There are a lot of people around the world now trying to promote world peace. Why do you think that you can succeed where they have so far failed?
That's like saying why bother keeping on Christianity because Jesus got killed. We don't think people have tried advertising before. Pretend peace is new 'cause we've never had it. So you start advertising it: . . . Sell, sell, sell.
Are there any similarities between where the Beatles were during the Cavern days and this peace campaign now?
We do consider that we're in the Cavern stage; you know, we haven't got out of Liverpool with this campaign. And we've got to break to London and then America. I feel exactly the same as I did then about the Beatles as I do about peace and what we're doing now. But I don't care how long it takes, and what obstacles there are. We won't stop.
Was there any one incident that got you into the peace campaign?
Well, it built up over a number of years, but the thing that struck it off was a letter we got from a guy called Peter Watkins, who made a film called The War Game. It was a long letter stating what's happening - how the media is controlled, how it's all run, and it ended up: "What are you going to do about it?"
He said people in our position and his position have a responsibility to use the media for world peace. And we sat on the letter for three weeks and thought it over and figured at first we were doing our best with songs like "All You Need Is Love."
Finally we came up with the bed event and that was what sparked it off. It was like getting your call-up papers for peace. Then we did the bed event.
Is it true that you were planning on going to Biafra a short while back?
Yeah. At the time, Yoko was pregnant and we decided not to go and she had a miscarriage. Then we thought and thought about it. But we're scared to go somewhere where it's happening. 'Cause we don't want to be dead saints or martyrs. I'm scared of going to Vietnam and Biafra and, until I'm convinced that I can do better there than I can do outside of it, I'll stay out of it. I'd go to Russia, but I'd think twice about China.
YOKO: I think we did a lot of good for Biafra when John returned his M.B.E.
You said you were going to have a peace vote. How do you answer accusations that the sort of thing borders on naiveté?
Let's see. If anybody thinks our campaign is naive, that's their opinion and that's okay. Let them do something else and if we like their ideas, we'll join with them. But until then, we'll do it the way we are. We're artists, not politicians. Not newspapermen, not anything. We do it in the way that suits us best, and this is the way we work.
Publicity and things like that is our game. The Beatles' thing was that. And that was the trade I've learned. This is my trade, and I'm using it to the best of my ability.
But what is the point of having a vote for peace?
Why do people have those Gallup polls? If we get a vote from around the world with millions and millions of kids that want peace, that's a nice Gallup poll. We can wave those figures around. That's all. It's a positive move; all we want is a yes.
Will the Beatles play at this festival?
I'll try to hustle them out. Maybe I'll get on two of them, or something like that. I got George on the other night for UNICEF in London. I can't speak for the Beatles because I'm only me. But if I can get them, if I can get Elvis . . . I'll try. I'll try and get all of them.
Do you think the festival could be something like the recent Stones affair in California, where some people died?
The Stones' one was bad. I've heard a lot of things about that concert. I think it was just a bad scene. It won't be like that here. I think they created that either subconsciously or whatever, and that is the result of the image and the mood they create. I think if you create a peaceful scene, you stand a better chance. We have six months to prevent that sort of thing; the Stones thing was done overnight.
How soon can the world reach a state of peace?
As soon as people realize that they have the power. The power doesn't belong with Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Wilson or Mr. Nixon. We are the power. The people are the power. And as soon as people are aware that they have the power, then they can do what they want. And if it's a case of they don't know what to do, let's advertise to them to tell them they have an option. They've all got a vote. Vote for peace, folks.
Don't you think your long hair and your clothes may put old people off in your pursuit of peace?
I understand that. Many people say, "Why don't you get a butch haircut and a tie, suit?" and the thing is, that's what politicians do. We just try to be as natural as possible. Now, how many members of the public are gullible to politicians, with the nice picture of the family, the dog and the whore on the side? Now, I could do that, but I don't think people would believe it. That's the politicians' way, but youth certainly doesn't believe it anymore.
Have you ever thought of taking your ideas to someone like Henry Ford?
