John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute marked the 42nd anniversary of John and Yoko's first "bed-in for peace" (March 25th, 1969) by detailing the episode and reflecting on its legacy.
The concept of the bed-ins and their “origins lie in Yoko’s days as a performance artist, and the notion that spectacular public action can be an art form in itself,” writes Paul DuNoyer in We All Shine On (1997). “John, too, was shrewdly aware of how the ‘bed-in’ concept might titillate the press and TV crews with its implicit (though ultimately unfulfilled) promise of sexual exhibitionism.” However, when newsmen entered the room, John and Yoko were sitting in bed, wearing pajamas. And they announced that they would stay in bed for a week as “our protest against all the suffering and violence in the world.” The idea was to use the amazing image that Lennon the Beatle possessed in order to promote peace.
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As a media event, the Amsterdam bed-in and subsequent ones held by John and Yoko certainly made headlines, but were they effective in helping the anti-war movement? It was a question that frustrated Lennon to no end. For example, when asked about the success of the bed-ins, an irritated Lennon responded, “Some guy wrote, ‘Now, because of your event in Amsterdam, I’m not joining the RAF, I’m growing my hair.’” And when a skeptical reporter asked whether staying in bed meant anything, Lennon replied, “Imagine if the American army stayed in bed for a week.”