If the first half of the concert was led by John Lennon, the second was Yoko Ono’s. The crowd’s reaction to ‘Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow)’ and ‘John, John (Let’s Hope For Peace)’ was divided, with some people booing her performance.
Yoko did a number, which was half rock and half madness, and it really freaked them out. We finished with Yoko’s number, because you can’t go anywhere after you’ve reached that sort of pitch. You can’t go ‘Ji-jing’ like The Beatles and bow at the end of screaming and 50 watts of feedback. So, after Yoko had been on for about a quarter of an hour, we all left our amps on going like the clappers and had a smoke on the stage. Then, when they stopped, the whole crowd was chanting ‘Give Peace A Chance’. It looks like this is going to be the Plastic Ono Band in the future.
The first song was based around a blues guitar riff played by Lennon and Eric Clapton, with Ono improvising over the top. The Plastic Ono Band recorded a studio version shortly after the concert, which was issued as the b-side to ‘Cold Turkey’.
‘John, John (Let’s Hope For Peace)’ was more avant-garde. The composition had appeared on Lennon and Ono’s Wedding Album earlier in 1969, but the audience evidently didn’t know what to make of the freeform performance with little or no structure.
At the end of John, John all the boys placed their guitars against the speakers of their amps and walked to the back of the stage. Because they had already started the feed-back process, the sound continued while John, Klaus, Alan and Eric grouped together and lit ciggies. Then I went on and led them off-stage. Finally I walked on again and switched off their amps one by one.
In the studio
On 25 September 1969 Lennon mixed the eight-track tapes from the festival performance, producing the stereo master tape between 10am and 1.45pm. A new stereo mix of ‘Don’t Worry Kyoko’ was made on 20 October to replace his previous effort.
Lennon elected to remove most of Ono’s vocals from his performances, although they can be heard to their full effect on DA Pennebaker’s film of the concert.
Live Peace In Toronto 1969 was issued on vinyl on 12 December. The rock ‘n’ roll songs featured on side one, with Ono’s songs taking up the second half. A 1970 calendar was also included with initial pressings, with stapled, wire spiral or plastic comb bindings.
The album failed to chart in the UK, although it reached number 10 in the US and was certified gold.
We tried to put it out on Capitol, and Capitol didn’t want to put it out. They said, ‘This is garbage, we’re not going to put it out with her screaming on one side and you doing this sort of live stuff.’ And they just refused to put it out. But we finally persuaded them that, you know, people might buy this. Of course, it went gold the next day.
And then, the funny thing was – this is a side story – Klein had got a deal on that record that it was a John and Yoko Plastic Ono record, not a Beatles record, so we could get a higher royalty, because The Beatles’ royalties were so low – they’d been locked in ’63 – and Capitol said, ‘Sure you can have it,’ you know. Nobody’s going to buy that crap. They just threw it away and gave it us. And it came out, and it was fairly successful and it went gold. I don’t know what chart position, but I’ve got a gold record somewhere that says… And four years later, we go to collect the royalties, and you know what they say? ‘This is a Beatle record.’ So Capitol have it in my file under Beatle records. Isn’t it incredible?