John Lennon Solo in 20 Songs (2023)

The best John Lennon songs? An impossible task surely. John Lennon’s incomparable career in The Beatles featured enough classic songs for a whole lifetime. But what happened after The Beatles? A whole lot. This list highlights just a few of the best John Lennon solo songs, a treasure trove of incredible tunes.

Listen to the best John Lennon songs on Apple Music and Spotify.

Rip It Up & Ready Teddy

The same week in July 1957, Little Richard’s “Lucille” was in the British charts; it was the seventh record that the singer from Macon, Georgia had placed on the UK charts in just six months. The first Richard’s hit was “Rip It Up” in December 1956, with a b-side called “Ready Teddy.” So when John came to record his Rock “N’ Roll album, he covered both songs in a medley. John actually met Little Richard at the Star Club when the Beatles played in Hamburg. The group played both songs during their gigs.

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Ain’t That A Shame

Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” was the New Orleans pianist’s third hit in Britain in early 1957. That track, and the others featured on Rock “N’ Roll, were the songs that John Lennon grew up on, the music that stayed with him for the rest of his life.

Give Peace a Chance

John’s first solo single was the anthemic “Give Peace a Chance,” recorded in Montreal on June 1, 1969 during John and Yoko’s second bed-in for peace. The song made No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No.2 on the British singles chart. But more important than its chart success, “Give Peace a Chance” became an American anti-war movement theme song that was sung at countless rallies.

Instant Karma

“Instant Karma” was recorded on January 27 at Abbey Road and released a little over a week later in the UK, and two weeks after that in America. It was credited to Lennon/Ono with the Plastic Ono Band and has the distinction of being the first Beatles’ solo record to sell a million. With the song’s “We All Shine On’ chorus, this Phil Spector-produced single reached No.5 on the UK singles chart and Top 3 in America.

Working Class Hero

John Lennon’s debut solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was recorded over a month-long period from the end of September 1970 at Abbey Road. “Working Class Hero” is typical of many of the songs on the album. Honest and open, it’s resonated with many in the intervening years, covered by David Bowie, Roger Taylor, Elbow, and Ozzy Osbourne among many others.


“God” from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is one of John Lennon’s most controversial songs. But should it be? It’s essentially a list of things that Lennon didn’t believe in: Jesus, Buddha, Elvis, Dylan, and Gita all make the cut. Lennon brings this all up to eventually come around to something more inclusive and all-encompassing: “If there is a God, we’re all it.”

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Any list of John Lennon’s best songs would be complete without this one. But what can be said about “Imagine” at this point? As Jamie Atkins wrote in 2019 on this website, the song “was both an aspirational prayer and challenge to authority that remains one of the most unashamedly plain-speaking songs to enter popular consciousness.”

Jealous Guy

“Jealous Guy,” also from the Imagine album, has its origins in a visit to India when the Beatles visited the Maharishi at Rishikesh. In its original form, with different lyrics, it almost made the final cut for the Beatles’ White Album.

Give Peace a Chance

John and Yoko moved to New York in September 1971 and the recording of Some Time in New York City began a few months later. The move – and the people John met in the city – inspired “New York City,” but this was also playing out against the backdrop of the US Government trying to deport him. “If the man wants to shove us out. We gonna jump and shout. The Statue of Liberty said, ‘Come!’” was John’s response.

Happy Christmas (War is Over)

John and Yoko’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” was recorded with the Harlem Community Choir, and came out in America near Christmas in 1971 and a year later in the UK. The couple’s concerns with global issues and, in particular, peace are evident throughout John’s solo work and his recordings with Yoko. In this beautiful song John’s hopes for a world where social unity and change could come through personal accountability now seem so obvious to us all. Back then, it still had something of a revolutionary feel to it all.

Mind Games & Out of the Blue

Lennon’s “Mind Games” started during the sessions for the Beatles’ Let It Be. At first, it was called “Make Love, Not War.” The lyrics advocate love and peace, and also include “yes is the answer” – a reference to Yoko’s art that originally brought the couple together. “Out Of The Blue,” meanwhile, is a reference to John and Yoko becoming a couple. It is one of John’s most beautiful ballads.

