Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Give Me a Chance," by Gail Renard: a fan's 8 days with John & Yoko, 1969

On March 26, 1969,  Yoko Ono and John Lennon began an event that has variously been described as a performance piece, hippie happening, and outrageous publicity stunt. Take your pick of tags -- but it became an after-the-fact admission that the days of Beatlemania had come to an end.

Gail Renard, to her own teenage amazement, was invited by John and Yoko to participate in their first Bed Peace event, in Montreal. 

She was a 16-year-old Beatles fan in 1969, and claimed to be a "student journalist" for her school paper to get access to the hotel at which the entourage was staying. Failing at that, she climbed up a fire escape hoping to get a glimpse of the Lennons but wound up with much more: the Lennons eventually asked her to join in the event. She was there for the entire eight days taking care of Yoko's five-year-old daughter and participating in the first recording of "Give Peace a Chance."

John looked after her –- sending her home every night to her mother who had spoken to him on the phone and insisted that there were to be no drugs or sex while her daughter was around. Her 2010 book about the Bed Peace was published in Britain with the title Give Me A Chance.

Renard's ultimate memento:
Lennon's handwritten lyrics

Here is a note from Yoko about the event. It originally accompanied the video Bed Peace, which was available for a time online in 2011.


In 1969, John and I were so naïve to think that doing the Bed-In
would help change the world.

Well, it might have. But at the time, we didn't know.
It was good that we filmed it, though.
The film is powerful now.
What we said then could have been said now.
In fact, there are things that we said then in the film, which may give some encouragement and inspiration to the activists of today. Good luck to us all.

Let's remember WAR IS OVER if we want it.
It's up to us, and nobody else.
John would have wanted to say that.


1969 was the year that John & Yoko intensified their long running campaign for World Peace. They approached the task with the same entrepreneurial expertise as an advertising agency selling a brand of soap powder to the masses. John & Yoko's product however was PEACE, not soft soap, and they were determined to use any slogan, event and gimmick in order to persuade the World to buy it.

BED PEACE (directed by Yoko & John and filmed by Nic Knowland) is a document of the Montreal events and features John & Yoko in conversation with, amongst others, the world press, satirist Al Capp, activist Dick Gregory, comedian Tommy Smothers, protesters at Berkeley's People's Park, Rabbi Abraham L. Feinberg, quiltmaker Christine Kemp, psychologists Timothy Leary & Rosemary Leary, CFOX DJs Charles P. Rodney Chandler & Roger Scott, producer André Perry, journalist Ritchie York, DJ & Promoter Murray The K, filmmaker Jonas Mekas, publicist Derek Taylor & personal assistant Anthony Fawcett.

Featured songs are Plastic Ono Band's GIVE PEACE A CHANCE & INSTANT KARMA, Yoko's REMEMBER LOVE & WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND & John's acoustic version of BECAUSE.

"As we said before: WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It)" - Yoko
Yoko Ono Lennon
London, UK
August 2011

1 comment:

Gail Renard said...

I owe John and Yoko a lot. My way of saying thanks is to get John's peace message and song, GIVE PEACE A CHANCE, out there. Let's celebrate John and his music.

The Bed-In was a live-changing experience for all. I was lucky to have a front row seat to rock history.