Beatles A Day in the Life Blog posts of '1969' 'December'

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 20, 1969

John Lennon and Yoko Ono gave an interview to CBC-TV’s news and current affairs show CBC Weekend in Toronto.

Lennon introduced the show, hosted by Lloyd Robertson, as “Peace Weekend”. The other guest was Rabbi Abhraham Feinberg, who had previously sang in the chorus on Give Peace A Chance.

The segment featuring Lennon began with legislator Russell Doern, via a linkup from Winnipeg, reading a letter from Manitoba’s premier asking whether Lennon and Ono would visit in the new year to promote peace. Lennon described the offer as “beautiful” and said he would definitely visit for the province’s 100th anniversary year, although he never did.

Lennon went on to explain why he chose Canada for this peace campaign. “I don’t want to be Mr and Mrs Dead Saint of 1970.”


The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 19, 1969

The Beatles’ Seventh Christmas Record: Happy Christmas 1969

The final Beatles Christmas offering was also recorded separately, as the band had effectively split by this point. It features an extensive visit with John and Yoko at their Tittenhurst Park estate, where they play “what will Santa bring me?” games. Harrison only appears briefly, and Starr only shows up to plug his recent film, The Magic Christian. Paul sings his original ad-lib, This is to Wish You a Merry, Merry Christmas. Starting at 1:30, at the tail-end of Ringo’s song, the guitar solos from The End are heard, followed by Yoko interviewing John.

In December 1970, in the wake of the band’s break-up, the UK fan-club sent out a compilation LP of all seven recordings, entitled From Then To You. The master tapes having been mislaid, the LP was mastered from copies of the original flexi discs. In the US, the LP was repackaged as The Beatles’ Christmas Album and sent out by the fan-club around springtime 1971. With no new recording, the LP served to remind that the Beatles were no more, but had the advantage of durability over the original flexi discs, and, for the US, it was the first time the 1964 and 1965 messages had been made available.


The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 18, 1969

Today John Lennon and Yoko Ono recorded a message to be broadcast on Japanese radio. The recording took place at the home of musician Ronnie Hawkins in Ontario. It began with a few words in Japanese, before a version of Give Peace A Chance. Lasting about a minute, it ends with Lennon repeatedly bantering “moshi moshi” in mock Japanese. Much of the remainder of the 10-minute recording is of Ono speaking in Japanese, with Lennon in the background playing an acoustic guitar.

You could hear versions of Sun King, Dear Prudence and Make Love Not War, which later became Mind Games.

Ono speaks of her plans for the peace movement and accompanying music festival. She mentions her recent holidays with Lennon in India and Italy, and says she would like to return to Japan in 1970.

The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 17, 1969

Today John Lennon gave an interview to New York City’s WABC-AM radio. John and Yoko had given a great many interviews in recent weeks, and this touched upon many of the familiar themes: the peace campaign, the future of The Beatles, the Hanratty case, the return of Lennon’s MBE and the concept of Bagism.

Other details that emerged during the interview included: the stage for the proposed peace festival in 1970 would be a giant bed; a single person had been employed to preview the ‘War is over’ slogan on a sandwich board in New York before the campaign began; George Harrison and Ringo Starr had both briefly left The Beatles; the odds of the group ever touring again were 90-1.

Other information included a 10-day rice-only diet in Greece that had ended with a curry and milkshake in Bombay, India. Lennon described it as “like having every drug I’ve ever touched”. He said he and Ono planned to attend the Midem festival in Cannes in January 1970 as representatives of Apple.

Lennon also mentioned that he had a fake fur coat made out of human hair, which resembled “hundreds of Yoko’s heads”. Asked by Smith what music he was listening to, Lennon mentioned recent releases by Johnny Winer and Lee Dorsey.


The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 16, 1969

John Lennon and Yoko Ono flew to Toronto, Canada to begin the next stage of the couple’s peace campaign. They stayed on Ronnie Hawkins’ ranch in Mississauga, Ontario, from where they gave a series of interviews to the world’s media.

The Canadian campaign coincided with the erection of a series of advertisements in 12 cities worldwide proclaiming “War is over! If you want it. Happy Christmas from John & Yoko”. In Toronto, 30 roadside billboards were set up, as well as thousands of posters and handbills.

Lennon and Ono publicly claimed their hopes that the trip would herald the beginning of “Year One AP (After Peace)”. However, although they were given considerable publicity during their stay, which ended on 23 December, it marked the end of their protest activities for two years.


The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 15, 1969

Today in Centeral London, The Plastic Ono Band took part in a benefit concert for Unicef, at the Lyceum Ballroom.

