It was 43 years ago Sunday night (January 27th, 1970) that John Lennon recorded “Instant Karma.” Lennon had already recorded several experimental albums and two singles under the name the Plastic Ono Band. “Instant Karma,” however, was released under the name John Ono Lennon, the name he’d created when he legally changed his middle name from Winston to Ono the previous April.
Although the public didn’t know it, Lennon had quit the Beatles in September 1969, which is reportedly why he had the single’s sleeve featured his name in bold, black letters, to announce himself to the world as a solo artist.
Lennon wrote the song in a single afternoon, recorded it within a week, and originally hoped to release it the following week. At the time, Lennon told Britain’s music paper Melody Maker that he wanted to be able to release music as easily as issuing newspapers. Lennon talked about what the song meant, explaining, “Whenever you do something, there’s a reaction to it. Even if you cough, you cough germs out all over the place. If you cough love out, out goes love. That’s what ‘Instant Karma’ is.”
Check It Out: John Lennon performing “Instant Karma” in 1970 on BBC’s Top Of The Pops: