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ON THIS DAY:  16 February, 1972…   John Lennon and Yoko Ono share hosting duties on ‘The Mike Douglas Show’. 

The Mike Douglas Show was an American daytime television talk show that was hosted by Mike Douglas. Initially, it aired only in Cleveland during much of its first two years, followed by expansion to Philadelphia and nationwide. It went into syndication in 1963 and remained on television until 1981. It was distributed by Westinghouse Broadcasting, and for much of its run, originated from studios of two of the company’s TV stations in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono took over ‘The Mike Douglas Show’ for a week.

The musical highlight was an appearance by Chuck Berry, who played “Johnny B. Goode” and “Memphis, Tennessee” with Lennon and Ono.

Between 14 and 28 January 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show in the US; their appearances were broadcast from 14-18 February. During their stint they invited a number of political figures and musical heroes on as guests, and also débuted several songs that they were planning to record.


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US director Michael Epstein’s latest documentary called John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky was chosen to open the 2019 Fipadoc festival in Biarritz, in the south-west of France Tuesday evening. Lennon and Yoko’s song Imagine from which the film title is drawn is one of the most popular in pop music history.

Even if you don’t remember 1971 when the album and title song Imagine by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band released, even if you don’t know what a hippie looks like, you should find this documentary revealing and moving.

The time-line it follows is the construction of the album and the recording of the songs. However this is not just about pop music history.

Eagle-Rock producer of John and Yoko: Above us only sky, Peter Worsley said that 60 hours of largely hitherto unseen rushes and leftovers belonging to Yoko Ono landed in the director’s lap along with access to all the archives. “Michael [Epstein] had the wonderful task of going through all that and finding huge amounts of very intimate material that had never been seen before. I think it’s a remarkable picture of what life was like in that creative kernel if you like, that John and Yoko were living in while they were recording the album.”

Yoko for John

Epstein’s film is classical in form with real-life archival footage alternating with witness accounts, friends and colleagues and John’s son Julian. It’s about the song’s words, but also about two people who marked that period with their pro-peace activity.

Thanks to the words of those interviewees, the film is kinder towards Lennon’s Japanese-American wife, than many detractors have been over the years.

“Yoko was tremendous,” says producer Peter Worsley. She wanted to be involved at the very beginning. She helped to choose the director. She had worked with Michael Epstein previously on Lennon NYC.

She wanted to have an idea of the direction the film was taking, and after that she let us make the film. She did view it and said it was fine. She didn’t expect to have any level of creative control over it.”

Historian and peace activist, Tariq Ali, who also features in the archival footage, supplies additional understanding of Yoko and context.

“His contribution is very valuable. He was a friend of theirs. He was part of radicalizing John and Yoko and bringing to their attention the broader political elements. But I think he also helped emphasize the amount of racism that Yoko and that the couple faced, and how that gives a broader picture of society in 1971.”

Unlike his 3 fellow ex-Beatles, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Lennon’s fans never saw him with grey hair. He was assassinated in 1980 aged 40. This is therefore not the first film about a man who was a living legend in his time and who, with Yoko Ono, launched a major peace campaign against the Vietnam War.

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or die for and no religion too imagine all the people living life in peace…”

Among some of the newly revealed footage, one of the most touching, and most tense scenes in the film, is when a very young Vietnam War veteran, fresh from demobilization rehab in California, lands up on their Tittenhurst doorstep. Worsley agrees that the frank and gentle encounter is a striking scene.

“A small section of that has been seen in the Gimme the Truth film. I agree it’s one of the emotional highlights of the film where you see the level of John’s empathy and you understand the strange psycho-dramas that were floating around John and his writing.”

Peace and Love

Julian Lennon’s comment in the film on his father’s song ‘Imagine’ is poignant, “It’s not religious, it’s not political, it’s just humanity and life. …We all actually want what he’s singing about. I think that’s why it’s still such an important song. Because the sad thing is the world is still in a bad way.”

The nub of the film however appears to be the deep bond between, as one of the titles on the album calls him, a Jealous Guy, and his muse, for whom he had an all-consuming love.

“As we investigated the relationship that John had with Yoko, it comes across that John really wanted to be an artist and that’s what Yoko helped bring out in him,” explains Worsley.

Co-produced by Britain’s Channel 4, John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky has already been broadcast in the UK, however Fipadoc is where it’s getting its Continental European première, and A&E in the US is due to programme the film in the spring this year.


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Yoko Ono said she was considering the possibility of revealing the full extent of how she had influenced music written by John Lennon, though she wasn’t sure she wanted to.

Her comments came during a discussion about Lennon’s solo song “Jealous Guy,” which appeared as a demo version under its original title “Child of Nature” on the recent expanded edition of the Beatles’ White Album.
“That was [Ono] going, ‘You’re just writing words. Write about something real and something that matters,’” Ono collaborator Simon Hilton told NME. “And then [John] came out with that. If you really tune into the lyrics of ‘Jealous Guy,’ it’s really very heavy and profound.”