The event was titled Peace For Christmas. Performing today included the Young Rascals, Desmond Dekker and the Aces, Blue Mink and Black Velvet. Emperor Rosko was the disc jockey between the performances.

The other members of the Plastic Ono Band’s first show at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival also agreed to play: Eric Clapton on guitar, Klaus Voormann on bass, and Alan White on drums, plus Billy Preston on keyboards. Clapton arrived with almost all of Delaney & Bonnie’s touring band, which at the time included George Harrison. This, therefore, was the first time Lennon and Harrison had performed at a scheduled concert since The Beatles’ last show on 29 August 1966. It was also the Plastic Ono Band’s only European concert.


The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 14, 1969

Today a television tribute to George Martin, With A Little Help From My Friends, was filmed.

Ringo Starr was among the guests taking part in the televisual spectacular, which also featured Dudley Moore, The Hollies, Blue Mink, Lulu, Spike Milligan and dancers Pan’s People, plus Martin himself conducting the 40-piece George Martin Orchestra.

With A Little Help From My Friends was filmed in Studio Four at The Television Centre in Leeds. Starr’s contribution was to mime to Octopus’s Garden. Because of a Musicians’ Union ban on lip-syncing on British television, however, parts of the song had been re-recorded on December 8th to give the impression of a live performance.


The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 13, 1969

Today John Lennon gave an exclusive interview to Alan Smith that would be published in the December 13th issue of the New Musical Express. The article would be entitled 'Beatles are on the Brink of Splitting' and features intriguing insights into John Lennon's early thoughts about what is troubling the group.

John cites several factors on the band's disharmony that he feels could potentially lead to a Beatles breakup, including differences of opinion on how to run Apple between himself and Paul, as well as George Harrison's budding songwriting talents making future Beatles releases less interesting to the Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership. John says "I don’t want to spend six months making an album I have two tracks on. And neither do Paul or George probably."

He goes on to say that the Beatles future "...depends how much we all want to record together. I go off and on it. I really do."

Lennon also describes what he terms as the "freeloading" at Apple and says it needs to stop.

John gets in a plug for the release of his solo album, "Live Peace In Toronto" which had been released one day earlier on December 12th.

The breakup of the Beatles would be officially announced four months later, in April of 1970.

I MAY be wrong, and I hope I am, but these are dark days for the Beatles. I begin to wonder how much longer their association can stand the strain of their own individual talent.

John Lennon pulls toward peace and his own Plastic Ono Band; Ringo pulls toward a bigger and better film career; George Harrison jumps toward his own prolific songwriting; and Paul McCartney pulls himself away to Scotland, his own songs… and silence.

Certainly, John and Paul are on opposite sides of a heavy wall of difference and self-inflicted gloom. And the bond between them can hardly have been more weak, or their opposing interests more strong.

A few days ago, John and Yoko and I in a one-hour and fifteen minute exclusive interview for NME, (partly filmed for BBC-1’s look at the world of John and Yoko Lennon in “24 Hours”), and during that time he gave me frank answers to his mental rifts with Paul and the current state of the Beatles.

He was pleasant, together, straightforward, mellow and resolute, and only in references to Paul did his voice drop in doubt.


He told me “Paul and I have differences of opinion on how things should be run. But instead of it being a private argument about how an LP should be done, or a certain track, it’s now a larger argument about the organization of Apple itself.”

“Whether we both want the same thing from Apple in the end is a matter of opinion. But how to achieve it -- that’s where we digress.

“Mainly we disagree on the Klein bit. But you know, I don’t really want to discuss Paul without him here. It’s just that as far as I can see, Paul was always waiting for this guy to just appear and save us from the mess we were in.

“And we were in a mess, and only my saying it in the press that time enabled Klein to hear about it and come over.

“I’m a quarter of this building, and it became a question of whether I should pull my money out if I could – which I probably can’t.

“I did say I wanted out at one time. It was just that all my income was going into Apple and being wasted by the joy-riding people who were here. In fact, that was just the minute bit of it. I just wanted it to stop.

“It’s no use pretending we can be here all the time when that kind of thing is going on. We needed a business man. No Beatle can spend his days here checking the accountants.

“There was also the question of the four of us holding different opinions on things, and the staff not knowing where they were or who to listen to.

“I know that’s what’s going on all the time. People come to me and say ‘Paul wants this done. What do you think?’ and they know damn well what I think, and they say ‘Alright,’ and then they go to Paul and say ‘John wants this done. He’s off again.’

“The result is that we kept sending in different instructions and nothing was being done. Like people anywhere, they were getting away with what they could. We were naïve and stupid.

