By Damian Fanelli
Over the decades, John Lennon’s songs have been covered by thousands of artists. Just think of all the people — from unknown Lithuanian bar bands to Lada Gaga — who have had a crack at “Imagine.”
Today, on the 32nd anniversary of his death on December 8, 1980, I’m paying tribute to Lennon by rounding up five of what I feel are the best performances of his solo songs by other artists.
Video-wise, my favorite of this bunch is “How?” by Ozzy Osbourne, in which he hits the streets of New York City — old-school Lennon-style — en route to pay his respects to the man himself.
You’ll also notice Paul Weller on this list; Weller, the former frontman of UK hitmakers The Jam, is a huge Lennon disciple who has covered several of his songs as B-sides.
And the only flaw in Pearl Jam’s version of “Gimme Some Truth” is that it lacks anything even close to George Harrison’s goosebump-inducing slide solo on the original Lennon version.
Enjoy these five covers — and power to the people!
How? (Originally from Imagine, 1971)
Gimme Some Truth (Originally from Imagine, 1971)
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
I Found Out (Originally from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, 1970)
Instant Karma (Originally released as a single in early 1970)
Imagine (Originally from Imagine, 1971)
Damian Fanelli is the online managing editor at Guitar World.