He added that “at the time, Yoko had so much bad press and people didn’t seem to like her. She was kept out of things in order not to spoil the public’s reaction to them. I think there was a sense that they were trying to protect the art from being defamed by the sort of negative halo of associations with her. … And the lyrics of ‘Jealous Guy’? Come on, people never bared their soul like that in those days. That was unheard of.” “I think it’s a good song from a woman’s point of view as well [as a man’s],” Ono said. “John was trying to create a fun song about going on a trip to Rishikesh. That might have been great too, but it ended up not being that. … John would have given me the right credit, but it was a difficult time. No famous songwriter would have thought of splitting the credit with his wife.”

In 2017 Ono received a co-writing credit for Lennon’s classic song “Imagine,” 46 years after its release. Asked if there were more details to be revealed about her contribution to her husband’s work, she said, “I think in maybe 10 years I can tell it all. But I don’t know if I want to.”


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Hi Fi Choice mag, December 2018 issue It’s packed with great music review including: John Lennon the Ultimate Collection and Yoko Ono: Warzone.


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Once strewn with white flowers and crammed with dozens of journalists, the room where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged one of their famed 1969 bed-ins is now part of a smart hotel suite, costing up to $1,900 (£1,490) a night.

MailOnline Travel was given a private tour of the swanky pad, located on the 17th floor of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in central downtown Montreal.

The suite comprises of four adjoining rooms (1738, 1740, 1742 and 1744) knocked into one, and historical artefacts from the hotel vaults reveal what John and Yoko got up to during their seven-day stunt promoting peace, including dining on turtle soup and greeting hundreds of fans each day.

These artefacts, such as room service orders and housekeeping records, are on display in the suite (now labelled room 1742), giving it an almost museum-like feel.

Along with turtle soup, one room service order sheet reveals that the couple also tucked into a ‘broiled filet of sole’ along with and ‘jam, marmalade and lots of honey and butter’ for breakfast. They also ordered ‘their own special bread’.
For lunch, orders included fried natural brown rice, ‘English fish and chips’, grilled halibut and ‘lots of vegetables’.For dinner, along with turtle soup, other delicacies included sirloin steak, lamb chops and fish. This was followed by rice pudding and ‘two-colour jello’ for dessert with ‘lots of tea’.

The records note that liqueurs were for the guests only as John and Yoko abstained from drinking alcoholic beverages throughout their stay.

An entry in the housekeeping book dated May 26, 1969 reveals how the ‘corridor and suite were very dirty and littered with flower petals’ during John and Yoko’s stay and the cleaner had to ‘vacuum three to four times a day, since John Lennon threw flower petals into the air’.

The entry adds that on their day of departure, the housekeepers only had an hour to put the suite straight before the next guests arrived and that John and Yoko were ‘asked several times to leave’.

It was only in the 1980s, after Lennon’s death, that the hotel began to take steps to redo the four rooms and join them together. In 1989 it was officially named the John Lennon & Yoko Ono Suite.

Joanne Papineau, a spokesperson from the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, explained that today the suite front door is one of the most photographed parts of the hotel, with fans flocking from all over the world.
She revealed that the suite – which was given a revamp recently as part of a hotel-wide makeover costing more than $100million (£78 million) – has welcomed celebrities and presidents from all over the world.
The spacious pad consists of a main living room, where John and Yoko staged their bed-in (which doubled as their honeymoon), a lounge/dining area and a kitchen.
There is then a separate living room and another bedroom, meaning the suite can accommodate up to four guests.

Papineau said that the furnishings and artwork around the suite were inspired by their travels, with a ‘mix of east and west’.  There are also lots of knick-knacks to entertain guests.
For instance, if you pick up a rotary telephone in the living room, John’s voice can be heard on the other end of the line, explaining his commitment to peace, which was the purpose behind his bedroom lock-in.
There is also a music player which plays Give Peace a Chance, the peace-inspired anthem the couple recorded during their stay.
Papineau added that John and Yoko turned up to the hotel with more than 50 suitcases but no one was sure what they’d packed because they stayed in white pyjamas for the duration of their stay.

During the event, the newlywed couple gave up to 150 interviews every day.

Their second bed-in after the first in Amsterdam was planned to take place in New York, but John was not allowed into the United States because of his 1968 cannabis conviction.

Instead the couple held the event in the Bahamas at the Sheraton Oceanus Hotel, flying there on May 24, 1969, but after spending one night in the heat, they decided to move to Montreal.

A modern, downtown Montreal hotel, The Queen Elizabeth Fairmont has 950 rooms and suites, a health club, spa and indoor pool.Hotel management describe it as within walking distance of an arrange of boutiques, restaurants, cafes, sport stadiums and cultural attractions. In 2010, Montreal unveiled a commemorative artwork in Mount Royal Park commemorating the famous bed-in.



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With previously unpublished photos and archive interviews, a new book tells the inside story of Imagine.

