John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ Turns 50

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

In honor of the 50th anniversary since the release of the John Lennon-penned ode to peace, “Imagine,” and the album of the same name, the song has been certified triple platinum by the RIAA for selling 3 million units in the U.S. The award was presented to Yoko Ono Lennon, and the milestone comes one day before what would have been Lennon’s 81st birthday on Oct. 9.

In honor of the golden anniversary of “Imagine,” Yoko Ono Lennon and the John Lennon Estate are celebrating the legendary artist with a series of global events and releases over his birthday weekend, including:

Imagine Peace Tower

On Saturday, Oct. 9 the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavík, Iceland will be illuminated, following a speech from the Mayor of Reykjavík, Dagur B. Eggertsson. A collaboration between Yoko Ono, Reykjavík City, Reykjavík Art Museum, Reykjavík City Museum, and Reykjavík Energy, the installation has been illuminated in honor of John Lennon every year since it was installed by Ono in 2007. 

Imagine Global Listening Party

Following the listening party events for the Imagine film and John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album, the John Lennon Estate and Tim’s Twitter Listening Party, led by The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, have partnered for a third installment, Imagine – The Ultimate Mixes. Fans are encouraged to tweet their tributes and memories of John Lennon and the Imagine album on his birthday while listening to the album and watching the livestream of the Imagine Peace Tower lighting.

Imagine in Dolby Atmos

The three-dimensional Dolby Atmos mixes from Imagine – The Ultimate Collection Box Set (2018) are now available to stream on Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Tidal. 

Imagine on Limited Edition Double White Vinyl

Capitol/UMe released a Limited Collector’s Edition pressing of Imagine as a double LP on white vinyl, featuring the 2018 Ultimate Mixes, mixed by engineer Paul Hicks and overseen by Ono Lennon. The Imagine – The Ultimate Mixes & Out-takes features the original demo for “Imagine,” along with outtakes revealing more around the evolution of the songs, including “Jealous Guy”, “It’s So Hard”, “Crippled Inside,” “Gimme Some Truth,” “I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die,” “Oh My Love,” and “How Do You Sleep?” along with an early version of “Oh Yoko” from the Bed Peace rehearsal filmed in the Bahamas.

Additionally, the release of The Ultimate Collection, a box set of 140 tracks remixed and remastered and fully authorized by Ono Lennon, who oversaw the production and creative direction, offers a new listening experience of Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band’s original performances in 5.1 surround sound and the original four-speaker mix, remastered in Quadrasonic sound for the first time in nearly 50 years. The set also includes the The Evolution Documentary, detailing the story of each song from demo to master recording.

In addition to the key events and releases, new Imagine merchandise has been released at the official John Lennon store, and the Estate has also partnered with Song Explorer for an episode on “God” recorded on Lennon’s birthday for the 1970 release of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.

“I’m a big fan of Song Exploder and the way Hrishi analyzes songwriting and recording using the multitracks and sessions and the creator’s voice,” said Sean Ono Lennon. “The shows are always intelligent, well-researched, and beautifully edited, so we felt comfortable and confident opening up the archive to them to tell the story of this important song’s creation. They’ve done an amazing job and I’m excited for everyone to hear this special episode.”

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of “Imagine,” Yoko Ono Lennon said:

“John and I were both artists and we were living together, so we inspired each other. The song ‘Imagine’ embodied what we believed together at the time. John and I met – he comes from the West and I come from the East – and still, we are together. We have this oneness and ‘the whole world would eventually become one’ is the sense that we will all be very happy together. All these instructions are for people for how to spend eternity because we have lots of time.”

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