Live on Stage 60's, 70's & 80's Artists

David Bowie - "Imagine" Tribute to John Lennon



 

The last show of the Serious Moonlight tour, 8th December, 1983, was the 3rd anniversary of John Lennon's death, whom Bowie and Slick knew. Slick suggested a few days prior to the show that they play "Across the Universe" as a tribute; but Bowie said, "Well if we're going to do it, we might as well do 'Imagine'." They performed the song on the final night of the tour as a tribute to their friend. John Lennon wrote and recorded this song at his Tittenhurst Park estate in the English countryside where he and Yoko took up residence in the summer of 1969. When they moved to Tittenhurst, The Beatles hadn't officially broken up, but they were on the outs and would never record together again (the last Beatles photo shoot took place there in August, 1969).

Lennon had released two avant-garde albums with Yoko: Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins and Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions. At the end of 1969, they released another: Wedding Album, which contained sounds gathered at their wedding and "bed-in" honeymoon. In 1970, after a round of primal scream therapy, Lennon released his first commercially viable non-Beatles album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, with contributions from Ringo Starr and production by Phil Spector.

n early 1971, Lennon worked up songs for a new album - "Imagine" was one of them. In May, he summoned several of his musical cohorts to Tittenhurst to record it, including Spector, George Harrison, bass player Klaus Voormann, piano man Nicky Hopkins, and drummers Alan White and Jim Keltner. They recorded on-campus in the studio Lennon had recently built, which he called Ascot Sound Studios. It was a genial atmosphere; footage from the sessions shows Lennon and his cohorts enjoying each others' company, but also getting down to business when it came time to work - Phil Spector kept the sessions on track, and Lennon was exacting in his musical detail. "Imagine" was one of the first songs they recorded. With a very simple arrangement designed to spotlight the lyric, it required just Lennon's vocals and piano, Voormann's bass, and White's drums. Strings were overdubbed later.

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