In the period prior to the tragic death of the ex-Beatle John Lennon, when he was notoriously killed by deranged gunman, Mark David Chapman in New York City on December 8, 1980, he and his wife Yoko Ono finally found peace and happiness.
In the last months together, the couple restlessly worked on what will be their last album together: The Double Fantasy. The photos were taken by the photographer Kishin Shinoyama, who didn’t have an idea that he is capturing the last moments of Lenon’s life. Shinoyama now has written a book about John Lennon and Yoko Ono, titled Double Fantasy.
The touching collection of never seen photographs before were shot while the couple worked on their last album together.
Double Fantasy, which won the Grammy award for album of the year, was a love story in song
It was ten years after The Beatles had broken up. Lennon was ready to embrace his new life as “househusband” and was focused on more mature musical, political and creative projects.
Lennon was working on his last album Double Fantasy which was supposed to be his comeback at age of forty and reflect his personal and musical growth. Lennon had finally resolved bitter rift with Paul McCartney when both men bonded over fatherhood, they were once again ‘good friends.’
Yoko Ono introduces the photo collection in the book.
“When John and I decided to make the album Double Fantasy, breaking a five-year silence, we wondered whom we should ask to take the photographs. As the two of us thought about it, suddenly the face of Kishin Shinoyama came to mind.
‘I said, “For once, I’d really like to have a Japanese photographer.” John quickly agreed, saying, “Right, that sounds good.” I never expected that “for once” would turn out to be the last album John and I made together, and that “for once” would live on forever’.
Kishin Shinoyama recalls the last recording session: ‘I checked in at the Hotel Lexington, and by early afternoon I was down the street at the door of The Hit Factory on West 48th Street, the recording studio where John and Yoko were working on the final parts of the record, inserting choruses and other additional layers of sounds.
‘The two had been working intensely for over a month, recording 28 songs — 14 of John’s and 14 of Yoko’s. The concept of Double Fantasy was a back-and-forth dialogue, a kind of musical conversation between them.
‘As I entered the studio, the atmosphere was of creativity and concentration. Yoko greeted me and immediatelyintroduced me to John. He was slim and dressed all in black. His demeanor was very sweet, gentle . . . almost tender. He welcomed me warmly and then returned his attention to four backup singers, directing them as they laid down the chorus to a song he had written called “Woman”.
One month after the photo session, Kishin returned back to Japan and heard the news that John Lennon was shot and killed.
‘I look back at these photos, so many years later, and I feel that I captured John and Yoko at their happiest moment. They were doing creative work, working on the album, recording together. And they were raising their son and loving each other and living a full life together,’ Kishin remembers.
The book Double Fantasy is available for purchase here.