Walking on Thin Ice

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"Walking on Thin Ice"
Yoko Ono Walking-Single-1981.jpg
Single by Yoko Ono
B-side"It Happened"
Released6 January 1981 (original release)
25 March 2003 (remix)
Format7", 12" (remix also on CD)
Recorded4 - 8 December 1980
GenreDance,[1] post-disco,[1] new wave[1]
Songwriter(s)Yoko Ono
Producer(s)John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Jack Douglas
Yoko Ono singles chronology
"Kiss Kiss Kiss"
"Walking on Thin Ice"
"No, No, No"

"Yang Yang"

"Walking on Thin Ice"

"Will I" / "Fly"

"Hold Me"

"Walking on Thin Ice"

Alternative cover
The cover of ONO's "Walking on Thin Ice" 2003 remix single.
The cover of ONO's "Walking on Thin Ice" 2003 remix single.

"Walking on Thin Ice" is a song by Yoko Ono, released in 1981. She and John Lennon concluded the recording of the song on December 8, 1980. It was upon their return from the recording studio to The Dakota (their home in New York City) that Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman. Lennon was clutching a tape of a final mix when he was shot.

The song was both a critical and commercial success.


Lennon's lead guitar work on the track, which he recorded on 4 December 1980, was his final creative act.[2] He used his famous Beatles era 1958 Rickenbacker 325 to record all the guitar parts. This is the first time that he used the guitar on a studio recording since 1964/65.[citation needed] At the end of January 1981, "Walking on Thin Ice" was released as a single and became Ono's first chart success, peaking at number 58 in the US and gaining major club/underground airplay. The single was released in February 1981 in the UK and reached number 35 on the chart. The critical reception was favorable: NME rated it in the best tracks of year 1981 at number 10.[3] The lyrics talk of the unpredictability of life and death — of "throwing the dice in the air" — and reach the conclusion, "when our hearts return to ashes, it will be just a story....". On the version included on 1992's Onobox, a new intro was added, where John Lennon can be heard remarking "I think you just cut your first number one, Yoko."

The B-side, "It Happened," was a slower, mellow track about acceptance - from Ono's vaults that was originally recorded for A Story and had already seen limited release in Japan as the B-side to "Yume O Moto", but was remixed for inclusion on the single.[4] Much like the A-side, the lyrics have a new haunting quality given Lennon's murder: "It happened at a time of my life/When I least expected... And I know there's no return, no way". In the essay on the back of the single, Ono talks about how Lennon picked out this track from her old tapes and marked it as a hit. She said "No way!" to which he responded "I'll make it a hit". He was murdered hours later.

The song is also included on the experimental compilation album called Disco Not Disco (2000). In 2003, riding on the success of several Ono club remixes including "Open Your Box" and "Kiss Kiss Kiss", "Walking on Thin Ice" was released as a maxi-single with remixes by dance artists including the Pet Shop Boys, Danny Tenaglia and Felix Da Housecat. It met with incredible success, spending many weeks on the US dance chart before reaching number one, beating Madonna and Justin Timberlake. In the UK, it reached number 35 on the chart, exactly the same position as the original reached in 1981.


Elvis Costello and The Attractions (ft. the TKO Horns) recorded a version on the album Every Man Has a Woman (1984). We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It (aka Fuzzbox) released as at single in 1989, peaked at #76 in the UK charts. The Picketts also recorded a version,[5] (1985) as did Tila Tequila on her EP Welcome to the Dark Side (2010).

Siouxsie Sioux performed it live with original guitarist Earl Slick and tabla player Talvin Singh, at Ono's Meltdown Festival in London in 2013.[6]

Track listings[edit]


Promo 7" single
  • A. "Walking On Thin Ice" (EDIT) - 3:23
  • B. "Walking On Thin Ice" (Long Version) - 5:58
7" / 12" single
  • A. "Walking On Thin Ice" - 5:59
  • B. "It Happened" - 5:08
Promo 12" / Cassingle
  • A. "Walking On Thin Ice" - 5:59
  • B1. "It Happened" - 5:08
  • B2. "Hard Times Are Over" - 3:26



  1. "Walking On Thin Ice" (with Jason Pierce of Spiritualized) - 5:07
  2. "Toyboat" (with Antony of Antony and the Johnsons and Hahn Rowe) - 4:24


Music videos[edit]

Yoko Ono herself directed a music video for "Walking on Thin Ice" which was released in February 1981. In 2003 Mike Mills and Arya Senboutaraj (one half of the directing duo Rainbows & Vampires) directed an animated black and white video featuring the "Pet Shop Boys Electro Mix Edit" of the song.


Chart (1981) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[8] 18
New Zealand (RIANZ)[9] 48
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[9] 6
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[10] 35
US Hot 100 (Billboard) 58
US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[11] 13
Chart (2003) Peak
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[10] 35
US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[11] 1
US Hot Dance Singles Sales (Billboard)[11] 5
Chart (2013) Peak
US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[11] 1

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Harr, Dan (23 September 2013). "ONO's "Walking On Thin Ice" Ascends To #2 With A Bullet On Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play Chart". Music News Nashville. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  2. ^ Loder, Kurt (1981-01-22). "John Lennon: The Last Session". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  3. ^ "Best albums & tracks of year 1981" Archived April 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine NME. retrieved 1-8-2013
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ The Wicked Picketts - Overview. Allmusic.com
  6. ^ "Siouxsie & Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice - Royal Festival Hall, London, 23/6/13". youtube. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  7. ^ "ONO - Walking On Thin Ice 2013 (Dave Aude House Mixshow) by Yoko Ono | Free Listening on SoundCloud". Soundcloud.com. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. ^ a b "Ultratop.be - Yoko Ono - Walking On Thin Ice". Ultratop (in Dutch). ULTRATOP & Hung Medien / hitparade.ch. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Chart Stats - Yoko Ono". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d "Yoko Ono - Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 26 July 2011.