The "Lucy" who inspired this song was Lucy O'Donnell (later Lucy Vodden), who was a classmate of John's son Julian Lennon
when he was enrolled at the private Heath House School, in Weybridge, Surrey. It was in a 1975 interview that Lennon said "Julian came in one day with a picture about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds."
The identity of the real Lucy was confirmed by Julian in 2009 when she died of complications from Lupus. Lennon re-connected with her after she appeared on a BBC broadcast where she stated: "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."
Confusion over who was the real Lucy was fueled by a June 15, 2005 Daily Mail
article that claimed the "Lucy" was Lucy Richardson, who grew up to become a successful movie art director on films such as 2000's Chocolat
and 2004's The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers
. Richardson died in June 2005 at the age of 47 of breast cancer.
Many people thought this was about drugs, since the letters "LSD" are prominent in the title, and John Lennon, who wrote it, was known to drop acid. In 1971 Lennon told Rolling Stone that he swore that he had no idea that the song's initials spelt L.S.D. He added: "I didn't even see it on the label. I didn't look at the initials. I don't look - I mean I never play things backwards. I listened to it as I made it. It's like there will be things on this one, if you fiddle about with it. I don't know what they are. Every time after that though I would look at the titles to see what it said, and usually they never said anything."
Paul McCartney would later say it was "pretty obvious" that this song was inspired by LSD.
The images Lennon used in the song were inspired by the imagery in the book Alice In Wonderland.
George Harrison played a tambura on this. It's an Indian instrument similar to a sitar that makes a droning noise. He had been studying with Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who is the father of Norah Jones.
This was banned by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) for what they thought were drug references.
Elton John released a cover version of this song in 1974 that hit #1 in the US the first week of 1975. Elton is the only artist to top the tally with a Beatles cover, although Peter & Gordon took "A World Without Love
," which was written by Lennon and McCartney, to #1 in 1964.
John Lennon sang and played guitar on Elton's "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," but reportedly forgot some of the chords and needed Davey Johnston, Elton John's guitarist, to help him out. Lennon made a surprise appearance in Elton's Thanksgiving concert in New York and performed three songs, which proved to be his last public performance.
Actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on Star Trek, covered this in his dramatic, spoken-word style. In at least one poll, this version was voted the worst Beatles cover of all time.
In 1974, Johanson and Gray named the 3-million-year-old Australopithecus fossil skeleton they discovered (the oldest ever found) Lucy, after this song because it was playing on the radio when Johanson and his team were celebrating the discovery back at camp. (thanks, Martuuuu - Capital Federal, Argentina)
Lennon said "The girl with kaleidoscope eyes" turned out to be Yoko.
During the media controversy over this song in June of 1967, Paul McCartney admitted to a reporter that the band did experiment with LSD. (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)
In 2004, McCartney addressed the issue of drugs in an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper: "'Day Tripper,' that's one about acid. 'Lucy In The Sky,' that's pretty obvious. There are others that make subtle hints about drugs, but it's easy to overestimate the influence of drugs on The Beatles' music. Just about everyone was doing drugs in one form or another, and we were no different, but the writing was too important for us to mess it up by getting off our heads all the time."
In the Anthology one of the Beatles referred to being on LSD as like seeing through a kaleidoscope. Although Lennon denied this is about drugs, it does refer to "The girl with kaleidoscope eyes." (thanks, delirium trigger - new brunswick, NY)
This song is very distinctive musically: It's in three different keys and uses two different beats. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Lennon admitted to British journalist Ray Connolly in an interview around the time of the break-up of the Beatles that he didn't think he sang this song very well. "I was so nervous I couldn't sing," he said, "but I like the lyrics."
In 2004 the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery of the universe's largest known diamond, white dwarf star BPM 37093. Astronomers gave the star the catchier name of "Lucy" from this song.
The Flaming Lips covered this as part of their track-for-track tribute to the Sgt. Pepper album, With a Little Help from My Fwends. Their version of this song features Miley Cyrus. Frontman Wayne Coyne told NME: "On my birthday, Miley Cyrus tweeted me 'Happy Birthday.' I texted back 'Let's do something together.' So we swapped numbers and soon found ourselves in the same studio. I've been around people in the same position to her and they are not fun. She's badass, and she does things with enthusiasm and love."