Yoko Ono to receive co-songwriting credit for John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’

June 16, 2017 - 8:38 PM
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Yoko Ono and son Sean Lennon attend the 2014 Grammy Awards. (Reuters)

The widow of the late Beatle John Lennon will receive co-songwriting credit for his most famous solo hit, “Imagine,” Hollywood trade entertainment news site Variety reported.

Ono was added to the song as co-writer during the annual meeting of the National Music Publishers Association in New York on Wednesday where she and son Sean Ono Lennon received the organization’s new Centennial Song award for “Imagine.”

“NMPA CEO David Israelite showed a video from 1980 wherein John said that Yoko deserved a songwriting credit for ‘Imagine’ because of her influence and inspiration on it — and Israelite announced that in accordance with Lennon’s wish, Yoko will be added to the song as a co-writer,” wrote Variety’s Jem Aswad.

The belated recognition came 46 years after the song was released in 1971. Recorded in Lennon’s home studio at Tittenhurst Park, England, “Imagine” was the title track of the album of the same name released that same year.

Ono, who married Lennon in 1969 one year after his divorce from his first wife, Cynthia Powell, was often credited as a co-artist and co-writer in Lennon’s early and late post-Beatle recordings such as “Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins” (1968), “Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions” (1969), “Wedding Album” (1969), “Some Time in New York City” (1972), “Double Fantasy” (1980) and the posthumously released “Milk and Honey” (1984).

Lennon, however, also released albums credited solely to himself, namely “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” (1970), “Imagine” (1971), “Mind Games” (1973), “Walls and Bridges” (1974) and “Rock N’ Roll” (1975).

Not a few fans were puzzled that not all of Lennon’s recordings were credited to him and Ono. The fallen Beatle was known to be devoted to Ono and wrote at least three songs that bear her name in the title. They are “The Ballad of John and Yoko” (which he recorded solely with Paul McCartney in 1969 but still credited to The Beatles), “Oh, Yoko!” from “Imagine” and “Dear Yoko” from “Double Fantasy.”

Before Ono was given co-songwriting credit to “Imagine,” she was only credited as co-writer for one track, “Oh, My Love,” in the 1971 album even though she was credited as co-producer along with Lennon and the legendary Phil Spector. The other eight tracks in the album, including other Lennon classics like “Jealous Guy” and “Gimme Some Truth,” were and remain credited solely to Lennon.

“Imagine” was an instant hit when it was first released as a single. It peaked at number one in six countries including the chart of the now defunct Record World magazine in the United States although it stalled at number three in Billboard and number two in Cash Box trade magazines. Even though Lennon had bigger chart hits like “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” and “(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Imagine” is his most enduring song as its universal message of peace and unity continues to transcend generations.

Ironically, Lennon was murdered by crazed fan Mark David Chapman in 1980. He was 40. Chapman, now 62, was sentenced to 20 years to life imprisonment for the crime. While serving his sentence, he has since applied for parole nine times, each time denied by the New York State Parole Board.

Watch the official music video of John Lennon’s “Imagine” here: