After a week-long Bed-In for Peace in Montreal and a Peace conference at The University of Ottowa, John and Yoko visit Niagara Falls in Canada at 4pm on Wednesday 4 June 1969. They are on their way to Toronto and then home to London. On the same day (4 June 1969), the Beatles single “The Ballad Of John and Yoko” is released.
Ono’s ‘sweet moment’ relived
by John Law, The Niagara Falls Review
Noted Beatles nut GT O’Rourke no longer had to imagine what John Lennon’s visit to Niagara Falls was like.
He had all day Saturday to see for himself.
To mark Lennon and Yoko Ono’s visit to the falls 40 years ago, Ono provided the city with a 10-minute video of that brief, but fascinating trip. The clip shows Lennon and Ono exiting a car along the Niagara Parkway to play tourist. It was filmed five days after their ‘bed in’ at a Montreal hotel.
Beatles fans have had glimpses of the footage before, but this is the first time it has ever been seen in its entirety.
It was shown on a continuous loop at Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church for about five hours.
O’Rourke, who has about 4,000 pieces of Beatles memorabilia, was thrilled seeing one of his idols in his city and that several teens came to watch.
“I’m happy people are finally getting the message about John and Yoko, which was love,” said O’Rourke. “A lot of people missed the boat when it came to John.”
The video begins with a voice-only message from Ono, saying the Falls visit was a “very sweet moment for us.” It then shows footage of various signs throughout the city as Lennon and Ono’s car heads to the parkway.
Lennon saunters out of the car, and despite being in the most famous band in the world at the time, other tourists seem oblivious to him.
It was a crystal clear day (June 4, 1969), and Lennon comments on the “perfect” rainbow arching over the falls. He then amusingly points to a sign promoting ‘The Crown Jewels of Great Britain.’
O’Rourke was fascinated by how a Beatle could walk along the parkway without an entourage or swarming fans.
“The people didn’t know who he was … they’re not rushing him like I thought they would,” he said.
“Normally, when the Beatles were together that wouldn’t happen.”
Fans who missed the video Saturday are out of luck. Organizer Bill Colclough was under strict orders to package the footage immediately after the event was over and mail it back to Yoko Ono.
Photos and video were forbidden while it was being shown.
“When you look at (Lennon’s) face, it’s like you’re watching any tourist,” he said.
News of the screening was mentioned on Beatles fansites in Russia and Germany. Some requested a copy, but Colclough had to refuse.
The event coincided with All We Are Saying, a day of live music across the street at the Battle Ground Hotel Museum. Local musicians performed from 11 a. m. to 4 p. m.
It wasn’t just Beatles fans who found the footage fascinating, added Colclough.
“It showed you how the destination has changed,” he said. “You don’t have to be a Beatles fan to watch it. You can just be interested in Niagara Falls.”
The legacy of John and Yoko
Niagara Falls museum commemorates famous honeymooners on 40th anniversary of Canadian visit
By Corey Larocque, The Niagara Falls Review, 29 May 2009.
Adam Hansen hadn’t even been born when John Lennon died in 1980, never mind being able to remember Beatlemania or the heyday of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.
Yet, the 11-year-old bass player and his bandmates are working up a cover of the Beatles tune “Come Together” to perform Saturday at a music festival paying tribute to Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono.
“I like the Beatles a lot. I love music. When this opportunity came up, immediately I said yes,” said Hansen, with mop of brown hair that looks kind of similar to the look the Fab Four sported in the 1960s.
Hansen, his brother Erik, Philip Ellis, Jesse Rempel and Brody Coffin are students at the Ontario Conservatory of Music who will be performing at “All We Are Saying,” a celebration of music and peace inspired by Lennon and Ono.
While they appreciate the Beatles’ music, they’re not as tuned into to the philosophy of peace Lennon promoted after the breakup of the band.
“We don’t sing about peace and stuff,” Hansen said.
Staff at the Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum organized the event as a tribute to Lennon and Ono’s visit to Niagara Falls 40 years ago. They borrowed the name from a line in “Give Peace A Chance,” the anthem Lennon, Ono and their supporters recorded in a Montreal hotel room in 1969.
Local musicians will play from 11 a.m., to 4 p.m. at the Battle Ground Hotel, on Lundy’s Lane east of Drummond Road. Students from the Ontario Conservatory of Music, Stamford Collegiate and the Drummond Hill Presbyterian church choir are scheduled to perform but other musicians invited to stop by for impromptu sessions.
