Culture Wikia
This article is about The Beatles' song. For the comic book character "Lucy in the Sky", see Karolina Dean. For the Glee television episode, see Tina in the Sky with Diamonds.

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"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
File:Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - The Beatles.jpeg
The 1996 US jukebox single release of the song, backed with "When I'm 64"
Song by the Beatles
from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
PublishedNorthern Songs Ltd.
Released1 June 1967
Recorded1 March 1967
EMI Studios, London
GenrePsychedelic rock
LabelParlophone R6022
Producer(s)George Martin

"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is a song written primarily by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney,[1] for the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[2] Lennon's son Julian inspired the song with a nursery school drawing he called "Lucy—in the sky with diamonds". Shortly after the song's release, speculation arose that the first letter of each of the title nouns intentionally spelled "LSD".[3] Lennon consistently denied this,[3][4] insisting the song was inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books,[3] a claim repeatedly confirmed by Paul McCartney.[5][6][7]

Despite persistent rumours, the song was never officially banned by the BBC,[8][9][10][11] and aired contemporaneously on BBC Radio at least once, on 20 May 1967.[12]


Most of the song is in simple triple metre (3/4 time), but the chorus is in 4/4 time. The song modulates between musical keys, using the key of A major for verses, B♭ major for the pre-chorus, and G major for the chorus.[13] It is sung by Lennon over an increasingly complicated underlying arrangement which features a tamboura, played by George Harrison, lead electric guitar put through a Leslie speaker, played by Harrison, and a counter melody on Lowrey organ played by McCartney and taped with a special organ stop sounding "not unlike a celeste".[14][15] Session tapes from the initial 1 March 1967 recording of this song reveal Lennon originally sang the line "Cellophane flowers of yellow and green" as a broken phrase, but McCartney suggested that he sing it more fluidly to improve the song.[16]


Julian's drawing[]

Lennon's inspiration for the song came when his son, Julian, showed him a nursery school drawing he called "Lucy—in the Sky with Diamonds",[4] depicting his classmate Lucy O'Donnell (later Lucy Vodden). Julian Lennon said, "I don't know why I called it that or why it stood out from all my other drawings, but I obviously had an affection for Lucy at that age. I used to show Dad everything I'd built or painted at school, and this one sparked off the idea ..."[17][18][19] Vodden, in a BBC radio interview in 2007, said, "I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant ... Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school."[20] O'Donnell died in 2009 at age 46 after suffering from lupus.[21]

According to both Lennon and Ringo Starr, who witnessed the moment, Julian first uttered the song's title upon returning home from nursery school.[4][6][22] Lennon later recalled of the painting and the phrase, "I thought that [it was] beautiful. I immediately wrote a song about it."[4]

LSD rumours[]

Rumours of the connection between the title of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and the initialism "LSD" began circulating shortly after the release of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP in June of 1967.[23] Paul McCartney gave two interviews that same month admitting to having taken the drug.[24][25] Lennon later said he was surprised at the idea that the song title was a hidden reference to LSD,[3] countering that the song "wasn't about that at all",[4] and that it "was purely unconscious that it came out to be LSD. Until someone pointed it out, I never even thought of it. I mean, who would ever bother to look at initials of a title? ... It's not an acid song."[3]

Paul McCartney confirmed Lennon's claim on several occasions,[6][7] the earliest in 1968:

When you write a song and you mean it one way, and someone comes up and says something about it that you didn't think of—you can't deny it. Like "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," people came up and said, cunningly, "Right, I get it. L-S-D," and it was when [news]papers were talking about LSD, but we never thought about it.[5]

McCartney further rebuffed the claims in a 1997 BBC Radio interview with Michael Parkinson by saying, "It wasn't about LSD. Because otherwise it would have been called 'LITSWD.' Because the initials aren't 'LSD.' Lucy in the sky with diamonds is more like that."[7]

