A lasting message of peace – recorded in Canada.
The year is 1969. The raging wars in Vietnam and Biafra are fanning the ever-growing anti-war sentiment. The counter-culture rises against violence. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, one of rock & roll's most celebrated couples, yearn to spread their message of peace. A simple plea will not suffice; The couple launches a "Bed-in for Peace". The first session takes place in Amsterdam, and the second session comes to Canada and the now iconic room 1742 (as well as rooms 1738 and 1740) in Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
26 May to 2 June 1969: The emblematic couple forever marks Canadian history, as they lay in their Montreal white-sheeted bed in white pyjamas. Surrounded by public eyes, lenses, and microphones, they share their idealism of a peaceful world. "Just give peace a chance!” proclaims Lennon spontaneously, coining what would become the rallying cry of the US anti-war movement of the 1970s.
Made in Canada: The most powerful anti-war anthem in history
June 1st and 2nd 1969: Lennon shoulders his guitar and invites friends to sing along to Give Peace a Chance, inspired and written in his Montreal bed. Canadian music producer André Perry records the song with 4 microphones and a 4-track tape recorder. Perry captures the sounds amidst a roomful of friends. Among them, Tommy of Smothers Brothers shares acoustic guitar credits with Lennon on the legendary track. Other friends including Beat poet and activist Allan Ginsberg, Dr. Timothy Leary and bilingual British pop singer Petula Clark join the Canadian chapter of Radha Krishna Temple on vocals, drums, and finger cymbals.
And just like that, in a single take, music and Canadian history was made. In a bed. In a room. In Montreal's vibrant urban center, where and when everything was possible. 50 years later, the famous words still resonate.
The coin's reverse features Ivor Sharp's famous 1969 photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their 8-day Bed-in for Peace in Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Sharp captured the legendary flower power couple in an all-white setting surrounded by handwritten messages of peace — including one in French. The design portrays John and Yoko in black and white on an engraved coin. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
© 2018 Yoko Ono Lennon.
Lennon and John Lennon are trademarks of Yoko Ono Lennon.
Photo: Ivor Sharp