Beatles News

The Story of... 'Imagine' by John Lennon - Wednesday, June 05, 2019

John Lennon's seminal 'Imagine' is one of the most celebrated pieces of music of all time.

Released in 1971 from the album of the same name, it cemented Lennon as a songwriting genius on his own right following the breakup of The Beatles the year before.

Nearly 50 years later, and it's still one of the most covered songs ever, and continues to be used as a symbol of the pursuit of world peace.

But what inspired the song and how was it made? Here's all the important facts:

Lennon was inspired by several poems from wife Yoko Ono's 1964 book Grapefruit.

One poem, which Capitol Records later reproduced on the back cover of the original Imagine album titled 'Cloud Piece', reads: "Imagine the clouds dripping, dig a hole in your garden to put them in."

Lennon later explained that the song "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 her contribution, but it was right out of Grapefruit."

Source: Tom Eames - Smooth Radio


Micky Dolenz, Christopher Cross and Todd Rundgren are teaming up with former Chicago singer Jason Scheff and Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland for the It Was 50 Years Ago Today tour celebrating the Beatles White Album. (Let’s just ignore the fact that the album came out 51 years ago.) The show will mix in their own hits along with songs from the White Album.

The fine print on the tour poster reads “not affiliated or endorsed by the Beatles individually or collectively,” but many of the artists on the bill do have Beatle connections. Badfinger was the first band the Beatles signed to their label Apple in 1968 and members of the group played on the sessions for John Lennon’s Imagine and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. The group also performed at the Concert For Bangladesh alongside Harrison and Ringo Starr. Todd Rundgren, meanwhile, has been a mainstay in Ringo Starr’s All Starr Band going all the way back to 1989 and as recently as 2017. Micky Dolenz befriended the Beatles during his days in the Monkees and was in Abbey Road studios when they recorded Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Source: Rolling Stone


By the mid-’60s, it’s fairly easy to tell who wrote the biggest part of a Lennon-McCartney song. The lead vocals usually gave it away. On Magical Mystery Tour, “Penny Lane” is a clear Paul McCartney number while “Strawberry Fields Forever” an obvious John Lennon song.

Even on a track like “A Day in the Life,” on which both John and Paul sing, you know it’s John song because he has the lion’s share of vocals. (Paul came up with the middle section.) Later, as writers asked them to break down each Beatles tune, Paul and John mostly agreed who did what.

But there were some songs where they didn’t remember it the same. For example, Paul remembered doing more on “A Day in the Life” and “In My Life” than it appears he did.

Speaking with Playboy’s David Sheff the weeks before he died, John remembered having a sizable hand in the composition — most of the lyrics, in fact — to “Eleanor Rigby,” a Revolver song that doesn’t sound like Lenno at all. Yet Paul said he only wrote “about half a line.”



In 2014, John Lennon’s 1962 Gibson J160e guitar, once thought lost, was discovered in San Diego at Marc Intravaia’s Sorrento Valley Sanctuary Art and Music Studio. The following year, it went up for one of the most publicized auctions in Beatles history. However, “Once the story broke on Reuters, there was quite a few awful comments about my friend [John McCaw, the guitar’s owner] from people not knowing the whole story,” Intravaia told the Reader at the time. “He bought it in 1969 from a friend and never knew what he had until he brought it to me last August.”

John McCaw bought the mildly beat-up Gibson acoustic from a friend for $175, in a transaction at the Blue Guitar shop, then located in Old Town. "John joined my Tuesday night Potluck Players instructional jam group in 2009," says Intravaia, "and would bring along his now vintage Gibson from time to time, and we would take turns strumming this instrument while noting its fantastic action - string height and playability - and pretty tone."

Source: Jay Allen Sanford/

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Lucia Benavides and her mother, Ida, both say that listening to the music of the Beatles at home in Buenos Aires was formative for them.

Paul McCartney's in the middle of a world tour, unaccompanied by BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music. The original Beatle is in Lexington, Ky., tonight and was just in South America. And it's there, in Buenos Aires, where Lucia Benavides first became a fan of McCartney's and the rest of the Fab Four - a fandom she shares with her mother, Ida.

LUCIA BENAVIDES, BYLINE: To this day, my mother can recall the moment the Beatles' music reached her home country of Argentina.

IDA BENAVIDES: I remember the night - and that was the beginning of all this - when my dad arrived home from work with an album.

Source: Lucia Benavides/



As a producer, Jack Douglas has helped shape some of the greatest albums in rock and roll history.

