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Yoko Ono Lennon
小野洋子

Ono at the opening ceremony of her art exhibition in São Paulo, Brazil. November 2007.
Background information
Birth name Yoko Ono
Born February 18, 1933 (1933-02-18) (age 77)
Tokyo, Japan
Genres Avant-garde, rock, pop, electronica, Shibuya kei, Fluxus
Occupations Artist, musician, peace activist
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1961–present
Labels Apple, Geffen, Polydor, Rykodisc, Astralwerks, Chimera Music
Associated acts John Lennon
The Plastic Ono Band

Yoko Ono (オノ・ヨーコ Ono Yōko?, kanji: 小野洋子; born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese-American artist, musician, author and peace activist, also known for her marriage to John Lennon and her groundbreaking work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking.

Ono brought feminism to the forefront through her music, and is also considered a pioneer and major influence of the 1970s new wave genre.

She is a supporter of gay rights and is known for her philanthropic contributions to the arts, peace and AIDS outreach programs.

Contents

Early life

Yoko Ono was born to mother Isoko Ono, the granddaughter of Zenjiro Yasuda of the Yasuda banking family, and to father Yeisuke Ono who was a descendant of an Emperor of Japan.[1] Two weeks before she was born, her father was transferred to San Francisco. The rest of the family followed soon after. In 1937, her father was transferred back to Japan and Ono was enrolled at Tokyo's Gakushuin, one of the most exclusive schools in Japan, which, before World War II, was open only to the Japanese imperial family and aristocrats of the House of Peers.

In 1940, the family moved to New York City, where Ono's father was working. In 1941, her father was transferred to Hanoi and the family returned to Japan. Ono was then enrolled in an exclusive Christian primary school run by the Mitsui family. She remained in Tokyo through the great fire-bombing of March 9, 1945. During the fire-bombing, she was sheltered with other members of her family in a special bunker in the Azabu district of Tokyo, far from the heavy bombing. After the bombing, Ono went to the Karuizawa mountain resort with members of her family. The younger members of the imperial family were sent to the same resort area.

Ono has said that she and her family were forced to beg for food while pulling their belongings in a wheelbarrow; and it was during this period in her life that Ono says she developed her "aggressive" attitude and understanding of "outsider" status when children taunted her and her brother, who were once well-to-do. Other stories have her mother bringing a large amount of property with them to the countryside which they bartered for food. One often quoted story has her mother bartering a German-made sewing machine for sixty kilograms of rice with which to feed the family. Her father remained in the city and, unbeknownst to them, was eventually incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in China. In an interview by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman on October 16, 2007, Ono said of her father "He was in French Indochina which is Vietnam actually... in Saigon. He was in a concentration camp."

By April 1946, the Peers' school was reopened and Ono was enrolled. The school, located near the imperial palace, had not been damaged by the war. She graduated in 1951 and was accepted into the philosophy program of Gakushuin University, the first woman ever to be accepted into that department of the exclusive university. However, after two semesters, she left the school.[2]

Education, marriage, and family

Ono's family moved to Scarsdale, New York after the war. She left Japan to rejoin the family and enrolled in nearby Sarah Lawrence College. While her parents approved of her college choice, they were dismayed at her lifestyle, and, according to Ono, chastised her for befriending people they considered to be "beneath" her. In spite of this, Ono loved meeting artists, poets and others who represented the "Bohemian" freedom she longed for herself. Visiting galleries and art "happenings" in the city whetted her desire to publicly display her own artistic endeavors. La Monte Young, her first important contact in the New York art world, helped Ono start her career by using her Chambers Street loft in Tribeca as a performance space. At one performance, Ono set a painting on fire; fortunately John Cage had advised her to treat the paper with flame retardant.

In 1956, she married composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. They divorced in 1962 after living apart for several years. On November 28 that same year, Ono married an American named Anthony Cox. Cox was a jazz musician, film producer and art promoter. He had heard of Ono in New York and tracked her down to a mental institution in Japan, where her family had placed her following a suicide attempt. Ono had neglected to finalize her divorce from Ichiyanagi, so their marriage was annulled on March 1, 1963 and Cox and Ono married on June 6. Their daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, was born on August 3, 1963.

The marriage quickly fell apart but the Coxes stayed together for the sake of their joint career. They performed at Tokyo's Sogetsu Hall with Ono lying atop a piano played by John Cage. Soon the Coxes returned to New York with Kyoko. In the early years of this marriage, Ono left most of Kyoko's parenting to Cox while she pursued her art full-time and Tony managed publicity. After she divorced Cox on February 2, 1969, Ono and Cox engaged in a bitter legal battle for custody of Kyoko, which resulted in Ono being awarded full custody. However, in 1971, Cox disappeared with eight-year-old Kyoko, in violation of the custody order. Cox subsequently became a Christian and raised Kyoko in a Christian group known as the Church of the Living Word (or "the Walk"). Cox left the group with Kyoko in 1977. Living an underground existence, Cox changed the girl's name to Rosemary. Cox and Kyoko sent Ono a sympathy message after Lennon's 1980 murder. Afterwards, the bitterness between the parents lessened slightly and Ono publicly announced in People Magazine that she would no longer seek out the now-adult Kyoko, but still wished to make contact with her.

Ono and Kyoko were reunited in 1994. Kyoko lives in Colorado and avoids publicity. [See section on Kyoko, below.]

