Skip to main content

John Lennon wished Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, not Eric Clapton, had played guitar on Cold Turkey

Lennon + Clapton
(Image credit: Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images)

Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen has revealed that John Lennon paid him a huge compliment during the studio sessions for the former Beatle’s final studio album, 1980’s Double Fantasy, by suggesting that Nielsen’s guitar playing would have bettered Eric Clapton’s contributions to his second solo single, Cold Turkey.

Nielsen and Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos were recruited by Double Fantasy co-producer Jack Douglas, who also produced Cheap Trick’s 1977 debut album, to back Lennon on a recording of I’m Losing You in August 1980. And in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine, on sale on April 1, Nielsen recalls Lennon being mightily impressed with his playing. 

“I was in the studio, playing, and John looked at Jack Douglas and said, ‘God, I wish I’d had Rick on Cold Turkey. Clapton choked up’.”

Ultimately, the Cheap Trick-backed version of I’m Losing You wasn’t included on Double Fantasy, but it was finally released on 1998’s John Lennon Anthology box set.

Cheap Trick pay their own tribute to John Lennon on their new In Another World album by covering Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth,  which features a guest appearance by former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. 

“I’ve known Steve for a long time and Cheap Trick always loved the Sex Pistols,’ says Nielsen. “Their approach was so alien from what we were doing, but it still had that raw power. I asked if he wanted to play on a track with us, he liked the idea of the song, and it worked out perfectly. Now we can’t get rid of the guy!”

For more CT revelations, check out the in-depth interview with the Illinois quartet in the new issue of Classic Rock magazine.