Some subsequent analysis has challenged Lennon's and McCartney's claims. Author Michael Hicks wrote in 2000 that "many not surprisingly took [the song] as a reference to LSD."[26] Author James E. Perone claimed in 2012 that the "song made direct reference to LSD in its title and through the psychedelic images that its lyrics evoke."[27] In a 2004 interview with Uncut magazine, McCartney confirmed that it was "pretty obvious" drugs did influence some of the group's compositions at that time, including "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", though he tempered this analysis by adding, "[I]t's easy to overestimate the influence of drugs on the Beatles' music."[28]

Alice In Wonderland[]

According to both Lennon and McCartney, the lyrics were largely derived from the literary style of Alice In Wonderland.[3][5] Lennon had read and admired the works of Lewis Carroll, and the title of Julian's drawing reminded him of the "Wool and Water" chapter of Through the Looking Glass in which Alice floats in a "boat beneath a sunny sky":[29]

It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty-Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that.[3]

McCartney remembered of the song's composition, "We did the whole thing like an Alice In Wonderland idea, being in a boat on the river ... Every so often it broke off and you saw Lucy in the sky with diamonds all over the sky. This Lucy was God, the Big Figure, the White Rabbit."[5] He later recalled helping Lennon finish the song at Lennon's Kenwood home, specifically claiming he contributed the "newspaper taxis" and "cellophane flowers" lyrics;[6][7] Lennon's 1968 interview with Rolling Stone magazine confirmed McCartney's contribution.[30]

Lennon's original handwritten lyrics sold at auction in 2011 for $230,000.[31]


Rolling Stone magazine described the song as "Lennon's lavish daydream"[32] and music critic Richie Unterberger said "'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was one of the best songs on the Beatles' famous Sgt. Pepper album, and one of the classic songs of psychedelia as a whole. There are few other songs that so successfully evoke a dream world, in both the sonic textures and words."[33] In a review for the BBC, Chris Jones described the track as "nursery rhyme surrealism" that contributed to Sgt. Pepper's "revolutionary ... sonic carpet that enveloped the ears and sent the listener spinning into other realms."[34] Hilary Saunders of Paste called the song "a perfectly indulgent introduction to psych-rock".[35]

In later interviews, Lennon expressed disappointment with the Beatles' arrangement of the recording, complaining that inadequate time was taken to fully develop his initial idea for the song. He also said that he had not sung it very well. "I was so nervous I couldn't sing," he told journalist Ray Connolly, "but I like the lyrics."[36]

Credits and personnel[]


John mentions "Lucy in the Sky" in another Beatles song later that same year: "I Am The Walrus".

In November 1967 John Fred and his Playboy Band released a parody/tribute song called "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)"[37] which topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for two weeks and reached the number one spot in a number of other countries around the world.[38]

The Dream Theater song "Octavarium" contains three song names:

Sailing on the seven seize the day tripper diem's ready
Jack the ripper Owens Wilson Phillips and my supper's ready
Lucy in the sky with diamond Dave's not here I come to save the
day ...

Pink Floyd namechecks "Lucy in the sky" on "Let There Be More Light", the opening song on A Saucerful of Secrets (1968). The lyrics are by Roger Waters.

The name of the German band Tangerine Dream was inspired by the line "tangerine trees and marmalade skies".[39]

A 3.2-million-year-old, 40% complete fossil skeleton of an Australopithecus afarensis specimen discovered in 1974 was named "Lucy" because the Beatles song was being played loudly and repeatedly on a tape recorder in the camp. The phrase "Lucy in the sky" became "Lucy in disguise" to the anthropologists, because they initially did not understand the impact of their discovery.[40]

The White dwarf star BPM 37093, which contains a core of crystallised carbon roughly 4000 km in diameter, is informally named "Lucy" as a tribute to the Beatles song.[41]

One of the main characters of Hiro Mashima's manga Fairy Tail, Lucy Heartfilia, takes her name from the song.[42]

Jim Carrey's character in the film Mr. Popper's Penguins uses the first two lines of the song as a sales pitch to describe the establishment that his company plans on building to take the place of an old restaurant.

