John Lennon “Beds” Tommy Smothers! The Incredible Story Of “Give Peace A Chance”!

Tommy Smother John Lennon Give Peace A Chance

Tommy Smothers “Beds” John And Yoko!”

There is a story behind this iconic photo: Comedian Tommy Smothers is one of many celebrities lying in a bed with John Lennon and Yoko Ono…how he got there, and what Lennon said to him, was explained to me by this Smothers Brother one night in Detroit!

The Smothers Brothers TV show

“The Smothers Brothers!” The Hippest Show On TV!

Here is the set up:

Tom and Dick Smothers were successful standup comedians/songwriters, gaining fame throughout the 1960’s for classic albums like “Mom Always Liked You Best!”

Mom always liked you best

Based on their success, they got their own TV show on CBS, which was a big hit! However, it ran for only two years, from 1967-69. More on that in a moment. It was a classic “variety” show: comedy sketches, musical guests, standup comedy – both Director Rob Reiner and up-and-coming Comedian Steve Martin worked on the show – and Martin got the chance to do standup on the show!

Steve Martin Smothers Brothers

What CBS never anticipated, however, was the Vietnam War, which raged on in the late 60’s and divided the country. Tommy Smothers in particular was quite vocal about many of the country’s social issues, and the show became more political, leading to the brothers being censored by CBS…and that’s where The Beatles stepped in!

George Harrison The Smothers Brothers

George Harrison Shows Beatles Solidarity!

The show was censored on several occasions, including when Singer Harry Belafonte sang his “Carnival” song over footage of student protests against the war…the network forced the show to cut the sequence. 

The following week, the show opened with a surprise appearance by George Harrison! George has a bit of fun at first, talking about films The Beatles had given the show to air, including “Hey Jude”.

The Beatles Hey Jude

The Beatles Speak Out Against Censorship!

Suddenly, the appearance gets serious, as Tommy jokes about what you can’t say on american TV, a veiled reference to CBS pulling the Belafonte segment from the show.

Here is a clip from the show when “the quiet Beatle” stopped by to give the brothers some support in the midst of their fight with CBS. As you can see, this clip is from an E! airing:

The Beatles REvolution The Smothers Brothers

The Beatles also used The Smothers Brothers Show to premiere their new music film, “Revolution.” This video uses a mashup of both versions from “The White Album”, the song having a hard-rock edge PLUS the “doo wop” harmonies from the slower album version.

beatles-1-music video

This great film can also be found on the new Beatles blu-ray, which includes a treasure trove of rare and un-released films from the 60’s. Read more about this incredible collection here:

How do I know all this? Because when I was at E!,we bought the rights to re-air the original episodes of “The Smothers Brothers Show” – and as part of that project, I filmed all new wraparound elements with the Brothers – and we interviewed many of the original show guests as well!

John and Yoko Give Peace A Chance with Tommy Smothers

My Tommy Smothers “John Lennon Bed-In” Story!

As we were finalizing the plans for the show, I flew with my team to Detroit, where the Brothers were performing. One night, our head Writer, the legendary James “Big Boy” Medlin, took Dick Smothers and the team out for dinner, while Tommy and I sat in his hotel room to discuss our plans. He was concerned that the vintage episodes wouldn’t hold up, but I explained that the show’s incredible musical elements needed to be seen again.

Tommy Smothers The Doors Jim Morrison

The shows were full of great musical moments with The Doors, The Who, and many others…and of course, The Beatles!

tommy smothers john lennon anecdote

Tommy’s “Bed-In” With A Beatle!

Here is the story he told me about John Lennon, because Tommy was part of the incredible live recording of “Give Peace A Chance” during John & Yoko’s “bed-in for peace” in Montreal in 1969!

Tommy Smother John Lennon Give Peace A Chance

A Controversial “Bed-In!”

It may sound like no big deal now, but in 1969 this was incendiary stuff! John and Yoko were spending a week in bed in Montreal to promote peace, and they recorded “Give Peace A Chance” in the room…the couple invited many journalists in as well, and some were very combative towards John and Yoko…

john lennon toronoto peace event

This was a very polarizing time for Lennon. After the press events, John gathered all of the musicians, including Tommy, and they began rehearsing a new song – “Give Peace A Chance.” Tommy wanted to impress the Beatle by showing some innovative guitar work…

Give Peace A chance John Lennon recording

I told Tommy how incredible it was that he was performing with John Lennon. But Tommy explained to me what happened next. 

He said that after his virtuoso guitar work, John abruptly stopped him, and said to him in his uniquely Lennon Liverpool accent:

“Just play it the way I wrote it, Tommy. If I wanted you to play it another way I would have written it like that”

Tommy Smothers and John Lennon

Oops! Tommy told me he felt foolish, but John was nice about it, just adamant that EVERYONE in the room perform the song exactly as he wrote it!

Here is a clip of John’s famous “bed-in for peace”: – you can see Tommy Smothers playing Guitar at the end of the clip:

tommy smothers john lennon anecdote

It was a pleasure to work with Tom and Dick Smothers, and these classic shows helped put E! on the map. Everyone involved with the original CBS shows were eager to be part of this updated version, because The Smothers Brothers were beloved…and of course, they showed classic Beatles material AND had George stop by to give them verbal support!

