On this day in music history: November 17, 1980 – “Double Fantasy” by John Lennon & Yoko Ono is released. Produced by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, it is recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City from August 4 – September 22, 1980. It is the first new music from Lennon in over five years after his self imposed “retirement” to raise his and Ono’s son Sean. Lennon writes the majority of his songs after a sailing trip from Newport, RI to the island of Bermuda. Ono also composes a number of new songs during this same period that are included on the finished album. John and Yoko work with producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick) on the project, having previously worked as a recording engineer for Lennon on the “Imagine” album. The sessions (recorded in a very low key and secretive manner to avoid media attention) go very quickly and smoothly, with the Lennon’s being supported by a number of crack session musicians including Tony Levin (bass), Hugh McCracken (guitar), and Andy Newmark (drums). The sessions are so productive, that they produce enough material for not just one, but two full albums (the unused material is later released as “Milk And Honey” in January of 1984). The title “Double Fantasy”, comes from the name a flower Lennon sees in a botanical garden, while vacationing in Bermuda. It is recorded while Lennon is not under contract to a record label, with his solo contract with Capitol/EMI having expired in 1975. Once word gets around about the project, offers from numerous record labels come pouring in. Eventually they sign with Geffen Records, with David Geffen offering to release the album without hearing a note. It spins off three hit singles including “(Just Like) Starting Over)” (#1 Pop) and “Woman” (#2 Pop). The record is steadily climbing the charts when Lennon is murdered by a deranged fan on December 8, 1980. The album wins the Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1982. “Fantasy” is reissued by Capitol/EMI in 1989 when the rights revert back to Yoko Ono, after she parts ways with Geffen Records several years earlier. The album is first remastered and reissued on CD with three additional bonus tracks, on John’s Birthday in 2000, also to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its original release. It is remastered and reissued again in 2010 as two CD set titled “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” with the second disc containing alternate mixes of the fourteen tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2015. “Double Fantasy” spends eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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