Whatever Gets You Through the Night

“Whatever Gets you Through the Night” has the distinction of being John’s first single to top the American Hot 100 (bizarrely it only made No.36 in the UK); it was the only single to do so during his lifetime. It features Elton John on harmony vocals and piano. During its recording, Elton bet John that it would be a No.1. John agreed to appear on stage with Elton if it ever did. John kept his promise at Madison Square Garden on November 28, 1974; it would be Lennon’s last major concert appearance.

(Video) [Just Like] Starting Over (Ultimate Mix)

#9 Dream

“#9 Dream” is, for many fans, one of the most imaginative songs that John Lennon ever recorded. Its chorus is haunting, and the use of cellos gives it the feel of some of George Martin’s arrangements for the Beatles.

The Old Dirt Road

In 1974, John produced Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats album. “The Old Dirt Road” was co-written during this period by the two men who had been friends since London in the 1960s. At the press conference in 1968 to announce the formation of Apple Corps, John was asked to name his favorite American artist. He simply replied: “Nilsson.” “The Old Dirt Road” often polarizes opinion, but it is another example – if any more were needed – that John’s innate sense of song remained key to everything he did.

(Just Like) Starting Over

Double Fantasy was the final album to be released during John’s lifetime, just three weeks before his murder. The lead single for the album, “(Just like) Starting Over” was released at the end of October and reached No.1 in the US and the UK in the wake of the tragedy.


“Woman,” John’s ode to Yoko (and all women), came out a month after his murder. In an interview for Rolling Stone a few days before he was killed, Lennon said, “The song reminds me of a Beatles track, but I wasn’t trying to make it sound like that. I did it as I did “Girl’ many years ago. So this is the grown-up version of “Girl’.”

Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” is a love song to John and Yoko’s son, Sean, who was born in 1975. He was one of the principal reasons John retreated from the record business. John wanted to spend more time with his son in these formative years. When Paul McCartney appeared on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs in 1982, he decided that if he could only take one song to the mythical island, this would be it.

Nobody Told Me

“Nobody Told Me,” was originally intended for Ringo Starr’s 1981 Stop And Smell The Roses album. But it only came out properly in 1984 on Milk and Honey, John and Yoko’s projected follow-up to Double Fantasy. When it was released as a single, it became a hit in many countries, including a top 5 in the US and No.6 in Britain.

(Video) STAND BY ME. (Ultimate Mix, 2020) - John Lennon (official music video HD)

Grow Old with Me

“Grow Old with Me’ is one of the last songs ever written by John Lennon and was recorded as a demo while he was on holiday in Bermuda in 1980. It was inspired by a poem by Robert Browning entitled “Rabbi Ben Ezra” and a song by Yoko called “Let Me Count the Ways” (which in turn had been inspired by a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning).

Think we missed one of the best John Lennon solo songs? Let us know in the comments below.

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John Lennon Solo in 20 Songs? ›

John Lennon (1940–1980) was an English musician who gained prominence as a member of the Beatles. His songwriting partnership with bandmate Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated in music history. After their break-up, Lennon recorded over 150 songs as a solo artist.

What songs did John Lennon sing solo? ›

10 best John Lennon solo songs, ranked
  1. Imagine (1971) Well, of course “Imagine” tops the list.
  2. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (1970) ...
  3. Watching the Wheels (1981) ...
  4. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (1971) ...
  5. Woman (1981) ...
  6. Give Peace a Chance (1969) ...
  7. Whatever Gets You Through the Night (1974) ...
  8. (Just Like) Starting Over (1980) ...
Dec 9, 2020

How many solo songs did John Lennon have? ›

John Lennon (1940–1980) was an English musician who gained prominence as a member of the Beatles. His songwriting partnership with bandmate Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated in music history. After their break-up, Lennon recorded over 150 songs as a solo artist.

How many hits did John Lennon have as a solo artist? ›

He had 25 number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart as a writer, co-writer or performer.

What was John Lennon's most successful song? ›

"Imagine" Lennon acknowledges upfront that 'Imagine,' his bestselling and most popular solo song, is a bit naive: "You may say I'm a dreamer," he sings. But that doesn't take away any of the power it's packed over the past 40 years.

What is John Lennon solo hit? ›

Whatever Gets You Through the Night” It seems hard to believe that this was John Lennon's only #1 solo single in his lifetime.

What is John Lennon most famous song and why? ›

Imagine (1971)

Lennon's most famous solo single was inspired, he said, by a book of poems by Yoko Ono, who was credited with co-writing Imagine in 2017. Rolling Stone voted it third in its run-down of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004 and it is still ubiquitous almost 50 years after it was made.

