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Double Fantasy is the comeback album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, released in 1980 initially on the newly-formed Geffen Records, and then from 1989 onwards through EMI. It is notable for being John Lennon's last authorised release, released only three weeks before his murdermarker. The album won the 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year and is Lennon's best-selling studio album at three million shipments in the U.S.marker


Following the birth of his son Sean in 1975, Lennon put his career on hold to raise the boy. In the summer of 1980, both Lennon and Ono felt ready to resume work and began composing.

After five years of little musical activity aside from recording the occasional demo in his apartment at The Dakotamarker, Lennon was absolutely bursting with creativity. He had fulfilled a lifelong ambition of learning how to sail in early 1980 and had been given fresh creative impetus in June of that year following his life-affirming experiences sailing a 43-foot sloop to Bermuda, accompanied by a small crew. Once in Bermuda, he started writing songs for a new album, sometimes writing about new experiences and occasionally reworking the half finished demos that he had recorded in the Dakota building.

He was also, he claimed, the most content he had ever felt in all his years, even writing a song called "Life Begins at 40" to commemorate that milestone in his life. His assuredness and love for his family came through on the retro " Starting Over", as well as "Beautiful Boy " and "Woman".

Yoko Ono approached producer Jack Douglas, with whom both Lennon and Ono had worked before, giving him John's demos to listen to. “My immediate impressions were that I was going to have a hard time making it better than the demos because there was such intimacy in the demos,” Douglas told Uncut's Chris Hunt in 2005.

Lennon, Ono and Douglas produced dozens of songs beginning that August, enough to fill Double Fantasy and beyond. A projected second album, Milk and Honey, was well into the rehearsal phase when work was halted following Lennon's murder that December.

Ono was currently being regarded with fresh perspective after the onslaught of the late 1970's punk movement which bore similarities to her earlier work. As such, with renewed confidence, she produced many songs. Lennon's specific reference to the B-52's "Rock Lobster" was evidence that popular music had caught up with Ono's vision.

Lennon and Ono made the decision to release their impending songs together on the same album, the first time they had done so since 1972's controversial Some Time in New York City. Subtitled "A Heart Play", Double Fantasy would be a collection of songs wherein John and Yoko would be singing to each other.

Signed by David Geffen, alongside Elton John and Donna Summer, for his new label, Geffen, Double Fantasy was preceded by Lennon's "(Just Like) Starting Over", which became a US and UK #1 hit in the aftermath of John's murder. The album itself was received with much interest, coming after such an extended break. The album debuted at #27 in the UK and the following week reached #14, but then it fell down very quickly to #25 and then #46, making the #14 its peak position. In the US, the situation was different. There, the album debuted at #25 and then rose to #12 and then #11.

Douglas brought Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos of the band Cheap Trick to play on "I'm Losing You", but it was eventually re-recorded with the studio musicians. The Cheap Trick version was included on the John Lennon Anthology collection released in 1998.

The cover of the album is said to be inspired in a photograph of Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe, the first bassist of The Beatles and one of John's best friends, who died in 1962.

Tragedy and aftermath

On the evening 8 December 1980, Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon four times as he was walking into The Dakotamarker with Ono; Lennon died approximately twenty minutes later. “The last time I saw John he had this incredible smile on his face,” Jack Douglas later told journalist Chris Hunt. “It was the evening we finished ‘Walking On Thin Ice’. He was just thrilled, and so was Yoko, because we all knew we had accomplished what John set out to do with that track. I walked him to the elevator and said goodnight. About 40 minutes later my girlfriend came to the studio, all white. ‘It’s just been on the radio,’ she said. ‘John was shot’.”

With worldwide grief for Lennon's death on an almost unparalleled scale, Double Fantasy rose to #1 in most countries making a #11 to #1 move in the US and spending 8 weeks at the top. Rising from #46 to #2 in the UK, spending there an impressive 7 weeks and then finally peaked at #1 for 2 weeks. "(Just Like) Starting Over" also immediately rose to #1 worldwide, selling several million copies, with many of Lennon's past solo and Beatles releases re-charting as well. Subsequent singles, "Woman" and "Watching the Wheels" were also very successful.

Only hours before his death, Lennon signed a copy of the album for his murderer. In 2003 this autographed LP was sold for $525,000, making it the most valuable record ever.

Track listing



  • Double Fantasy won the Grammy award for "1981 Album of the Year", amid emotional scenes as Yoko Ono and six-year-old Sean accepted the award.
  • In 1989, it was ranked #29 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest albums of the 1980s.

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1980 Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart 1
Billboard 200
1981 Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart
Billboard 200


  • John Lennon – lead, harmony and background vocals; rhythm and acoustic guitars; piano and keyboards; arranger and producer.
  • Yoko Ono – lead and background vocals; arranger and producer.
  • Jack Douglas - arranger and producer.
  • Earl Slick – lead guitar.
  • Hugh McCracken – lead guitar.
  • Tony Levin – bass.
  • George Small – keyboards.
  • Andy Newmark – drums.
  • Arthur Jenkins – percussion.
  • Ed Walsh – oberheim, synthesizer.
  • Robert Greenidgesteel drum on "Beautiful Boy"
  • Matthew Cunningham – hammer dulcimer on "Watching the Wheels"
  • Randy Stein – English Concertina
  • Howard Johnson – horns.
  • Grant Hungerford – horns.
  • John Parran – horns.
  • Seldon Powell – horns.
  • George "Young" Opalisky – horns.
  • Roger Rosenberg – horns.
  • David Tofani – horns.
  • Ronald Tooley – horns.
  • Tony Davillo – horn arrangements and musical associate.
  • Michelle Simpson, Cassandra Wooten, Cheryl Mason Jacks, Eric Troyer, Benny Cummings Singers, The Kings Temple Choir – background vocals.
  • Toshihiro Hamaya – production assistant.
  • Julie Last – assistant engineer.
  • George Marino – original mastering and remastering.
  • Lee DeCarlo – engineer.
  • Jon Smith – assistant engineer.
  • Anthony Davilio – musical associate.
  • James A. Ball – assistant engineer.
  • Bob Gruen – photography.
  • Kishin Shinoyama – cover photo and photography.
  • Karla Merrifield – reissue art coordinator.
  • Nishi F Saimaru – photography.
  • David Spindel – photography.
  • Lilo Raymond – photography.
  • Christopher Whorf – artwork.
  • Bruce Replogle - publicist.


  1. "Just Like Starting Over" by Chris Hunt, Uncut John Lennon Special, 2005
  3. "The Recording of Double Fantasy"
  4. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Lennon killer's signed LP on sale

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