Television: John Lennon and Yoko Ono on Frost On Saturday

John Lennon and Yoko Ono made an appearance on the fourth edition of Frost On Saturday, presented by David Frost, on this evening.

The show was broadcast live from Studio One of Wembley Studios in London, from 6.45-7.30. It was made by London Weekend Television, and networked across the country on the ITV channel. Other guests were the singer Blossom Dearie and satirist Stan Freberg.

Lennon and Ono had nothing to promote, so used the opportunity to discuss their personal and artistic philosophies. It was their first joint television appearance, and the couple dressed in black wearing white badges from their art exhibition You Are Here.

The segment begins with Frost asking Ono to explain the concept for You Are Here. She describes the exhibition as unfinished, epitomised by a broken cup on a pedestal that gallery visitors are invited to mend.

Studio hands then bring out a blackboard on which Lennon had written You Are Here in chalk. He discusses people’s reactions to the canvas equivalent in the gallery, which ranged from amusement to bemusement to enthusiasm. A two-minute extract from the Smile film is then shown, which Lennon describes as a moving portrait.

As they discuss the film, Lennon senses that the audience is interested but somewhat skeptical, and Ono suggests that guests take part in the “Hammer a nail” piece. As Lennon sets it up she describes it as a way to channel aggression.

Two audience members duly hammer nails into a block of wood, which they describe as “satisfying” and “unbelievable”. David Frost then joins in, but admits he feels like “a man hammering in a nail” – a comment which is greeted with applause from the audience. Lennon raises his arm like a boxer’s, proclaiming him “The winner!”

Ono then describes another artwork, Built Around, to which visitors to the Robert Fraser Gallery were invited to contribute. Lennon the first time he met Ono, a tale he would repeat during various subsequent interviews.

The interview ends with Lennon and Ono attempting to summarise their attempts to communicate through art and music. The Beatles’ forthcoming single ‘Hey Jude’ is then played out over the closing credits.

David Frost: And now we want to welcome two people whom you probably know, but two people whose art exhibition this year in London had a bigger impact than any other art exhibition certainly, who’s philosophy about life and art fascinates a lot of people. Let’s welcome now, please, Mr John Lennon and Miss Yoko Ono.

Frost: Nice to see you.

John Lennon: Thank you. Evening Stan.

Stan Freberg: Evening.

Frost: Who’s that?

Lennon: Stan.

Frost: That’s Stan is it? Hello Stan.

Stan: Hello. I was just thinking to myself, how much more money do you suppose it could have cost for air-conditioning?

Frost: The matter will be looked into. And after you’ve gone back to America, rejected.

John [To Freberg]: I think you’ll get a badge for that.

Frost: Yes, you gave me one of these badges beforehand. Now, what, this is really the basis of what you’re talking about isn’t it, You Are Here.

Lennon: It’s that show, yeah.

Frost: Now what exactly does it mean, You Are Here?

Lennon: Well, er, You, are, here.

Yoko Ono: Usually people think in vicarious terms, they think ‘Somebody’s there,’ ‘John Lennon’s there,’ or somebody. But it’s not that. YOU are the one who’s here, and so in art, usually art gives something that’s an object and says ‘This is art,’ you know, but instead of that, art exists in people. It’s people’s art, and so we don’t believe in just making something and completing it and giving it to people, we like people to participate. All the pieces are unfinished and they have to be finished by people.

Last updated: 23 August 2016
Recording, mixing: Back In The USSR
US single release: Hey Jude
Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.

Leave a Reply