Friday, October 3, 2008

Yoko Ono: Let's Make A Deal

Ono got down to business. "What do you know about us?" she quizzed Geffen.

Geffen responded truthfully that he only knew only some of Lennon's records.

"What about my music?" she asked.

"Well, I've never heard any of your records."

"Really," Ono said. "That doesn't sould like a very good reason for me to make a deal with you."

"I'm a big fan of John's, and I have a great deal of respect for the two of you, and we do a very good job. We're a good record company."

"What do you mean you're a good record company?" Ono fired back. "You haven't put out a record yet!"

"Well, we're gonna be great," Geffen said.

"'Gonna be,' 'gonna be,' who knows about 'gonna be'?"

When Ono next asked Geffen what he planned to pay them, he reverted to one of his tried-and-true dealmaking tricks, refusing to be the first to state a figure. He had learned his lesson since 1972. When Ono insisted that Geffen throw out a number, Geffen calmly declined. "You have to tell me what you want,' he said, "and if I can give it to you, I will, and if I can't, I won't."

Ono relented and told Geffen she and Lennon were hunting for at least a million dollars per album. Geffen had already promised similar terms to Donna Summer and Elton John, so he did not hesitate before agreeing. "OK, we've got a deal," replied Geffen.

"Oh no, we haven't," she said. "That's just what I want. I don't know that I want it from you. I'll think about it. I'll call you later."

The next morning, Ono called Geffen and asked him to come to the office at the Dakota again. When he arrived, Ono spelled out a few more of the details that she wanted in the contract. Geffen quickly accepted.

"Don't you want to hear the music first?" she asked.

"No, I'll wait until whenever you want to play it for me."

Unknowingly, Geffen had passed that test, too. "If you wanted to hear the music before you made the deal, we wouldn't have gone with you," Ono said. She shook Geffen's hand.

It was only then that Ono called for John to come join them in her white office. It was the first time Geffen had seen Lennon since 1975.

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