When we get a bit organized. You see, what we didn't want to become was leaders. I believe in that Wilhelm Reich guy who said, "Don't become a leader." We don't want to be the people that everyone says, "It was your fault we didn't get peace." We want to be part of it. It's like people said the Beatles were a movement; but we were only part of the movement. We were influenced as much as we influenced.
And John and Yoko refuse to be the leaders of the youth movement for peace. That's dictatorship. We want everybody to help us. And then, if it takes time for this kind of news to get through to Henry Ford or Onassis or anybody like that.
When we get something functional happening and a few people that aren't John and Yoko, we can approach from that angle. We can then say we've got so much money, will you double it? 'Cause we know they all do charity for whatever reason.
Do you believe in God?
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, left, right, black or white. He just is. And we tap that source of power and make of it that we will. Just as electricity can kill people in a chair, or you can light a room with it. I think God is.
Don't you worry about being identified as a father figure?
I believe that leaders and father figures are the mistake of all the generations before us. And that all of us rely on Nixon or Jesus or whoever we rely on; it's lack of responsibility that you expect somebody else to do it. He must help me or we kill him or we vote him out. I think that's the mistake, just having father figures. It's a sign of weakness; you must do the greasing yourself.
I won't be a leader. Everybody is a leader. People thought the Beatles were leaders, but they weren't, and now people are finding that out.
What, in brief, is your philosophy?
Peace, just no violence, and everybody grooving, if you don't mind the word. Of course, we all have violence in us, but it must be channeled or something. If I have long hair, I don't see why everybody should have long hair. And if I want peace, I'll suggest peace to everyone. But I won't hustle them up for peace.
if people want to be violent, let them not interfere with people who don't want violence. Let them kill each other if there has to be that.
Are there any alternatives?
You either get tired of fighting for peace, or you die.
Don't you think the Peace Grease may be a substitute for the massive problem young people are having with drugs?
With, the liquor problem is even worse. I think the drug problem is a hang-up and a drag, but if we hadn't had methedrine, and all the rest of it, the ones that are going to go through that trip would have been alcoholics. Everybody seems to need something in the way society is; because of the pressure. So it would have been alcohol or something. The problem isn't what they're on, it's what made them go on whatever they're on.
The best antidote for drug taking and liquor is hope, it seems to me. You're giving young people hope.
The only time Yoko and I took heavy drugs was when we were without hope. And the only way we got out of it was with hope. And if we can sustain the hope, we don't need liquor, hard drugs, or anything. But if we lose hope, what can you do? What is there to do?
John, would you have achieved that hope without the success of the Beatles?
The Beatles had nothing to do with the hope. This is after; I mean, the Beatles made it four years ago and they stopped touring and they had all the money they wanted, and all the fame they wanted and they found out they had nothing. And then we started on our various trips of LSD and Maharishi and all the rest of the things we did. And the old gag about money and power and fame is not the answer. We didn't have hope just because we were famous.
You see, Marilyn Monroe and all the other people, they had everything the Beatles had, but it's no answer. So John and Yoko had the same problems and fears and hopes and aspirations that any other couple on earth does, regardless of the position we were in and regardless of the money we had. We had exactly the same paranoia as everybody else, the same petty thoughts, the same everything. We had no superanswer that came through Beatles or power. In that respect, the Beatles were irrelevant to what I'm talking about.
Getting back to how it started, how did you and Yoko initially find ground for this campaign?
Both Yoko and I were in different bags, as we call it. But both had a positive side - we were singing "All You Need Is Love" and she was in Trafalgar Square, protesting for peace in a black bag. We met, we had to decide what our common goal was, we had one thing in common - we were in love. But love is just a gift, and it doesn't answer everything and it's like a precious plant that you have to nurture and look after and all that.
So we had to find what we wanted to do together - these two egos. What they had in common was love; we had to work on it. What goes with love, we thought, was peace. Now we were thinking of all this, and planning on getting married and not getting married and what we were going to do and how we were going to do it and rock & roll and avant-garde and all that bit, and then we got that letter from Peter Watkins. And it all started from there.