David Bowie is the most influential singer-songwriter of the 20th century, and he collaborated with many other great artists. But Did David Bowie co-write Imagine?
Here’s what I know being a fan:
David Bowie did not co-write John Lennon’s Imagine which was released in 1971, as Lennon didn’t even know about Bowie at this point. Lennon said much of the song’s lyrics and content came from his wife, Yoko Ono.
However, Lennon and Bowie did work together a short time later.
John and David didn’t work together until 1975 when Lennon produced one of Bowie’s albums, “Young Americans”, and helped co-write the song Fame. Lennon plays guitar on that too.
Researching more about Imagine, I found that a poem written by Yoko inspired Lennon to write Imagine. This poem became the source for Imagine’s soulful lyrics, but Yoko didn’t get credit until 2017.
I believe Bowie’s association with this track may have started because he consistently mentioned Lennon as his “greatest mentor”.
But sadly, Imagine was not a result of their collaboration. Let’s find out how many projects the duo got together for.
Yoko Ono dedicated the Imagine mosaic in Central Park on today’s date in 1985 ☮️ pic.twitter.com/02E1AGkca4
— FestForBeatlesFans (@Beatles_Fest) March 21, 2021
Did Yoko co-write Imagine?
Yoko Ono wrote much of the song “Imagine” indirectly as the lyrics came from a poem she penned in her book “Grapefruit” from 1964. Her poem became the source of inspiration for this track.
The title song to Lennon’s 1971’s album originally had songwriter credits in the name of Lennon alone. However, in a 1980 interview, he said it shouldn’t be this way.
Speaking with Andy Peebles, Lennon expressed: “Yoko deserves a credit on Imagine” as well. As a result, in 2017, nearly four decades later, John’s wish came true when his wife Yoko shared writing credits in the signature track.
In the same interview, Lennon mentioned that:
“those days, I was a bit more selfish, bit more macho, and I omitted to mention her contribution. But it was right out of her book.”
Looking at the album’s back cover, you can see that Lennon had no intentions of masking Yoko’s contribution as you find a quote from Yoko’s book there that reads:
“Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in.”
“I once asked [John] Lennon what he thought of what I do. He said ‘it’s great, but it’s just rock and roll with lipstick on’.” — David Bowie (b. 1/8/47)#HappyBirthday #DavidBowie #musician #fridaymorning #weekendvibes #Fame pic.twitter.com/w00oWRJpgP
— ReinventMusic (@ktanaka13) January 8, 2021
Did David Bowie co-write any songs with John Lennon?
David Bowie worked with John Lennon for several projects, including Bowie’s song Fame from 1975. Lennon wrote and recorded guitar parts on the track.
The song ended up being the pair’s most memorable collaboration.
While on tour in 1983, during one of Bowie’s performances that coincided with the third anniversary of Lennon’s death, Bowie took the opportunity to talk about his friendship with John and how the song “Fame” came about.
Ultimately, the song became a smashing hit for Bowie and reached number one in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Moreover, Lennon didn’t only help Bowie create a song of the decade but spurred him into taking ownership of his creativity. The musician told a website,
“I started to realize that if you’re bright, you kind of know your worth, and if you’re creative, you know what you want to do and where you want to go in that way.”
Lennon also gave David stern advice about his guitar skills that eventually led the singer to work on unique riffs.
So, did Lennon’s advice work for David Bowie?
And if it did, how good at guitar did David Bowie become? Read my recent article to learn about it. I get into not only how good he was, but also if he’s actually playing guitar on any of his recordings and which additional Bowie guitarist is considered the best.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
Today in 1975 David Bowie held the top song in Billboard with “Fame”, co-written by John Lennon, who can be heard singing near the end. pic.twitter.com/p9ZMm721wN
— Monsters Of Rock® (@MonstersOfRock) September 20, 2017
Who is responsible for providing the melody in David Bowie’s Fame?
While David Bowie’s Fame was a collaboration, John Lennon provided the melody in Fame. Additionally, he came up with the song’s title, wrote and played some of the guitar parts, and sang the backing vocals.
