Yoko Ono was back in Montreal on Tuesday to open "Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko," an exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. (March 31, 2009)

Yoko Ono opens new Montreal exhibit on 1969 bed-in
By Nelson Wyatt, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – Yoko Ono says she will always remember Montreal's skyline when she thinks about the bed-in for peace she staged with former Beatle John Lennon in a downtown hotel 40 years ago.

"We were in bed and when all the journalists went home around 6 o'clock in the evening, John and I would turn around and look at the sky through a beautiful, beautiful huge window," she said Tuesday.

"We just had great fun looking at the sky, and I always remember that."

Ono was back in Montreal on Tuesday to open "Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko," an exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts which traces the couple's life from their meeting in 1966 to the 1969 bed-in.

"Coming here is a very special thing for me," she told a news conference. "I believe that John is here with me today because we had a great time."

She said the trip to Montreal in 1969 – the bed-in was staged at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel from May 26 to June 2 – was like a honeymoon for her and Lennon, who split from the Beatles after he got together with her.

With its message of world peace, the bed-in was one of the iconic moments of the 1960s. It made headlines around the world and also saw the recording of "Give Peace a Chance," which became an anthem for the antiwar movement.

The diminutive Ono said reporters who sat around – and often on – the bed with her and Lennon played a big part in making "Give Peace a Chance" happen.

"I think that without your help, your vibrations, your spirit, around us, 'Give Peace a Chance' would not have been born," she told the assembled journalists. "Without your remembrances of this happening . . . it may not have been remembered by the world.

"Right now there are so many people who are trying to do bed-ins, and that would not have happened. I think it was a work between John and I and our partnership with Montreal."

She said Lennon, who was murdered in 1980, continued working for peace after the Montreal bed-in as did she.

"I feel I'm doing it with him still."

"Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko" runs from April 2 to June 21 and is free to the public. The show includes some 140 drawings, unpublished photos, videos, films and artwork, all amid background music by Lennon.

Visitors will also be able to play "Imagine" on a piano with a sound system, write down their wishes and tie them to Ono's "Wish Tree," and once a day, at an unspecified time, speak on the phone with Ono.

Emma Lavigne, the show's curator, said Ono was very helpful in bringing the exhibit together.

"We have the three very strong elements – politics, music, art – and we really need to have those . . . to understand what the bed-in really was."

Ono, an artist and musician who lives in New York City, said she was pleased the show is free.

"It goes with the idea that peace is for everybody and it isn't something that you have to sell. We share peace together."

She had a simple message for the current generation of young people concerned about wars in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq as she was about Vietnam in the '60s.

"Be yourself, keep dancing, have fun in life and we will all love each other," she said, before telling reporters "I love you" as she left the stage.

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