Beatle John Lennon and his newlywed second wife, the artist Yoko Ono, attracted the attention of the international press in the cause of world peace on this day in 1969, as they began a publicity campaign they called a ‘Bed-in’ in Amsterdam.
The couple had flown from Paris to Gibraltar to be married five days earlier and on their return to the French capital had formulated a way to use the inevitable publicity generated by news of their wedding.
They were driven to Amsterdam on the morning of March 25 and checked into the Hilton Hotel, where they were allocated room 902 – the presidential suite – which they decorated with photos and hand-made signs.
The couple sent out cards to press agencies and newspapers inviting them to ‘John and Yoko’s honeymoon: a Bed-in’. After controversy over the cover of their album Two Virgins, on which they appeared naked, some reporters seemed to believe that it was an invitation to watch them have sex.
Instead, they found the pair “like two angels in bed, with flowers all around us, and peace and love on our heads,” as Lennon reported. “We were fully clothed; the bed was just an accessory.”
John and Yoko took interviews throughout the week, explaining their intention of using their fame to generate headlines about peace instead of war and conflict. Their explanations were met with a mixture of polite interest, amusement and outright hostility.
Lennon explained: “We (thought) would sell our product, which we call 'peace'. And to sell a product you need a gimmick”. And despite the scorn of sections of the press, the campaign was widely publicised around the world.