Give Peace a Chance

Give Peace a Chance

Infobox Single
Name=Give Peace a Chance

Artist=Plastic Ono Band
Released=July 1969
Format=7" vinyl
Recorded=1 June 1969
Genre=Rock, pop
Writer=John Lennon
Producer=John Lennon and Yoko Ono
This single="Give Peace a Chance" (1969)
Next single="Cold Turkey" (1969)

"Give Peace a Chance" is a song written by John Lennon and originally credited to Lennon/McCartney (John Lennon and Paul McCartney). However, when Lennon's posthumous live album with Elephant's Memory, "Live in New York City" (recorded in 1972), was reissued in the 1990s, "Give Peace a Chance" was credited solely to Lennon. End credits of the 2006 documentary "The U.S. vs. John Lennon" (in which the song appears) and its appearance on the 1997 compilation album "" (and its six years later) also list Lennon as the sole writer of this song. McCartney was reportedly given co-writing credit as a gesture of gratitude for his help in recording Lennon's highly personal The Ballad of John and Yoko the previous April, and accepting it for release as a Beatles single.

On June 1, 2008, on the 39th anniversary of the song's recording, a digital-only (and thus environmentally friendly) single was released through Twisted Records exclusively on Beatport with remixes featuring a newly recorded vocal by Yoko Ono. [ [ Press Release] . Twisted Records Online. Retrieved on June 25, 2008.] The track reached #1 on the "Billboard" Hot Dance Club Play chart on 16 August 2008.

A different song named "Give Peace a Chance", written by Leon Russell and Bonny Bramlett, was sung by Joe Cocker.


Early in the Bed-In, a reporter asked John what he was trying to do. John said, "All we are saying is give peace a chance," spontaneously, but he liked the phrase and set it to music for the song.Fact|date=December 2007 He sang the song several times during the Bed-In, and finally, on 1 June 1969, recorded it using a simple setup of four microphones and a four-track Ampex tape recorder rented from RCA Victor in Montreal. [ [ Year One ] ]


It was recorded by John Lennon and issued as a single under the name Plastic Ono Band. To maximize media exposure, newlyweds John Lennon and Yoko Ono originally intended to host their second "Bed-In" event in New York City (the first was held in Amsterdam), but U.S. immigration officials refused to allow Lennon in the country because of his November 1968 drug conviction in London. The couple instead chose Montreal because it was close to the U.S. border. The song was recorded on 1 June 1969 in Room 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada. The recording session was attended by dozens of journalists and various celebrities, including Timothy Leary, Joseph Schwartz, Rosemary Woodruff Leary, Petula Clark, Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, Murray the K and Derek Taylor, many of whom are mentioned in the lyrics. Lennon played acoustic guitar and was joined by Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers, also on acoustic guitar.

Commercial release

The "Give Peace a Chance" single (with Yoko Ono's "Remember Love" as the B-side) was released on 45 RPM vinyl in the UK on Friday, July 4, 1969 and Monday, July 7, 1969 in the U.S. The track's first full-length album appearance was on the Lennon hits compilation "The John Lennon Collection" issued November 1, 1982 in the UK (EMI/Parlophone Records) and November 8, 1982 (originally on Geffen Records, since re-released on Capitol Records). A significantly truncated version of the Montreal session and a snippet of the One to One Benefit concert performance of the song appear on Lennon's "Shaved Fish" hits compilation from 1975.


"Give Peace a Chance" was the first "solo" single released by a member of the Beatles while the band was still intact, though, technically, the artist was credited as Plastic Ono Band, not John Lennon. It reached number 14 on the pop charts in the United States and was kept out of the top slot in the UK by The Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women".

The song quickly became the anthem of the anti-war movement, and was sung by as many as half a million demonstrators in Washington, D.C. at the Vietnam Moratorium Day, on 15 October 1969.cite web |url= |title= 1969: Millions march in US Vietnam Moratorium |accessdate=2007-12-16] They were led by the renowned folk singer Pete Seeger, who interspersed phrases like, "Are you listening, Nixon?" and "Are you listening, Agnew?", between the choruses of protesters singing, "All we are saying ... is give peace a chance". [See, for example, [ this PBS documentary] ]

The last verse

The original last verse of the song refers to: "John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary, Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan, Tommy Cooper, Derek Taylor, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, Hare Krishna".

In the performance of "Give Peace a Chance" included on the "Live Peace in Toronto 1969" album, Lennon openly stated that he couldn't remember all of the words and improvised with the names of the band members sharing the stage with him and anything that came to mind: "John and Yoko, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Penny Lane, Roosevelt, Nixon, Tommy Jones and Tommy Cooper, and somebody."

The third verse contains a reference to masturbation, but Lennon changed this to "mastication" on the official lyric sheet. He later admitted this was a "cop out" but wanted to avoid unnecessary controversy. [cite book|author=The Beatles|title=The Beatles Anthology|publisher=Chronicle Books|pages=334|id=ISBN 0811826848|year=2000]

Chart performance

Subsequent tribute or politically motivated performances

The song has been used in motion pictures, television shows and theatre as it has become a recognised semiotic to indicate protest; for example it was sung by students in the movie "The Trial of Billy Jack", and by peace activists in "Pretty Village, Pretty Flame",

Several people associated with Lennon have subsequently performed the song in protest or for charity. Paul McCartney performed the song as part of a tribute medley to John Lennon ("Strawberry Fields Forever", "Help!", "Give Peace a Chance") during his world tour stop in Liverpool on June 28, 1990. In 1991, Yoko Ono collaborated with Amina, Adam Ant, Sebastian Bach, Bros, Felix Cavaliere, Terence Trent D'Arby, Flea, John Frusciante, Peter Gabriel, Kadeem Hardison, Ofra Haza, Joe Higgs, Bruce Hornsby, Lee Jaffe, Al Jarreau, Jazzie B, Davey Johnstone, Lenny Kravitz, Cyndi Lauper, Sean Ono Lennon, Little Richard, LL Cool J, MC Hammer, Michael McDonald, Duff McKagan, Alannah Myles, New Voices of Freedom, Randy Newman, Tom Petty, Iggy Pop, Q-Tip, Bonnie Raitt, Run, Dave Stewart, Teena Marie, Little Steven Van Zandt, Don Was, Wendy & Lisa, Ahmet Zappa, Dweezil Zappa, and Moon Unit Zappa as the Peace Choir to perform a version of the song in response to the imminent Gulf War. In 2003, Yoko Ono also released a remixed version of "Give Peace a Chance" in response to the events of 9/11. Aerosmith (featuring Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars) covered the song in the 2007 John Lennon tribute album "".

The song was also being used illegally for political gain in Nicaragua, during the political campaign for presidential elections (2006), Daniel Ortega (FSLN) used its melody, modifying the lyrics in Spanish. Now it has become like the government's anthem and many Nicaraguan fans are pleading Yoko to make a claim to the Government as they believe that Ortega is creating an institutional dictatorship. Fact|date=September 2007

Elton John also recorded the song, released as a B-side to the UK single "Club at the End of the Street" in 1990.

The Progressive rock band Yes made a reference to this song in the "Your Move" part of their song, "I've Seen All Good People", in 1970. Joni Mitchell also referenced it in her song "California" from her 1971 album, "Blue".

Ringo Starr did a tribute/cover of the song, during the performance with his Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band at the Seminole Hard Rock Live in South Florida on July 3, 2007.

Paul McCartney and his band played the song during their performance at Tel Aviv, Israel on September 25, 2008.


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