John Lennon's Montreal Protest
A Seven Day Protest In Bed
The weeklong Bed-In For Peace was a non-violent protest against the Vietnam War that John Lennon and Yoko Ono initiated in 1969. Where, do you ask, was this bed located? None other than the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal, Quebec.
Despite many fond Canadian memories of the 1969 Montreal bed-in, other guests staying at the Queen Elizabeth during that time considered the event a nuisance. Fans and media cluttered the lobby and hallways, and rotations of reporters made their way in-and-out of the room.
It was in the chaos of John & Yoko's production that a 15-year-old Montrealer named Steve Stober talked his way into the suite with a camera in-hand. Steve, now a photographer in Toronto, had 10 minutes to capture frames of the couple from their bedside and recalls the experience saying, "John did look directly into my camera. And he looked pretty good in his PJs."
Photo by Steve Stober c/o The Star
The Montreal bed-in was the second of two. The first took place in Amsterdam during March of 1969 when, knowing their marriage would attract the press, John and Yoko spent their honeymoon in the presidential suite of the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. Here, they invited any press into their room from 9 am to 9 pm. Press were surprised to find the couple just sitting silently in pyjamas for seven days.
The second bed-in was supposed to take place in New York, but after John’s 1968 cannabis conviction, they were denied entry to the U.S. Plan B was to spend the week in the Bahamas. After one night there, they felt the climate was too hot and fled to Montreal to complete the protest.
Recording Give Peace A Chance
The protest was recorded on film and eventually adapted into both a documentary and music video for Lennon's song, Give Peace a Chance, the song that launched Lennon's solo career post-Beatles era, though it was the first of only three he would ever record solo.
It was on this hotel bed that John Lennon picked up his guitar and, with a production team surrounding his bed, recorded the 1969 single Give Peace a Chance.
The John and Yoko Suite
Today, room 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth is still set-up so that the bed overlooks the Mary-Reine-Du-Monde Cathedral; a view that is only slightly obstructed by the newer and more permanent window decal that has replaced the original ‘HAIR PEACE. BED PEACE.’ poster.
Guests who stay in the now famous and commonly coveted "Suite John Lennon & Yoko Ono" can experience their stay through the perspective of John & Yoko using a virtual reality headset. Other features include a vintage TV and a guitar perched in the corner.
Wax figures of John and Yoko during the bed-in can be visited at Montreal’s Musée Grévin. Here, the artificial, linen-clad duo lay on a bed, surrounded by walls strung with protest signs; an uncanny depiction of the suite midway through producing Give Peace a Chance.
Photo c/o The Star