John Lennon Achieves First and Only US #1 of his Lifetime

John Lennon Achieves First and Only US #1 of his Lifetime

On this day in 1974, John Lennon achieved his first and only US #1 hit in his lifetime with “Whatever Gets You Through The Night”

Released in September as the first single from the album Walls and Bridges, Lennon was the last Beatle to achieve a #1 hit in the US. The song featured Elton John on harmony vocals and piano. A bet was reportedly made by Elton that the song would reach number one, an achievement doubted by Lennon. When the song eventually did reach number one, Lennon had to fulfil his side of the bet and appear at a Thanksgiving show with Elton John, which would be his final major concert.

The lyrics were said to be inspired by late-night television, Lennon reportedly loved channel-surfing for phrases and ideas. Apparently he was watching Reverend Ike, a famous black evangelist who said, “it doesn’t matter, it’s whatever gets you through the night”. Lennon was delighted and immediately wrote the phrase down so it wouldn’t be forgotten, forming the basis of “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”.

The music was apparently inspired by other hits of the time, including the number one single “Rock Your Baby” by George McCrae. The album version doesn’t bear much resemblance but later released versions demonstrate the inspiration. A live version recorded alongside the Elton John band can also found on a number of compilation albums.