John Lennon became an icon with The Beatles during the 1960s, and many artists yearned for the opportunity to collaborate with him. After The Beatles, Lennon typically worked solo, but there were a few times when he lent his talents to other artists to create excellent music.
Here are 5 memorable collaborations between John Lennon and other artists
Elton John skyrocketed to fame in the 1970s. Lennon caught wind of the young U.K. singer, and the pair worked on a few songs together. The first was John’s cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”. Lennon provided backing vocals and guitar under the pseudonym of Dr. Winston O’Boogie.
The other track was Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”, featuring John on harmony vocals and piano. The song was released in 1974 and was Lennon’s first and only No. 1 single in the U.S. The pair had made a bet that if it reached No. 1, Lennon would have to perform the song live with Sir Elton. On Nov. 28, 1974, the former Beatle joined Elton at a performance in Madison Square Garden. This became Lennon’s final major concert appearance.
Frank Zappa and John Lennon was an unlikely collaboration between two famous artists. In 1971, the two artists shared the stage at the Fillmore East in New York. While the jam session gave audiences an exciting story for the future, Zappa didn’t look back on the experience fondly. In Interview Picture Disc, Zappa claimed that Lennon stole a song that the two played together, changed the title, and never paid him.
“There’s a song that I wrote called ‘King Kong’ which we played that night, and I don’t know whether it was Yoko’s idea or John’s idea, but they changed the name of the song to ‘Jamrag’, gave themselves writing and publishing credit on it, stuck it on an album and never paid me,” Zappa explained. “It was obviously not a jam session song: It’s got a melody, it’s got a bass line; it’s obviously an organized song. Little bit disappointing.”
Lennon worked with Nilsson during his “Lost Weekend” period from 1973-1974. The pair produced plenty of negative press as they had many drunk outings in Los Angeles that caused public disturbances. The artists still made an album together, with John Lennon producing Harry Nilsson’s 1974 Pussy Cats. The album was mildly successful, reaching No. 60 on the Billboard 200.
The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had a rivalry during the 1960s. While it mainly seemed friendly, Lennon did share a few scathing criticisms of Jagger and his band. Still, he did produce a song for Jagger called “Too Many Cooks (Spoil the Soup)” — a cover of Willie Dixon’s. However, Jagger and Lennon’s version didn’t see the light of day until 2007, released in the compilation album The Very Best of Mick Jagger.
David Bowie idolized John Lennon and jumped at the chance to collaborate with the “Imagine” singer. The pair worked on two songs from Bowie’s 1975 Young Americans album: “Fame” and “Across the Universe.” “Fame” was a huge success, earning Bowie his first No. 1 song in the U.S. “Across the Universe” is a cover of Lennon’s Beatles track, and Lennon played background acoustic guitar on it.