John Waite recalls how John Lennon’s death broke up ‘The Babys’
John Waite is a very deep and spiritual man. He has a new box set coming out called "Wooden Hearts."
Actually. each of the three volumes are already released as well. It was the lockdown that caused Waite to go back into the studio and finish the "Wooden Hearts" series. One of the songs "Downtown" was co-written with Jersey's own Glen Burtnik.
One great line Waite uttered in our phone conversation which sums up where he right now, "I don't need a headlight in all this darkness, I know exactly where I'm going."
You could not have lived through the 80s and not have known who John Waite is. Waite wrote and sang lead for The Babys, when he went solo, he was one of the first MTV stars, then was part of Bad English.
Surprisingly, it was the death of John Lennon that led to The Babys breakup.
"We were on the road somewhere in the middle of America and we got the news he died" Waite told me when we spoke on the phone, "and it was like a nightmare, it was just unbelievable. We went back on stage for the encore and did 'Drive My Car' because we knew it. And I announced what had happened but nobody really believed me."
"The next night I was really angry. I was kicking s**t, and everybody was just blown out and I spun around on stage, probably after kicking something and tore all the cartilage in my knee and went down like a sack of potatoes," he recalls.
"And the next night we tried to continue the tour, but I couldn't do it. I had collapsed, it was really painful. So they flew me back to New York, to Lennox Hill hospital, got my knee sorted out and went back to England and that was the end of that. But I think it was punctuated by John's passing. It was a crisis, you know. Everything just ended and a new page was turned. We had to learn to live in a different world."
Waite does have a deep appreciation for Lennon's music.
"You look back on the Beatles and they're all incredibly gifted, all of them, there isn't one better than the other. It's like one of those things that happens in a million years but John could have been Mr. Popular and just gone along with the flow of things but he was an artist and he reacted to politics, his relationship with women, how he saw himself, passing through his time here and the useless of materialism, even though he was extraordinarily rich and enjoyed it."
Waite went on to say, "I think he really had a tremendous heart and he was genuine. He put himself in a lot of danger by speaking about a lot of things that people weren't supposed to speak about, i.e., the Vietnam War. He wrote 'Give Peace A Chance,' which didn't make him popular with people in politics and stuff."
Waite continued on about Lennon.
"He was very militant and I suppose when you burn that bright somethings gonna happen."
But when it comes to Lennon's songwriting Waite said, "I was just thinking yesterday making a cup of coffee that there's this great line in 'I'm a Loser, is it for her or myself that I cry' and I thought, how introspective is that? You know your love is gone, are you sorry for her because she's going to miss out on this life together, or are you just moaning for yourself? It seemed like a really truthful thing to say."
Waite examines his own truth in Wooden Hearts.
"I cut a lot of songs and I threw a lot of songs out, I only recorded five new recordings added to this to put some older songs masters, but it's an intense record and it's something you could listen to for a couple of hours and understand who I am."
The Wooden Hearts series is available on iTunes and Spotify with a box set soon to be released.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.