In 1975 I was working as a page at CBS in New York. That spring, CBS televised the Grammy Awards, which were to be held at the Uris Theater on Broadway. I was assigned to work backstage. I assisted the stage manager, helped the celebrities find their dressing rooms and limousines and did anything else that was asked of me.
During the afternoon of the awards, we held a dress rehearsal. I was being run ragged appeasing divas like Aretha Franklin and her entourage, assisting Stevie Wonder onstage and tumbling into David Bowie's limo while Bowie grabbed my neck as I carried him on my back in order to to help him get past the hundreds of fans crowding the stage door.
Exhausted at some point towards the end of the rehearsal, I cracked sarcastically to no one in particular that I'd rather be working at my Dad's wallpaper store than doing this.
That night the show went live. I hadn't had time to check the rundown in advance and only concentrated on the page for that half hour in which we were presently in. As I turned the page for the last award I saw that the presenters would be John Lennon and Paul Simon. My heart leapt into my mouth. John Lennon. The reason I play the guitar and act like a wiseguy. Here. And I was going to assist him. Wow.
Suddenly there was a commotion backstage and I found myself face to face with John. I was speechless. Here was John Lennon in the flesh, standing about ten inches from me, staring back. I fixated on his thin pointy nose, the wart and the glasses. He was wearing a black beret, a black velour jacket adorned with a diamond stickpin that read "Elvis."
After a few seconds of awkward silence on my part he said, "So Stu, do you still want to be working at your father's wallpaper store?" I couldn't answer. I couldn't speak. John Lennon had not only acknowledged me, but also addressed me by name. Unbeknownst to me he was standing within earshot when I mentioned the wallpaper store during rehearsal.
Not knowing what to say I just shrugged nervously. He laughed, patted me on the shoulder and headed out onstage with Paul Simon (Whom I didn't even realize was standing next to us). I felt lightheaded, like I was going to faint. I slumped down on a chair and caught my breath. On a night when I was working hand in hand with a who's who of '60s and '70s rock royalty, John Lennon was the only one who really mattered. Plus he spoke to me! Me!
John Lennon was always one of my heroes. I'm damn lucky to have met him. It's a moment I'll never forget. And on a day when everyone is talking about his death, I just figured today was the right time to tell this story to you.