UK single release: Power To The People by John Lennon

John Lennon’s single ‘Power To The People’ was released in the UK on 12 March 1971.

Power To The People single artwork - John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

‘Power To The People’ spent nine weeks on the UK singles charts, peaking at number seven.

The lyrics for the b-side, Yoko Ono’s ‘Open Your Box’, were judged to be “distasteful” by Philip Brodie, the managing director of EMI. He delayed the original release date of 5 March by one week, and requested the lyrics be changed.

The offending lines included the words: “Open your box, open your legs, open your world, open, open, open”. Rather than re-record them, the song was remixed and echo applied to hide the meaning.

This song has been banned and I believe it is because I am a woman. One of the reasons is because the word ‘box’ has many different meanings, especially in America, where it refers to a certain part of a woman’s body. If a man makes a statement like that, he can easily get away with it. I think the fact that it was a woman supposedly making an obscene statement really shocked people.
Yoko Ono

Lennon put it more succinctly: “I don’t know what the hell ‘box’ means in America. Apparently it means crotch, or whatever.”

In the United States, ‘Power To The People’ was issued with a different b-side, Ono’s ‘Touch Me’. It was taken from the Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band album, and featured Lennon, Klaus Voormann, and Ringo Starr as the backing band.

The US single was issued on 22 March 1971, 10 days after its UK counterpart. It reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

US single release: Another Day by Paul McCartney
US single release: Power To The People by John Lennon
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