How did you get involved with the project?
We started in 1998, that was our first year with Lennon Bus America. We started with the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, which was an idea to give songwriters an opportunity to have their music heard. While I was getting that on its feet, I had the idea for a promotion that would be a recording shop on wheels, and we would let me people know about the contest and do some workshops on songwriting.
My background had been in music – I was into music technology, and was an artist myself for a little while in the ‘80s on Columbia Records, so I had the music background and I love the technology. By the time it got built and it showed up in New York, our first day was on Good Morning America. We had Joan Osborne and Wyclef Jean on board, and some students from New York City public schools. In the course of the two hours of the show, they wrote a song and then they presented the song in the last five minutes, so it was really the first session that we did that evolved in to what we do now.
We got invited all across the country, so there was obviously a good response. Then I couldn’t imagine taking it apart after a few months.
Driving around with the Lennon name on the bus must mean it's always popular?
Obviously it has John Lennon’s name on it, that’s really the driving inspiration for everything. His commitment to peace as an activist, his extraordinary abilities as a songwriter, as a communicator, so that’s really the commanding image behind it, but we’re not heavy handed with that. Sometimes people think we bring students on to do covers of John Lennon songs or to write songs that sound like the Beatles, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are little touches of John – there are some items that Yoko provided, these are photos from their Nutopian press conference. They were holding up their hankies to surrender to piece, so that’s an original copy of their declaration of Nutopia and a copy of Mind Games.
If we were just the coolest recording studio on wheels, it would still be impressive, but to have John’s name on it and to have something that’s connected to his legacy really connects to people’s hearts and to positive values that you don’t often see actively communicated in the world.
For more information, visit the official John Lennon Educational Tour Bus website.