take place at New York’s Symphony Space on Friday, December 5th, Theatre Within will see Debbie Harry, Joan Osborne, and Marshall Crenshaw among others take the stage in honor of the legendary musician, singer and songwriter. Debbie Harry’s set is expected to commemorate Lennon’s last major live performance forty years ago, by playing the same three songs he played with Elton John for a Thanksgiving concert in Madison Square Garden on November 28th, 1974; “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” “Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds,” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” In addition, Bob Gruen, the rock photographer who shot pictures of John Lennon while the musician was living in New York, will be the first person to receive the John Lennon Real Love Award.
The B-52’s Kate Pierson, David Johansen, the Fab Faux’s Rich Pagano, Ben E. King, and Amy Helm are some of the other artists who will pay tribute to the rock icon, not to mention Joe Raiola, executive producer and creator of the John Lennon Tribute, a New York City tradition since 1981. This event is the longest running John Lennon Tribute concert in the world and one of just two Lennon Tribute concerts. The other event, sanctioned by Yoko Ono, is held in Japan. Yoko Ono said of the New York-based tribute in a statement, “I share Theatre Within’s belief that music and the performing arts have a special power to bring people together and inspire us to make a positive difference. It’s beautiful that the tribute continues to have such a powerful impact in John’s memory.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit the John Lennon Real Love Project, which is defined as a mobile songwriting program for children and teens who are dealing with long-term medical treatment. The program originated only last month at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx. Ticket prices are set at $65, $85, $105 and are available currently on the event’s website. In other Lennon news, the guitar he used while recording The Beatles’ 1966 song “Paperback Writer,” a Gretsch 6120, is set to go on auction on November 23rd. The online auction, held by TracksAuction, refers to the Gretsch as “the most significant of John’s guitars to come onto the market in the last 30 years.” Bids for the Gretsch 6120 are expected to hit between $650,000 and $1 million. For Lennon fans who can’t afford to drop seven big ones, Lennon’s catalog has arrived on Spotify, allowing listeners to stream the musician’s eight solo albums and three compilations.