When John Lennon and Yoko Ono Became TV Hosts
We tend to look back on the '60s and early-to-mid '70s as a pretty turbulent time in terms of the establishment trying in vain to crack down on the counterculture. But it wasn't always adversarial.
In fact, the two sides met in February 1972, when John Lennon and Yoko Ono took over hosting duties on The Mike Douglas Show. The idea, as Ono explained in an interview after their week-long stint ended, was to try to bridge the generational divide by reaching out to older or more conservative viewers.
"There’s such a gap between the young generation and the old generation now," Ono said back then. "Because this is a show that really communicates more with the older generation, we wanted to reach our hands out to them and say, 'Don’t be afraid of us. And we shouldn’t be to hostile to you either. Let’s work it together, because we have to work it together.'"
That's an indisputably noble goal, although as fans of either act are most likely already aware, things didn't exactly go off without a hitch. A segment that's proven particularly memorable over the years occurred when the duo invited rock legend Chuck Berry to stop by for a performance — during which Ono, for reasons that will presumably remain forever unknown, broke in with a wordless howl that seemed to startle Berry.
Watch John Lennon Perform With Chuck Berry on 'The Mike Douglas Show'
Rough edges aside, Lennon and Ono's residency made for overall compelling television. Looking back after the tapings were finished, Lennon seemed happy with the way it all worked out.
"Some of the people around the back of the show who were nervous about certain aspects of what we were doing were happy about it at the end," he mused. "We hoped what it did was to make them less frightened of the fact that a Black Panther would like to say something, which doesn’t mean he’s gonna come and shoot you to put his point of view across. Maybe we’ve opened their eyes a little to that."