The first time John Lennon and Yoko Ono famously performed their pacifist anthem Give Peace A Chance was at their Bed-In For Peace in Montreal on 31 May 1969. Now, the memory is being questioned after some joyful footage has surfaced of the couple in The Bahamas six days before the performance, and has now been deemed the earliest discovered recording of the song.
The footage of the anti-Vietnam war anthem adopted by thousands was just released as part of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – the Ultimate Collection — and depicts a sun-drenched balcony in The Bahamas that looks over the ocean. As the camera pans, Lennon and Ono can be seen lounging on the couch, Lennon fervently strumming his guitar and ad-libbing verses that he is rapidly trying to rhyme. the only thing that really makes sense is the famous chorus, in which Ono timidly chimes in.
The clip feels almost serendipitous considering the circumstances it was filmed. Originally scheduled for New York, the Bed-in had to be relocated last-minute to the Bahamas hotel because of Lennon’s unfortunate 1968 cannabis conviction in the U.S. However, due to the unconventional layout of the Sheraton hotel room, Lennon and Ono flew to Canada at the last minute to hold the weeklong publicity event, which also provided them close proximity to the American press, namely then-President Nixon.
“John and I liked the idea of this really raw, basic, truthful reality that we were going to be giving to the world,” Ono wrote in the preface of her book which was released as part of the debut album’s 50th anniversary celebrations. “We were influencing other artists, giving them courage, giving dignity to a certain style of vulnerability and strength that was not accepted in society at the time. It was a revolution for a Beatle to say, ‘Listen: I’m human, I’m real.’ It took a lot of courage for him to do it.”
Watch the full clip, below.