“What I would like is for the freeloading to stop but the old Apple spirit to remain. The spirit will be there, because if Apple is not a problem to the Beatles – which it was – it just can’t help but get better.

“Our job is to put the creative side into Apple. If the Beatles never recorded together again, but each put their creative efforts through Apple… that at least would be better than me having a company, Paul having a company, George having a company, and Ringo having a company. Together we at least have that much more power.

“I know now that the original concept of helping everybody doesn’t work in its purest form. All you get are the bums and freeloaders everybody else turns down.

“The only way we can help other artists at Apple is the same way the Beatles helped other artists… by breaking new barriers. That’s what we didn’t get before. We sat back, and we started to believe our own publicity, to tell ourselves how the Beatles helped people get long hair, and the Beatles started off this, and the other.

“The Beatles split up? It just depends how much we all want to record together. I don’t know if I want to record together again. I go off and on it. I really do.

“The problem is that in the old days, when we needed an album, Paul and I got together and produced enough songs for it. Nowadays there’s three if us writing prolifically and trying to fit it all onto one album. Or we have to think of a double album every time, which takes six months.

“That’s the hang-up we have. It’s not a personal ‘The Beatles are fighting’ thing, so much as an actual physical problem. What do you do? I don’t want to spend six months making an album I have two tracks on. And neither do Paul or George probably. That’s the problem. If we can overcome that, maybe it’ll sort itself out.

“None of us want to be background musicians most of the time. It’s a waste. We didn’t spend ten years ‘making it’ to have the freedom in the recording studios, to be able to have two tracks on an album.

“It’s not like we spend our time wrestling in the studio trying to get our own songs on. We all do it the same way… we take it in turns to record a track. It’s just that usually in the past, George lost out because Paul and I are tougher.

“It’s nothing new, the way things are. It’s human. We’ve always said we’ve had fights. It’s no news that we argue. I’m more interested in my songs. Paul’s more interested in his, and George is more interested in his. That’s always been.

“This is why I’ve started with the Plastic Ono and working with Yoko… to have more outlet. There isn’t enough outlet for me in the Beatles. The Ono Band is my escape valve. And how important that gets, as compared to the Beatles for me, I’ll have to wait and see.

“You have to realize that there’s a peculiar situation, in that if ‘Cold Turkey’ had the name Beatles on it, probably it would have been a No. 1.

“ ‘Cold Turkey’ has got Ringo and me on it, and yet on half the Beatles’ tracks of ‘Abbey Road,’ I’m not on, or half the tracks on the double album – and even way back. Sometimes there might be only two Beatles on a track. It’s got to the situation where if we have the name ‘Beatle’ on it, it sells. So you get to think: ‘What are we selling? Do they buy it because it’s worth it, or just because it says ‘Beatles’?

“George is in the same position. I mean, he’s got songs he’s been trying to get on since 1930. He’s got to make an album of his own. And maybe if he puts ‘Beatles’ on the label rather than George Harrison, it might sell more. That’s the drag.

“Of course we could each make an album and call it ‘The Beatles,’ but that would be cheating. And that’s not my scene.

“Anyway, folks, remember the Plastic Ono Band LP from Toronto released December the 13th, with a nice picture of the sky, and a fab calendar inside of a year’s events with John and Yoko, with poetry and fun.”



The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 12, 1969

John Lennon gave an interview today which took place in Lennon’s office at Apple Corps. He spoke to Harry Flower from South African radio and discussed the state’s prior ban on Beatles recordings, by now lifted. Flower explained that one station was planning a 90 minute special on the Abbey Road album. Lennon responded positively, adding that they should also do one on the newly-released Live Peace In Toronto 1969.

Lennon also discussed The Beatles’ Get Back album and film, as they were both then known, to be released in the new year. He also spoke of a Plastic Ono Band, as yet unwritten, which would be out in January. This became Instant Karma!, recorded on 27 January 1970 and released the following month.

Lennon was also involved in a campaign to have convicted murderer James Hanratty posthumously pardoned by the British government; a weekly public protest in London’s Hyde Park had been filmed by the couple, but there were plans to recruit a more experienced director. However, they made little further effort to support the campaign beyond the occasional public statement.
The Beatles - A Day in The Life: December 11, 1969

The Magic Christian, Ringo Starr's second film made its world première on this evening at the Odeon Theatre in Kensington, London.

The event was attended by Starr and his wife Maureen, as well as John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Also present was Princess Margaret.

Lennon and Ono both were black capes, and before the film held banners in the foyer proclaiming “BRITAIN MURDERED HANRATTY”.
The Magic Christian, which also starred Peter Sellers, had its US première in Los Angeles on 29 January 1970. There was also a New York première on 11 February that year.