An unreleased video of ‘Give Peace a Chance’, with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, is released | Culture

Yoko Ono and John Lennon in an image from the video of the May 15, 1969 performance.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon in an image from the video of the May 15, 1969 performance.

It was a rehearsal. On May 25, 1969 at the Sheraton Oceanus Hotel, the Bahamas. John Lennon and Yoko Ono were sitting on a sofa. The camera shows from the window the good day it is and some couples walking along the beach. Lennon, in a pink shirt and white pants, starts strumming the guitar and sings Give Peace a Chance. At his side, Yoko Ono, listens, smiles and pretends to join in singing choirs.

The record company advertises the 2.47-minute video as “the first performance of the legendary track.” A piece that they released a few days later, on May 31 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, as the song that was later published.

It is one of Lennon’s most emblematic pacifist themes, just as the temperature of the demonstrations against the Vietnam War was rising on the streets of the United States. The recording is with a homemade sound and where the complicity of the couple is appreciated. Lennon improvises the lyrics, gets confused and sticks out his tongue at Ono’s laughter.

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The couple had married on March 20, 1969 in Gibraltar and spent their honeymoon at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam, in bed, protesting against the war and asking for peace. That lasted a week. The idea was to move to New York to record, also in a hotel and in bed, Give Peace a Chance. But they were denied entry, so they opted for Montreal. But, first, they passed through the Bahamas.

The rescue of this recording is part of the commemoration of the 50 years of the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970) with the release, on April 23, of an edition of the album with improved sound. The box is called John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – The Ultimate Collection, and, in addition to the original album, this early version of Give Peace a Chance and other song rehearsals. All supervised by Yoko Ono.

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