Tag Archives: John Lennon

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Start Their “Bed-In”

bed in

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their hotel room at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel.

On March 25, 1969, John Lennon and his new wife, Yoko Ono, staged their first “Bed-In For Peace.” These “Bed-Ins,” based on sit-in protests, were meant to be experimental tests to promote peace and protest war. Lennon and Ono spent their honeymoon in Amsterdam, 5 days after their wedding, sitting in their hotel room bed, discussing peace while the press was allowed to come in to their room to ask questions and take photographs of the famous couple.

The couple knew their marriage would be a high profile event that the press would latch on to, so they took this publicity opportunity to convey to the world their thoughts on peace. Starting on March 25, and lasting an entire week until March 31, Lennon and Ono took up residence in the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel’s Room 902, spending the entire time in their bed and allowing press to visit from 9 AM – 9 PM daily. Because Lennon and Ono were known for previous lascivious public images of themselves they had used as promotional material, most of the press expected something lewd upon visiting the hotel room of the two stars. Instead, they found Lennon and Ono in their pajamas, comfortably sitting up in their hotel bed with signs that read “Hair Peace” and “Bed Peace” above them. The two discussed their visions of world peace with the press and their opposition to the Vietnam War and the Cold War.

Most of the press that covered this protest/performance “peace” did not take it seriously, but Lennon insisted that that was exactly what Ono and he wanted. “It’s part of our policy not to be taken seriously. Our opposition, whoever they may be, in all manifest forms, don’t know how to handle humour. And we are humorous,” said Lennon.

Seven days later, the couple flew to Vienna, Austria where they held a press conference to discuss Bagism, which was a term created by Lennon and Ono to satirize prejudice and stereotyping. Bagism literally involved encapsulating oneself in a bag, so that no judgement about the outward appearance of a person could be made, and people could only judge someone by the vocal messages they conveyed. It was viewed as a form of total communication.

The Amsterdam Bed-In was not the only one performed by Lennon and Ono. In May of 1969, the couple again reenacted their previous peaceful form of protest in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. It was here that they recorded “Give Peace a Chance” with other notable individuals. Later that year, they further publicly spread their message of peace by displaying on billboards in 11 major American cities, “WAR IS OVER! If You Want It – Happy Christmas From John and Yoko”. A documentary film made of the two’s Bed-Ins can be watched here.

The impact made by Lennon and Ono’s Bed Ins has been seen in the several popular culture references made about the peaceful protests, and protest groups and artists around the world have reenacted the famous “peace” since the 1960s.

Sources: Wikipedia, TIME, The Guardian, NPR

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The Beatles First U.S. Visit

beatles1stvisitcalendarOn February 7, 1964, British rock and roll band, The Beatles, made their first trip to the United States on Pan Am Flight 101 from London to New York City. What ensued is what was soon dubbed as “Beatlemania.”

The Beatles, made up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, began gaining commercial success in the United Kingdom in 1962 and successfully toured the country for a year. With the release of the single “I Want to Hold Your Hand” selling over 1.5 million copies in less than three weeks, The Beatles’ popularity in the United States began to skyrocket in early 1964 and there was a high demand for the band to finally make their way across the pond.

Worried that the initial impact of their single might have worn off and that their scheduled appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show would not do much to capture the hearts of American teenagers, the band members were apprehensive about the trip. Those feelings were put to rest in the few minutes before their landing when the pilots told the musicians that fans were swarming at the airport to catch a glimpse of them, knocking over barricades and scrambling over fences. Harrison noted, “Seeing thousands of kids there to meet us made us realize just how popular we were there.” The British Invasion had officially started.

beatleswallBeatlemania came at a time when America was shrouded with grief and fear over the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Their upbeat music and personalities were a welcome distraction to a distraught nation. Their first visit, which had been advertised across the U.S. on 5 million posters, was well-received, with the band doing a series of television performances and concerts. Their success allowed them to return for another series of tours in the U.S. in August of that year and again in August of 1965. Their last tour came in 1966, and although their fan base and commercial success in the U.S. was still large, they also received severe backlash from religious protesters after a comment Lennon made in an interview stating, “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” This incident and their boredom over performing live caused this to be their last tour. The band then focused on recording new studio material.

