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During the 1970s, Elton John scored a No. 1 hit when he covered one of The Beatles’ classic songs “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” In an interview, John Lennon spoke about this cover song and other Beatles covers. Here’s what he had to say.

John Lennon near a car years after working on a famous cover of The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
John Lennon | Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Why John Lennon felt people were afraid to cover The Beatles’ songs

During an interview with Spin, Francis Schoenberger asked John how he felt about other artists covering Beatles tunes. “I love it,” he said. “I was thrilled he [Elton] was doing it. People are afraid of Beatle music. They are still afraid of my songs. Because they got that big image thing: You can’t do a Beatle number … You can’t touch a Lennon song; only Lennon can do it… It’s garbage!

“Anybody can do anything,” he added. “A few people in the past have done Beatle songs. But in general they feel you can’t touch them. And there are so many good singles that the Beatles wrote that were never released. Why don’t people do them? It’s good for me; it’s good for Paul. It’s good for all of us.”

Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

How the public reacted to Elton John’s ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’

Elton’s version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remained on the chart for weeks. It was a bona fide hit, however, it wasn’t the biggest hit of Elton’s career. That honor goes to “Candle In The Wind 1997/Something About The Way You Look Tonight,” which reached No. 1 on the chart and remained on the chart for a staggering 42 weeks.

Did John Lennon take credit for the success of Elton John’s ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?’

John was responsible for some of the instrumentation on the cover, however, he didn’t take responsibility for the song’s success. “And Elton would have had a No. 1 record without me; he didn’t need me,” John told Spin. And anyway, I was only Dr. Winston O. Boogie on it … ’cause they weren’t sure; and we didn’t have time to get real permission…” For context, Dr. Winston O’Boogie was the pseudonym John was credited under for his contributions to the cover. “Winston” was his middle name.

The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

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Were Elton John and John Lennon close friends after working on ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?’

Schoenberger of Spin asked John if he was friends with Elton. John hadn’t seen him much. He revealed Elton vanished after he worked with him. John added that David Bowie — whom he collaborated with on the classic hit “Fame” — had vanished as well.

What Elton John felt about working with John Lennon

According to the book Harrison, Elton was very happy to have worked with John as well as fellow 1960s rock icons Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan. He considered this a privilege. John and Elton made a classic cover together — even if they weren’t close friends.