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The 1969 Gig Starring John Lennon, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Keith Moon And More

The UNICEF event featured John and George’s first scheduled performance since The Beatles’ last concert in 1966, and Lennon’s last UK live appearance.

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Peace And Love For Christmas poster

A historic concert that, surprisingly, sometimes goes under the radar in the history of some British rock royalty took place at London’s Lyceum Theatre on 15 December 1969.

As you can see from the rare poster above, it was a charity event for UNICEF, the United Nations’ international fund, called Peace and Love for Christmas. It marked the live debut of the extended Plastic Ono Band, on this occasion featuring the incredible line-up of John Lennon, Yoko Ono, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Delaney & Bonnie, Billy Preston and various other Beatles and Clapton alumni, with a brief appearance by Keith Moon.

The concert turned out to be Lennon’s last live appearance in his home country, and it’s also the answer to what could be a memorable trivia question, about the night Lennon and Harrison were on a bill that also featured Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, the Young Rascals and UK hitmakers Blue Mink. Tickets cost £1 each, and others joining the stellar cast included Klaus Voorman, Bobby Keys, Jim Price and Alan White, all regular collaborators to this extended family. BBC Radio1 DJ Emperor Rosko MCd the evening.

This was Lennon and Harrison’s first scheduled live performance since The Beatles’ famous final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on 29 August 1966. It took place during a period when Harrison and Clapton were touring as part of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, as they were billed. The Lyceum stage was adorned with a giant “War is over” message banner, previewing the sentiment of John and Yoko’s subsequent Christmas single.

This supergroup performed Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band’s then-current single ‘Cold Turkey’ and its b-side ‘Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow),’ both in extended versions. The recordings, mixed by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, were included as the second disc, titled Live Jam, on the original release of the 1972 album credited to Lennon, Ono and Elephant’s Memory, Some Time In New York City. John introduces ‘Cold Turkey’ (which was in the UK chart at the time of the event, having peaked at No. 14) by saying “This is a song about pain,”

Lennon is quoted, by The Beatles Bible and elsewhere, expressing his enthusiasm for the night. “I thought it was fantastic,” he said. “I was really into it. We were doing the show and George and Bonnie and Delaney, Billy Preston and all that crowd turned up. They’d just come back from Sweden and George had been playing invisible man in Bonnie and Delaney’s band, which Eric Clapton had been doing, to get the pressure off being the famous Eric and the famous George.

“They became the guitarists in this and they all turned up, and it was again like the concert in Toronto. I said, ‘Will you come on?’ They said, ‘Well, what are you going to play? I said, ‘Listen, we’re going to do probably a blues…or ‘Cold Turkey,’ which is three chords, and Eric knew that. And ‘Don’t Worry Kyoko,’ which was Yoko’s, which has three chords and a riff. I said, ‘Once we get on to Yoko’s riff, just keep hitting it.'”

Follow the official John Lennon Top 100 Playlist.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Ken Saunders

    December 16, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Got the original album , it’s the one Zappa bitchs about jamming with the Ono Lennon’s .i love the scumbag song and the London show was not bad as well .when you get to hear the little we have of live John take what you have

  2. Juan Carlos Roncal

    December 16, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Like rivers look for the ocean regardless,talent will find their flow and mesh ,is just natural and these guys were above any interest that in these days make the music business so awful to say it in a polite way.

  3. Steve Keating

    December 16, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    Nice bit of history in the Lennon saga.

  4. Robert

    December 16, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    The Don’t worry song Reminds me of Led Zeppelin, with Yoko screaming. I can’t dig the screaming bit, would like to take it out. !

    • M.Dunn

      December 17, 2018 at 2:12 am

      Funny you’d mention the screaming. Rumors always had it that’s why Mick J. didn’t let The Rolling Stones Flying Circus concert get released because Yoko’s screaming ruined The Dirty Mac set. Publicly he said he didn’t like The Stones set which was actually great as an excuse and yeah the screaming was terrible , can’t believe John let her do it.

  5. Francois Bouvier

    December 16, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    In have always been a big Harrison guy. Bonnie and Delaney’s influence on Clapton and hence George has always been a great reason for my enjoying their music. It would be great to be able to get a DVD of the performances.
    Francois

  6. James Thomas

    December 17, 2018 at 1:20 am

    I really liked John Lennon’s work in the Beatles. I think he needed a co-writer like McCartney to bounce off his ideas with.
    Post Beatles work was kind of stale. His usual three chord blues was quite dull. I wished he could have recorded “Siren”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSQMjmweoR4

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