Why Petula Clark Sang on John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’

TL;DR:

  • Petula Clark provided vocals for John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.”
  • Clark was only hanging out with John because she wanted to talk to him after her concert caused controversy.
  • “Give Peace a Chance” performed differently in different countries.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono during the "Give Peace a Chance" era
John Lennon and Yoko Ono | Keystone Features/Getty Images

John Lennon‘s “Give Peace a Chance” doesn’t sound like an average Petula Clark song. Despite this, Clark performed vocals on the classic track. Clark revealed this only happened because one of her concerts caused controversy in Canada. 

How Petula Clark performing songs in English and French caused controversy in Canada

French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians haven’t always gotten along. During a 2013 interview with The Guardian, Clark recalled getting involved in a culture war between two groups. “‘Downtown‘ became a huge hit everywhere, and they asked me to go back to Montreal, so I thought I could do a bilingual show and do both French and English songs,” she remembered. 

“I was wrong,” Clark added. “I sang in French and the English-speaking audience were unhappy and quite vocal, and the French were particularly vocal when I sang in English. It was like open war.”

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Petula Clark said she was ‘just chilling out’ when she performed on John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’

John was staying in Montreal during the concert. Clark decided she wanted to talk to him about the controversy. “Anyway, he said it didn’t matter, let them get over it, and he told me to go and have a glass of wine in the living room, and there were a lot of people in there,” she recalled. 

“It was just chilling out, nothing weird,” Clark added. “There was some music being piped in, a very simple little song, and we started singing along with it, and it was ‘Give Peace a Chance.’ We were all being filmed and recorded, so I’m on ‘Give Peace a Chance.'”

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How ‘Give Peace a Chance’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Give Peace a Chance” became a hit, reaching No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remaining on the chart for nine weeks. “Give Peace a Chance” appeared on the compilation album Shaved Fish. The compilation reached No. 12 on the Billboard 200, lasting on the chart for 32 weeks.

“Give Peace a Chance” became considerably more popular in the United Kingdom. The Official Charts Company reports “Give Peace a Chance” reached No. 2 in the U.K. It lasted 18 weeks on the chart there. On the other hand, The Official Charts Company says Shaved Fish peaked at No. 8 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 29 weeks.

Clark wasn’t exactly a rock singer but she was able to sing on a classic rock song.

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