NEW YORK — At the National Music Publishers’ Association Centennial Annual Meeting in New York on June 14, Yoko Ono was formally given co-writing credit for John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
During the presentation, NMPA played a clip of the former Beatle himself saying that Ono should have gotten a songwriting credit for helping to write the lyrics.
Ono, 84, was accompanied on stage by her son, Sean Lennon, as images of her with her late husband were shown on the screen. The event closed with Patti Smith singing “Imagine” with her daughter, Jesse ParisSmith, on piano.
“Proudest day of my life,” Sean Lennon said in a Facebook post. “The National Music Publishers Association just gave the Centennial (Song of the Century) Award to ‘Imagine,’ but WAIT! Surprise! They played an audio interview of my father saying (approximately) ‘Imagine should’ve been credited as a Lennon/Ono song, if it had been anyone other than my wife I would’ve given them credit.’
“Cut to: my mother welling up in tears, and then Patti and Jesse Smith played ‘Imagine’! Patience is a virtue! PS — then they officially declared ‘Imagine’ to be a Lennon/Ono song!”
The best-selling single of John Lennon’s solo career, the song asks the listener to “imagine all the people living for today … living life in peace … sharing all the world.” Lennon and Ono co-produced “Imagine” and the album of the same name with Phil Spector in 1971.
BMI named “Imagine” one of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century. The song ranked 30th on the Recording Industry Association of America’s list of the 365 Songs of the Century bearing the most historical significance, and it earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and induction into the Rock and Rol Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
The song again topped the charts following Lennon’s murder in December 1980, and dozens of artists have performed or recorded their own versions, including Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez and Elton John.