“You’re taking two strong names – Niagara Falls and John and Yoko. You discover they were here together. It works. The music is still fresh for people. The personalities are still fresh and exciting for people,” said Bill Colclough, a public programmer at the museum who considers them one of the most famous honeymooning couples to ever visit Niagara Falls.
Ono’s staff in New York City provided the city a 10-minute film showing footage they and their entourage shot of the visit.
It will be screened at the Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church during Saturday’s event. For fans of Lennon and Ono, it’s rarely-seen footage from part of the Canadian trip
more famous for the Bed-In For Peace in Montreal. From May 26 to June 2, Lennon and Ono stayed in bed talking to reporters, celebrities, musicians and artists to promote peace. They came to Niagara Falls after Montreal.
“It’s great you get to hear his voice and her voice commenting about the destination,” Colclough said.
News of the footage has generated more interest in the museum’s event.
“It has been very positive. The phone’s ringing a lot. Some people say it like they’re in disbelief,” Colclough said.
For history buffs, it’s a blast from the past to see the old cars their entourage travelled in, how visitors to the falls used to be able to drive right to Table Rock House and park near the brink of the falls, and how Queen Victoria Park looked in the ‘60s.
“You could look at it as a non-Beatles fan and say ,’that’s really neat how Niagara Falls looked,’” Colclough said.
Like a lot of visitors to the falls in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Lennon and Ono drove in from Toronto, got out, looked around for a few minutes, and got back in their car.
The episode shows how much Niagara Falls has changed, especially in the past decade with the development of other attractions and high-end hotels and restaurants, Colclough said.
with files from The Canadian Press
John and Yoko’s “Bed-In For Peace”: the Niagara Falls connection
Thursday, June 4 is the 40th anniversary of a 1969 visit by Beatle John Lennon and his new wife, artist Yoko Ono. It came at the end of the “Bed-In For Peace” where the couple spent a week in bed talking to reporters, celebrities, musicians and artists to promote peace.
May 26, 1969: Lennon and Ono check into Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel, room 1742; they spend the week in bed, espousing peace.
June 1: Lennon’s anthem for peace, “Give Peace A Chance” recorded in hotel room
June 2: Bed-In ends
June 3: Lennon and Ono attend peace conference in Ottawa
June 4: 4 p.m. Lennon and Ono visit Niagara Falls with an entourage; Beatles song “The Ballad of John and Yoko” is released (The newspapers said, “Say what you doing in bed?” / I said, “We’re only trying to get us some peace”).
Exclusive Lennon-Ono honeymoon footage to be screened at museum event
Ono offers 40-year-old footage, sends regrets for city commemoration
by Corey Larocque , The Niagara Falls Review, 23 May 2009
Yoko Ono sent her regrets to an invitation to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her honeymoon trip to Niagara Falls with John Lennon, but the widow of the late Beatle is sending never-before-seen footage of their trip.
“We’ll have exclusive stuff,” said Bill Colclough, a public programmer at the Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum.
He learned through the mayor’s office Friday that Ono would not be able to attend an event the museum is organizing to pay tribute to one of the most famous honeymoon couples to visit Niagara Falls.
“But she is sending 10 minutes of footage. It’s a DVD. It’s 10 minutes of whatever they were doing when they were here,” Colclough said.
The museum is organizing “All We Are Saying,” a one-day musical event May 30 to pay tribute to Ono and Lennon’s visit to Niagara Falls.
Music students and the choir from the Drummond Hill Presbyterian church will perform, but other musicians are invited to make impromptu performances to celebrate Lennon and Ono’s legacy. The event will be held at the Battle Ground Hotel, a museum property on Lundy’s Lane east of Drummond Road.
“All We Are Saying” borrows from the lyrics of “Give Peace a Chance,” the anthem recorded in Montreal during Ono and Lennon’s famous”bed-in for peace.”
In May 1969, newlyweds Lennon and Ono held their famous “bed-in for peace” in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel. They went to Montreal because Lennon was not allowed into the United States because of an earlier marijuana charge.
The eccentric couple spent a week in bed, wearing white pyjamas and holding court with reporters, actors, musicians and other celebrities to espouse their philosophy on peace.
At the end of their stay in Montreal, they went to Toronto. While there, they skipped up to Niagara Falls. About nine seconds of footage of that trip is included in a music video for Lennon’s version of “Stand By Me.”
The footage on loan from Ono will be screened on a big-screen TV at the Drummond Hill Presbyterian church as part of the museum’s event.
Colclough said he wasn’t surprised to learn Ono couldn’t fit the event into her schedule because it was late notice. The museum got city council to issue the invitation in early May.
