On this day in 1971, John and Yoko spent the second day filming the "Imagine" promotional film at their home in Tittenhurst Park, Ascot, England. The day's footage included the morning walk on the grounds though the mist and John Lennon singing "Imagine" in the white room on his white piano.
We’ve all seen that video so many times - which by today’s standards and pre-MTV is basic, to say the least. But it didn’t need a flashy accompanying video. The song said it all. And so did Lennon, who in 1971 was enjoying his new-found freedom as a solo artist after leaving the most successful group of all time.
And what a brilliant song it is. The opening track from his second ‘proper’ release has gone on to be Lennon’s signature tune. Just two other people play on the track. Klaus Voormann is on bass; he and John met when The Beatles were playing one of their many long residencies in Hamburg Germany. Voormann is also an artist, having designed the cover of The Beatles album Revolver and the Beatles Anthology series. Drummer Alan White was a member of Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band before becoming a member of Yes and then becoming a much sought after session musician.
When asked about the song in one of his last interviews, Lennon declared "Imagine" to be as good as anything he had written with the Beatles. The song's central theme was inspired by "Cloud Piece", a three-line instructional poem that appeared in Yoko Ono's 1964 book Grapefruit. The words were reproduced on the back cover of the Imagine album.
Talking about the song when interviewed for Playboy magazine shortly before his death, Lennon stated “It's not a new message. With 'Imagine' we're asking, 'can you imagine a world without countries or religions?'"
The accolades have been immense.
In 1999 BMI named "Imagine" one of the top 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century. In 2002, "Imagine" was named the second best single of all time behind Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in a UK poll conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked "Imagine" at #3 in its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." The slogan of Liverpool's John Lennon Airport is "Above Us Only Sky."
On a lighter note - in 2008 Ben & Jerry's offered a flavor of ice cream called "Imagine Whirled Peace," which contains chocolate peace symbols.
In 2000, George Michael paid £1.45m for the Steinway piano on which John Lennon wrote "Imagine." George said, "I know that when my fingers touch the keys of that Steinway, I will feel truly blessed”.
The Lennons left their home in Tittenhurst Park in 1971 (his former drummer and friend Ringo Starr bought the property from him). When John flew to New York City on the morning of 13 August 1971 he would never set foot on British soil again.