It was 40 years ago (March 1969) that John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent seven days in Amsterdam. The long-haired lovebirds arrived at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel by cream-coloured Rolls-Roys five days after their wedding in Gibraltar. They headed upstairs to room 902, where from 25 to 31 March 1969 they protested by climbing under the covers and asking the world to 'give peace a chance'.
The famous rock couple used their honeymoon to make an artistic plea for peace during the war in Vietnam. 'When we got married, we knew our honeymoon was going to be public anyway, so we decided to use that to make a statement', Lennon said during the couple's last joint interview before his death in 1980. 'In effect, we were doing a commercial for peace instead of a commercial for war.'
Journalists from all over the world flew into Amsterdam to chronicle the event. Those hoping for some raunchy honeymoon action must have been disappointed to find the pair propped up in bed, clad in respectable white pyjamas and surrounded by flowers and hand-written placards containing such phrases as 'hair peace', 'bed peace', and 'grow your hair!'
The couple chose Amsterdam for its peace commercial because it was 'a very significant centre for the young people', Yoko explained.
The media loved the stunt but the Hilton's housekeepers were less impressed. Having none of this 'Staying in bed for seven days' nonsense, they forced John and Yoko to do a bed-out so they could change the sheets.
The Amsterdam Hilton hotel has undergone a renovation since then, and the former room 902 is now room 702. When Lennon was shot in 1980, the hotel commemorated its most legendary guest by extinguishing all its lights – except for the one in John and Yoko's room.
Ten years after her husband's death, Yoko returned to Amsterdam to help the Hilton convert the couple's former love nest into 'the John and Yoko Suite'. No irony is lost on the fact thats it goes for €1,750 a night - those paying to play the Lennons, of course, are treated as VIP guests.
Amsterdam art dealer Nico Koster was a young photographer in 1969. He particularly hit it off with Lennon during a press conference, so Lennon invited him to return the next day for a solo shoot. Koster recently unearthed the lost negatives of these historic pictures and is exhibiting them in his Amsterdam based Galerie Moderne.
Nico Koster - Galerie Moderne
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