John Lennon: Cold Turkey demo (1969)

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John Lennon: Cold Turkey demo (1969)

These days it's not uncommon for artists to air their drug problems in music, interviews and – as Johnny Depp has shown us -- in open court.

But when John Lennon's Cold Turkey – about heroin withdrawal – was released it was something honest and rare.

Here was one of the most famous musicians on the planet acknowledging his dependency (he sniffed rather than injected by most accounts) and letting the world in on his pain.

He'd taken it to the Beatles who rejected it, and he'd never work with them again.

With its brittle electric guitar and screams of pain on the released version – which came out a month after the Abbey Road album – it was as unexpected as Tomorrow Never Knows and Strawberry Fields Forever.

This home demo shows he had idea down hard before he went into the studio with Eric Clapton on lead guitar, bassist Klaus Voorman and drummer Alan White as the Plastic Ono Band and unleashed the single which had “PLAY LOUD” on the label.

It was sound advice to get the full harrowing effect of this song which was a brutal slice of rock unlike anything which came before it.

His audience however failed to respond and the brilliant single didn't crack the UK top 10 and so in a fit of pique he famously returned his MBE in a plain brown wrapper.

It's still a song which, especially when placed back in its context, remains a landmark in rock.

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For more one-offs, oddities and songs with a backstory see From the Vaults.

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