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Retro Top Ten: This week in 1981


John Lennon in 1980

John Lennon in 1980

John Lennon in 1980

Almost two months after John Lennon was shot dead by Mark David Chapman in New York, Lennon's songs were still dominating the charts.

'Woman', written by Lennon as an ode to wife Yoko Ono - and to all women, was the second single from the Beatles legend's 'Double Fantasy' album. The first, '(Just Like) Starting Over', had peaked at number 8 in the UK charts when released on October 20, 1980, but after Lennon's murder it quickly returned to the chart, this time reaching number one.

Lennon's best selling solo single, 'Imagine', recorded in 1971 and a No. 6 hit when first released as a single in the UK in 1975, also reached number one in the weeks after his death as fans mourned the loss of the star at the age of 40.

When 'Woman' replaced 'Imagine' at the top of the charts it was the first time an artist had replaced themselves at No. 1 in the UK since the Beatles achieved the feat in 1963 with 'She Loves You' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.

In an interview with Rolling Stone on December 5, 1980, just three days before his death, Lennon said 'Woman' was a 'grown up version' of his Beatles song 'Girl' from 1965.

He went on: "'Woman' came about because, one sunny afternoon in Bermuda, it suddenly hit me what women do for us. Not just what my Yoko does for me, although I was thinking in those personal terms... but any truth is universal. What dawned on me was everything I was taking for granted. Women really are the other half of the sky, as I whisper at the beginning of the song. It's a 'we' or it ain't anything."

The song was a number one hit not only in the UK but also in Ireland, Canada and New Zealand. It reached number 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, held off the top spot by REO Speedwagon's 'Keep On Loving You' and Blondie's 'Rapture'.

John Lennon never had a number one solo hit in the UK in his lifetime. In the two months following his death there were three in quick succession.

1 Woman John Lennon

2 In The Air Tonight Phil Collins

3 Vienna Ultravox

4 Imagine John Lennon

5 Rapture Blondie

6 Antmusic Adam and the Ants

7 Don't Stop The Music Yarbrough & Peoples

8 Fade To Grey Visage

9 Young Parisians Adam and the Ants

10 I Am The Beat The Look

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