Who wrote more No 1 hits Lennon or McCartney? ›

Most number one singles by a songwriter (US/UK)

McCartney is credited as the writer on 32 number one hits in the US to Lennons 26 (with 23 co-written), whereas Lennon authored 29 UK number ones to McCartney's 28 (25 co-written).

Who was the first Beatle to have a solo number 1? ›

George Harrison was a prolific songwriter in his own right, but he spent The Beatles years very much in the shadow of Lennon/McCartney.

Which Beatle had more solo hits? ›

As the Beatle with the longest solo career, it's no surprise Paul McCartney has the most solo number one singles. Paul can lay claim to nine number-one songs outside of The Beatles.

Who has the most solo hits? ›

1 singles by a solo artist. Mariah Carey (USA) has topped the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on 19 different occasions.

Who has the most number 1 hits ever? ›

The Beatles have the most No. 1 hits of all time: 20. Though unclear for how long, the Beatles still reign supreme as the artist with the most No. 1 songs of all time.

Which Beatle made the most money? ›

Who is the wealthiest Beatle? Paul McCartney is the richest Beatle by far with an estimated net worth of a whopping $1.2 billion.

What was Lennon's favorite song? ›

1. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” Buddy Holly (1956) Originally written and recorded by Chuck Berry—whose 1964 rock hit “No Particular Place to Go” also made Lennon's playlist—”Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was first released as a B-Side to “Too Much Monkey Business” and later on Berry's 1957 debut After School Session.

What did John Lennon consider his best song? ›

John Lennon's 5 favourite Beatles songs:
  • 'Strawberry Fields Forever'
  • 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'
  • 'I Am The Walrus'
  • 'Girl'
  • 'Across The Universe'
Feb 9, 2021

Which Beatle was the most talented musician? ›

Conclusion: Paul Was The Greatest Beatle

One thing that can be safely said is that John was not the lone artistic driving force behind the Beatles as he sometime tried to portray himself post-Beatles, and Paul can confidently claim his place as one of the two best songwriters that ever existed.

What was the biggest selling Beatles solo single? ›

The triple album that 'My Sweet Lord' appeared on, All Things Must Pass', was the best-selling record from a solo Beatle, although Harrison had the least amount of singles of any of the Fab Four in the top ten Billboard charts.

What was John Lennon's last big hit? ›

On the day of John Lennon's murder, The Beatle spent his final evening doing what he loved most: working in the studio with his beloved wife, Yoko Ono, creating the hauntingly fitting 'Walking On Thin Ice'.

Did John Lennon have a favorite song? ›

John Lennon's favourite songs:

'In the Midnight Hour' – Wilson Pickett. 'Rescue Me' – Fontella Bass. 'The Tracks of My Tears' – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. 'My Girl' – Otis Redding.

What was the last song John Lennon sang? ›

'Oh! Darling' is the powerful goodbye to the biggest band there ever was.

Why was John Lennon so unique? ›

He was an Activist

Lennon was famous for making meaningful music, but he also stood out in the minds of people everywhere due to the fact that he was vocal on a number of political issues during his lifetime. He used both his music and actions to voice his opinions.

What was John Lennon's hit song in 1970? ›

Imagine:” The 1970s Best Selling Single by John Lennon.

Who is the best songwriter ever? ›

Top 10 songwriters
1Bob DylanMay 24, 1941 – present
2Paul McCartneyJune 18, 1942 – present
3John LennonOctober 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980
4Chuck BerryOctober 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017
6 more rows

Who owns John Lennon's music? ›

Unfortunately, the copyright will only belong to McCartney in the US. While the bassist's half of the songs will return to him, Lennon's will not belong to his estate. Yoko Ono sold the rights to his music to Sony/ATV Music in 2009, those rights lasting the entire copyright's lifetime (70 years).

Who was better John or Paul? ›

As far as the vocals, Paul obviously had better range, both were great at scream-singing (e.g., 'Long tall Sally', 'Oh Darling' for Paul, 'Bad Boy', 'Yer Blues' for John), but there was a tonal depth to John's voice that gave it a hauntingly beautiful quality (e.g., 'Strawberry Fields", 'Julia').

