The Great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival — the festival that never was

In the wake of the great Woodstock peace ’n’ acid festival, John Lennon took one last stab at the great Peace Guru role. His latest caper in 1970 was to produce the great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival. Feel the vibes. Which would be “bigger than Woodstock,” naturally.

Lennon hooked up with his latest guru — this big, fat nut named Dr. Hambrick. Hambrick claimed to be “in contact with supernatural beings from another planet who would arrive on earth to save us from our own self-destruction.” Hambrick’s goal was to “capture The Beatles because The Beatles would be the earth force by which the supernatural powers could act in concert to bring peace to our chaotic planet.”

So Dr. Hambrick had a sensible plan for bringing about world peace.

And Hambrick had indeed captured John Lennon with all this talk. Lennon was enthralled by all this stuff, about getting to meet supernatural alien creatures from outer space (Hambrick would personally introduce Lennon to the critters), and especially his exciting new role as Savior of Humanity.

So John ’n’ Yoko and the whole crew went off to Denmark for a big “retreat” to plot out the big John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival. The whole crew decided to trip on some REALLY STRONG ACID to help align their vibes to the big task ahead of Saving Humanity. So they passed this little dish around with “some black sticky stuff that smelled like medicine,” and they all ate it and they all got high.

“Like really high, like a completely nonphysical feeling,” said John Brower, the Peace Festival promoter who was along for the ride. At the peak of the acid trip, according to Brower, Lennon suddenly had a Major Revelation. He pounded his fist on the table and exclaimed to his manager Allen Klein: “HITLER WAS RIGHT. YOU’VE GOT TO CONTROL THE PEOPLE!”

Only now, instead of like Hitler controlling the people for war and all that bad stuff, John Lennon, the Great Man, would control the people for peace. Cool.

Then Dr. Hambrick laid his next brain-storm on the tripped-out multitudes. Hambrick had invented this amazing “two-passenger car that looks like a plane that goes on the ground or flies in the air, and it never needs fuel, its powered by psychic energy.”

Well, this is just the coolest. So the big plan now was for John ’n’ Yoko to fly one of those psychic-energy planes right over the crowd at the freakin’ John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival, and right up onto the stage. How’s that for a grand entrance (let’s see Paul McCartney top that one!). And even better, they’re gonna’ mass-market these psychic-energy cars, and you had better believe that those babies will sell like hotcakes, because you don’t even need fuel to fly them And, best of all, all the profits from the psychic-energy cars will go directly to the John Lennon Peace Foundation!

So this is just the coolest of all. Awesome.

What a guy. John and Yoko would hit the stage (to thunderous applause) and bring peace and love to earth. Restoring the cosmic balance of the cosmos, saving the world, and bringing harmony to humanity. All in a day’s work.

Now keep in mind: They actually believed this stuff. And, considering that John Lennon’s real life had already been so spectacularly unbelievable, I guess anything could seem possible to him at this point. And when you factor in LSD, with its peculiar messianic, hallucinatory, and exaggerating properties (as if Lennon’s life wasn’t already exaggerated enough) it’s little wonder that Lennon ended up having no IDEA which end was up. Myth or reality? Christ, just gimme’ some truth, he cried. Whatever that was.

Alas, the great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival collapsed in a sea of bad vibes and organizational chaos (Lennon changing his mind with every new drug trip didn’t help matters). In a desperate attempt to save the sinking festival, Lennon wrote an impassioned plea to ROLLING STONE magazine — that crucial organ for all your latest Lennon updates — entitled: “HAVE WE ALL FORGOTTEN WHAT VIBES ARE?”

In the article, he wrote:

“Can you imagine what we could do together, one million souls (plus TV link-ups) in one spot, praying for peace. We could change the balance of energy power. On earth and therefore, in the universe.”

So it all made perfect sense.

But alas and alack, the people had indeed forgotten what vibes are. Darn. And, like so many of the hippie pipe dreams of the ‘60s, the great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival went up in smoke.

4 thoughts on “The Great John Lennon Toronto Peace Festival — the festival that never was

  1. My first reaction was the insane leading the blind. I hope there was a lot of drugs involved in this vision of hope.

    1. Lennon did perform at a smaller Toronto music festival. With Yoko and Eric Clapton. But that was a different and much smaller event than the huge free concert he was planning. That show I think was mostly an “oldie’s show” put on by somebody else. People like Jerry Lee Lewis. Though I believe the Doors also played.

  2. I remember the hype around the Toronto festival…the flying car and all that. Important to remember that just some months earlier the moon landing had occurred. A mind-blowing event that suddenly seemed to broaden the horizons of possibilities. Flying car? Well, walking on the moon was suddenly real, so maybe not so implausible, eh?

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