Lennon and Ono bring message for youth to Canada
Tuesday, May 27, 1969
By Richie Yorke
Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono began a week-long bed-in in Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel at midnight, after being granted a 10-day stay in Canada by the Department of Immigration.
Lennon and his family flew out of Toronto at 9:55 last night on an Air Canada flight. They plan to return to Toronto on June 2 for the hearing on whether Lennon -- who admitted a marijuana conviction -- can be admitted to Canada as a desirable alien.
Yesterday, the Lennon family was escorted from a $50-a-day suite at Toronto's King Edward Sheraton Hotel by RCMP officials and driven to Malton for a hearing with immigration officials. After an hour's meeting, officials decided to adjurn the case to June 2.
The Lennon family returned to the hotel where teen-agers milled about in the corridors, and held a late-afternoon press conference to explain more fully the purpose of its stay in Canada.
Lennon and entourage arrived in Toronto on Sunday night after a flight from the Bahamas. On arrival, he said he wanted to escape the heat in the Bahamas and needed to be closer to the United States to push for an entry visa. So far, U.S. immigration has declined Lennon's request because of a conviction of possession of marijuana registered earlier this year.
The press conference, attended by several dozen, was held in Lennon's hotel suite. Police had been posted along the corridors to keep back the 20 or so fans and to scrutinize press, radio and TV creditentials.
Inside the suite, Lennon and Yoko were surrounded by pink and white carnations, record players, film equipment, empty glasses and ringing phones. Two books lay on a table: Vladimir Nabokov's The Defence and a personally autographed copy of Jacqueline Susan's The Love Machine.
The Lennon's sat on a sofa holding hands. Yoko wore a white blouse and cream slacks, no shoes; Lennon -- his feet folded under his seat most of the time -- had a white T-shirt with a green stripe, cream trousers, white socks with a red and blue stripes, no shoes. A pair of white sneakers lay on the floor in front of him. He wore a gold chain aournd his neck.
Yoko's 5-year-old daughter, Kyoko, was ushered off the scene by a friend before the press conference.
Lennon fielded cynical questions about his peace-making efforts with occasional flashes of wit. At all times, the couple seemed sincere in their campaign for peace and rather bitter about the United States refusal to admit Lennon.
"The whole effect of our bed-ins has made people talk about peace," Lennon said, holding a white carnation and licking his this mustache.
"We're trying to interest young people in doing something for peace. But it must be done by non-violent means, otherwise there can be chaos.
"We're saying to the young people -- and they have always been the hippest ones -- to get the message across to the squares.
"A lot of young people have been ignoring the squares when they should be helping them. The whole scene has become too serious and too intellectual."
What about talking to the people who make the decisions, the power brokers? suggest a reporter.
Lennon laughed: "It doesn't happen like that...in the United States the Government is too busy talking about how to keep me out.
"If I'm a joke, as they say, and not important, why don't they just let me in?" he said bitterly.
Admitting there may be better ways of promoting peace than bed-ins, Yoko -- who looked thin and happy -- said: "We worked for three months thinking out the most functional approach to boost peace before we got married, and we spent our honeymoon talking to the press in bed in Amsterdam.
"For us, it was the only way. We can't go out in Trafalgar Square (the site of peace demonstrations in London) and join in because it would create a riot.
"We had to find our own way of doing it, and for now, bed-ins seem to be the best way."
On arrival in Toronto, Lennon had said he would like to meet Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to hand him an acorn ("An acorn is a seed, and the seeds are symbolic of life"). The Prime Minister was reported to have replied: "I don't know about acorns, but if he's around I'd like to meet him."
In Montreal, the Beatle and wife plan to meet anyone from the press from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day for seven days. "The press is like a post-box," said Lennon, glancing around the room, "and it can reach the people -- all the people -- who are wandering around the streets."
Said the Beatles' press officer, Derek Taylor: "We can do so much for peace with a little help from our friends in the press."
"Our work is making music; but this is our holidays and our honeymoon. If everyone stayed in bed for a week there'd be no killing. If one side laid down its weapons in Vietnam there'd be no killing there. It's no good listening to the Government.
"All they do is talk about talking about having talks about peace. And then they get hung up on tables."
After the Montreal bed-in, the Lennons will return to Toronto for the hearing, then take their campaign into the United States. "Yes, I think I'll get the visa by then," said Lennon.
Fans ambush Beatle, outward bound
John Lennon sat back in the taxi and gave a sigh of relief late last night, on his way to Malton to catch his flight to Montreal. Moments before he had been engulfed by Toronto teen-agers who had pushed past police and descended on him.
He had hoped to make a secret exit from his Toronto hotel. He had left phones ringing, carnations littered over beds and rugs, unopened letters, fans screaming from behind burly policemen along the hotel corridors.
Down some sort of fire escape we had fled, any moment expecting to be deluged by fans. It didn't happen until we were almost out of the building.
Rushing out of an elevator, they were suddenly on us. Somehow the police regained control, we were shoved into the cab, the garage door opened and we drove out. Fans climed onto the car but they jumped or fell off as the cab gathered speed.
Lennon looked tired. Yoko didn't seem to care. Lennon, all in white, sighed again and said: "I think Ringo (Starr) was right about not touring."
We arrived unannounced at the airport, but it only took a few seconds for the word to spread, and presto, another crowd!
Air Canada hurriedly found a vacant room, locked us in, and we sat down and talked for an hour before the Lennons boarded a flight to Montreal and their first North American bed-in which seemed a physical and mental necessity for them.
It was, assuredly, an unenviable life they had, even with its rewards. By now the Lennons had come to accept it. But there were other things which Lennon couldn't accept such as the controversy over the recent Two Virgins album cover with its nude pictures.
"I expected some controversy, but nothing near what we got. Yoko didn't expect it at all. Actually, I'm planning to release it again. I'm going to advertise it along the lines of 'It's still just a record, despite all that crap that went on.
"That's the trouble with the world: whenever honesty crops up, people want to kill it."
He really seems to enjoy upsetting what he terms the squares. "A play opened tonight on Broadway, -- Kenneth Tynan's Oh! Calcutta! -- and I wrote a short piece which has four guys masturbating. They asked us to do a smutty little bit fo rit. Whether it will get on, I don't know."
As to the Beatles' career, Lennon revealed that a new single, The Ballad of John and Yoko, backed with Old Brown Shoe, will be released next week. The current single Get Back, has sold about 200,000 copies in Canada.
"We've finished the next album, which will be called Get Back, Don't Let Me Down and Others. It will have the same cover picture as our Please Please Me album. We went back to the same photographic studios and had our pictures taken in the same way -- execpt as we are now."
He laughed off recent reports that he was almost broke, and detailed plans which indicate he will be spending a lot of money on his peace campaign.
"Next month we're hoping to do a bed-in in Moscow, then Germany, Ireland and Tokyo," said Yoko.
"I'm trying to fit the Beatles in between August and September," Lennon quipped. He doesn't include London on the itinerary. "I'd have to drop my trousers to make the British press take notice.
"Yoko and I will have a wedding album out shortly, too, and we will have seven films we want to distribute. My favorite record now is Oh Happy Day, which is the biggest mind-blower I've heard since A Whiter Shade of Pale." - R.Y.
Copyright 1969 by The Globe and Mail, all rights reserved.