John Lennon Pissed Off At Recording “Oh Yoko”
via Dry Birth Records / Youtube
When The Beatles disbanded in 1970, it marked the end of an era in music history. Each member of the Fab Four embarked on a solo journey, and for John Lennon, this meant diving deep into the realms of his inner self.
His solo career took off with the release of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, a groundbreaking album that explored his personal struggles and a desire for unfiltered self-expression.
The follow-up album, Imagine, became more successful, with the title track becoming synonymous with his name in popularity. Despite the song’s mellow tune and powerful message, the recording sessions were anything but peaceful, much like Lennon’s last albums with his old bandmates.
During a recording session for the track “Oh Yoko”, the legendary short fuse of the former Beatle was on display, expressing his frustration during a particular part of the song where he and Phil were doing the harmony.
Phil Spector once shot a gun near Lennon’s head
In the video, a visibly miffed Lennon was trying hard not to physically accost Spector, who was obviously high and couldn’t even find the mic. Lennon turned his anger to a poor producer while his wife and creative muse Yoko Ono was trying to direct them both.
Spector looked lost and uninspired, something that’s not really new during the sessions for Imagine. During the recording sessions for John Lennon’s cover album Rock ‘n’ Roll in 1973, Phil had a habit of arriving at the studio late and under the influence of amyl nitrate, all while donning elaborate and extravagant fancy dress costumes each night.
These outfits ranged from surgeon attire to karate gear, often openly displaying his pistol. On one alarming occasion, he discharged the firearm dangerously close to Lennon’s head.
In response to this harrowing incident, the usually relaxed former Beatle calmly commented, “Phil, if you’re going to kill me, kill me. But don’t f**k with my ears. I need ’em.”
John Lennon & Phil Spector pic.twitter.com/rxY0z1UsKw
— Lovelife🥰 (@mylovelife0617) December 26, 2020
Lennon’s creative zenith and love for Yoko
In spite of Spector, Imagine achieved remarkable success, reaching the top spot on both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. Alongside John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, it is regarded as one of John Lennon’s most outstanding solo albums.
The closing track, “Oh Yoko!”, is a joyful love song penned in honor of Lennon’s second wife, Yoko Ono. It was recorded at Ascot Sound Studios on 27 May 1971 in a single take, reportedly.
Within the eight-track tape recording, the first track featured Klaus Voormann’s bass guitar, while the second showcased Alan White’s drumming skills. Moving on to track 3, Lennon contributed a harmonica overdub, skillfully played on his Hohner Blues Harp. This track also included the harmonious vocal interplay between Lennon and Spector.
Tracks 6 and 7 were home to both Lennon’s vocals and his skillful acoustic guitar performance, while track 8 offered additional vocals and harmonica.
The Imagine era’s creative partnership with Phil Spector
In 1971, John Lennon teamed up with legendary producer Phil Spector for a collaboration that would shape the trajectory of his solo career. The result was the iconic album Imagine.
This partnership marked a pivotal turning point in Lennon’s artistic journey. Spector’s signature “Wall of Sound” technique infused the music with a lush and grandiose quality, perfectly complementing Lennon’s creative vision.
Notably, Spector played a significant role in shaping Lennon’s delicate ballad “Love” and contributed his distinctive harmony vocals to “Oh Yoko!”.
The Imagine album not only solidified Lennon’s status as a solo artist but also served as a statement of independence, further distancing him from his Beatles past. It became an instant classic, celebrated for its musical brilliance and thought-provoking lyrics.
John Lennon and Phil Spector 1971 during the Imagine sessions. pic.twitter.com/o82IxOSQhq
— Hofner Kinfauns (@HofnerKinfauns) December 26, 2022
Spector’s erratic behavior that led to John parting ways with him
As John Lennon continued his solo career, his working relationship with Phil began to show signs of strain.
Spector’s unpredictable behavior and unreliability in the studio presented challenges. These difficulties led Lennon to take matters into his own hands during the production of Rock ‘n’ Roli. The album was delayed due to Spector and was only released in 1975.
This marked a significant shift in his career as he sought greater control over his music and artistic direction. Despite the challenges and tensions that arose during their collaborations, the impact of Spector on Lennon’s post-Beatles career remains undeniable.
Together, they created some of Lennon’s most memorable and enduring songs, and Spector’s production style added a distinctive and influential element to Lennon’s music.