Wednesday, May 27, 2009

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Montreal bed-in for peace was 40 years ago

By Nelson Wyatt
MONTREAL - The hotel room where John Lennon and Yoko Ono created a watershed moment for the peace movement at the height of the Vietnam War is a little smaller now.

Part of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel suite, which has a gold plaque on the door noting its history, went to the installation of a panoramic elevator on the floor.

But that hasn't dimmed the aura of the place where the ex-Beatle and Ono staged their bed-in for peace between May 26 and June 2, 1969, and recorded the iconic antiwar anthem "Give Peace a Chance" the day before they left.

"The furniture has changed because of course it's 40 years ago and we do renovate every five to 10 years," hotel spokeswoman Joanne Papineau said as she gave a tour of room 1742 on Tuesday.

Pictures of Lennon and Ono during the bed-in dot the walls. Sunlight floods in from the large window in the sitting room where Lennon positioned the couple's mattress and held court with throngs of people in 1969.

Papineau leafs through a security log book from the visit, which notes the couple's room service orders - a mix of British and Japanese food - and a request for an extra large comb plus a cage for a white mouse.

"They were throwing (flower) petals into the air a few times a day so we had to keep vacuuming the floor," she said with a chuckle.

"There were 200 'fellow Beatles' who were running around in the lobby so you see it was a bit of a circus and guests were not always so happy."

The Queen E, as the landmark hotel is nicknamed, didn't boast about holding the event at the time.

"It created a lot of problems with guests," Papineau said. "They didn't talk about it for a while but guests wanted to see where it happened."

There was a spike in interest after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States when Lennon's message of peace was given increased resonance.

Now, many fans of Lennon and the Beatles want to book the room. Others reserve it for romantic getaways.

"Guests love it," Papineau said of the room. "A lot of them feel a presence. They say there's a special vibration."

No comments: