Saturday, October 9, 2010

Celebrating John Lennon’s 70th Birthday

Yoko Ono – John Lennon 70th birthday message (2010)

Today is the 70th birthday of the late John Lennon.

Yoko Ono is marking the occasion by relighting the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, while offering people the chance to participate in a shared global experience: TWEETING A MILLION WISHES FOR PEACE.

Dear Friends,

On October 9th, I will relight IMAGINE PEACE TOWER in Iceland in memory of my late husband John Lennon.

Please ask all your friends to join us by Tweeting your wishes to IMAGINE PEACE TOWER.

You can do this by going to where you can also watch the lighting live with us at:

8pm GMT = 9pm UK = 3pm NY= midday LA = 5am Japan.

Tell all your friends. Spread the word. Let’s tweet a million wishes for peace for John’s birthday!


This isn’t the first time Yoko has created a shared global experience, and it takes me back to a Lennon event I was a part of in 1990.

Ono teamed up with the United Nations to mark John’s 50th birthday with a global broadcast that Lennon, himself, would likely have been proud of.

While remembering John and his peace efforts, Yoko appeared at the UN to give a speech in John’s honor, followed by the playing of “Imagine.”

With radio stations around the world picking up the satellite signal of the UN broadcast, the concept was simple: you could walk down any street, in any corner of the world, and have a shared experience with millions of others by hearing “Imagine” at the same time.

Before the internet made it easy to connect on a global basis, broadcasters used satellites to get the job done.

This is where I came in.

As a producer and distributor of radio programs to stations across Canada, my company’s (that is, the one I worked for at the time) partnership with US syndicators Westwood One gave me access to international programs for Canadian radio listeners.

When the Ono/Lennon event came up in the fall of 1990, it was my job to build a radio network of Canadian stations to join in on the global satellite signal – connecting Canadians with the event and, essentially, the rest of the world.

The shared experience was a huge success, with more than 1000 radio stations in 130 countries on board, heard by an audience of approximately a billion listeners.

John Lennon’s 50th birthday report
NBN News, Australia – October 10, 1990

Lennon’s 50th birthday event broadcast began with an introduction by Marcela Perez de Cuellar, wife of the United Nations' Secretary General:
"Dear Yoko, welcome to this house of peace, the United Nations, which since the end, in 1945, of the most terrible war in history, has kept alive the dream that you and John Lennon cherished, that all the people in the world can live together in tolerance and peace. John would have been 50 years old today. I am pleased that your search for a special place to remember him has brought you here. The world is waiting for your message, Yoko, and for peace."
Yoko to the United Nations special guests - and to the estimated one billion people listening via satellite, from Argentina to the USSR:
"People of the Earth, how are you? How's life been for you? I hope it will get easier and easier for us. Today would have been the 50th birthday of my husband, John Lennon. His spirit still lives in all of us whose lives have been touched by him. I would like us to remember and celebrate his birthday as a day of love because he was a man of love and because love is much needed at this time in our lives.

"We are at the threshold of the 21st Century. Our dreams and aspirations are coming true in a big way in so many directions. Still, life continues to be difficult for most of us. But remember, war is over if you want it. They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. We face the dawning of the Age of Wisdom through the lingering darkness.

"In celebration of John's life, let's use our power of dreaming. Let's dream of trees growing in abundance, birds flying in clean air, fish swimming in clear water and our children living in joy. Let's dream of men and women feeling good together and embracing each other regardless of their creed and religion. Let's dream of all races praising one another in the knowledge that the differences are what makes the human race. Together we are a whole. Only together we can make it, and we will.

"Bless us all for being alive. Bless us all for knowing what could be. Bless us all for wanting goodness, health and love. Bless us all for forgiving past mistakes. Bless us all for holding the power of unity. And bless us all for keeping our dreams alive, for a dream we dream alone is only a dream, but the dream we dream together is reality.

"Happy birthday, John. The world is wiser today for having shared a time with you."
Yoko's speech to the United Nations was followed immediately by a tape of John from 1980:
"We're a family. There's Yoko and I, we're married and we have a child and we want that child to have a good future. You have the power, you have the vote. Just show your neighbors you're trying to be peaceful, however hard it is. It's hard for us all. Just pass the word around; just give it a form. Just have one word, 'Peace' in the window and even if you don't exactly know why you're putting it in the window, it can't harm you. Then you'll come across other people who've put 'Peace' in the window, that we're hoping for peace, that we're all together in this thing. We all want peace, whatever job we have. On a local level you can do a lot you know, you really can. And all we've got to say is, just think of your children. Do you want them to be killed or don't you? And that's the choice we have in front of us, war or peace."
John's words were immediately following by the playing of "Imagine."

Imagine John Lennon - Imagine (Remastered)

John Lennon – Imagine (1971)