Cover artwork

John Lennon designed the artwork for Mind Games himself. The front cover pictured him alone in a wilderness, overshadowed by a mountain-sized rendering of Yoko Ono. The meaning was obvious: he was adrift without Ono, although her influence was still the dominant force in his life.

I think I really needed some space because I was used to being an artist and free and all that, and when I got together with John, because we’re always in the public eye, I lost the freedom. And also, both of us were together all the time, twenty-four hours a day. And the pressure was particularly strong on me because of being the one who stole John Lennon from the public or something… Whatever the reason is, I was under very strong pressure and I think my artwork suffered. I suffered a lot and so I thought I want to be free from all that. I needed the space to think. So I thought it would be a good idea that he would go to LA and just leave me alone for a while.
Yoko Ono, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The image also featured two suns were in the sky, symbolising the spirits of the pair. The same image was repeated on the rear cover, but with Lennon’s figure slightly larger and with a rainbow in place of the suns.

Mind Games album artwork - John Lennon

The release

In contrast to Some Time In New York City, Mind Games was well received by the public. In the United States it peaked at number nine on the Billboard 200, was certified gold, and spent 31 weeks on the chart.

The album reached number 13 in the United Kingdom, and was also certified gold in May 1974. Mind Games was in the UK album chart for a total of 12 weeks.

Tony King, who worked as a promotions executive for Apple Records in Los Angeles, encouraged Lennon to give several print and radio interviews in support of the album.

While he had been with Yoko he had been involved with all these semi-subversive activities, which had not given him a great reputation in America. He said to me at the time, ‘Look, I’ve got this album, what do you think I should do?’ I said, ‘Honestly, you’ve got to go out and make a few friends, because you’ve lost a bit of support because you’ve been involved with things of a controversial nature.’ So he said, ‘Fine, you organise it, I’ll do it.’ And he did.
Tony King
Lennon And McCartney Together Alone
John Blaney

Mind Games was released in November 1973. The following month, Lennon and May Pang left New York for Los Angeles, where they remained until June 1974. Their spell on the West Coast saw Lennon embrace a drink-fuelled lifestyle which led to the often chaotic sessions for Walls And Bridges and Rock ‘N’ Roll. In comparison, the backdrop to Mind Games looked positively tranquil.