During the height of the Vietnam war in 1969, anti-war protests and demonstrations for peace were at an all-time high.
Two of the peace movement's most prominent activists were John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The Beatles co-founder and his artist wife knew their March wedding would make headlines worldwide, so they decided to see if they could capture the world's front pages for an entire week on their honeymoon for a good cause.
Derived from the growing trend of "sit-in" protests, Lennon and Ono invited the press to their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton, where sat in bed for 12 hours a day for an entire week to talk about peace.
It gave the press unprecedented access to one of the most famous musicians in the world and his fascinating and mysterious spouse. Why exactly they decided to do a "Bed-In" was a question the couple was asked often during the marathon press conference.
Q104.3 New York's Ken Dashow explores the concept on his latest Beatles Revolution podcast, just days ahead of Q104.3's Bed-In fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House with P.C. Richard & Son on Monday, March 25, the 50th anniversary of the first bed-in.
Lennon and Ono admitted the bed-in concept was silly, but that's also what they liked about it; it was a lighthearted demonstration to ask the world for peace.
Why not end the wars, they asked? If we have to choose between going out and starting a war and staying in bed, let's stay in bed.
Protests in the street too often turned to conflicts between police and unarmed demonstrators. Sit-ins often ended with authorities dragging protesters away. At their bed-in, John and Yoko couldn't be accused of getting in anyone's way — they were paying for the hotel room, after all — and who could they be accused of hurting while sitting peacefully in bed?
The press didn't know exactly what it was getting into when reporters showed up the first day. Lennon and Ono sent out a card that read, "Come to John and Yoko's honeymoon: a bed-in, Amsterdam Hotel."
Such a tantalizingly brief invitation led more than one journalist to think they were in for a show. Lennon later laughed at how the reporters fought their way into the room the first day of the bed-in only to be disappointed at the decidedly unsexy scene they found.
"There were we, like two angels in bed, with flowers all around us, and peace and love on our heads," he said in the Beatles' Anthology. "We were fully clothed; the bed was just an accessory. We were wearing pajamas, but they don't look much different from day clothes — nothing showing."
Ono said at the time: "We thought that Amsterdam was a very important place to do it, because it has a very fresh and alive interest. And we're thinking that, instead of going out and fight and make war or something like that, we should just stay in bed: Everybody should just stay in bed and enjoy the spring."
About a month after the Amsterdam bed-in, Lennon and Ono headed to Montreal to recreate the demonstration.
The couple was depicted in much of the coverage as being foolish or overly idealistic, but there ultimately wasn't a whole lot to write about beyond Lennon and Ono's repeated calls for world peace; they weren't really doing anything else.
The press's negatively backfired, though. After all, who's the bigger fool: the people staying in bed all day talking about peace or the ones who get out of their beds each morning to go watch?
Photo: Getty Images