Double Fantasy -- John Lennon / Yoko Ono, December 27, 1980
Producers: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Jack Douglas
Track listing: (Just Like) Starting Over / Kiss Kiss / Cleanup Time / Give Something / I'm Losing You / I'm Moving On / Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) / Watching the Wheels / I'm Your Angel / Woman / Beautiful Boys / Dear Yoko / Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him / Hard Times Are Over
December 27, 1980
Following the success of Walls and Bridges, former Beatle John Lennon recorded Rock 'n' Roll, on album of his interpretations of his favorite early rock classics. The album, released in March 1975, reached number six. Later that year, on October 9 (Lennon's 35th birthday), Sean Ono Lennon was born. The birth of his second son, and his first with Yoko Ono, had such an impact on Lennon that he opted to retire from the music business. He became a househusband, raising Sean at his Manhattan apartment building, the Dakota, while Ono looked over the family's business affairs.
It was only as Lennon's 40th birthday approached that he decided it was time to make music again. Sean was nearing five and was beginning to wonder what his father did aside from being "Daddy." While vacationing with Sean in Bermuda, Lennon began writing songs, which he then played to Ono over the telephone. She responded by writing her own reply songs.
On August 4, 1980, Lennon began recording his first album in five years at the Hit Factory in New York. Double Fantasy was a concept album with Lennon and Ono each contributing seven songs. "It was a dialogue between men and women," says Ono. "When we came up with that idea, John was really panicking, saying, 'We have to make the album right away. It's such a good idea that maybe another couple might do it before we can.'"
The Lennons recorded the album quickly, and without a recording contract. It was truly a labor of love. "It was just a beautiful, beautiful time for us," says Ono. "Every moment was exciting." Once the album was completed, David Geffen offered to release Double Fantasy without hearing a note.
Double Fantasy was released on November 17 and debuted at number 25 on the Top LPs & Tapes chart during the week ending December 6, while the album's first single, the mid-tempo "(Just Like) Starting Over" began to climb the Hot 100. The album was receiving favorable reviews, Lennon was speaking happily about making music again, and the couple even began working on another album. Then the unthinkable able occurred.
On December 8, 1980, Lennon and Ono returned home from the studio after working on a new song called "Walking on Thin Ice." Waiting for Lennon in the courtyard of the Dakota was an obsessed fan named Mark David Chapman. Just before 11 p.m., Chapman shot Lennon five times. He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where he died from a massive blood loss.
Lennon's death affected people around the world and gave an ironic twist to much of the material on Double Fantasy. "'I'm Losing You,' when I play it now, it really hits me," says Ono. "'Starting Over' is really a very happy song, but because of John's death, it's ironic. We felt like we were going to be together for another 50 years or something. We didn't know we weren't meant to be together."
Understandably, "all of the Double Fantasy songs are hard for me to listen to," Ono adds. "When we made it, it was just such a happy time and our joy is reflected in the album, literally, but because of that, it is even sadder. It just shows that we didn't know our fate at all."
But the album also had healing powers. The song "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" was inspired by Sean Lennon. "When Sean was a little boy, he used to listen to that song a lot," says Ono. "So he did get something from his dad."
Less than two weeks after Lennon's death, Double Fantasy and "(Just Like) Starting Over" both went to Number One.
THE TOP FIVE
Week of December 27, 1980
1. Double Fantasy, John Lennon / Yoko Ono
2. Guilty, Barbra Streisand
3. Hotter Than July, Stevie Wonder
4. Back in Black, AC/DC
5. Crimes of Passion, Pat Benatar