John Lennon and the Sony ICF-2001


Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Robert Yowell, who writes:

“I happen to be a huge Beatles fan, and especially a fan of John Lennon’s solo music as well. The last album he recorded was “Double Fantasy” which was made in New York City during the summer of 1980.

As you probably know, Sony introduced that same year the revolutionary ICF-2001 PLL synthesized receiver. John was known to have been a great fan of home electronics, especially those produced by Sony and other Japanese manufacturers. He also was a great fan of radio – as his appearances on the local WNEW-FM rock music station in NYC in the 70’s attest to.”

Photo credit: Bob Gruen, a photographer who photographed John many times during the latter part of his life in New York City.

Photo credit: Bob Gruen who photographed John Lennon many times during the latter part of his life in New York City.

“The attached photo was taken at the NYC studio called “The Record Plant” during the making of the album “Double Fantasy” in 1980.While I cannot be 100% sure that the ICF-2001 sitting on the table belonged to John – I think it is extremely likely. He still stayed in regular contact with his native England, and at this pre-Internet time, the only easy way for him to listen to the BBC was through this radio.

Another possibility is John enjoyed experimenting with new sounds in his music. During the Beatles, he even plugged in a radio into the sound mixing board when the song “I Am the Walrus” was recorded. You can hear at the end of the song a heterodyne whistle of tuning in a station as it settles on the BBC during a reading of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Perhaps John was intending to do something similar in the studio the day this photo was taken?”

I imagine that was a good possibility, Robert. Again, many thanks for this bit of Lennon history.

For those of you who have never heard “I am the Walrus,” you can listen below courtesy of YouTube:

Spread the radio love

4 thoughts on “John Lennon and the Sony ICF-2001

  1. Stephen V O'Rourke

    Yes..that is Lennon’s there is another picture…taken at the Dakota office – where it is also on his might have appeared in a Newsweek issue.
    He spoke about tuning in the BBC World Service in one of his interviews..and appears to have been a regular SWLer…;-D

    I recently found out that Kubrick was a devoted SWLer too.

    I bought an ICF-2001 in early 1983…for $140…ad 47th St Photo in midtown….a great radio!!

  2. Mark Fahey

    I can still remember my excitement when buying a Sony ICF2001 in Hong Kong very soon after its release. It was like magic, a digital readout and so portable! Until then my main receiver had been my trusty FRG-7, an the Sony seemed like a radio from the distant future compared to my Yaesu. My Sony traveled the world with me but one day died in Pakistan after a long service. Strangely enough my FRG-7 still goes strong, I turn it on every few weeks just to spin my way up and down the bands, as these days all my regular receivers are driven by a mouse!


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