It is the ultimate peace anthem; an ode to idealism. But Imagine is also a song about love. When it was composed, in 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono had been together for three years. She was lambasted by some as the ‘dragon lady’ who had broken up Lennon’s marriage to Cynthia – and, in the process, The Beatles. Yet, as a new book from Thames & Hudson suggests, Ono was misrepresented – even when it came to being credited for a song’s creation. In a 1980 interview reprinted in Imagine John Yoko, Lennon admits that Ono was equally responsible for Imagine; in 2017, Ono was formally recognised as co-writer of the iconic song.

As the book shows, through a collection of rarely seen photos and archive interviews along with insider accounts detailing the making of the album, Lennon and Ono inspired each other from their first meeting.

In 1966, Lennon went to a preview of Ono’s show at the Indica gallery in London, and wanted to contribute to a piece called Hammer a Nail in. But Ono was reluctant to let him, as she recalls in an archive interview in the book. “I said, ‘All right, if he pays five shillings, it’s okay,’ because I decided that my painting will never sell anyway.”

Lennon had another idea, adding in the interview: “I said, ‘Listen I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in, is that okay?’ And her whole trip is this: ‘Imagine this, imagine that.’”

Ono replies: “Imagine, imagine. So I was thinking, ‘Oh, here’s a guy who’s playing the same game I’m playing.’ And I was really shocked you know, I thought, ‘Who is it?’”

She didn’t recognise John. “I heard about The Beatles and I knew the name Ringo, and nobody’s going to believe me but still that’s exactly how it was. Ringo hit me because Ringo is ‘apple’ in Japanese. Yes, I knew The Beatles as a social phenomenon, but rock ‘n’ roll had passed me by.”

Blank canvas

Ono offered John a way back into art. “I always had this dream of meeting an artist woman I would fall in love with. Even from art school… It was like finding gold or something.” Seeing her show unlocked something in him. “There was a sense of humour in her work, you know? It was funny,” he said in the interview. “Her work really made me laugh, some of it. So that’s when I got interested in art again, just through her work.”

One 1964 work, in particular, would help to create Imagine. Yoko’s book Grapefruit includes several ‘event scores’ that went on to influence Lennon. They feature the lines “Imagine the clouds dripping, dig a hole in your garden to put them in.” (Cloud Piece); “Imagine letting a goldfish swim across the sky” (Drinking Piece for Orchestra); “Imagine one thousand suns in the sky at the same time.” (Tunafish Sandwich Piece).

John acknowledged that debt. “There’s a lot of pieces in it saying like ‘imagine this’ or ‘imagine that’,” he said about Grapefruit. “Imagine could never have been written without her. And I know she helped on a lot of the lyrics but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it. So that song was actually written by John and Yoko, but I was still selfish enough and unaware enough to take her contribution without acknowledging it. The song itself expresses what I’d learned through being with Yoko and my own feelings on it. It should really have said ‘Lennon/Ono’ on that song, because she contributed to a lot of that song.”

In the book, Ono reveals how they had to face a negative reaction as a couple, despite what appeared to be a radical, free-thinking culture in London. “They exuded new energy with a certain elegance of self-made people who would change the class structure in England, and would go on to change the world in a big way,” she said. “John and I got together in that atmosphere. So we were very surprised that the so-called hip society of the times, to which we both belonged, turned against us as soon as we announced our unity… their hipness ended at the point where John, their ringleader, chose an Oriental woman as his partner.

“We didn’t realise there was so much racism… I would not say it was easy, but it was an education for us. A good experience. We always tried to deal with a lot of difficult situations, John and I, with a bit of a sense of humour and a sense of fun.”

Ono recognised this was also a part of Imagine. “John and I met – he comes from the West and I come from the East – and still we are together,” she said in 1980. “We have this oneness and ‘the whole world would eventually become one’ is the sense that we will all be café-au-lait colour and we will all be very happy together.”

The song, in a way, deals with imagining another world on the level of two people – as well as in a larger sense. “George Orwell and all these guys have projected very negative views of the future. And imagining a projection is a very strong magic power,” said Ono. “I mean that. That’s the way society was created. And so, because they’re setting up all these negative images, that’s gonna create the society. So we were trying to create a more positive image, which is, of course, gonna set up another kind of society.”

Lennon referenced humans’ desire to fly – “which might’ve taken us a long time, but it took somebody to imagine it first”. He explained his reasoning. “People said, ‘You’re naive, you’re dumb, you’re stupid.’ It might have hurt us on a personal level to be called names, but what we were doing – you can call it magic, meditation, projection of goal – which business people do, they have courses on it. The footballers do it. They pray, they meditate before the game… People project their own future. So, what we wanted to do was to say, ‘Let’s imagine a nice future.’” Ono describes how they felt about Imagine at the time: “We both liked the song a lot but we honestly didn’t realise it would turn into the powerful song it has, all over the world… We just did it because we believed in the words and it just reflected how we were feeling.” According to Lennon, “My greatest pleasure is writing a song – words and lyrics – that will last longer than a couple of years. Songs that anybody could sing. Songs that will outlive me, probably. And that gives me my greatest pleasure. That’s where I get my kicks.”

Imagine John Yoko is out now, the Book is published by Thames & Hudson.