Come together: John Lennon centre, pictured around the edge are, clockwise from top left, Rebecca Faulkenberry, Biggie Irie, Heather Nova and Maxi Priest. <em>*John Lennon image courtesy of AFP, other photos supplied </em>/<em> photo montage by Gary Foster Skelton</em>
Come together: John Lennon centre, pictured around the edge are, clockwise from top left, Rebecca Faulkenberry, Biggie Irie, Heather Nova and Maxi Priest. *John Lennon image courtesy of AFP, other photos supplied / photo montage by Gary Foster Skelton

WEDNESDAY, MAY 30: Bermuda is gearing up for a momentous artistic tribute to musical icon John Lennon that will see the launch of an EP, a double album, a music video, an art exhibition, book and sculpture not to mention a concert featuring a string of Bermudian and international artists. It is hoped that the various events surrounding the tribute will attract tourists to the island and what’s more, money raised from the CD and concert will benefit three local charities. One of the many organizers, Tony Brannon, spoke to the Bermuda Sun’s Sarah Lagan about the plans ahead.


John Lennon once famously sang: “Everybody loves you when you are six foot in the ground” and if the numerous events surrounding his tribute in Bermuda are anything to go by, he may have had a good point.

But we all know that this musical icon is loved as much now as he ever was more than 30 years after his death — Bermuda is about to prove it with an extraordinary tribute spanning music, art, literature and sculpture.

What’s more, Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono is on board and giving her full support.

The collaborative tribute includes the launch of an EP and a double CD album featuring a string of Bermudian and international artists including Yoko Ono and Maxi Priest, a live music concert at the Botanical Gardens where Lennon was inspired to write his Double Fantasy album, an art exhibition featuring original John Lennon lithographs, a book about Lennon’s time in Bermuda and a steel sculpture designed by Bermuda’s own Graham Foster.

Net proceeds from the CD and concert will go towards The Coalition for the Protection of Children, The Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art and the Ride The Wave Foundation.

As Bermuda is proving its love for Lennon, Bermuda held a special place in Lennon’s heart too — when he came to the island in 1980, he learned of the Double Fantasy freesia during an outing with his son Sean to the Botanical Gardens which inspired the concept behind his first original album in five years.

The commercially successful Double Fantasy was born and included hits such as Just Like Starting Over, Woman, Watching the Wheels and Beautiful Boy. The album was released just weeks before John was shot dead in New York on December 8, 1980.

While the album did modestly well on release in the US and UK album charts, it climbed to number one in both countries after the former Beatle died. The album also won a Grammy in 1981 for Album of the Year.

There will be songs from Double Fantasy included in the CD and concert, as well as songs spanning Lennon’s entire musical career. 

Here is a round up of all the tributary events taking place in June and September, 2012:

The CD:

Bermuda Fantasy: A Tribute to the music of John Lennon includes Yoko Ono’s unfinished song Walking On Thin Ice. She intends to release the single separately in the near future.

Maxi Priest is also going to release his contribution, All My Loving mixed at Abbey Road Studios, separately afterwards along with a music video.

Others on the Bermuda album include Power to the People by the Chewstick Foundation, Real Love by Rebecca Faulkenberry and Nic Christopher, Mind Games by Joy Barnum and Across the Universe by Victor Chambray. A group of 34 locals collaborated on All You Need Is Love and Bermudian filmmaker Lucinda Spurling is currently working on a music video for the song that was shot islandwide.

The double CD has been put together by the newly formed company, Freisenbruch Brannon Media made up of Michael Freisenbruch and Tony Brannon.

An EP titled Summer of Love: A Tribute to John Lennon will be released ahead of the main album. There will be a limited edition box set CD which includes the book as part of the package.

The Concert:

There couldn’t be a better day for a tribute concert for perhaps one of history’s most famous peace advocates, than the United Nations’ International Day of Peace on September 21.

The concert has been organized by Freisenbruch Brannon Media and will take place at the Botanical Garden’s show rink on September 21.

The show will feature the majority of the artists on the two CD launches including reggae singer Maxi Priest, Heather Nova, Biggie Irie, Paul Muggleton (of The Savages) and English singer/songwriter Judie Tzuke (formerly Myres).

One of the main sponsors of the concert is the Department of Tourism and Brannon envisages that the concert, as well as the other tributary events, will attract a host of new tourists to the island.

The Book:

Bermuda Fantasy: John Lennon’s Island Journey has been written by Royal Gazette writer Scott Neil and will include a foreword by Yoko Ono, photos donated by Yoko Ono and images by Graham Foster.

It tells the story of Lennon’s connection to Bermuda and includes interviews with “Captain Hank” and his crew of the 43-foot sloop the Megan Jaye which Lennon sailed from Rhode Island to Bermuda in the summer of 1980.

After a stormy ocean crossing, Lennon was enlivened by the experience and spent two months on the island.

While here, he took some sailing lessons, spent some time at the famous Forty Thieves Club and paid a visit to the Botanical Gardens where he learned of the Double Fantasy freesia. Other notable interviews in the book include one with Alan Weiss, the journalist who was in the hospital with Lennon on the day he died, and painter Nancy Gosnell who painted him during his stay.

The book is being produced locally, with Brimstone Media co-ordinating the art design.

It is hoped that the book will find a market overseas also.

“Scott is a true John Lennon fan and he has researched this heavily,” said Brannon of Freisenbruch and Brannon Media. “He has spent hours and hours interviewing people for the book — he has gone the whole nine yards.”

The Sculpture:

Bermuda’s own Graham Foster has completed work on his cortens steel sculpture featuring a double image of John Lennon and the famous Double Fantasy freesia.

The unveiling has been organized by the Bermuda Botanical Gardens and takes place on June 21.

Also at the Botanical Gardens, The Parks Department is working on a flower labyrinth that will be unveiled on the same day at the Botanical Gardens. Some 4,000 Double Fantasy bulbs are rumoured to have been shipped to the island to create the circular maze.

The Art Exhibition:

At the opening of the exhibition at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art on June 21, there will be a recorded video greet by Yoko Ono where she talks about how Lennon was inspired by Bermuda. 

The main attraction, though, will be a collection of original John Lennon lithographs along with limited edition prints for sale.

June 21:
At 5:30pm: Art Exhibition opens at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art
At 6:30pm: The Unveiling of Graham Foster’s Double Fantasy sculpture with a video greet from Yoko Ono
At 7:15pm: Labyrinth - A Double Fantasy freesia labyrinth is to open to the public

September 21:
At 8pm: John Lennon tribute concert at the Botanical Gardens show rink featuring local and international artists. The concert is to be held on the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. 8pm to 11pm.
On the same day the double CD Bermuda Fantasy: A Tribute to the Music of John Lennon will be launched as will the tributary book Bermuda Fantasy: John Lennon’s Island Journey by Scott Neil with images Graham Foster.

Tickets: Concert tickets are now available from starting at $50.
Proceeds from the concert wil be donated to Bermuda charities.