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GET UP, STAND UP: The Story of Pop and Protest Revolutionary Music
About the Program
Revolutionary Music
Flash Points
The Preacher and the Slave
We Shall Overcome
Give Peace a Chance
Get Up, Stand Up
Fight the Power
Song Facts
Writer: John Lennon
Year: 1969
Genre: Pop
Performers: John Lennon, the Plastic Ono Band
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John Lennon
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Give Peace A Chance -- ''All we are saying is give peace a chance''

John Lennon
By Ed Ward

At the end of the 1960s, there was a new group of celebrities around, unsure of their own power yet eager to use it. They came from the field of rock 'n' roll, which previously hadn't exactly been a hotbed of politics. After all, what were Elvis Presley's politics? Or the Beatles', for that matter?

Of the Fab Four, it was John Lennon who first discovered that maybe being a Beatle could make a difference on a larger stage. Part of this realization came from his meeting, and subsequently marrying, Japanese conceptual artist Yoko Ono, who profoundly influenced his thinking about his own fame. John realized he could use fame like an artist uses any medium, to make a statement.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed
Not that the statement John and Yoko chose to make was very startling: it was a simple plea for world peace. How controversial could that be? Everyone -- the Soviets, the Americans, the Vietnamese, the Irish -- wanted peace, and yet they were all fighting and posturing. So, following their nuptials in Gibraltar on March 20, 1969, John and Yoko did some posturing of their own. They spent their honeymoon in bed -- in public -- at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam. They called it a "bed-in," a new form of peace demonstration, and held similar events in Canada, most notably at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal that May. It was during their week-long bed-in at the Queen Elizabeth, in Suite 1742, amid a constant flow of reporters and visiting celebrities, a local DJ broadcasting his radio show, and windows decorated with "Hair Peace" and "Bed Peace" signs, that the song "Give Peace a Chance" originated. Lennon decided to record it, since the media coverage they'd been getting had focused on them rather than their message.

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