John and Yoko’s first bed-in for peace: Amsterdam

Having been driven from Paris to Amsterdam early in the morning, John Lennon and Yoko Ono checked into the Hilton Hotel, where they staged the first of two bed-ins for peace.

Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton
Talking in our beds for a week
The newspapers said, say what you doing in bed?
I said, were only trying to get us some peace
The Ballad Of John And Yoko

The couple knew their wedding, which took place on 20 March 1969, would receive extensive press coverage, and so decided to use the publicity to promote world peace. They stayed in the hotel’s presidential suite, room 902, until 31 March.

The first bed-in was held in Amsterdam on our honeymoon. We sent out a card: ‘Come to John and Yoke’s honeymoon: a bed-in, Amsterdam Hotel.’ You should have seen the faces on the reporters and the cameramen fighting their way through the door! Because whatever it is, is in people’s minds – their minds were full of what they thought was going to happen. They fought their way in, and their faces dropped. There were we like two angels in bed, with flowers all around us, and peace and love on our heads. We were fully clothed; the bed was just an accessory. We were wearing pyjamas, but they don’t look much different from day clothes – nothing showing.
John Lennon

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The world’s press were invited into the room between 9am and 9pm each day. Reporters were unsure of what to expect, and following the controversy surrounding the Two Virgins album cover some expected the couple to have sex before them.

The press seemed to think we were going to make love in public because we made an album with us naked – so they seem to think anything goes. And, as I said, it might be a very good idea for peace, but I think I’d probably be the producer of that event rather than be actually in the event.
John Lennon

Instead the reporters found Lennon and Ono sitting in their bed, talking about peace and surrounded by signs stating ‘Hair Peace’ and ‘Bed Peace’.

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The couple’s interviews were reported in newspapers, radio, television, and newsreels worldwide. They received frequent hostility, bemusement and mirth from the rest of the world, but their peace message was nonetheless widely distributed.

The week-long event was filmed, and a colour 40-minute film, Honeymoon, was edited from the footage. Lennon and Ono also record audio selections that later comprised one side of their third experimental LP, The Wedding Album.

The film was directed by Peter Goessens, and began with a montage of scenes shot around Amsterdam city intercut with footage of Lennon and Ono singing, followed by lengthy sequences of the couple asleep, waking up and reading the newspapers. It also included interview extracts, including one with the skeptical Daily Mirror journalist Donald Zec.

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We talked to the press. We met people from the Communist countries, people from the West – every country in the world. We gave the press eight hours of every day, every waking hour, to ask every question they wanted to about our position. People said, ‘Well, what does this do for peace?’ We thought, The other side has war on every day, not only on the news but on the old John Wayne movies and every damn movie you see: war, war, war, war, kill, kill, kill, kill.’ We said, ‘Let’s get some peace, peace, peace, peace on the headlines, just for a change!’ So we thought it highly amusing that a lot of the world’s headlines on March 25th 1969 were ‘honeymoon couple in bed’. Whoopee! Isn’t that great news?

We thought instead of just being ‘John and Yoko Get Married’, like ‘Richard and Liz Get Married’, [it should be] ‘John and Yoko get married and have a bed-in for peace’. So we would sell our product, which we call ‘peace’. And to sell a product you need a gimmick, and the gimmick we thought was ‘bed’. And we thought ‘bed’ because bed was the easiest way of doing it, because we’re lazy. It took us a long train of thought of how to get the maximum publicity for what we sincerely believed in, which was peace – and we were part of the peace movement.

John Lennon

Following later renovation the room was reassigned as number 702, and is now marketed as the John and Yoko Honeymoon Suite. Couples are able to be married there in a civil ceremony.

After the bed-in came to an end they flew to Vienna before returning to London.

Last updated: 5 December 2022
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