Bowie met John Lennon in New York in 1974.
The pair bonded well together, and the following year, they joined each other for a single-day session at Electric Lady Studios. Here, Carlos Alomar developed a guitar riff that Bowie intended for “Footstompin” by the Flairs.
Lennon, who was in the studio, came up with a hook and started singing over the riff, which Bowie turned into “Fame.”
A personal account by David Bowie’s autobiographer mentions:
“Lennon shared the “briefest lyrical contribution,” and that was enough to get him co-credits.”
But Bowie later expressed that Lennon was the “energy” of the track and solidified the riffs.
The track became the flagship of the album’s sound and became the first number 1 single on US Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian singles chart.
Lennon was a man of extraordinary talent and creativity. But did John Lennon have perfect pitch too?
I made sure to cover that in my recent article. I answered that question, but I also analyzed whether anyone could become a great musician without having a perfect pitch. And I looked at whether ANY of the Beatles had perfect pitch.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
To mark what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday today, David Bowie’s tribute to his friend (an emotional performance of Imagine live in Hong Kong on 8th December, 1983), has been restored from the original film to 4K and is available to view here: https://t.co/w4En6IitOS pic.twitter.com/dGNk8PGpJ5
— David Bowie Official (@DavidBowieReal) October 9, 2020
Were David Bowie and John Lennon friends?
David Bowie and John Lennon shared a close friendship, “close as a family,” as Yoko once said. The pair often collaborated on several projects and released unforgettable tracks.
Looking back at Bowie’s statements in the past, one can see that Bowie admitted numerous times how much he looked up to John Lennon.
He even said Lennon was his “greatest mentor”, which I believe could have only resulted when someone has great respect for someone’s work.
John and David were also pictured conversing backstage at the 17th Grammy Awards, which Bowie mentioned saving for several years even after Lennon’s death.
After Bowie’s passing, Yoko shared a Twitter post that read:
“David was like family, and John and David respected each other. They matched in intellect and talent. As John and I had few friends, we felt David as close as family. After John died, David was always there for Sean and me.”
You can also find these memorable moments available in hundreds of articles written on them. And it can safely be said that David and John were great friends.
During the sessions from David Bowie’s 1975 album ‘Young Americans’, Bowie recorded a couple songs with John Lennon. “Fame” and the Beatles tune “Across the Universe”. #VinylTapCurrent pic.twitter.com/HwH1bLMPw9
— Jill Riley (@JillRileyRadio) December 8, 2020
How many times did David Bowie work with John Lennon?
David Bowie worked at least twice with John Lennon, out of which his collaboration with Lennon for “Fame” remains the most notable one.
While most Young Americans’ sessions concluded by late 1974, the material was delayed due to Bowie’s contract issues with his then-manager Tony Defries.
During this time, Bowie met Lennon and led a one-day session at a studio named “Electric Lady”. Here, the duo joined longtime Bowie guitarist and bandleader Carlos Alomar, who developed riffs for Bowie’s cover of “Footstompin.”
Lennon came up with a hook that finally became the base for “Fame.”
Lennon’s primary contribution remained to playing acoustic guitars and developing intro parts.
He supervised the backing vocals and also sang lines for another track, “Across the Universe”, on Bowie’s “Young Americans.”
Other than these, there are several projects that the duo supposedly worked on, but they were never confirmed.
John Lennon and David Bowie are perhaps the two most iconic names in the music world who have inspired millions of artists. There was a time when it was said that the results were bound to be legendary whenever they collaborated.
And this wish of the fans came true when the duo collaborated and worked together for a track that Bowie was working on. It was called Fame. Lennon contributed to backing vocals and the melody part of this song.
Additionally, there were rumors that the iconic artists worked on another track called “Imagine”, but it’s not true.
Bowie did not work on this track and couldn’t possibly have because, by this time, Lennon didn’t even know Bowie. But Lennon was one of Bowie’s many influences and eventually, the two became both close friends and musical collaborators.
Image by Ogutier from Pixabay and Image by Corinne DECARPENTRIE from Pixabay and Image by heisan from Pixabay