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December 21, 2018

Rare Photographs From John & Yoko’s “Peace For Christmas” UNICEF Concert in December 1969

After months of trying to bring their Bed-In to the United States, John Lennon and Yoko Ono launched the worldwide billboard and poster campaign, War Is Over! The campaign was launched on 15 December 1969 at the “Peace for Christmas” concert, a benefit for UNICEF held at London’s Lyceum Ballroom.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono performed with George Harrison, Keith Moon, Billy Preston, and The Delaney and Bonnie Band, Alan White, Bobby Keyes, Keith Moon, Klaus Voormann, Jim Gordon and Billy Preston - as the Plastic Ono Supergroup. Their two-song, twenty-five minute set featured extended versions of both sides of their latest single: Cold Turkey and Don’t Worry Kyoko.

A huge War Is Over! banner was hung across the stage, and postcards were distributed to the audience.

“It was a FANTASTIC show – very heavy,” John Lennon said. “A lot of the audience walked out you know, but the ones that stayed – they were in a TRANCE man. They just all came to the front because it was one of the first real heavy rock shows where we had a good, good backing…

“Some of those kids – they were really young- it was a UNICEF concert show or something. Some of those kids formed those freaky bands later. Because there were about 200 kids at the front there, some were about 13, 14, 15 who were looking at Yoko and looking at us the way we were playing that Don’t Worry Kyoko and it really reached a peak of (whatever you call it) it really went out there that night.

“And I often think I wonder if… you know I hear touches of our early stuff in a lot of the punk/new wave stuff – I hear licks and flicks coming out. It pleases me, it pleases both of us. I’d love to know were they in the audience and did somebody go and form a group in London because it sure as hell sounds like it.”

The poster idea was Yoko’s. In London, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Toronto, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, Athens, and Tokyo, the couple commissioned posters and billboards that declared in various languages: “War Is Over! If You Want It. Happy Christmas from John and Yoko.”



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