In the 2001 film I Am Sam, Sam (Sean Penn) names his daughter (Dakota Fanning) "Lucy Diamond Dawson" after the song. Beatles song covers and references are prominent throughout the film.

In Angela Robinson's short movie D.E.B.S., one of the main characters is named Lucy in the Sky. In the feature film, D.E.B.S., based on the short, the character is named Lucy Diamond.

The Regular Show episode "Rigby in the Sky with Burrito" is named after the song.

Elton John version[]

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"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
File:Elton John - Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.jpg
Song by Elton John
B-side"One Day (At a Time)"
Released18 November 1974
RecordedSummer 1974
GenrePsychedelic rock
5:54 (7" version)
LabelMCA (US)
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon

In 1974, Elton John released a cover version as a single. Recorded at the Caribou Ranch, it featured backing vocals and guitar by John Lennon under the pseudonym Dr. Winston O'Boogie (Winston being Lennon's middle name). The single topped the US Billboard pop charts for two weeks in January 1975 as well as the Canadian RPM national singles chart for four weeks spanning January and February, eventually. The B-side of the single was also a John Lennon composition, "One Day (At a Time)", from Lennon's 1973 album Mind Games. As with the A-side, Lennon appears on the B-side, playing guitar.

Development and release[]

In the US it was certified Gold on 29 January 1975 by the RIAA.[43] During their collaboration, Elton John appeared on John Lennon's song "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night". Lennon promised to appear live with Elton at Madison Square Garden if "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" became a #1 single.[44] It did, and on Thanksgiving Night, 28 November 1974, Lennon kept his promise. They performed "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Whatever Gets You thru the Night", and "I Saw Her Standing There".

In introducing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", Elton John said he believed it to be "one of the best songs ever written." The Lennon-sung "I Saw Her Standing There" (credited to the Elton John Band featuring John Lennon) was originally released in 1975 on the B-side of Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" single. In 1981, all three live songs were issued on 28th November 1974, an Elton John EP.[45] In 1990, the three songs were made available on the Lennon box set. In 1996, they were also included on the remastered edition of Elton John's Here and There album. Elton John once stated that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a song that I never do in a set at a concert simply because it reminds me too much of John Lennon. This is the same with Empty Garden." It was a part of his standard repertoire from 1974 until 1976, and sporadically until 1998. It also appeared in the 1976 musical documentary All This and World War II.


  • Elton John - lead and backing vocals, piano, mellotron, harpsichord
  • John Lennon - backing vocals, guitars
  • Davey Johnstone - backing vocals, electric guitar, sitar
  • Dee Murray - bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Nigel Olsson - drums, backing vocals
  • Ray Cooper - tambourine, tubular bells, gong, maracas


Chart (1974–1975) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles[46] 1
Italy (FIMI)[47] 31
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[48] 11
UK (Official Charts Company)[49] 10
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[50] 1

The Flaming Lips version[]

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"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
Song by The Flaming Lips featuring Miley Cyrus and Moby
from the album With a Little Help from My Fwends
ReleasedMay 18, 2014 (2014-05-18)
  • 5:47
LabelWarner Bros.
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The cover version of The Flaming Lips was included in the album With a Little Help from My Fwends by Warner Bros..[51] The song, features vocals from Miley Cyrus and Moby, was released as official single on May 18, 2014.[52] All proceeds from record sales will go to the Bella Foundation, an organization in Oklahoma City that helps provide veterinary care to needy pet owners.[53]

Other versions[]

