John Lennon Giving Peace a Chance
LiveAuctionTalk.com: by Rosemary McKittrick
Photo courtesy of Julien's Auction.
Motivated by a message of peace, rock legend John Lennon was committed to using his fame to make a difference in the world. And it worked. Much of his music became a soundtrack for the Vietnam antiwar movement.
Newlyweds John Lennon and Yoko Ono flew to the British territory of Gibraltar along the coast of Southeastern Spain and married on March 20, 1969. For their honeymoon the couple traveled to Room 902 of the Amsterdam Hilton and staged a week-long “Bed-in for peace” in their hotel room. They called it a “happening” and the press was invited.
“These guys were sweating to fight to get in first because they thought we were going to be making love in bed,” John said.
Dressed in white and surrounded by flowers reporters shoved their way into the hotel room and found John in his pajamas and Yoko in a modest nightgown with long sleeves and a high neck. The couple was talking peace, being their own commercial for peace.
“The other side has war on every day, not only on the news but on 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!” Lennon said.
For the following week Lennon and Ono gave interviews eight hours a day on the topic of peace meeting with people from all over the world.
The Vietnam War was raging. Race riots plagued American streets after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Soviet tanks filled streets in Prague hunting down unarmed students. Catholics were rioting in Londonderry. People were looking to authority worldwide for answers and coming up short.
Some reporters painted the bed-in as naïve and self-indulgent. One interviewer asked John how it felt to be laughed at.
“Its part of our policy not to be taken seriously,” John said. “And we stand a better chance under that guise, because all the serious people like Martin Luther King and Kennedy and Gandhi got shot.”
In May of 1969 John and Yoko held a “Bed-in for Peace” in Montreal giving hundreds of interviews to the American press.
“Youth is the future,” he said. “If we can get inside their minds and tell them to think in favor of non-violence, we’ll be satisfied.”
Lennon spoke like a man who was running out of time.
On July 4, 1969, John and Yoko released “Give Peace a Chance” from their bed, accompanied by comedian Dickie Smothers and Timothy Leary. Under the name “Plastic Ono Band” the song became an instant anthem for the anti-war movement.
“All I’m saying is peace,” John said. “Give it a chance.”
On Dec. 3 Julien’s Auctions in West Hollywood, Calif., featured the original signed “Bed-in” Montreal, 1969, drawing featuring two large caricature self-portraits of Lennon and Ono sketched by Lennon. The drawing was created in Suite 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. It sold for $90,000.
Here are current values for other Lennon items sold in the auction.
Photographs; Walls and Bridges; 9; black-and-white photos of Lennon; taken by Bob Gruen; 1975; 20 inches by 16 inches; $4,160.
Gold Record Award; presented to Lennon to commemorate the sale of more than 1 million dollars worth of the LP Walls & Bridges; 21 ½ inches by 17 ½ inches; $5,760.
Stage Worn Suit; D.A. Millings suit; worn on stage and in photo shoots; grey wool collarless suit; $25,600.
John Lennon & Paul McCartney Jacket from Help; tan; worn by Lennon on unknown travels; also worn by McCartney in the film Help; $43,750.
Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller. For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column. Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles. Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.