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Celebrating Lennon-Ono's 'bed-in' for peace, 50 years later

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From May 26 to June 2, 1969, Lennon and Ono received journalists from around the world who interviewed the couple in bed.

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The lobby at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, part of the exhibit of the Lennon-Ono Bed-Ins for Peace.

Montreal

JOHN Lennon and Yoko Ono spent a week in pajamas in 1969 at The Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal, welcoming journalists and recording Give Peace a Chance as the Vietnam War raged.

Fifty years later, the hotel is celebrating their fabled experiment in pacifism with a series of special events including guided tours of the couple's room.

"We're still talking about it 50 years later, but at the time we had no idea the impact that it would have," Joanne Papineau, spokeswoman for the hotel, told AFP. "After the couple left, for years we didn't talk about the bed-in, but then John was murdered, other wars continued and people started showing up wanting to see where it all happened," she said. "Many years later, they suddenly found meaning in what the couple had done."

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From May 26 to June 2, 1969, Lennon and Ono received journalists from around the world who interviewed the couple in bed, as well as fans and fellow artists who helped to create a chirpy ambience and send a simple message: Stop the Vietnam war. The idea derived from sit-ins, in which protestors sit in front of or inside an establishment until their demands are met or they are arrested.

Amid this merry chaos and with limited technical means, Lennon composed and recorded his famous hymn to peace, Give Peace a Chance.

"This is certainly one of the most remarkable and influential songs of contemporary music," Genevieve Borne said, host of the upcoming festivities, told a news conference last Thursday. "This bed-in for peace was also one of the first acts of activism by artists."

The special events at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal will kick off on Saturday and continue through Lennon's birthday on June 9. They will include the unveiling of an exhibit of photographs taken during the bed-in, guided tours of the famous Room 1742, a "hippie" night and a concert for peace.

The couple had actually rented four adjacent rooms in the hotel (1738, 1740, 1742 and 1744) for their stay in 1969.

The rooms have since been combined into a single 1,400-square-foot suite and renovated, but in keeping with the original design. Mockups of two original handpainted "Hair Peace" and "Bed Peace" signs adorn the windows.

Carmel Masse, a 57-year-old Canadian fan of John Lennon and the Beatles, booked the suite for the night from Sunday to Monday. "Lennon changed my life," he said." "To rent this suite is like saying 50 years later, 'Thank you for making me a better person.'" AFP