John Lennon records second solo single “Cold Turkey”

John Lennon records second solo single “Cold Turkey”

On this day in 1969, John Lennon recorded one of his best known solo singles, “Cold Turkey”

The song was Lennon’s second solo effort, following “Give Peace a Chance”, and it’s dark lyrical content was considered a departure from the usually cheerful music of The Beatles. “Cold Turkey” was, unsurprisingly, about Lennon and Ono’s attempts to quit their brief heroin habits, which apparently brought on a creative outburst from Lennon. There is another rumour as to the songs origin however. Apparently, it may have been inspired by a bout of food poisoning suffered by John and Yoko after eating Christmas leftovers, primarily cold turkey.

“Cold Turkey” was written and rehearsed all afternoon and then recorded in the evening, with the help of Ringo Starr. It did not publicly appear however until it was performed with the Plastic Ono Band at the Live Peace in Toronto event in September, which was recorded and later released as Live Peace in Toronto 1969. The song was initially barred from BBC and reviewed negatively amongst critics, however they soon changed their tune as the song quickly made the UK top 20 and US top 30. As the song began to dip in the charts, Lennon returned his MBE, stating “I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With love, John Lennon of Bag.”

Today, the song is well recognised as one of Lennon’s best and most popular solo songs in his immense catalogue. It has since been covered by numerous artists, including Lenny Kravitz and Alice Cooper and is in lists for the Greatest Guitar Tracks of All Time.