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When John and Yoko Ono booked space in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel in May 1969, the 29-year-old ex-Beatle paid $1,000 a night for the four rooms that became the setting for the newlyweds second Bed-In-For-Peace. Today, the refurbished “John&Yoko Suite” on the hotel’s 17th floor – part of a freshly completed $145 million hotel renovation– goes for about $1,900 and bookings are coming in fast, for what may be the world’s first interactive hotel suite.

A decade ago, Joanne Papineau, public relations director for Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, showed me around the famous hotel room where strangers had knocked on the door, and especially if they were young, had been welcomed inside by John Lennon. Large pictures of John and Yoko adorned the walls back then, but apart from roses left by an anonymous fan, the room was mainly famous for being famous.

John and Yoko Ono stage a public ”bed in” for world peace – staying in bed for a week in a hotel in Montreal March 1969 Their 1969 love-in protest against the suffering caused by the Vietnam War spends the weekend giving interviews from their bed in an Amsterdam hotel

Today, the large pictures are smaller but the original mood has been recaptured and reinterpreted by architect Sid Lee and designers at Unlimited and MASSIVart, using wit, style and technology. Rather than having to imagine 1969, visitors can experience it. Virtual reality headgear places you at the centre of the scene, from the first appearance of a hotel maid unpacking a suitcase containing white pyjamas, to the sudden onrush of photographers and reporters shouting questions in your direction – the whole circus atmosphere comes to life.

Although the publicity savvy pair had held their first Bed-In in Amsterdam two months earlier, neither hotel guests nor staff could have been prepared for the unfolding scene in Room 1742. In the words of a local radio reporter, “It was a mess.” Hordes of old and new friends, photographers and reporters crowded the room amid ongoing radio and TV interviews, music, and chatter. Ultimately, on June 1, Room 1742 was turned into a recording studio for Give Peace a Chance, John’s lively, enduring peace anthem. Walk into today’s suite, pick up the receiver on the green phone and you’ll hear John’s voice: “Hi, this is John and Yoko from the Peace Station in Montreal.” In another archival message, John says, “Go back to bed.” It’s strangely real. Similarly, a vintage television shows Bed-in videos. A tape deck plays four different interviews, a guitar (John arrived without his) like the one a Montreal musician loaned him while he was in town – an acoustic Gibson Epiphone – rests against its stand.

Today’s single stylish suite unites the four rooms that John rented, the furniture mirroring the couple’s own tastes: a new white bed, a leather couch, colourful Marimekko china in the dining room. Moving into the second bedroom, we enter a quieter space painted in ocean blues (Yoko means “ocean” in Japanese.)

Joanne tells me that John would periodically “hide” in here from the Bed-In, where he’d read the newspapers with Timothy Leary. John liked baths, and in another homage, a beautiful white tub occupies pride of place off this private room.
On one wall, a dozen drawers in a faux filing cabinet – the couple stored their ideas in a similar cabinet – open to reveal Bed-In era stories, photographs, videos artifacts and personal memories.

Gail Reynard, a local fan who gatecrashed the Bed-In, was asked to babysit Yoko’s daughter, Kyoko, away from the crowds. Tony Lashta, a Beatles-obsessed bellboy of 17, just three days on the job, was scolded by his manager and told to stay away from Room 1742.

When he told John, the rocker replied, “Come work for me in London,” and so he did.
Among the famous hanging out with John and Yoko were LSD guru Timothy Leary, poet Allen Ginsberg, and folksinger Tommy Smothers, all easily identified in photos of the room. We looked, but couldn’t find the face of John’s new friend, “radical” Toronto Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, who’d travelled to North Vietnam in 1967, part of a multi-faith peace mission. It was the rabbi who reputedly told the former Beatle, “John, we have to give peace a chance.” A radio crooner in his youth, Rabbi Feinberg joined the singers on the live recording.

His name and phone number appear in John’s handwriting on a rough draft of the song written on a hotel letterhead envelope. The Sunday Times later reported that John had originally planned to record the song with Rabbi Feinberg alone under the name “John Lennon and the Flaming Red Rabbi.” Instead, 50-odd friends and strangers sang along.
It’s natural to wonder what the couple would think of their old Bed-In site today. Yoko prefers her memories, I’m told, so hasn’t visited, but musicians often come to see it – including almost everyone who played at the recent Leonard Cohen memorial concert. The suite’s official opening was held on Sept. 21, International Day of Peace, when 40 bed sheets designed by various artists were displayed and auctioned for charity at the world’s largest Bed-In, held at the Place Ville-Marie Esplanade.

Interesting too that 1960s influences form visual constants throughout the “new” Queen Elizabeth. Carpets, lamps and furniture in bedrooms and hallways feature geometric shapes and honeycomb designs. On the lobby floor, in a large space called The Agora, a video of the most famous hotel recording ever – Give Peace a Chance – ends a compelling montage of the city’s long history. “We’ve re-invented the afternoon tea,” Joanne adds. Again, very 1960s, the new tea room, one floor above the street, has mustard-yellow chairs and mismatched plates, and tea is now served with an optional “glass of bubbly.” As a friend and I enjoy our tea and scones one afternoon, I think about the room service orders made in 1969 by the rockers for peace in Room 1742. Standard dishes from the kitchen were distinguished by special orders like “an extra-large comb” and a “cage for a white mouse.” Some things from the past, it seems, stay in the past.

