Beatleologists seem to concur that two events of note took place in these waning days of the Montreal Bed-In, but there is some disagreement about exactly when and in what order they happened. The Beatles Bible, for instance, says one thing, and Richard DiLello’s The Longest Cocktail Party says another. To the extent that it matters, I’m going to go with the House Hippie, because he was actually there (however stoned he may have been).

Says DiLello,

On Saturday [May 31] between 8 P.M. and 3 A.M. the next morning, a song called Give Peace a Chance was rehearsed and with John Lennon conducting an assembled roomfull [sic] of friends and well-wishers that included Tommy Smothers, Rosemary and Tim Leary and the Canadian chapter of the Radha Krishna Temple, the Capitol Records mobile sound unit recorded the song that was soon to become the anthem of the world push-for-peace movement.

Musically speaking, this is not one of John’s towering achievements. But the sentiment is laudable and it’s all too easy to sit here 50 years later and be snarky about a message that, at the time, was weirdly controversial. So I always try to give “Peace” a chance, though I may find my attention wandering a couple minutes in.

The other much-discussed occurrence of the weekend was much less groovy. DiLello continues:

Sunday afternoon [June 1] John and Yoko gave a string of interviews that included a Quebec separatist and the most unpleasant experience of the voyage, Al Capp, who came on as Ace Professional Heckler sent to do battle with the Yellow Peril & Co.

Capp is little-known now — I had to look him up — but he was a pretty big deal in his day, a cartoonist whose strip Lil’ Abner was at one time “estimated to have been read daily in the United States by 60 to 70 million people” (says Wikipedia). He was a prickly personality and a one-man Me Too movement waiting to happen, known to have sexually harassed Goldie Hawn among many others. He also did a lot of nice things for veterans and amputees (of which he was one). People are complicated.

This being a media event, cameras were of course on hand to capture the scene for posterity and export. Even at half a century’s distance, watching it will tend to make one tense; nobody comes away looking good except maybe Derek Taylor, who quietly interposes himself between the Ono Lennons and their antagonist. I can’t officially recommend it, but if your curiosity extends that far, here you go:

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