“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but ironically it was not the original Beatles’ version that accomplished this feat. Forty-one years ago today, and nearly eight years after the original, Elton John’s cover of the LSD-themed classic put “Lucy” at number one. This marked the British singer’s third such feat, previously reaching the Hot 100 summit with 1972’s “Crocodile Rock” and 1974’s “Bennie and the Jets.”
John Lennon, who wrote and sang the original, actually provided background vocals and played guitar on the cover version when Elton recorded it in 1974. That same year, Elton appeared on Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through the Night.” Interestingly, the “LSD” single featured another cover, John Lennon’s “One Day (At a Time),” as the B-side. The original appeared on Lennon’s Mind Games the year previous.
A month before the song topped the charts, Lennon joined Elton on stage at Madison Square Garden in NYC to perform "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and other songs. (Check out the audio here.) Ironically, acid-dropping Lennon claimed the LSD acronym was a mere coincidence, that the song title is not a reference to the psychedelic, but few people believed the claim after hearing the song's psychedelic lyrics and sounds. Either way, Elton certainly seems to be on something in this December 1974 performance of "LSD."