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1969: John and Yoko’s Montreal bed-in

The Story

Montreal wasn't their first choice. It wasn't even their second. When John Lennon and Yoko Ono checked in to Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel at midnight on May 26, 1969, it was, in part, due to heat and marijuana. John and Yoko's Bed-in was originally conceived in Holland two months earlier. The newlyweds hosted a honeymoon "bed-in" for peace at the Amsterdam Hilton, wanting to use their celebrity for good. The gesture was part honeymoon, part performance art, interlaced with a protest against the Vietnam War. Spurred by the momentum of the first Bed-in, they were keen to do another. The notorious duo originally headed for the Bahamas, but Lennon found the island too hot to stay in bed for a week. They wanted to go to New York, but the U.S. authorities axed that plan, repeatedly denying the ex-Beatle a visa because of a previous marijuana arrest. So Montreal became the chosen city for their second Bed-in.

Throughout the week the couple, along with Ono's five-year-old daughter Kyoko, entertained guests including U.S. black civil rights advocate Dick Gregory, Quebec separatist Jacques Larue-Langlois and American cartoonist Al Capp. In this footage, Capp gets in a shouting match with the "famous freaks." The self-described "dreadful, Neanderthal fascist" essentially summed up the Bed-in as a publicity stunt and a gimmick. The end of the Bed-in was capped by a spontaneous recording of Give Peace a Chance. Some time between eight at night and three the next morning, alongside a roomful of people including Timothy Leary, Toronto Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, musician Petula Clark, and members of the Canadian Radha Krishna Temple, the anthem for peace was recorded.Give Peace a Chance reached No. 14 on Billboard's chart -- and would inspire an entire generation to sing a song of peace.

Medium: Television
Program: The Way It Is
Broadcast Date: June 8, 1969
Guests: Al Capp, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Derek Taylor
Host: Patrick Watson
Duration: 11:42

Did You know?

• Lennon and Ono settled in at the corner suite rooms 1738-1740-1742 at the stately Queen Elizabeth Hotel. 

• John Lennon and Yoko Ono tied the knot on March 20, 1969, in Gibraltar.

• The first Bed-in for peace took place in room 902, the presidential suite of the Amsterdam Hilton.

• Lennon's The Ballad of John and Yoko chronicled the Amsterdam Bed-in.


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