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Montreal Commemorates “Bed-In”

April 3, 2009 By: Michael Browne


It was 40 years ago today…all right, so the actual Beatles lyric is 20 years ago today (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”), but you get the drift. In April 1969, newlyweds John Lennon and Yoko Ono celebrated their nuptials by staging two “bed-ins” designed to promote peace, love and concepts still foreign to most people today.

One of these events, which garnered worldwide media coverage, was held in rooms 1738, 1740 and 1742 of Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel  (now a Fairmont property). To commemorate that iconic moment in 1960s history, the Montreal Museum Of Fine Arts is holding a free exhibit called “Imagine: The Peace Ballad Of John & Yoko,” from April 2 to June 21.

The event was organized with the help of Ono and features 140 works of art chronicling the event and the lives of the former Beatle and his wife. It includes drawings, unpublished photographs, videos, films, artwork and interactive materials.

Other special features include a white piano where visitors can play Lennon's most tender peace anthem, "Imagine," and contribute messages of peace on Ono's Wish Tree. Those who visit the exhibit can also read the works of Nobel Peace Prize winners in the Peace Library.

The exhibit is broken down chronologically, beginning with Lennon and Ono's early lives, moving on to their first encounter and then dealing with their work with the John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band. The exposition's highlight are the bed-in artifacts and factoids along with the subsequent War Is Over If You Want It! billboard campaign.

The most famous result of the bed-in was the June 1, 1969, hotel-room recording of "Give Peace A Chance" featuring some 50 guests, including LSD guru Timothy Leary, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Allan Rock, beat poet Allen Ginsberg and comic Tommy Smothers of The Smothers Brothers. See a video about the bed in on YouTube by clicking here.

More information is available on the MMFA website.


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