”The whole point was to recognize that anniversary. There are enough talented kids in the city to get them to come out and play and have some fun,” Colclough said.
Colclough and city clerk Dean Iorfida used the Internet, Facebook and Twitter to track down an address to send an invitation to Ono at her New York residence.
On May 11, Mayor Ted Salci sent a letter to Ono’s studio in New York City.
The Ono-Lennon honeymoon has become an almost-forgotten part of the bed-in for peace, Colclough said, adding the DVD footage would be a valuable addition to the museum’s collection. Museum staff will honour whatever terms under which Ono loans the DVD.
Yoko Ono offered key to the city
Museum to celebrate 1969 Lennon-Ono visit to Niagara Falls
by Corey Larocque , The Niagara Falls Review, 6 May 2009
Yoko Ono takes a lot of heat for supposedly breaking up the Beatles, but she’s welcome in Niagara Falls anytime, city council says.
Mayor Ted Salci will send an invitation to John Lennon’s widow, offering her the key to the city as a tribute to Lennon and Ono’s honeymoon 40 years ago in 1969, which included a brief stop in Niagara Falls.
Council voted Monday to extend the invitation as part of a tribute the museum is paying to this city’s tie to the Lennon-Ono marriage.
“They are to me, arguably, the most famous honeymoon couple that has ever been to the Honeymoon Capital and it has never really been recognized,” said Bill Colclough, a public programmer at the Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum.
The museum is hosting “All We Are Saying,” a day to celebrate music on May 30, the Saturday closest to June 1, the day Lennon and Ono visited Niagara Falls, Colclough said.
The event will be held at the Battle Ground Hotel museum, part of the Lundy’s Lane battlefield. It will feature local music students from the Ontario Conservatory of Music, Stamford Collegiate, and the Drummond Hill Presbyterian church choir.
But any musician is invited to drop by and perform.
Because it’s a tribute to Lennon and Ono, Colclough said he anticipates musicians will probably play the couple’s anthem, “Give Peace A Chance,” which was recorded during their Montreal “bed-in,” but the repertoire will feature more than just Beatles tunes or Lennon-Ono collaborations.
“If they want to sing ‘Give Peace A Chance,’ fine. If they want to play something from Metallica, that’s fine,” Colclough said.
The purpose is to have a fun event to celebrate the music and peaceful philosophy Lennon and Ono espoused. If Ono accepts the invitation in time for the event, she would be welcome, Colclough said. Otherwise the city could arrange to present her the key some other time.
“We figured let’s have some fun to show there’s a legacy of that visit,” Colclough said.
In a video for Lennon’s version of “Stand By Me,” there’s a nine-second segment showing Lennon and Ono at Table Rock House looking at the Horseshoe Falls, then posing in front of the world-famous icon.
The Lennon-Ono honeymoon became famous for the “bed-in” in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth hotel during which the eccentric couple spent a week in bed and held court with reporters from around the world.
The visit to Niagara Falls followed the Montreal stay and was corroborated by Roy Kerwood, then an 18-year-old photography student in 1969 who took pictures of Lennon and Ono while they were guests of the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal. The hotel was the site where they recorded “Give Peace A Chance.”
Kerwood knew a DJ with a radio station that was interviewing the couple in their hotel room. Kerwood went along, but stayed the week taking pictures of them at the hotel.
Kerwood followed them when they went to Toronto on June 1. When he arrived in Toronto, he learned Lennon and Ono had driven to Niagara Falls for the day.
“It was a grey day. It was a little bit rainy. They gout out of the car, looked at the falls, got back in the car and drove back to Toronto,” recalled Kerwood, whose whose Montreal photos are published in the “Beatles Anthology” book.
Ono is Lennon’s second wife. They were married in March 1969, less than three months after the Beatles’ last public appearance as a band.
Lennon was one-quarter of perhaps the biggest rock band in music history, along with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Lennon died in 1980 when he was gunned down by Mark David Chapman outside his Manhattan apartment. McCartney and Starr are the two surviving Beatles. Starr performed last year at the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort.
Other luminaries who have received the Niagara Falls key to the city include talk show host Regis Philbin and former premier Mike Harris.
All We Are Saying….
Battle Ground Hotel Museum, 6151 Lundy’s Lane, Niagara Falls
May 30th, 2009
John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent part of their Honeymoon in Niagara Falls on June 1, 1969. Celebrate the 40th anniversary of this historic visit with music by local artists on the grounds of the picturesque Battle Ground Hotel Museum.
For more information call the Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum at: 905-358-5082.