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37 years ago, John Lennon began working on his final album after a five-year absence

Beatles john lennon

John Lennon in the studio August 4th 1980,  working on Double Fantasy

Ray Kelly wrote about the work of Boston photographer Roger Farrington for the Republican's online site MassLive, detailing how he was tapped by the former Beatle's wife, Yoko Ono, to produce a publicity photograph capturing Lennon's return to popular music on Aug. 7, 1980.

Lennon wanted the sessions at The Hit Factory to remain secret, in case he changed his mind. So a photographer from outside the New York scene was sought.

"Secrecy was the No. 1 issue," Farrington, 63, of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, recalled. "I was the first photographer authorized to photograph John Lennon in five years. They wanted Boston resources and they wanted someone they could trust."

Farrington met with John and Yoko at The Dakota, their Central Park West apartment, and they proceeded to the 48th Street studio.  John carried a briefcase full of sheet music, and wore a wide brimmed hat with Western-style shirt and black jeans.

"He was really, really great," Farrington said. "He was energized, witty and looked fit and tan - he had been sailing to Bermuda. And with the long hair he looked every bit a rock star."

The photos taken on the 6th floor studio show Lennon playing a guitar as session musicians arrive.  The photographs from the Hit Factory show John grinning as he sits at a music stand as he plays, and joyfully greeting the musicians as they arrive. The image of John and Yoko entering the studio was ultimately chosen as the official photograph to depict Lennon's return to rock 'n roll.

"I was not to be a fly-on-the-wall. I was there for a publicity photo job," Farrington said. "I went on task to get the job done."

On that first day, Lennon had recorded the album's first single "(Just Like) Starting Over."


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