John and Yoko were in Canada during this period, staying through December 23. Because everyone in rock’n’roll knows everybody else, they bunked with Ronnie Hawkins — best known as the original employer of The Band — at his ranch in Mississauga, Ontario. Here’s a little background on him:

Hawkins was born in 1935 in Huntsville, Arkansas, two days after the birth of Elvis Presley. When he was nine years old, his family moved to nearby Fayetteville, Arkansas. After graduating from high school, he studied physical education at the University of Arkansas, where he formed his first band, the Hawks. He toured with them throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Hawkins also owned and operated the Rockwood Club in Fayetteville, where some of rock and roll’s earliest pioneers came to play including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty.

On advice from Twitty, Hawkins began touring Canada in 1958. His first gig there was at the Golden Rail Tavern in Hamilton, Ontario, where he became an overnight success. Hawkins decided to move to Canada, and in 1964 became a permanent resident, eventually making Peterborough, Ontario, his home.

After the move, the Hawks, with the exception of Hawkins and drummer Levon Helm, dropped out of the band. Their vacancies were filled by Canadians Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson, all hailing from Southwestern Ontario.

Throughout their stay John and Yoko invited various representatives of the media to visit them, promoting the concept of “Year One AP (After Peace)” and announcing all sorts of ambitious plans. But in truth their energy was beginning to wane; most of the things they promised never came to pass, and once this media blitz was over they went largely silent for the next couple years.

Before heading to the ranch they gave a press conference in Toronto, which was becoming their second home. John and Yoko had been taking a lot of flak for their weirdo peacenik ways, but Canadians are nicer than Brits or Americans and were mostly sympathetic. Also, said John,

Canada talks to China, you know. We’re playing the political game, but we don’t know a lot of details. I know we like peace, you know. Canada’s vibes are good. We’ve been here before and had a good time.

When asked about Paul, John said, “I haven’t seen him for months. He’s been on holidays. He’s in the Bahamas at the moment.” And indeed the activities of the other Beatles at this time are largely absent from the record, which leaves us with John and Yoko, which is mostly rather tiresome. So here are a few choice quotes from the press conference, and we’ll call that good for now.

John Lennon: We’ve come back to Canada to announce plans for a big peace and musical festival to be held at Mosport Park near Toronto on July third, fourth and fifth next year. We aim to make it the biggest music festival in history, and we’re going to be asking everybody who’s anybody to play.

Reporter: Will The Beatles play at this festival?

John: I’ll try and hustle them. Maybe I’ll get one or two of them, or something like that. I got George on the other night for Unicef in London. So, I can’t speak for The Beatles because I’m only me. But if I can get them, I’ll try. I’ll even try and get Elvis.

Reporter: What do you think of Bob Dylan’s comment that he doesn’t do interviews because he’s simply being used by the press for selfish reasons?

John: Well I dunno, you know. Bob’s a home loving lad at the moment.

Reporter: Do you believe in God?

John: Yes, I believe that God is like a powerhouse, like where you keep electricity, like a power station. And that he’s a supreme power and that he’s neither good nor bad, nor left, right, black or white. He just is. And that we tap that source of power and make of it what we will. Just as electricity can kill people in a chair, or you can light a room with it, I think God is.

Reporter: What, in brief, is your philosophy?

John Lennon: Peace, just no violence, and everybody grooving, if you don’t mind the word.

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