John & Yoko Plastic Ono Band 50th Anniversary Book Due

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1970’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album

The 50th anniversary of the album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, will be commemorated this fall with the release of a book, John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band. The album, which Lennon once described as “the best thing I’ve ever done,” was released on Dec. 11, 1970. The book, from Thames and Hudson, and credited to authors John Lennon and Yoko Ono, arrives Nov. 17, roughly one month after what would have been Lennon’s 80th birthday.

John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band includes first-hand commentary by John & Yoko, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and many others. The book also includes previously unseen photographs by Annie Leibovitz, Ethan Russell, Richard DiLello, Iain Macmillan, John Reader and David Nutter.

The title is available for pre-order in the U.S. here and the U.K. here.

Cover art for the John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band book

The book is described as “a definitive, in-depth, revelatory exploration of John Lennon’s intensely personal first major solo album after the breakup of the Beatles.”

A 50th anniversary edition of the album has yet to be announced. However, a new collection of Lennon’s solo work, titled Gimme Some Truth, was released on Oct. 9, his 80th birthday.

After the Plastic Ono Band album was released in 1970 on the Apple label, it ultimately peaked at #9 in the U.K. and #6 in the U.S. To put the album in historical context, Lennon’s acclaimed LP, Imagine, was released nine months later in Sept. 1971.

On Aug. 20, Lennon’s Facebook page shared Starr’s extensive essay. “[The] emotion on this record… is just mind-blowing,” he writes. “The sparseness of the band, the force of John. That’s why he’s one of the greats.”

From the book’s announcement: Described by Lennon as “the best thing I’ve ever done,” and widely regarded by critics as his best solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was released on 11 December 1970. With first-hand commentary by Lennon, Ono and other members of the Plastic Ono Band, and packed with previously unseen photographs by those who documented their lives, this incisive volume offers new insights into the raw emotions and open mindset of Lennon after marriage to Ono and the break-up of the Beatles, through heroin addiction and primal therapy under Arthur Janov, to the making of the album and revealing interview with Jann Wenner in December 1970.

A montage of many of the photos in the book

After the Bed-In for Peace events held in Amsterdam in March 1969 Lennon and Ono decided that their future artistic endeavours would be credited to a conceptual vehicle, the Plastic Ono Band. The band featured a rotating line-up of musicians, including Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Ringo Starr, Alan White, George Harrison, Billy Preston and Jim Keltner, all of whom played live with Lennon and Ono, and contributed to their recordings.

Ono, Lennon and Starr in the studio in October 1970 (Photo via Insight Editions; used with permission)

Recording sessions began at Abbey Road Studios on Sept. 26, 1970.

Primal therapy had a huge impact on Lennon’s song writing, resulting in the creation of tracks that are intensely personal and soul-baring, including “Mother,” “Working Class Hero” and “God.”This book takes those lyrics as a starting point and explores Lennon’s life, career and self-perception, from “performing flea” with the Beatles to authenticity as a solo artist.

While John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band had no big radio hits, its best known song is “Mother.”

2020 was expected to be another big year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of various 1970 Beatles-related titles. On March 10, it was announced that the Peter Jackson-directed film, The Beatles: Get Back, would be released in theaters on Sept. 4. That announcement noted, “the film will showcase the warmth, camaraderie and humor of the making of the legendary band’s studio album, Let It Be, and the entire 42-minute performance of their final live concert as a group, the iconic rooftop set on London’s Savile Row.” However, on June 12, the film was moved to Aug. 27, 2021, due to the pandemic.

A companion audio edition has yet to be announced.

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7 Comments so far

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  1. Rick
    #1 Rick 27 March, 2020, 20:09

    Will the original Let It Be album be re-issued? As well as the Plastic Ono album?

    Reply this comment
  2. Norm
    #2 Norm 1 April, 2020, 00:42

    According to, one of the greatest solo debuts in rock history, Paul McCartney’s McCartney, will receive a special 50th anniversary release in a limited-edition half-speed mastered vinyl pressing on June 20th, 2020, if the date does not change. This album was originally released in April 1970, one month before Let It Be, and saw Paul getting back to basics. This 50th anniversary Record Store Day limited edition of McCartney should be pressed from a master cut by Miles Showell at half speed using the original 1970 master tapes at Abbey Road Studios and should be made as a vinyl specific transfer in high resolution and without digital peak limiting for the best possible reproduction. I expect for a John Lennon / P.O.B. limited-edition half-speed mastered vinyl pressing at Black Friday RSD and I dream of Let It Be as a Get Back package for October 9th… or vice versa?

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  3. Gus
    #3 Gus 8 June, 2020, 03:38

    “Greatest solo debut”? I think “patchy” at best. With the exception of George’s first two (proper) albums and John’s Imagine, most of the individual Beatle’s albums proved that you needed the sum of the parts to make a whole load of brilliance. Like McCartney’s early works, Lennon’s early solo works have their flashes of genius, but unfortunately there is a lot of dross in between. We all wanted to have Beatles x 4 in terms of creativity and quality, but sadly, the individual efforts produced barely a 1/4 of the group’s quality.

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    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 8 June, 2020, 10:35

      The story doesn’t use the phrase “greatest solo debut,” Gus.

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      • Ray
        Ray 14 August, 2020, 19:59

        The story may not use “greatest solo debut,” but Norm’s comment about McCartney’s solo debut album described Paul’s album as such … and the response from Gus was spot on.

        Reply this comment
    • David
      David 13 August, 2020, 03:28

      I think your comments are fair enough for the huge majority of Beatles solo records, but not this one. It is an absolutely astonishing and unique record, and consistently strong. Perhaps the most relentlessly personal album ever released. It’s compelling and extremely moving. Following the last two songs, “God” (chills) and “My Mummy’s Dead” (tears) I find it impossible to play anything else for a while until I recover.

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  4. MIKE
    #4 MIKE 6 October, 2020, 06:55

    I love this album by John as he showed his honest side—-Angry but truthful.The real story of the Beatles break-up was because of Bankcruptcy ,Family in which John was longing for and the too much time being spent on every Beatles record.He was simply fed up.Although the whole album sounded thin and less layered,It became my favourite record of 1970.A song called “Look at me” is worth buying the Lp but,I hear an influential similarity to Smokey Robinson’s—- ‘You really got a hold on me’.Overall,it became a masterpiece matching’ Walls and Bridges,’and Imagine.

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