George Harrison The Smothers Brothers

It was a few years later when John Lennon would run into The Smothers Brothers again – during the infamous 18-month “long weekend” binge with Harry Nilsson and others in Los Angeles!


One of the legendary stories about John and Harry involved being thrown out of a Smothers Brothers performance at the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

It was one of John’s darker moments, and overshadowed some creative spark he showed at the time. It was during this period that Lennon produced the Harry Nilsson “Pussycats” album, which you can see here:

At this time in the post-Beatles world, John was living his “long weekend”, and Paul was getting Wings up to speed…

Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono

John and Paul were, without a doubt, music’s greatest duo, and look what I found: Paul singing “A Day In The Life” live in Liverpool, then segueing into “Give Peace A Chance” – with Yoko in the audience smiling broadly!

I am NOT a “Paul V. John” person – they were both brilliant in their own way, and I love that Paul played John’s iconic song…and let’s not forget Ringo, as we head back to The Smothers Brothers show!

Ringo also stopped by the show as well, and performed his “No No Song” with the brothers….

There is a great new book at looks at Ringo’s life – and Ringo himself released an incredible memento for fans as well!

Ringo Starr Autograph

These are replicas of the post cards that Paul, John and George sent Ringo from the road when he was in the hospital! See more about this here:

If you like these stories, why not sign up to receive emails whenever I post? It’s easy to do, I do NOT collect any information about you at all, there are absolutely NO ads of any kind, just stories about movies, music, books, food, travel and pop culture…

You can sign up by clicking on my blog here and see the note on the right!

Leave me a message and let me know what you think of Tommy Smothers and John Lennon!

Tommy Smothers and John Lennon

Categories: 70's Music, Art, Classic Rock, Music, Politics, Pop Culture, Talent/Celebrities, The Beatles

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Fascinating story! I have never heard of the Smothers Brothers – I’m not sure if they made it across the pond?


  2. Hi John, this is the first time I’m hearing about the Smothers Brothers. An interesting and insightful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have heard of The Smothers Brothers, but their show was never shown in England.
    As you might imagine from knowing me for so long, I thought John’s ‘Bed-in’ was attention-seeking, and rather silly.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved the Smothers Brothers and never missed a show. And of course, I was a huge Beatles fan.


  5. this is such a great story from such a powerful time in music, politics, and entertainment. what a collision !

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New Classic Recipe


Rust Belt Girl

reading and writing the Rust Belt with Rebecca Moon Ruark

Take It Easy

Retired, not expired: words from the after(work)life. And music. Lots of music!

Hey, Traveler

Sharing travel tips, ideas, and anecdotes with fellow wanderers, dreamers, doers, and lovers of life

Stevie Turner

Realist, writer, reader, reviewer and rocker.

Cornwall in Colours

inspired by the colours of the land, sea and sky of Cornwall

Bonjour From Brittany

Celebrating what makes Brittany unique

Let's Go To The Movies

Film and Theatre Lover!

SoraNews24 -Japan News-

Bringing you yesterday's news from Japan and Asia, today.

Bite! Eat! Repeat!

52 Cookbooks. 52 Recipes. A Tasty 2022!

A Teacher's Reflections

Thirty Years of Wonder

Tanooki Homemade Cafe

Yummy Homemade Food Recipes to Make You Smile:)

In Saner Thought

"It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error"..Thomas Paine

Pete Springer

Passionate Teacher and Future Children's Author


Follow us as we follow the road


Travel Through Ireland and Europe

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

Geeking Out about It

BlerdWatching Waaay Too Much TV


Tea, Tours and Escapades

Robbie's inspiration

Ideas on writing and baking

You can always start now

journaling to see some answers

Realweegiemidget Reviews Films TV Books and more

You can take the girl out of Glasgow. Entertainment Reviews from a Wee Scottish Wife and Stepmum living in Finland.

I have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Through the Shattered Lens

Where mainstream meets grindhouse, exploitation, otaku and gamers

Laura's Books and Blogs

Writing tips, giveaways, reviews, essays, and more!

Drew's Movie Reviews

Movie reviews from your average dude

But I Smile Anyway...

Musings and memories, words and wisdom... of a working family woman

Movie Reviews 101

Daily Movie Reviews

Cindy Bruchman

Photography. Observations. Adventures. Let's talk.

Invisibly Me

Live A Visible Life Whatever Your Health

Retired? No one told me!

Tonight I Dream. Tomorrow I Do!


The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

Musings on cats, travel, gardens and life

Tranquil Dreams

Watching, Reading, Cooking & Travelling

An Historian About Town

History in the Making

Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

Adventures and Misadventures in Boulder, Colorado

It Rains... You Get Wet

Still more lazy thoughts from this one...

Admit One Film Addict

Psychotropic Cinema and more

emmakwall (explains it all)

Film & soundtrack reviews, good humour and lists


Burgers, Books, Music, Movies, Offbeat Adventures & Pop Culture!


Movie reviews and anything else that comes to mind

%d bloggers like this: