“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” is a Beatles’ song from their 1967 album, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Although John Lennon was the main writer, the song credit goes to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership.
Release Date: 26th May, 1967
Recorded: 1st & 2ns March, 1967
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Psychedelia, psychedelic rock
Track Duration: 3:28
Record Label: Parlophone
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Speculation at the time of release led people to believe that the song was a reference to LSD, short for Lysergic acid diethylamide. This is because each letter of the title nouns gave the acronym, LSD. As a result, the good old BBC banned the song. However, the band hadn’t noticed the connection.
“I showed up at John’s house and he had a drawing Julian had done at school with the title ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ above it. Then we went up to his music room and wrote the song, swapping psychedelic suggestions as we went. I remember coming up with ‘cellophane flowers’ and ‘newspaper taxis’ and John answered with things like ‘kaleidoscope eyes’ and ‘looking glass ties’. We never noticed the LSD initial until it was pointed out later – by which point people didn’t believe us”.
John Lennon’s son, Julian, who was three at the time, came home from nursery school with a drawing one day. He called his sketch “Lucy – in the Sky with Diamonds” because it was showing his classmate, Lucy O’Donnell.
“I had no idea it spelt LSD. This is the truth: my son came home with a drawing and showed me this strange-looking woman flying around. I said, ‘What is it?’ and he said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds,’ and I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote a song about it.”
“I don’t know why I called it that or why it stood out from all my other drawings, but I obviously had an affection for Lucy at that age. I used to show Dad everything I’d built or painted at school, and this one sparked off the idea.”
Ringo Starr was at John Lennon’s home when Julian came from school that day so he saw the moment which gave John Lennon yet another idea for a classic Beatles’ song.
Alice In Wonderland Connection
Although his son’s drawing was the inspiration for the song, Lennon wrote it in in the style of Lewis Carroll’s novel “Alice in Wonderland”.
“The images were from Alice In Wonderland. It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty-Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep, and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualising that. There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me – a ‘girl with kaleidoscope eyes’ who would come out of the sky. It turned out to be Yoko, though I hadn’t met Yoko yet. So maybe it should be Yoko In The Sky With Diamonds”.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
“We did the whole thing like an Alice in Wonderland idea, being in a boat on the river … Every so often it broke off and you saw Lucy in the sky with diamonds all over the sky. This Lucy was God, the Big Figure, the White Rabbit.”
The Real Lucy Dies
Lucy O’Donnell (later Lucy Vodden) was the inspiration behind “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”.
“I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant … Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school”.
BBC Radio, 2007
However, the little girl at the centre of the song didn’t realise this until 13 years old in 1976. Julian and Lucy lost touch in 1968 and only saw each other once after that. This was for a brief period in the mid 1980’s at one of Julian’s concerts.
In April, 2009, Julian discovered that Lucy had an advanced case of Lupus so he got in touch with her.
“I wasn’t sure at first how to approach her…… I wanted at least to get a note to her. Then I heard she had a great love of gardening, and I thought I’d help with something she’s passionate about, and I love gardening too. I wanted to do something to put a smile on her face.”
Once they rekindled their friendship, he sent gift vouchers for gardening centres and continued to send text messages. Sadly, on the 2nd September, 2009, Lucy Vodden died after she lost the battle with her chronic disease.
The Beatles began recording “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” on the 1st March, 1967, having rehearsed the day before. They recorded seven takes in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London during the 7.00pm-2.15am session. Their last take became the rhythm track suitable for overdubbing.
The next day, John Lennon recorded his lead vocals together with Paul McCartney’s harmony vocals. They also began overdubbing McCartney’s bass guitar and George Harrison’s lead guitar. The song was complete in a short space of time but the legendary song became a classic on the Sgt Pepper’s album.
Meanwhile, on the 1996 album, Anthology 2, there are three takes from the sessions – 6, 7 & 8. Furthermore, after they decided to release the “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” album in 1999, it became a part of that too. That new album had the songs from the film replacing George Martin’s instrumentals originally on the “Yellow Submarine Soundtrack” album.
In 2006, they released another album by The Beatles, “Love” and “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” appears on that too. However, this track is a mix which includes the drum roll from “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” Not only that but there is also the clavioline from “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” and the horns, guitars, bass and drums from “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” together with the sound effects from “Tomorrow Never Knows“.