How I Got In


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How I got in to John Lennon’s room .


Roy Kerwood

Roy Kerwood

At the age of 18 I was very fortunate to have the chance to be one of the photographers at the "Bed In For Peace" in Montreal. Below is the story of how I got into the "Bed In".

I knew the radio announcer who would host the live broadcast from the Queen Elizabeth Hotel on the first night of John Lennon's stay in Montreal. He had agreed that I could take photos for the station, all I had to do was get an official invitation. Richard Glanville-Brown of Capital Records agreed to give me 15 minutes with John and Yoko during the live broadcast.

Can you imagine! I was absolutely ecstatic!  I was going to meet John Lennon (and Yoko Ono) and I was going to be part of the live radio broadcast event.

I arrived at John Lennon's suite at 5:45 pm, having pushed my way through throngs of adoring fans who filled the corridors of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.  A security guard guarded the entrance to the suite, I announced that I was the photographer for CFOX Radio. I was then ushered into a room adjoining 'The Bed-In’ room and was told that the Montreal press would be finishing up with John in a few minutes. Roger Scott, Charles P. Rodney Chandler and I would then be introduced to John Lennon and Yoko Ono before 6 p.m. I would be given 15 minutes to take my photographs then I would have to leave.

So there I was, sitting in the room with John Lennon, Roger Scott, Charles P. Rodney Chandler and Yoko Ono. Roger was on the air interviewing John and I was seated in a corner of the room not more than 10 feet away, shooting images. After about 10 minutes of interviewing John, Roger had Charles P. Rodney Chandler play one of John’s songs. During the break I couldn't resist the temptation to go over and sit next to John and ask him a question. "John tell me what the meaning was behind Strawberry Fields Forever" I asked. "Well Roy, I will tell you. It was like this. We had 11 songs for the album and we needed one more song, so we wrote Strawberry Fields." "You mean, there was no deep psychedelic message about love, peace, eternity and all that?" I asked. "No nothing like that, it was just a song, Roy, just one of many songs. Other people gave them special meaning, depth and intent, we just wrote songs. The record company just kept telling us to put out more records and write more songs. We were just a bloody machine."

There was one illusion completely destroyed! I believed every single word of every song that was on every album, came from Valhalla directly to the Beatles, with no intermediary steps. Boy was I wrong!

So between songs, Roger would interview John, and during songs I would pepper John with questions. All the time snapping pictures with my beautiful Licaflex 35mm camera. At one point, late into evening I ran out of film. I went over to 'Chuckie' Chandler, as he was affectionately known in the radio world and borrowed a few dollars to buy some film. I dashed down to the lobby and picked up a new roll, then rushed back to the room. I stayed until the very end.

As I was leaving, Derek Taylor, John's secretary, assistant and friend, approached me and said that John was interested in looking at the pictures I had taken and could I possibly come over with some black and white proofs the next day.  No problem at all I said!  Although I had no darkroom and no way of developing the images, somehow I knew that I would be there the next day with the prints! Eventually I managed to get the use of a darkroom and enlarger, for a rental fee.  I rushed out and bought some photographic paper, got back to the darkroom and printed two 8 x 10 contact sheets.

The next day I returned to the QE Hotel and Derek brought me back into the room, where John sat up and looked at the images.  John told me that he wanted one  8 x 10 print  of each of the pictures I had taken.  As I was leaving Richard Glenville Brown took me aside and asked me if I would do a set of prints for Capital Records. No problem, I replied, so now I had  orders for 76 pictures at $10 each. That is $760 in one day, in one sitting, on the first professional job of my life in photography.

Thus began an eight day adventure with John, Yoko and friends, which included the writing and recording session of  the song "Give Peace A Chance".

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