Did Ringo Starr have a number one hit? ›

In 1973 and 1974, Starr had two number one hits in the US: "Photograph", a UK number eight hit co-written with Harrison, and "You're Sixteen", written by the Sherman Brothers. Starr's third million-selling single in the US, "You're Sixteen" was released in the UK in February 1974 where it peaked at number four.

Did George Harrison ever have a number one hit? ›

It was 50 years ago Satuday (December 26th, 1970) that George Harrison scored the first Number One hit by an ex-Beatle with his single “My Sweet Lord,” which went on to top the charts for four weeks.

What was the 1st Beatle hit? ›

Exactly 50 years ago today, on October 5th, 1962, a new single titled “Love Me Do” hit record stores all over England. It was the debut 45 by the Beatles – though, at the time, that name didn't mean much to many English fans outside of Manchester and their native Liverpool.

Has anyone outsold The Beatles? ›

In a decade that produced countless hits for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Cliff Richard and many more, Ken Dodd's track outsold them all – except for two songs by The Beatles: She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand, both released in 1963.

Has any band surpassed The Beatles? ›

Drake breaks The Beatles' chart record for most top five hits on Billboard Hot 100. Drake has officially broken The Beatles' Billboard Hot 100 record, which they held for 55 years.

Which Beatles song has been recorded the most? ›

On 17th June 1965, working at Abbey Road studios in London, The Beatles completed work on the new Paul McCartney song “Yesterday” – with the overdubbing of an additional vocal track by McCartney and a string quartet.

What is the No. 1 song of all time? ›

1 Billboard Hot 100 Song of All Time | Billboard News. The Weeknd's “Blinding Lights” is the new No. 1 song on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All Time Hot 100 Chart. It's replacing Chubby Checker's “The Twist”.

Who has the biggest selling solo? ›

Elvis Presley, recognised as the best-selling solo music artist of all time by Guinness World Records, sold over 400.

What song has been number 1 the longest? ›

"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond. "The Box" charted at No.

What singer has sold the most records? ›

Top-selling artists worldwide as of 2022

Perhaps unsurprisingly, British rock band The Beatles are top of the list for best-selling artists worldwide, with 183 million units certified sales. Second is Garth Brooks with over 157 million units sales, followed by Elvis Presley with 139 million units.

What is the best-selling album of all time? ›

Michael Jackson's Thriller, estimated to have sold 70 million copies worldwide, is the best-selling album ever. Jackson also currently has the highest number of albums on the list with five, Celine Dion has four, while the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Madonna and Whitney Houston each have three.

Who has the most records sold? ›

1. The Beatles — 183 million units.

Who was the poorest Beatle growing up? ›

We began in central Liverpool with Ringo Starr who was probably the most working-class of the Fab Four or, at least, the group member from the poorest background. Ringo was born in 1940 in 9 Madryn Street in the so-called Welsh Streets of the Dingle district.

Who made more money Elvis or the Beatles? ›

While The Beatles come out on top in the U.S., the true best-selling artist of all time would have to be the top-seller all around the world. When figuring sales of singles, EPs and albums worldwide, many historians believe that Elvis is the best-selling artist period.

Who inherited George Harrison's money? ›

At the age of 58, George Harrison passed away after battles with lung and brain cancer. He left a will directing his estate to his wife, Olivia, and his son, Dhani. Olivia was appointed as executor. There was no will contest—no allegation of fiduciary misconduct.

Did Ringo Starr like John Lennon? ›

Ringo Starr and John Lennon held a strong bond that was never in doubt and, following the split of The Fab Four, the success that Starr had in his solo career made Lennon immensely happy.

Who was Lennon's best friend? ›

Elliot Mintz, friend

Mintz said he met Lennon in 1971 and became "fast friends". He considered him his best friend from 1971 until his death in 1980.

What is paul McCartney's fav song? ›

Of his own songs, McCartney cited “Temporary Secretary,” from his 1980 album, McCartney II. He also gave a nod to “Calicoe Skies” from the 1997 offering, Flaming Pie, and “Spiral,” which he composed for the London Symphony Orchestra. But enough of Paul on Paul.

What were John Lennon's last words to Paul McCartney? ›

Although their intimate conversations remained private, Paul's wife Linda McCartney once revealed John Lennon's last words to his former band mate. As Ultimate Classic Rock reveal, they were: “Think about me every now and then, old friend.”

