Montreal Marks 50 Years Since Lennon-Ono 'Bed-In'

Sunday is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of a “Bed-In for Peace” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono at Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

The Beatles’ “Get Back” was the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and Richard Nixon had been U.S. president for about four months.

Lennon, who was still a member of the Beatles, and his wife of just over 10 weeks checked into room 1742 and slipped into white pyjamas for a week-long protest against the Vietnam War.

It was the couple’s second “bed-in” (the first was at the Amsterdam Hilton) and happened in Montreal only because plans to stage one in New York City, and then the Bahamas, fell through.

Over the next week, Lennon and Ono welcomed a steady stream of reporters, photographers and friends into their suite. Among them were famed drug advocate Timothy Leary, comedians Tommy Smothers and Dick Gregory, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, and singer Petula Clark.

They were all in the room on June 1, 1969 when Lennon and Ono recorded “Give Peace a Chance.”

Montreal recording engineer André Perry set up four microphones and a four-track tape recorder to capture the song, which featured Lennon and Smothers on acoustic guitars and Perry doing percussion.

Released the following month, the song became one of the most famous anti-war anthems ever.

The Queen Elizabeth Hotel, now part of the Fairmont chain, is celebrating its part in music history with several events. According to CTV News, there’s an exhibit chronicling the “Bed-In for Peace” in the hotel lobby until Oct. 9 and a concert on May 30 featuring Quebec artists that will benefit Amnesty International.

There’s also a $3,000 “Bed-In” package that gives fans one night in room 1742, two pairs of white pyjamas, breakfast, calligrapher lyrics of “Give Peace a Chance” and a book of photos.

Earlier in May, Canadian music couple Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk visited the place where Lennon and Ono were five decades ago.

“It’s hard to put into words how spectacular it has been to be in the exact place where they were,” Kreviazuk shared on Instagram. Maida called it an incredible experience. “The feels in this room are profound,” he said.

Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk in May 2019. Carl Lessard