Yoko & Sean Ono Lennon, the Estate of John Lennon and Universal Music Group will host a Global Party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John’s “Imagine” song, album and film on September 9. The event will honor one of the most famous and beloved songs and universal messages in music history.
“John and I were both artists and we were living together, so we inspired each other,” says Yoko. “The song ‘Imagine’ embodied what we believed together at the time. John and I met – he comes from the West and I come from the East – and still we are together. We have this oneness and ‘the whole world would eventually become one’ is the sense that we will all be very happy together. All these instructions are for people for how to spend eternity, because we have lots of time.”
The unique global status of “Imagine” was emphasized yet again during the opening ceremony of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where it was reimagined by the celebrated composer Hans Zimmer for a worldwide audience in the hundreds of millions. It began the celebrations for both the Olympics and the song’s own golden anniversary.
John & Yoko’s Imagine, one of the first full-length conceptual music films, was also released in 1971 and contains all the songs from John’s Imagine album; four from Yoko’s Fly; and a few additional pieces. In 2018, under Yoko’s supervision, the film was completely reassembled to HD in 2018 from the original 16mm negative reels and cleaned and digitally restored frame-by-frame with the audio completely remixed in 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos by triple Grammy-award winning engineer and mixer, Paul Hicks.
At 11:30am PDT/2:30 pm EDT/7:30 pm BST on September 9, fans around the world are invited to watch the Imagine film together, either online or in person at participating venues. Yoko Ono Lennon, Mercury Studios and partners including The Coda Collection, Hard Rock and Music Venue Trust will make the film available for free, while Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess’ hugely popular Tim’s Twitter Listening Party will host a simultaneous online Listening Party event.
Thus the experience of watching and listening to the music of the Imagine film will be enhanced by a second-screen Twitter experience, featuring quotes, photos and multimedia, led by Yoko Ono Lennon, the John Lennon Estate and many of the musicians, filmmakers and friends involved in the making of the album and film, as well as fans joining in using the hashtags #timstwitterlisteningparty and #IMAGINE50.
Confirmed participants for Tim’s Twitter Listening Party are: Yoko Ono Lennon; the Estates of John Lennon, George Harrison and Nicky Hopkins; plus Sean Ono Lennon, bassist Klaus Voormann, drummer Alan White, cameraman Nic Knowland, factotum Dan Richter, and MC Tim Burgess, with more to be announced soon. For more information, visit the Tim’s Twitter Listening Party website.
A fitting sequel
The Coda Collection, a unique streaming platform that delivers music documentaries, concert films, and more, is proud to stream the Imagine film in the US and UK, empowering even broader audiences to take part in this global special event. The Coda Collection is available exclusively via Amazon Prime Video Channels. US audiences will be able to stream the film on the Coda Collection channel during and after the event via a free seven-day trial.
Audiences in the UK can stream the film on Amazon Prime at no additional charge during the event. Tweets from the Twitter Listening Party will also be available to follow live on a bespoke page at the Coda Collection website. To explore The Coda Collection, including other John Lennon & Yoko Ono films, visit codacollection.co.
Hard Rock will also be part of the anniversary celebrations, showing the Imagine film throughout the day in select Hard Rock Cafés in North America and Europe. Several of its hotel properties in the US and Mexico will also offer the film for guests to watch in their rooms. Fans are invited to check with their local Hard Rock Café for participation and viewing times.
Surround Sound screening
In the UK, Sage Gateshead will welcome people back to its Sage One venue with a free, Surround Sound screening of the film, timed to the interactive Listening Party. Grassroots music venues all over the UK will also screen the film for free, in collaboration with Music Venue Trust. The hashtag #IMAGINE50 will be seen on Twitter to indicate participating venues.
The film will also be available to view online in the USA for AXS subscribers and in the UK for Sky subscribers on NOWTV and the SkyGo App, and to rent or purchase globally from Apple TV, iTunes or Amazon Prime; or on Blu-Ray or DVD. Discover the best way to watch the film in your country here.
On September 6 at 5pm PDT/8pm EDT, AXS TV will show both Imagine and the 1988 documentary Imagine: John Lennon. The screening will be hosted by Ahmet Zappa, co-host of AXS TV’s Rock My Collection, and Katie Daryl, executive producer and host of The Top Ten Revealed. They’ll be joined by an impressive roster of notable musicians who reflect on how John and Yoko have impacted their lives, and how the Imagine album and song have influenced their careers. The special will air again on September 8 at 5pm PDT/8pm EDT and the Imagine film will also be available to stream via the AXS TV NOW app. Visit AXS.com for more information.
For those who wish to join in with the Listening Party but prefer to watch the film later in the day, all the tweets from the event will be collated and made available to replay at this link on the Tim’s Twitter Listening Party website, soon after the event finish time.
Immediately after the Tim’s Twitter Listening Party watch party, Sean Ono Lennon and BBC6 Music’s Chris Hawkins will host a special #IMAGINE50 Listening Party Aftershow, with discussion and a Q&A via Twitter Spaces at 1:40pm LA/3:40pm NYC/8:40pm UK /4:40am Tokyo. This audio-only event will include many of the contributors to the album and film, with the lineup to be announced soon.
On September 10, Capitol/UMe will release a limited collector’s edition pressing of Imagine as a double LP on white vinyl, featuring the acclaimed 2018 Ultimate Mix mixed by engineer Paul Hicks and overseen by Yoko Ono Lennon on LP1 and a host of outtakes on LP2. The unique, expanded edition, Imagine – The Ultimate Mixes & Out-takes, includes the original demo for “Imagine” plus a host of outtakes that demonstrate the writing and recording process and showcase the evolution of the album’s songs.
Outtakes for nearly every song on the record are included: “Jealous Guy” (Take 9), “It’s So Hard” (Take 6), “Crippled Inside” (Take 3, Take 6), “Gimme Some Truth” (Take 4), “I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die” (Take 25), “Oh My Love” (Take 6), “How Do You Sleep?” (Takes 1 & 2), and an early version of “Oh Yoko” taken from the Bed Peace rehearsal filmed in the Bahamas. The limited edition release can be pre-ordered here. A new collection of merchandise has also been released in the official store. See the full collection here.
The Ultimate Mixes and Out-takes included on the vinyl edition were originally released in 2018 on the six-disc box set, Imagine – The Ultimate Collection. The remixed and remastered 140-track collection was fully authorized by Yoko Ono Lennon, who oversaw its production and creative direction. The set includes a variety of listening experiences that are both immersive and intimate, ranging from the Ultimate Mixes of the original album, which reveal whole new levels of sonic depth, definition and clarity to these timeless songs, to the Raw Studio Mixes that allow listeners to hear Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band’s original, unadorned performances, to enveloping 5.1 surround sound mixes, and a Quadrasonic Album Mix, presenting the original four speaker mix remastered in Quadrasonic sound for the first time in nearly fifty years.
This deep listening experience, with scores of previously unheard demos, rare outtakes and isolated track elements, also includes the track-by-track audio montage The Evolution Documentary, detailing the evolution of each song from demo to master recording via instructions, rehearsals, recordings, multitrack exploration and studio chatter.
Dolby Atmos mixes and full-length Stereo versions from the Blu-ray content in the box set edition of Imagine – The Ultimate Collection are currently in production for streaming services, to bed release on John’s birthday on October 9.
Pre-order the limited edition, white vinyl double LP Imagine – The Ultimate Mixes & Out-takes, which is released on September 10.