The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "Imagine"

Tuesday, October 9: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
John Lennon's "Imagine" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

"Imagine" became one of the enduring anthems of John Lennon's post-Beatles work. In an interview days before his death, he made a case for the brotherhood of man and woman: "That should be credited as a Lennon/Ono song. A lot of it – the lyric and the concept –came from Yoko, but in those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution, but it was right out of Grapefruit, her book; there's a whole pile of pieces about imagine this and imagine that, and I have given her credit now long overdue." Ono downplayed her involvement, claiming the period was ripe for mutual inspiration. Lennon responded, "Yeah, but if it had been Bowie, I would have put 'Lennon/Bowie' if it had been a male, you know... but when we did it, I just put 'Lennon' because, you know, she's just the wife and, you know, you don't put her name on, right?" Co-produced by Lennon, Ono and Phil Spector, "Imagine" was recorded in July 1971 at John's home studio in Tittenhurst Park. It reached Number Three on Billboard's Hot 100 in November 1971, but wasn't a British single until 1975, when it charted in the Top 10. Following Lennon's death in December 1980, "Imagine" went to Number One in the U.K. Paul McCartney inducted John Lennon into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses and Bruce Springsteen performed "Come Together" live at the induction ceremony. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, is home to among the world's largest Beatles exhibits, featuring a number of John Lennon artifacts, including the 1963 Gretsch 6120 he played on the recording of "Paperback Writer."

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