With the holidays approaching, everyone was doing their bit for the public good today. Ringo recorded a radio spot to raise money for the British Wireless for the Blind Fund — though it was not terribly successful, in the end raising only £175.

A little more visible were John and Yoko’s billboards, which went up in Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York, Rome, Tokyo, and Toronto.

John didn’t write the song to go with them until two years later, but what the hell:

Meanwhile, on this selfsame day in 1969, the Plastic Ono Band played a “Peace for Christmas” Unicef benefit show at the Lyceum in London. The band was supposed to be the same lineup that had played in Toronto, with the addition of Billy Preston on keyboards. But Eric Clapton showed up accompanied by most of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, including a flash young guitarist named George Harrison; so this turned out to be the first time John and George had shared a stage since Shea Stadium in 1966 — and the last time they would ever do so.

Says The Beatles Bible,

The full line-up, playing before a huge “War is over” backdrop, was: Lennon, Harrison, Clapton and Delaney Bramlett (guitars, with Clapton playing Rocky, Harrison’s psychedelic Fender Stratocaster); Ono (vocals); Bonnie Bramlett (tambourine); Alan White and Jim Gordon (drums); Billy Preston (organ); Klaus Voormann (bass guitar); Bobby Keys (saxophone); Jim Price (trumpet). Lennon later referred to it as the Plastic Ono Supergroup.

Keith Moon took to the stage to hit White’s floor tom tom, and also present but not performing were the Bonzo Dog Band’s drummer “Legs” Larry Smith and The Rascals’ drummer Dino Danelli.

You’d think that such an event would have been well-documented, but all I could find was this short clip:

Though given the way TBB describes their performance, maybe it’s just as well. Dig these three paragraphs, which beautifully sum up the whole John & Yoko schtick from this period:

The Plastic Ono Band performed just two songs: current single Cold Turkey and its b-side Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow). The first song lasted for nearly seven minutes, and was introduced by Lennon with the words: “We’d like to do a number. This song’s about pain.”

After the song Ono, in a white bag at Lennon’s feet, shouted “John! I love you! Britain! You killed Hanratty, you murderer!”

Don’t Worry Kyoko lasted for around 40 minutes.

Supposedly an audio recording is floating around but I haven’t been able to find it — much, I must admit, to my relief.

As for “Hanratty,” this passage from The Longest Cocktail Party may help explain:

Press Office to UPI, AP, Reuters, PA: John and Yoko Lennon today announced from their Apple Headquarters, 3 Savile Row, London W1, that they plan to make a film about James Hanratty, the convicted A6 murderer. After discussion with Hanratty’s parents the Lennons, convinced that James Hanratty was innocent of the crime for which he was hung, said they are going to make a film that will insist that a new public inquiry be held and they themselves plan to reveal startling new facts about the case.

At this point Hanratty had been dead more than seven years, but thanks to the persistence of his family his purported innocence had become a cause celebre. Wikipedia summarizes the case this way:

[A] couple were abducted at gunpoint in their car at Dorney Reach, Buckinghamshire, by a man with a Cockney accent and mannerisms matching Hanratty’s. The gunman ordered [them] to drive in several directions, before stopping beside the A6 at Deadman’s Hill, where the offences took place. The initial prime suspects were Hanratty, a petty criminal, and Peter Louis Alphon, an eccentric drifter. In police line-ups, [surviving victim Valerie] Storie did not recognise Alphon, but eventually identified Hanratty.

Her testimony was critical in securing a guilty verdict, but this was questioned by many who felt the supporting evidence too weak to justify conviction, and Hanratty’s brother fought for decades to have the verdict overturned. In 1997, a police inquiry concluded he was wrongfully convicted and the case was sent to the Court of Appeal, which ruled in 2002 that a DNA test conclusively proved Hanratty’s guilt beyond any doubt.

So now you know.

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