The impact The Beatles made with their first U.S. visit is one that has gone mostly unparalleled by other musicians and they are still recognized as one of the most highly influential bands in rock and roll music.

Sources: Wikipedia, TIME Entertainment, The Beatles Bible

 

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John Lennon Dies

johnlennonOn December 8, 1980, John Lennon, legendary musician and one of the founders of British rock band The Beatles, was shot and killed.

Earlier in the day, Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, were photographed for the last time together by Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone magazine in their New York City apartment. The iconic image covered the January 1981 issue of Rolling Stone along with articles and pictures in memory of Lennon’s life. He gave his last interview with DJ Dave Sholin for RKO Radio Network before heading to Record Plant Studio with Ono to mix a song they were working on together.

He was returning from the studio with Ono when Mark David Chapman took aim and fired five shots at John Lennon with a .38 Special revolver at 10:50 p.m. as he was entering his apartment building, The Dakota.  Lennon staggered up the five steps to the security and reception area of his building, muttering, “I’m shot. I’m shot,” before collapsing on the ground. He was rushed to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, just blocks away, but was pronounced dead on arrival due to hypovolemic shock, caused by the loss of more than 80% of blood volume. Meanwhile, outside The Dakota, the doorman had knocked the gun from Chapman’s hands and kicked it across the sidewalk. Chapman sat down on the ground awaiting the police, reportedly holding a copy of Catcher in the Rye. When asked by the doorman if he knew what he had just done, Chapman calmly replied, “Yes, I just shot John Lennon.”

The killer had previously exhibited obsessive tendencies and had become fixated on John Lennon. Chapman had traveled to New York with intentions of murdering Lennon in October of 1980, but changed his mind and returned home to Hawaii. His disdain for Lennon was largely attributed to Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” remark he first made in an interview in 1966. He thought Lennon’s comment and his songs “God” and “Imagine” were blasphemous. Despite his lawyer’s advice to plead insanity, Chapman made a guilty plea to second degree murder and sentenced to 20 years to life.  He has since been denied parole seven times.

lennon2The news of Lennon’s death was first reported during ABC’s Monday Night Football by broadcast team Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford.  Cosell interrupted his reporting of the game and said, “Remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City. The most famous perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which, in duty bound, we have to take.”

Fans all over the world began to grieve heavily. On December 14, 1980, Yoko Ono asked fans in New York City to convene in Central Park for 10 minutes of silence in remembrance of Lennon. Ono’s request was met by millions of fans worldwide gathering together to pay tribute to the late musician. The largest gathering of over 225,000 was in Central Park, near the scene of the shooting.

Since his death, countless memorials and tributes have been dedicated to Lennon including songs by other famous musicians, statues, and memorial sites. One of the most famous sites is Strawberry Fields in Central Park close to The Dakota, a place where Lennon used to walk often. Various countries donated trees to be planted in the area, and a mosaic reading “IMAGINE” was gifted by the city of Naples, Italy.

Though Lennon was killed over 30 years ago, his legacy will live on forever.

Sources: Wikipedia, ABC News

 

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The Beatles’ Last Performance

On January 30, 1969, legendary rock and roll band, The Beatles, performed for the last time ever as a group.

The Beatles were filming a documentary titled Let It Be, which captured their exchanges with one another and their recording sessions in the Apple Studios building in London, England. During filming, the high tensions between band mates John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were made apparent.

At one point, they decided that their creativity was being stifled inside of the studio. They decided to move all of their equipment up five stories to the roof of Apple Studios and give an impromptu concert to the Central London lunch hour crowd. They hadn’t performed together live since their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966, and this rooftop performance would be their last.

The songs they performed are as follows: “Get Back” (5 versions), “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” “Don’t Let Me Down” (2 versions), “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “One After 909,” “Danny Boy,” “Dig a Pony” (2 versions), “God Save the Queen,” and “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody.”

Upon being shut down by police, John Lennon addressed the crowd:

I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.

Sources: Beatles Bible, Wikipedia

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