Which Paul songs did John like? ›

John Lennon's five favourite Paul McCartney songs
  • 'Hey Jude'
  • 'Here, There and Everywhere'
  • 'All My Loving'
  • 'Oh! Darling'
  • 'Let It Be'
May 22, 2022

Did John like any of Paul's songs? ›

'Here, There and Everywhere'

“That's Paul's song completely, I believe. And one of my favourite songs of the Beatles.” And he even charmingly yelled out during the recording process: “Really good song lad!” Paul McCartney would later add: “That was the only song that John ever complimented me on.”

Who is the least favorite Beatle? ›

Despite being the favorite of one in four, Lennon is also the least favorite Beatle of nearly half (49%) of people who say they are "not a fan" of at least one of the band members.

Was John Lennon a better guitarist than George Harrison? ›

George Harrison was a better guitarist than John Lennon because George Harrison was more technically proficient than John. John Lennon was a good guitar player but he was not than technically proficient because John didn't pay much attention to technical proficiency.”

Which Beatle was best at guitar? ›

In many respects Paul McCartney was the group's most rounded musician, and possibly even its best guitarist. It was he that devised many of the riffs and even played some of the most memorable solos, such as on Taxman (Revolver), Ticket To Ride and his killer Epiphone Casino riff on Paperback Writer.

What song did Paul McCartney do with John Lennon? ›

"Here Today" is a song by Paul McCartney from his 1982 album Tug of War. He wrote the song as a tribute to his relationship with John Lennon, who was murdered in 1980. He stated the song was composed in the form of an imaginary conversation the pair might have had.

Who was the first Beatle to release a solo song? ›

Surprisingly, Ringo Starr was the first Beatle to drop a solo album, released a few weeks before The Beatles officially announced they were breaking up. Sentimental Journey is a collection of covers performed by Starr and produced by George Martin.

Who was the first Beatle to record as a solo artist? ›

The Nov. 1, 1968 arrival of Wonderwall Music made George Harrison the first member of the Beatles to step into the spotlight on his own.

Which Beatle had the first solo hit? ›

The first was George Harrison, who took 'My Sweet Lord' to number one in both the US and UK in the late months of 1970 and the early weeks of 1971.

What is Paul McCartney's fav song? ›

Of his own songs, McCartney cited “Temporary Secretary,” from his 1980 album, McCartney II. He also gave a nod to “Calicoe Skies” from the 1997 offering, Flaming Pie, and “Spiral,” which he composed for the London Symphony Orchestra. But enough of Paul on Paul.

What song was written about John Lennon's death? ›

David Gilmour of Pink Floyd wrote and recorded the song "Murder" in response to Lennon's death. It was released on his album About Face (1984).

What did Paul McCartney say when John Lennon died? ›

"When John died, it was so difficult," McCartney told host Tom Frangione. "It was difficult for everyone in the world because he was such a loved character and such a crazy guy. He was so special."

Who was the last Beatle to have a solo number 1 single? ›

Twenty-five years ago today, a member of the Beatles topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the last time. On this date (Jan. 16) in 1988, George Harrison rose 2-1 on the survey with “Got My Mind Set on You,” the first single from his album 'Cloud Nine.

Which Beatle had the most hits as a solo artist? ›

As the Beatle with the longest solo career, it's no surprise Paul McCartney has the most solo number one singles. Paul can lay claim to nine number-one songs outside of The Beatles. His biggest hit was Wings' 'Silly Love Songs', which held the top spot for five non-consecutive weeks in May, June and July of 1976.

What was John Lennon's first number one hit? ›

Even more unbelievable was that Lennon only had one number one during his lifetime. 'Whatever Gets You Thru the Night' is a raucous romp of a song, featuring blasting horns that sound straight out of the Saturday Night Live theme.

Who sang the most Beatles songs? ›

Turns out John Lennon led the pack, having sung lead on 109 Beatles tunes. Paul McCartney was a very close 2nd with 98. But while Lennon dominated the early Beatles albums (songs like “Please Please Me”), McCartney tended to sing more leads on the band's later recordings.

What was The Beatles most successful single? ›

Today, 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' remains The Beatles' highest-selling physical single of all time, with no less than 12 million copies sold worldwide.

What is The Beatles number one hit? ›

At Number 1 on The Beatles' Official Top 50 is, of course, She Loves You. Released in 1963, the track - written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney - logged six non-consecutive weeks at Number 1 is the best selling single of the 1960s in the UK.


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