The Beatles' “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and the Shocking Magazine Cover That Inspired

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

When The Beatles first released “Happiness is a Warm Gun” in 1968, many assumed the track was about sex, drugs, or both. But in reality, the inspiration came from something far less illicit: an American Rifleman magazine cover.

Of course, in typical John Lennon fashion, there were multiple sources of inspiration for the track that closed Side One of the Beatles’ eponymous album (known as the “White Album”). Those sources included a shoplifter, a peeping Tom, Lennon’s sexual relationship with Yoko Ono, and rampant public defecation.

The Magazine Cover That Inspired “Happiness is a Warm Gun”

“Happiness is a Warm Gun” is a psychedelic, rambling track that switches subject matter almost as much as it changes time signature. The second half of the song builds anticipatory tension that explodes into the song’s main hook: Happiness is a warm gun, bang, bang, shoot, shoot. As Lennon later explained, he picked up the line from a cover of the U.S. National Rifle Association’s monthly publication, The American Rifleman.

Source: Melanie Davis/


Leave your comment
Beatles Radio Listener Poll
What Beatles Era do you like better?