  • In 1968, William Shatner on The Transformed Man
  • In 1977, the London Symphony Orchestra on Classic Rock
  • In 1978, Natalie Cole on the album Natalie Live!
  • In 1978, Stargard in the movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • In 1987, the Hooters as a B-side to "Johnny B."
  • In 1987, Pianist/composer John Bayless on his Bach on Abbey Road album (entire song in 3/4 time, including choruses, as a Bachian minuet)
  • In 1988, The Christians on the charity compilation album Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father
  • In 1988, Frank Zappa parodied the song in live concerts as "Louisiana Hooker with Herpes", with lyrics about Jimmy Swaggart and his sex scandal
  • In 1992, Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids parodied the song as "Luci in the Sky with Demons" on the cassette tape The Family Jams
  • In 2001, the Black Crowes on the soundtrack of the movie I Am Sam
  • In 2001, Brazilian singer Rita Lee on Aqui, Ali, Em Qualquer Lugar album
  • In 2003, Hyde on the single "Horizon"
  • In 2004, Jan Linton (as dr jan guru) on the album "Planet Japan" [54]
  • In 2005, Katie Melua on Piece by Piece
  • In 2006, PUFFY on the Hataraku Otoko single, for the anime series Hataraki Man
  • In 2007, Bono and The Edge performed the song on the Across the Universe soundtrack
  • In 2007, Athlete (band) recorded the song for BBC Radio 2's Sergeant Pepper 40th anniversary show at Abbey Road Studios. It was broadcast 2 June 2007. It was produced and mixed by Geoff Emerick with Richard Lush.
  • In 2009, Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band
  • In 2009, Cheap Trick released Sgt. Pepper Live, which included the song
  • In 2009, Cobra Starship released Living in The Sky With Diamonds, a reference to the song
  • In 2011, Veronica Maggio released single "Jag kommer", which includes a reference to the song
  • In 2012, Mac Miller released "Desperado", which samples the song in its outro
  • In 2012, Tyler Carter released a song titled "Lucy At Midnight," which was based on The Beatles' song.
  • In 2013, British-Brazilian artist Dan Torres released a version from theme ot the telenovela Império.[55][56]
  • In 2016, Pink performs the song for the Netflix animated series Beat Bugs.[57]



