Give Peace A Chance

Album: Give Peace A Chance (1991)
Charted: 54

Songfacts®:

  • After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the United Nations demanded a withdrawal and set a deadline of January 15, 1991. As that date approached, Lenny Kravitz, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon arranged a new version of "Give Peace a Chance" to protest the imminent military action. The remake featured a passel of stars, including Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel, LL Cool J and Bonnie Raitt. Released the day of the deadline, it played constantly on MTV and VH1, but was quickly overshadowed by news of UN air strikes against Iraq, which began on January 16. The song got more airplay after the ground invasion commenced on February 24; five days later, Kuwait was liberated.

    With the mission complete, the updated version of "Give Peace A Chance" faded from view. Far more vociferous protests came in 2003 when the United States invaded Iraq, leading to a prolonged war and lengthy occupation.
  • In a 1991 interview with Vox, Lenny Kravitz, who produced the track, explained how it came together. "I saw the clock ticking away and nobody was talking about peace," he said. "I was gonna write a song but I realised this song was ideal, it just needed updating. I asked Yoko if we could do it and in two days I re-wrote it with Sean Lennon putting in the references to the United Nations. In nine days it was on MTV."

    Sean Lennon was 15 years old at the time.
  • This song went largely unheard in the UK, as the BBC refused to play the song for political reasons.
  • The Peace Choir was:

    Adam Ant, Ahmet Zappa, Al Jarreau, Alannah Myles, Amina, Bonnie Raitt, Bros, Bruce Hornsby, Cyndi Lauper, Davey Johnstone, Dave Stewart, Don Was, Duff McKagan, Dweezil Zappa, Felix Cavaliere, Flea, Iggy Pop, Jazzie B, Joe Higgs, John Frusciante, Kadeem Hardison, L.L. Cool J, Lee Jaffe, Lenny Kravitz, Little Richard, Little Steven Van Zandt, M.C. Hammer, Michael McDonald, Moon Zappa, New Voices Of Freedom, Ofra Haza, Peter Gabriel, Q-Tip, Randy Newman, Run, Sean Ono Lennon, Sebastian Bach, Teena Marie, Terence Trent D'Arby, Tom Petty, Wendy & Lisa, Yoko Ono.
  • Nigel Dick and Paul Rachman, who both worked for David Fincher's Propaganda Films, directed the video. Dick had some relevant experience; he did the Band-Aid video for Do They Know It's Christmas? Studios were set up in New York (the dark background) and Los Angeles (white background). Over a period of a few days, the singers came through and recorded a few takes. "This video had to come out before the invasion started," Paul Rachman said in a Songfacts interview. "It was like a huge jigsaw puzzle. Who do we put in? We shot way more people than that would fit in. A lot of big stars were cut out. We just squeezed everybody we could in, where some people just sang one word."
  • As with Band-Aid, USA For Africa and other all-star collaborations, a "making-of" video was made to show how this song and video came together. This was done so it could be sold on home video, which it was, with the 3:50 music video followed by the 42-minute documentary with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Comments: 1

  • Heidi Emmerling from SacramentoI thought I saw and heard Cyndi Lauper in the video and maybe Madonna too.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Lou Gramm - "Waiting For A Girl Like You"

Lou Gramm - "Waiting For A Girl Like You"They're Playing My Song

Gramm co-wrote this gorgeous ballad and delivered an inspired vocal, but the song was the beginning of the end of his time with Foreigner.

Director Nick Morris ("The Final Countdown")

Director Nick Morris ("The Final Countdown")Song Writing

Nick made some of the biggest videos on MTV, including "The Final Countdown," "Heaven" and "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)."

Peter Lord

Peter LordSongwriter Interviews

You may not recognize his name, but you will certainly recognize Peter Lord's songs. He wrote the bevy of hits from Paula Abdul's second album, Spellbound.

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)

Chad Channing (Nirvana, Before Cars)Songwriter Interviews

Chad tells tales from his time as drummer for Nirvana, and talks about his group Before Cars.

Little Richard

Little RichardFact or Fiction

Was Long Tall Sally a cross-dresser? Did he really set his piano on fire? See if you know the real stories about one of rock's greatest innovators.

Producer Ron Nevison

Producer Ron NevisonSong Writing

Ron Nevison explains in very clear terms the Quadrophenia concept and how Heart staged their resurgence after being dropped by their record company.