East Village History Project's Today in New York City History blog
Sunday, August 23, 2009
August 23, 1974: John Lennon saw a UFO in New York City
The fine print on John Lennon’s album “Walls and Bridges” sparked quite the commotion in the UFO "research" community—and no-doubt little smiles on the faces of millions of fans. Turning past the front cover, decorated with the marker drawings of an eleven-year-old Lennon, you can see the inscription on the back: “On August 23rd, at 9 o’clock, I saw a U.F.O. – J.L.”
The summer of 1974 was part of Lennon’s "lost weekend," when he temporarily separated from Yoko Ono. His then-girlfriend May Pang recalls that the flying saucer hovered little more than an arm’s reach from their East 52nd Street terrace, shining a soft red light.Lennon, who had wandered out naked to enjoy the late-summer breeze, called Pang to join him, and the two stood frozen, watching, until the craft pulled away, and headed down the East River toward Brooklyn.
What really happened that night?The problem is, the documentation is missing.There is no police report. Lennon's photographer Bob Gruen tried to develop Lennon’s photos from his terrace, but claims that the film came out blank. Gruenen asked Lennon to call someone, the papers or the police, and remembers Lennon’s response.“I’m not going to call up the newspaper and say, ‘This is John Lennon and I saw a flying saucer last night.’”So the truth of what happened on that late-August evening has ended up off the record.