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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 March, 2003, 13:39 GMT
Lennon's peace message still strong
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Lennon and Ono went to bed for peace
John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono has said he would have been "totally upset" by war in Iraq, as she opened his childhood house to the public.

Artist and singer Ono donated Mendips, the semi-detached Liverpool house where the Beatles legend lived with his Aunt Mimi, to the National Trust.

Her comments were a reminder that Lennon was almost as famous for his peace campaigning as well as his music, and often combined the two.

Describing the situation in Iraq as "terrible", Ono said Lennon would have "told off" President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair about "how stupid it is to go through this".

"As Gandhi said, 'An eye for an eye will make us all blind'," she added.

There's tension in the world with people who believe in solving things through violence, and there are other people who are really upset about this
Yoko Ono

The couple's stance on peace is well documented, and they gained huge publicity as newly-weds when they spent two weeks in bed in the name of peace in an Amsterdam hotel in 1969.

They stayed in the presidential suite of the Amsterdam Hilton, and invited the press in as they aired their views against the Vietnam war, in one of the 1960s' most enduring images.

By mid-May the couple had decided to do it all again - this time in New York, but because of an earlier marijuana arrest, the US Embassy in London refused to issue Lennon a visa.

So they headed to the Bahamas, but Lennon found the island too hot and humid to stay in bed for a week, so the couple staged a week-long "Bed-In" in a Montreal hotel instead.

They also requested recording equipment and a guitar, and oversized lyrics went up on the wall as Lennon and Ono, along with a roomful of people, recorded the song Give Peace A Chance.

Five weeks later the track was released in the US, reaching number 14 in the Billboard chart, and received airplay around the world.

The song and the phrase have become synonymous with peace and even today, more than 30 years later, anti-war protesters are using the song and the phrase to make their views known.

John Lennon
Imagine there's no countries/It isn't hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/ No religion too/Imagine all the people living life in peace
John Lennon's song Imagine
The couple also came up with their concept of Bagism back in 1969, saying it equalled "Love plus Peace".

They added that if everyone wore a bag over their head they would be judged on what they said, instead of what they looked like, and often climbed inside bags to try to prove their point.

One of the songs Lennon is most famous for is Imagine, which he recorded in 1971, accompanied by a black and white video of him singing it at a white piano.

The song was a number one hit when it was re-released shortly after Lennon's death in 1980, and in 1999 it was voted the UK's favourite lyric in a poll, and the second greatest song of the millennium.

Public affection for it led to another re-release just before Christmas 2000, when it went to number three in the charts.

Another single, Merry Christmas (War is Over), released by Lennon in 1972 has also endured, and is still played annually.

Peace song

Lennon's message of peace is still remembered today, and was rekindled at a Paul McCartney concert in Paris earlier this week.

He sang the song Here Today, which he wrote after Lennon was shot dead in 1980.

"Sometimes you don't say what you mean to say to people in life," he said.

"Sometimes you miss the opportunity, sometimes it's too late and you regret it."

As the song finished, the crowd responded by singing Lennon's anti-war song Give Peace a Chance - more than 30 years after it was written.

Lennon's childhood home opens
27 Mar 03 |  England
Couple stay in bed for peace
10 Feb 03 |  England
Ono launches peace prize
10 Oct 02 |  Entertainment
Yoko's anniversary peace call
06 Dec 00 |  Entertainment

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