From Aerosmith to Cheap Trick to Rick Derringer to Alice Cooper to Clutch to John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Douglas knows rock stars better than most — perhaps better than anyone should.

And in a profession full of excess, insecurity and unrealistic expectations, Douglas says the easiest star he ever produced was also the biggest: Lennon.

Douglas worked with Lennon and Ono on their Grammy-winning 1980 album, Double Fantasy. On the latest episode of Ken Dashow's Beatles Revolution podcast, Douglas explains that, unlike many of his contemporaries, Lennon didn't sweat the small stuff. He also surrounded himself with people, like Douglas, whom he trusted with his songs.

"He drew a real line between who was the artist and who was the producer, and he liked to take direction," Douglas explains. "For example: you're putting together John's vocals. You'd think he would be there like ... [micromanaging] 'The 's' from this [take]...' You know, when you're working with Steven Tyler, he's going to want to break up the syllable on the song until I have to smack him... But with John, the only think he would ever details

It seemed like the whole world was watching “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964. Except Lori Benton. Her parents “forced me to go to church on Sunday nights,” she said.

So Benton missed a major milestone in the history of Western civilization: The Beatles’ first appearance before the astonished eyes and ears of America.

She eventually gained some musical freedom. Benton remembers spinning pop, folk and blues 45s on her brother’s little turntable: Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

“It sure opened up a whole world beyond church hymns,” Benton laughed. “I became an avid rock ‘n’ roll fan. It was fabulous.”

Benton recently relocated from Portland to Vancouver, but she was back downtown, at the Oregon Historical Society Museum, on a recent afternoon to visit a fun, impressively thorough traveling exhibit about the Fab Four’s early, touring years. The exhibit remains on display through Nov. 12 — featuring rare American tour memorabilia, TV and film clips, audio interviews with Beatles, their professional colleagues and their star-struck fans; there are even a couple of interactive opportun details

It’s tough trying to figure out who wrote what in a Lennon-McCartney song from 1965 and earlier. In those days, they often composed (in John’s words) “in each other’s nose” and “eyeball to eyeball.” That’s how “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and other tunes came to be.

Later, when Paul spun tunes like “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude,” you can’t mistake it for anyone but him. The same goes for John’s “Yer Blues” and “Come Together.” They could only have been written by one person.

After the band split up, the old songwriting partners often answered questions about who was behind some of their best-loved songs. More often than not, Paul and John agreed about who wrote the tunes. However, there were two occasions when their recollections differed.

One of the disagreements came over the classic “In My Life” from 1965’s Rubber Soul. While no one disputes John had the idea and wrote all the lyrics, Paul claimed he wrote the music. But everyone from John to Beatles producer George Martin and university data scientists have disagreed.



John Lennon may be most famous for his round sunglasses, but any piece of his closet could be considered iconic.

And now, a blue tracksuit once owned by the late singer — who was killed by Mark David Chapman in 1980 at the age of 40 — can be yours. According to TMZ, the outfit is going up for auction through the memorabilia company Moments in Time, with the asking price set at $35,000.

The tracksuit itself is just as special as its former owner; John wore a matching set with wife Yoko Ono when they traveled to Denmark in 1970 to visit her ex-husband Tony Cox and their 6-year-old daughter, Kyoko.

The trip was meant to help mend fences between Ono and Cox, who were locked in a bitter custody dispute over Kyoko. While it worked for a time, Cox eventually won custody the following year, and Ono did not see her daughter again until 1998.

Source: Melissa Minton/


(Still) getting better all the time - Thursday, May 30, 2019

Last week, our high school-age grandson, Aidan, said something that shocked us: “Who’s Paul McCartney?”

We were discussing the singer/songwriter’s upcoming June 6 Kohl Center concert, one of two Wisconsin dates along with Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, that are part of his “Freshen Up” tour.

How could a musical icon of McCartney’s stature draw no more than a blank stare from a member of the emerging generation?

Lest we forget, McCartney, along with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, were collectively The Beatles, credited with almost single-handedly changing the timbre and texture of popular music in the mid-20th century. Bursting on the U.S. music scene in 1964 with a youthful exuberance and a playlist of silly love songs, the Four Lads from Liverpool pushed aside Elvis Presley and his pomaded pompadour with their mop-top haircuts, collarless suits and Marx Brothers antics.

Paul was the heartthrob, the “cute Beatle.” John was the intellectual — he wrote and illustrated two books of surrealistic poetry. George was the quiet one, and Ringo was, well, Ringo. Paul, 76, and Ringo, 78, both of whom have been knighted by England&r details

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