If You Go: The suite is booked for the 50th anniversary of the Bed-In, but your odds of staying there are otherwise good. The suite may be open to the curious on certain days in future, but the renovated hotel offers lots to enjoy right now, including a chic ground floor bar and a fresh food market. The sounds of John and friends singing on video often waft from The Agora, a treat in itself.



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A 1969 Honda Monkey-Trail Bike once owned by John Lennon will soon be on the market. The onetime Beatle used it between 1969-71 to scoot around his Tittenhurst Park estate in the Surrey, England, countryside.

Auction house H&H Classics has acquired the 1969 Honda Z50A, and will put it up for sale on March 4 at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull; their experts estimate the bike will fetch at least £30,000 (more than $48,000 in U.S. dollars). You can see photos of the bike below.

John Harrington purchased the bike from Henry Graham in 1971 for £250. Graham had acquired it from Lennon that same year, when the singer and songwriter moved to the U.S. Harrington, a yachtsman from Dorset, England, at first didn’t believe the bike had belonged to Lennon, and for years used it for his own travels. But after seeing a photo of the legendary artist riding it with his young son Julian, Harrington conducted some research and confirmed its authenticity in 2011. He has held onto the bike, which he has often displayed, until now.

The Times reported in 2011 that Harrington rejected an offer of £90,000, saying at that time, “like a fine wine, it becomes more valuable with time.”

“Naturally we are thrilled to be entrusted with the marketing and sale of this bike, given its extraordinary provenance,” said Mark Bryan, head of sales for the H&H Classics Motorcycle Department.

H&H Classics lists the bike as unrestored with largely original parts, and in running order.

Another so-called “monkey bike” that belonged to fellow former Beatle Ringo Starr — and which was given to Starr’s gardener as a thank-you gift in 1986 — sold for £36,000 in 2008.


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The note sees John accuse the EMI record label of blocking distribution on his 1968 experimental album ‘Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins’, because he appears nude on its cover with Yoko Ono, who became his wife in 1969.
In the letter, John angrily writes: “EMI (who have the real control) wrote warning letters to all their puppets around the world telling them not to handle it in any way.”
John’s ambition was to ensure that he would avoid a repeat of his experiences with EMI, which also distributed The Beatles’ Apple Records releases.

Of the letter, Moments in Time dealer Gary Zimet told the New York Post newspaper’s Page Six column: “This is Lennon’s handwritten draft letter … The letter is angrily written, and this album was the very first non-Beatles album that Lennon made.”
And ultimately, ‘Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins’ – which was released with brown paper-bag packaging – was distributed by another record label.



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John´s seventh single outside of the Beatles was written on acoustic guitar, demoed in October 1971 and released as a single in America for that holiday season, on 1 December 1971 — but not in the UK, where a dispute between John and The Beatles‘ publishing company, Northern Songs, delayed it to the extent that it had to wait until 24 November the following year to come out in his home country.

But even in the US, ‘Happy Xmas’ emerged too close to the holidays to get substantial airplay, and barely made the top 40 of the Cashbox singles chart. Billboard, for its part, listed it on its separate Christmas countdown rather than the Hot 100, limiting its profile further even though it reached No. 3.

When the song finally saw UK release, its chart entry on 9 December 1972 was somewhat modest, at No. 23. It climbed to No. 16, but sales really took off in the last chart before the holiday, and it spent the last two weeks of the year at No. 4.

UK chart debut on 9 December 1972: ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ by (to quote the credit exactly) John & Yoko With The Plastic Ono Band And The Harlem Community Choir.

Like so many Christmas songs, ‘Happy Xmas’ has made many return appearances, most notably in the sad aftermath of John’s death in 1980, when it climbed to No. 2. In its many subsequent chart runs, it last made the top 40 in 2007, at No. 40.


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An original drawing by John of a fat budgie that was used for a charity Christmas card in 1965 has sold for more than £22,000., is a very simple doodle of the overweight bird on a perch was actually designed for his novel ‘A Spaniard in the Works’.
But after it was published Oxfam asked permission to use his primitive bird sketch for its charity Christmas cards of the same year.
The work was entitled ‘The Fat Budgie’ by John, but because of its rotund shape it looks like a robin which made it perfect for the front of a Christmas card. The original pen and ink drawing, which is 8ins by 10ins, was gifted by Lennon to Tom Maschler, a British literary editor who worked on his book.
It has now been sold at auctioneers Bonhams for £22,500.
Stephen Maycock, of Bonhams, said: “It was quite a coupe for Oxfam to receive John Lennon’s permission to use his art work for their cards.
“The year was 1964 so these were probably the first charity Christmas cards of their kind.
“The front of the cards contained a facsimile of Lennon’s signature and the cards sold awfully well.
“John Lennon produced a lot of drawings, mostly cartoons, right through to the 1970s.
“All of his drawings tended to be very simple and not accurate to life.
“They were more exaggerated, like the fat budgie picture.
“This original work is probably one of the best known John Lennon works out there because it was published in his book and also because of the Christmas card.
“Tom Maschler was an editor at the publishers Jonathan Cape and John Lennon gave him a load of drawings as a thank you for the work he put into the book.
“The drawing has been sold by a private collector.”