The recording took place at the InterTel studios at Stonebridge House in Wembley, London. The David Frost Show was syndicated in the United States, allowing the Lennons to broadcast their peace message to a wider audience than they would get in the UK.
Helped by Frost, Lennon and Ono began by throwing acorns into the audience; Lennon proclaimed it “acorns for peace week”. He also held aloft a copy of Unfinished Music No 2: Life With The Lions, and wished the Queen a happy birthday.
Not to be outdone, Ono gave Frost a “box of smile”. Upon opening it, the host found a small mirror inside, designed to reflect back his own smile.
Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins was also discussed, with Lennon proudly claiming that it was selling for £10 on the black market after being widely banned. Frost joked that, where it had gone on sale, the price tag had been placed in a strategic place on the controversial cover.
Extracts of Cambridge 1969 and No Bed For Beatle John were played from a copy of Life With The Lions. Frost asked the couple why they record and release such unfinished works, which led Ono into a discussion on the nature of art and creation.
Following a commercial break, Frost asked about Bagism, and Lennon and Ono explained their desire to live in a world free of prejudice and discrimination. Lennon talked about their press conference in Vienna. The rest of the interview was largely taken up with the story of the couple’s first meeting, and further discussions on their peace campaigning.
This edition of The David Frost Show was first broadcast from 8.30-10pm on 10 July 1969.
Frost: There’s that sweet card you sent the other day that I need an explanation for.
Lennon: Do you really need all these explanations? [To the audience] I thought he was clever!
Frost: No, no, no. The message I had from John and Yoko the other day, when we were planning the programme, was a message with a nice picture that said “Love + Peace = Bagism”. I need to know more, John.
Lennon: What’s Bagism? It’s like a tag for what we all do, we’re all in a bag, you know, and we realised that we came from two bags – I was in this pop bag going round and round in my little clique and she was in her little avant-garde clique going round and round and you’re in your little tele clique and they’re in their…you know? And we all sort of come out and look at each other every now and then, but we don’t communicate. We all intellectualise about how there is no barrier between art, music, poetry… but we’re still all – ‘I’m a rock and roller’, ‘He’s a poet’. So we just came up with the word so you would ask us what bagism is – And we’d say we’re all in a bag, baby!
Frost: Well now, you’ve got in a bag, you’ve got in a sack…
Lennon: Well, we got out of one bag and into the next, you just keep moving from bag to bag.
Frost: You’ve got a bag there with you, what do you do with it?
Lennon: Well sometimes we get in it and sometimes other people get in it.
Ono: You know, this life is speeded up so much and the whole world is getting tenser and tenser because things are just going so fast, you know, so it’s so nice to slow down the rhythm of the whole world, just to make it peaceful. So like the bag, when you get in, you see that it’s very peaceful and your movements are sort of limited. You can walk around on the street in a bag.
Frost: Can you?
Lennon: If people did interviews for jobs in a bag they wouldn’t get turned away because they were black or green or long hair, you know, it’s total communication.
Frost: They’d get turned away because they were in a bag. [Audience laughter]
Lennon: Well no, if that was specified that when you interviewed the people that you wanted to employ – and you had this prejudice – and the people had to wear a bag, then you’d only judge them on what they communicated to you and you wouldn’t have to think ‘Oh, he’s wearing black suede is he, don’t like it’.
Frost: ‘He’s wearing Windsor bags!’
Lennon: It’s like, we did a press conference in Vienna and they’re pretty square over there…
Frost: …And they all got in the bags?
Lennon: …No, we were in the bag that time and all the press came in, sort of expecting Beatle John and his famous wife, and we were in the bag singing and humming and all they were asking was “What are you wearing?” And they’re all sort of holding mics to this bag and asking it how it felt and was it glad to be here and were you really John Lennon and Yoko.
Frost: Does it have to be a bag big enough so that they can’t see you at all? Or only can’t see your shoes?
Lennon: Oh well it depends, for convenience you can have slim bags and fatty loose bags, you know.
Frost: And tell me, how has this thing gone with the sleep-ins you’ve been having. Those are what? To draw attention…
Lennon: We’re trying to sell peace, like a product, you know, and sell it like people sell soap or soft drinks, you know, the only way to get people aware that peace is possible and – It isn’t just inevitable to have violence, not just war, all forms of violence. People just accept it and think ‘Oh, they did it’, or ‘Harold Wilson did it’ or ‘Nixon did it’, they’re always scapegoating people. It isn’t Nixon’s fault, we’re all responsible for everything that goes on, you know, we’re all responsible for Biafra and Hitler and everything. So we’re just saying ‘SELL PEACE’. Anybody interested in peace – just stick it in the window, it’s simple but it lets somebody else know that you want peace too, because you feel alone if you’re the only one thinking ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there was peace and nobody was getting killed’. So advertise yourself that you’re for peace if you believe in it.
Also on this day...
- 2014: Ringo Starr live at Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, Connecticut
- 2013: Paul McCartney live at Bonnaroo Festival
- 2011: John Lennon autographed Double Fantasy sells for £23,000
- 1967: Recording: All You Need Is Love
- 1966: Recording: Here, There And Everywhere
- 1965: Recording: I’ve Just Seen A Face, I’m Down, Yesterday
- 1965: US album release: Beatles VI
- 1964: Ringo rejoins The Beatles in Australia
- 1964: Ringo Starr gives a press conference in Sydney, Australia
- 1963: Live: Mersey Beat Showcase, Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.