This untreated Polaroid of John’s piercing gaze has recently surfaced, believed to have been taken by Andy Warhol.
John Lennon – Imagine (1971)
The photograph for the Imagine album cover was taken by Yoko Ono using a Polaroid camera. It was previously believed that the front cover photo was taken by Andy Warhol who Lennon invited to do a photo shoot of him at his Tittenhurst Park home in Berkshire in 1971 for his second solo album. He did take some photos of John (see below), however Lennon preferred Yoko’s Polaroid snap for the cover. I think I can see why.
John: My album front and back is taken by Yoko as a Polaroid. It’s a new one called a Polaroid close-up. It’s fantastic. She took a photo of me, and then we had this painting off a guy called Geoff Hendricks who only paints sky. And I was standing in front of it, in the hotel room and she superimposed the picture of it on me after, so I was in the cloud with my head. And then I lay down on the window sill to get a lying down picture for the back side, which she wanted with the cloud above my head. And I’m sort of ‘imagining’.
Similarly, Yoko Ono’s Fly (1971) album cover was taken by John also using a Polaroid but through a glass vase. The cover adorned with the same lettering as Imagine, Yoko’s very good Fly LP, featured lots of Lennon participation, and input from guest musicians such as Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton. Recorded around the same time, and both released in September 1971, it is something of a sister album to Imagine, similar to what they did with the couple’s respective Plastic Ono Band LPs a year earlier.
As for Imagine, it is half candy-floss half vitriol, despite album’s dreamy packaging with clouds, Yoko’s quote, and the postcard of John holding a pig, a well known mock up of Paul’s Ram (earlier in ’71) album cover photograph. It’s the album that includes the vicious McCartney take-down ‘How Do You Sleep?’. Imagine is a mixture of vicious-ness and loveliness, with tracks such as the title track sitting alongside the venomous numbers like Beatles leftover ‘Gimme Some Truth’ or ‘I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama, I Don’t Wanna Die’. That said, it contains some of the best solo work of his career, and could easily have been split into two distinct sides:
Side One (Sugar)
- Jealous Guy
- Oh My Love
- Oh Yoko
Side Two (Bile)
- Crippled Inside
- Gimme Some Truth
- I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama, I Don’t Wanna Die
- It’s So Hard
- How Do You Sleep?
Well worth checking out is another superb conversation between Robert Rodriguez and Ray Connelly on the best Beatles podcast: Something About the Beatles. The most current Episode 249: Ray Connolly’s Lennon, features a riveting conversation celebrating John’s life and discussing a wide array of topics with someone who knew John well.
♥ Imagine – John and Yoko making the Imagine album cover artwork.
Rule number one…never piss John Lennon off. One of the most vicious put down songs…he wasn’t one to beat around the bush.
Yes, and that piercing gaze….
I just listened to this album again after many years. HIs first two were great…for me his best albums.
Yes I love Plastic Ono Band the best, closely followed by Imagine. I have also been revisiting Some Time In New York City recently, and that’s a very challenging – of its time – album.
thanks for reading Max. And for the Drive in Saturday/Aladdin Sane shout out.
Thats an album (Some Time In New York City) I haven’t listened to in a long time.
If I could plug the excellent I Am The Eggpod latest episode on that Lennon double album. A very good listen.
Cool! I’ll give that a listen.
It’s an excellent podcast if you like that kind of thing.
Anything where I can learn something about The Beatles…yea I’m there.