March 12, 1974

On this day in 1974, John Lennon and Harry Nilsson got drunk and disorderly and heckled the Smothers Brothers at a comedy show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. They were thrown out, and Nilsson took heat in the press for being a bad influence on Lennon.

“I got drunk and shouted,” Lennon later remembered. “It was my first night on Brandy Alexanders — that’s brandy and milk. I was with Harry Nilsson, who didn’t get as much coverage as me, the bum. He encouraged me. I usually have someone there who says ‘Okay, Lennon. Shut up.’”

Club security attempted to remove the intoxicated and enraged Lennon, who apparently lashed out, losing his famous circular specs in the scuffle. He then, according to Tommy Smothers, kicked the valet. “My wife ended up with Lennon’s glasses because of the punches that were thrown,” Smothers said. Actress Pam Grier, who was nearby when the incident happened, got ejected from the club, too.

Lennon and Nilsson reportedly had flowers delivered to the Smothers Brothers the next day. Lennon also wrote an apology letter to Grier.

Nilsson later commented: “It ruined my reputation for 10 years. Get one Beatle drunk and look what happens.”


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