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With a Lot of Help From His Friends : Two John Lennon tribute projects are due this summer, but please don’t use the word <i> competing</i> .

Get ready for the battle of the John Lennon tribute albums.

The former Beatle has been oddly overlooked in the glut of tribute projects that has honored everyone from Elvis Presley to Syd Barrett in recent years.

But now Lennon is being feted with not just one but two albums--one from Capitol Records that is authorized by his widow, Yoko Ono, and one from Hollywood Records that is being put together by Red Hot Chili Peppers manager Lindy Goetz. Each package is due this summer and is expected to boast a power-packed lineup.

Gary Gersh, president of Capitol Records, says that Ono herself is approaching Paul McCartney, Elton John, David Bowie and Pearl Jam, among others, to participate in the project.

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Goetz, meanwhile, says that the Chili Peppers, Candlebox (whom he also manages), Stone Temple Pilots, Live, Flaming Lips, George Clinton and White Zombie are already at work on tracks.

It sounds as if the albums are on a collision course, but Gersh and Goetz downplay the notion of competition.

“Lennon wrote some of the best songs in the world and there’s enough for three or four albums,” says Goetz.

Both albums are planned as charity projects, with Goetz’s benefiting animal spaying and neutering. The Capitol album’s beneficiaries are still being worked out.

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But each organizer did tout the aspects of his project that the other’s lacks.

In Capitol’s case, it’s the blessing of Lennon’s widow and family.

“We want to get comprehensive songs not just from his catalogue, but perhaps things that have never been released and recorded before,” Gersh says. “We’ll have Yoko and (John’s son) Sean involved and will use John’s own artwork. The Lennon estate will not acknowledge the Hollywood Records tribute and will not be involved in it in any form.”

Goetz, though, thinks his cause may also attract Ono’s blessing.

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“It’s not just another tribute,” Goetz says. “This is to help animals. We haven’t contacted (Lennon’s estate), but I plan to make a presentation.”


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