  1. Miles 1997, pp. 312.
  2. 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Sheff 2000, p. 182.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Lennon, John (8 September 1971). "The Dick Cavett Show" (Interview). Interviewed by Dick Cavett. New York: ABC. Unknown parameter |subjectlink= ignored (|subject-link= suggested) (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Aldridge, Alan (14 January 1968). "Paul McCartney's Guide to the Beatles' Songbook". Los Angeles Times Magazine. Los Angeles. pp. 19–24.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Beatles, The (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 242. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 McCartney, Paul (12 October 1997). "Sunday Supplement" (Interview). Interviewed by Michael Parkinson. London: BBC Radio Two. Unknown parameter |subjectlink= ignored (|subject-link= suggested) (help)
  8. Ezard, John (29 December 1967). "BBC and Film Board give order to play down on drug scenes". The Guardian. London. p. 3.
  9. Crosby, John (11 June 1967). "Little Things Mean a Lot". The Observer. London. p. 38.
  10. "BBC Bans Song In Beatles Album". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Reuters. 21 May 1967. p. A25.
  11. Palmer, Tony (1 September 1967). "Pop: Tomorrow and Tomorrow". London Magazine. London. p. 73.
  12. Everett, Kenny (host) (20 May 1967). Where It's At. BBC Light Programme.
  13. Hal Leonard 1993, pp. 646–650.
  14. Lewisohn 1998, pp. 100–101.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Ryan & Kehew 2006.
  16. Lewisohn 1998, p. 100.
  17. The Guardian 2009.
  18. Kral 2009.
  19. BBC Radio 2, Sounds of the 60s, 2 February 2008
  20. Goddard, Caroline (September 2009). "Beatles' muse Lucy Vodden dies". She knows Entertainment. SheKnows LLC. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  21. "Lucy Vodden, Who Inspired a Beatles Song, Dies at 46". Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  22. Starr, Ringo (25 June 1983). "Ringo's Yellow Submarine" (Interview). Interviewed by Jim Ladd. Los Angeles: ABC Radio Network. Unknown parameter |subjectlink= ignored (|subject-link= suggested) (help)
  23. Davies, Hunter (1968). The Beatles. London: William Heinemann. p. 530. ISBN 0-393-33874-6.
  24. Thompson, Thomas (16 June 1967). "The New Far-Out Beatles". Life. Chicago: Time Inc. p. 101. Retrieved 8 December 2016. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help)
  25. McCartney, Paul (19 June 1967). "Interview with Paul McCartney". ITV Evening News (Interview). London: Independent Television News. Unknown parameter |subjectlink= ignored (|subject-link= suggested) (help)
  26. Hicks, Michael (2000). Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic and Other Satisfactions. University of Illinois Press. p. 63.
  27. Perone, James E. (2012). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. ABC-CLIO. p. =.
  28. "McCartney: Of Course Those Songs Were About Drugs". Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Associated Press. 3 June 2004. p. C02.
  29. Everett, Walter. The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology. Oxford University Press, USA, 1999, p. 104
  31. Morgan, David. "Lennon's "Lucy in the Sky" lyrics sell for $230K". CBS News. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  32. Rolling Stone 2003.
  33. Unterberger 2009.
  34. Jones 2007.
  35. Saunders, Hilary (28 August 2015). "The 50 Best Beatles Songs". Paste. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  37. Anon. "Judy in Disguise Lyrics by John Fred". CD Universe. CD Universe/Muze Inc. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  38. Hawtin, Steve. "Song title 888 - Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)". tsort. Retrieved 24 August 2010.
  39. DeRogatis, Jim (2003). Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 263. ISBN 0-634-05548-8.
  40. Johanson & Edey 1981, p. 22.
  41. Aguilar, David. "This Valentine's Day, Give The Woman Who Has Everything The Galaxy's Largest Diamond" (Press release). Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  42. Mashima, Hiro (2008). Fairy Tail, Volume 2. Del Rey Manga. ISBN 978-0-345-50330-5.
  43. "RIAA – Searchable Database: Elton John". Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  44. Sheff 2000, p. 31.
  45. "Elton John Band Featuring John Lennon And Muscle Shoals Horns, The* - 28th November, 1974 at Discogs". 28 November 1974. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  46. "Lucy in the sky with diamonds in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  47. "Indice per Interprete: J". HitParadeItalia (it). Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  48. " – Elton John – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". Top 40 Singles.
  49. "1974 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 14 December 1974". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  50. "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  51. "The Flaming Lips Announce Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Tribute Album Release Date". Pitchfork. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  52. "Flaming Lips' 'Sgt. Peppers' Tribute Album Out this Fall". Rolling Stone. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  53. "First Listen: The Flaming Lips, 'With A Little Help From My Fwends'". 19 October 2014. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  54. "HMV Planet Japan: Dr Jan Guru".
  55. Flávio Ricco (15 July 2014). "Globo escala The Beatles para tema de abertura de "Império"". UOL.
  56. G1 (21 July 2014). "Dan Torres canta 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds' na abertura de 'Império'". G1 - Música.
  57. "Pink Sings the Beatles Lucy in the Sky With Daimonds".


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  • Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Ryan, Kevin; Kehew, Brian (2006). Recording The Beatles. Curvebender Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9785200-0-7. Unknown parameter |titlelink= ignored (|title-link= suggested) (help)
  • Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[]

  • Template:Notes on
  • Template:MetroLyrics song
Preceded by
"Angie Baby" by Helen Reddy
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Elton John version)
4 January 1975 - 11 January 1975 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Mandy" by Barry Manilow
Preceded by
"Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas
Canadian RPM number-one single (Elton John version)
11 January 1975 - 1 February 1975 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Please Mr. Postman" by The Carpenters

Template:Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band Template:Elton John songs