Gary James' Interview With
John Lennon Look-A-Like
The Imperial Palace in Las Vegas plays host to a most unusual show. It's called Legends In Concert. The show features look-a-likes of such legendary performers as Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Nat "King" Cole and John Lennon. Randy Clark portrays Lennon in Legends In Concert. He was the original John Lennon in the Broadway show Beatlemania. He was also the original Lennon in Rain, the group acclaimed as "the world's best sounding Beatle group." Moreover, he played John in the New York play Imagine, which was based on the life and music of John Lennon.
Randy Clark talked about what it's like to be John Lennon every night.
Q - John Lennon once remarked that he didn't want to find himself at the age of forty singing Beatle songs in Las Vegas. What would John have thought of your segment in Legends In Concert?
A - I don't think when he said that he realized he was going to be dead at forty. I don't think he would mind being put in a show that remembers people like Elvis, Janis, Cole and Holly...people that Lennon actually admired in the context in which we're doing it. Lennon himself, no way would he have done it unless all those people we're portraying were alive and performing in some show. As far as the show we're doing in remembrance and tribute, I don't think he's scowling, wherever he is now, at the fact somebody's doing John in Vegas 'cause the show could be happening anywhere. It just happens that it's a big hit in Vegas. It could happen on Broadway and of course John isn't going to argue about anything happening in New York.
Q - What kind of people are turning out to see Legends In Concert? It isn't your usual Vegas high-roller crowd, is it?
A - Now, that's an interesting question because we do have a reputation for being a very good show, so we get an age group that is probably a little older than one would expect from a show that deals in 75 to 80% Rock 'n' Roll music. Everybody seems to enjoy themselves. We get an age group varying from kids to geriatrics.
Q - What Lennon songs do you sing every night?
A - I start my segment off with "Rock 'n' Roll Music" from "Beatles '65", which isn't a Lennon song, but it's something that he always liked. Then "Starting Over", "Imagine" and "All You Need Is Love".
Q - How did you get the reputation as being the best John Lennon?
A - By earning it.
Q - When you walked into the auditions for Beatlemania, what were the others doing wrong?
A - I don't know. They just didn't have it. It just wasn't right or at least it wasn't right to me. It was just one of those things. When I walked into that room I said "I think I've got this job." I knew that I was blowing people away. People were coming up to me before I even sang a note and saying "I thought you were John when you walked in here." They thought that I was Lennon actually there to look at the auditions! I don't know. I guess the look was right at the time.
Q - One article has it that you're a storehouse of knowledge on John's music and life. Is there anything about the man you don't think the public knows?
A - I don't think there's really too much. Even when his life was private, it was public.
Q - Dose it surprise you that a man who talked and sang about love so much would die in a hail of gunfire?
A - Yeah, I was pretty shocked. I didn't believe it at first.
Q - Do you know Mitch Weissman?
A - Oh, sure. We worked together for a long time.
Q - Mitch is in the film Beatlemania. Why aren't you?
A - The original producers of Beatlemania, Steve Leber and David Krebs, Mitch Weissman was their baby. He had his group of guys because essentially Mitch was about four inches shorter than Paul. I'm about two inches taller than John. So, with Mitch's face, which you really can't argue about the fact he looks like McCartney, I guess they just wanted a Lennon that was his size. I was never even asked to do the film in spite of the fact that I was one of the original members of the show.
Q - Why didn't this Imagine show of yours last a while longer?
A - Too soon. The people that came to see it loved it. The Lennon fans that came in, saw the show, thought it was phenomenal and they really enjoyed it. But I think that the audience we were shooting at, in the larger cities, when they would hear the announcements on the radio or the commercials for the show, would probably stay away just because it's too soon. I don't know why. We never really had the type of crowds we wanted. We did OK, but not great.
Q - So, when would be the right time to bring back Imagine?
A - I don't know. Maybe a few more years.
Q - I know this is hard to answer, but where do you think John Lennon would have taken his music today?
A - I don't think it would be too much different than what we're getting with the album he was working on at the time of his death ("Milk And Honey"). I'm sure the music wouldn't be that much different from "Double Fantasy" or "Milk And Honey". The progression couldn't have gone that far unless of course he started becoming a public figure again and if he started becoming controversial again. Who knows, maybe he would've started writing topical issue songs, maybe even political songs.
Q - Did you ever meet John Lennon?
A - Yeah. I did in '74.
Q - Did you get a chance to talk to him?
A - Not really. It really wasn't my place to be conducting a conversation. I was part of a conversation that was going on between a friend of mine, Jerry Sinclair, one of the record executives at Capitol Records, and Paul McCartney and a couple of other guys. So, we were all kind of hanging out in the same room.
Q - How long can you go on playing John Lennon?
A - Wow! Interesting question. I suppose I could do it... but I'm not looking to do it. I would like to think at some point someone's gonna say "Hey look, you do a great Lennon, but what's the story with you and yours?" My love for my own music and my own performance will probably get me out of it sooner or later.