“The first thing she says is, ‘Oh, you remind me of my husband’”: the night Fat White Family’s Lias Saoudi thought he’d been possessed by the spirit of John Lennon in front of Yoko Ono

Lias Saoudi in 2022
(Image credit: Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

South London rabble Fat White Family are a band who have spent their entire career teetering on the edge of collapse. Drug addictions, intra-band fighting, departures, arrivals, departures again – they are not a band who readily operate on steady ground. In April, they released what might well be their final record Forgiveness Is Yours, an album that mixes psychedelic folk and electronic-pop grooves. One song on it showed how, despite all the chaos around them, they have found themselves in some very lofty company along the way. The track, titled John Lennon, is about frontman Lias Saoudi being possessed by the spirit the ex-Beatle whilst being round Yoko Ono’s house. As Saoudi, who is friends with Lennon and Ono’s son Sean Lennon, told The New Cue a few months ago, it’s a true story.

“That song is 100% based in fact,” he said. “It was the day before an [FWF side-project] Insecure Men session. I was round Sean’s before the rest of the band got there. Me and Sean were hanging out having a bit of wine in one of the bedrooms in the house and Yoko walks in and starts complaining about having a bad back, so Sean set her down on the bed and starts giving her a massage. It was really tender. I was fucking spangled on K at this point. It was a time in my life when I was using a lot of ketamine. I’m thinking, ‘This is a fucking wonderful, wonderful spectacle. It was rough on the way up, it might be rough on the way down, but here you are, here’s your dividend, sir…’

Saoudi recalled that after her massage, Ono began a conversation with the Fat White Family man.

“The first thing she says is, ‘You remind me of my husband, he was a singer as well.’ I was like, ‘Oh really…’,” he recounted. “But I was imagining that I was possessed by the spirit of John. But it was the bastard John, not the peace and love John, and he was fucked off about having been lingering around in the afterlife for 40 years. That’s basically just what happened.”

Listen to the track below:

John Lennon - YouTube John Lennon - YouTube
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Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.