"Cold Turkey" is a song written by John Lennon, released as a single in 1969 by the Plastic Ono Band on Apple Records, catalogue Apples 1001 in the United Kingdom, Apple 1813 in the United States. It is the second solo single issued by Lennon, and it peaked at number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 14 on the UK Singles Chart. The song's first appearance on an album was the 1975 compilation Shaved Fish.


 [hide*1 Writing and recording

Writing and recording[edit]Edit

According to Peter Brown in his book The Love You Make, the song was written in a "creative outburst" following Lennon and Yoko Ono going "cold turkey" from their brief heroin addictions.[1][2] However Lennon's personal assistant in the late 1970s Fred Seaman claimed otherwise, stating that Lennon confided in him that the song was actually about a severe case of food poisoning suffered by John and Yoko after eating Christmas leftovers "cold turkey". Lennon thought people would laugh at him if they knew the truth about the song's origin, so he said it was inspired by his recent heroin withdrawal.[3] Brown states that Lennon presented the song to Paul McCartney as a potential single by The Beatles, as they were finishing recording for their Abbey Road album,[4] but was refused and released it as a Plastic Ono Band single with sole writing credits to him.[1]

"Cold Turkey" was the first song Lennon wrote for which he took sole credit; his previous compositions, including his first single release, "Give Peace a Chance",[5] were attributed to the Lennon–McCartney partnership, although the credit for "Give Peace a Chance" was later changed to Lennon alone.[6] It was recorded in Abbey Road Studio 2, and features Eric Clapton.[4] There are other versions besides the single, several of which are acoustic, and a live version included on Live in New York City that features Ono adding her unique vocalizations.[7]

Release and reception[edit]Edit

The single was released with a standard green Apple label, with the words "Play Loud" printed on the spindle plug of the UK pressing[8] and above and beneath the spindle hole of the US pressing.[9] This instruction would also appear on the labels of Lennon's next solo single, "Instant Karma!".[10][11]

"Cold Turkey" rose to number 14 on the UK Singles Chart on 15 November 1969. On 22 November, "Cold Turkey" dropped to number 15, and on 25 November Lennon returned his MBE to Buckingham Palace saying "I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With love, John Lennon of Bag." [12][13] In March 2005, Q magazine placed "Cold Turkey" at number 74 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

Live performance[edit]Edit

Its first public performance was recorded and released on the Live Peace in Toronto 1969 album by Plastic Ono Band which included Lennon, Yoko OnoEric ClaptonKlaus Voormann, and Alan White.[7]Yoko introduced it as the newest song written by John; John added that the band had never played the song together as a group before. He also performed this song on 15 December 1969, along with "Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)", at the Lyceum Ballroom with more members of the Plastic Ono Band.[14] This version would be available on his Some Time in New York City album.[14] Lennon performed the song again, at two Madison Square Garden shows, on 30 August 1972.[14]


Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1969) Peak


Canadian RPMSingles Chart[15] 30
Dutch Top 40[16] 39
UK Singles Chart[17] 14
Chart (1970) Peak


US Billboard Pop Singles[18] 30
US Cashbox Top 100[19] 32

Cover versions[edit]Edit

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