Artwork

Ono was a sometime member of Fluxus, a loose association of Dada-inspired avant-garde artists that developed in the early 1960s. Fluxus founder George Maciunas, a friend of Ono's during the 60s, admired her work and promoted it with enthusiasm. Maciunas invited Ono to join the Fluxus group, but she declined because she wanted to remain an independent artist[3]. John Cage was one of the most important influences on Ono's performance art. It was her relationship to Ichiyanagi Toshi, who was a pupil of John Cage’s legendary class of Experimental Composition at the New School, that would introduce her to the unconventional avant-garde, neo-Dadaism of John Cage and his protégés in New York City.

Almost immediately after John Cage finished teaching at the New School for Social Research in the Summer of 1960, Ono was determined to rent a place to present her works along with works of other New York avant-garde artists. She eventually found a cheap loft in downtown Manhattan at 112 Chambers Street that she used as a studio and living space.[4]. Composer La Monte Young urged Ono to let him organize concerts in the loft, and Ono acquiesced.[4] Both artists began organizing a series of events in Ono’s loft at 112 Chambers Street, and both Young and Ono claimed to have been the primary curator of these events[5], but Ono claims to have been eventually pushed into a subsidiary role by Young.[6] The Chambers Street series hosted some of Ono’s earliest conceptual artwork including Painting to Be Stepped On, which was a scrap of canvas on the floor that became a completed artwork upon the accrual of footprints. Participants faced a moral dilemma presented by Ono that a work of art no longer needed to be mounted on a wall, inaccessible, but an irregular piece of canvas as low and dirty as to have to be completed by being stepped on.

Ono was an explorer of conceptual art and performance art. An example of her performance art is "Cut Piece" (this instance of performance art is also known as a happening), first performed in 1964 at the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo. Cut Piece had one destructive verb as its instruction: “Cut.” Ono executed the performance in Tokyo by walking on stage and casually kneeling on the floor in a draped garment. Audience members were requested to come on stage and begin cutting until she was naked. Cut Piece was one of Ono’s many opportunities to outwardly communicate her internal suffering through her art. Ono had originally been exposed to Jean-Paul Sartre’s theories of existentialism in college, and in order to appease her own human suffering, Ono enlisted her viewers to complete her works of art in order to complete her identity as well. Besides a commentary on identity, Cut Piece was a commentary on the need for social unity and love. It was also a piece that touched on issues of gender and sexism as well as the greater, universal affliction of human suffering and loneliness. Ono performed this piece again in London and other venues, garnering drastically different attention depending on the audience. In Japan, the audience was shy and cautious. In London, the audience participators became zealous to get a piece of her clothing and became violent to the point where she had to be protected by security. An example of her conceptual art includes her book of instructions called Grapefruit. This book, first produced in 1964, includes surreal, Zen-like instructions that are to be completed in the mind of the reader, for example: "Hide and seek Piece: Hide until everybody goes home. Hide until everybody forgets about you. Hide until everybody dies." The book, an example of Heuristic art, was published several times, most widely distributed by Simon and Schuster in 1971, and reprinted by them again in 2000. Many of the scenarios in the book would be enacted as performance pieces throughout Ono's career and have formed the basis for her art exhibitions, including one highly publicized show at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York that was nearly closed by a fan riot.

Ono was also an experimental filmmaker who made sixteen films between 1964 and 1972, and gained particular renown for a 1966 Fluxus film called simply No. 4, but often referred to as "Bottoms". The film consists of a series of close-ups of human buttocks as the subject walks on a treadmill. The screen is divided into four almost equal sections by the elements of the gluteal cleft and the horizontal gluteal crease. The soundtrack consists of interviews with those who are being filmed as well as those considering joining the project. In 1996, the watch manufacturing company Swatch produced a limited edition watch that commemorates this film. (Ono also acted in an obscure exploitation film of the sixties, Satan's Bed.)

John Lennon once described her as "the world's most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does."[7] Her circle of friends in the New York art world has included Kate Millett, Nam June Paik, Dan Richter, Jonas Mekas, Merce Cunningham, Judith Malina, Erica Abeel, Fred DeAsis, Peggy Guggenheim, Betty Rollin, Shusaku Arakawa, Adrian Morris, Stefan Wolpe, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol, as well as Maciunas and Young.

In 2001, YES YOKO ONO, a forty-year retrospective of Ono's work, received the prestigious International Association of Art Critics USA Award for Best Museum Show Originating in New York City, considered one of the highest accolades in the museum profession. In 2002 Ono was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for work in assorted media. In 2005 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Japan Society of New York.

Ono received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Liverpool University in 2001. In 2002 she was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Bard College.

In 2008 she showed a large retrospective exhibition, Between The Sky And My Head, at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany, and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK.

In 2009 she showed new and old work as part of her show [ANTON'S MEMORY] in Venice, Italy. She also received a Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale in 2009.

Life with John Lennon

John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1969).

Ono first met John Lennon when he visited a preview of an exhibition of Ono's at the Indica Gallery in London on November 9, 1966. Lennon's first personal encounter with Ono involved her passing him a card that read simply "Breathe". However, according to the Japan Society press release for the "Y E S YOKO ONO" retrospective exhibition from 2000, the Ono work which Lennon saw at the Indica Gallery show in 1966 that awakened him to her was "Ceiling Painting," described as follows: "The viewer is invited to climb a white ladder, where at the top a magnifying glass, attached by a chain, hangs from a frame on the ceiling. The viewer uses the reading glass to discover a block letter "instruction" beneath the framed sheet of glass - it says "Y E S." It was through this work that Ono met her third husband and longtime collaborator, John Lennon."

Another work displayed a real apple with a card reading "APPLE." When John was told that the price of the apple was £200 (approximately £2300 or $4600 in 2007 money), he later reported that he thought "This is a joke, this is pretty funny".[8] Another display was a white board with nails in it with a sign inviting visitors to hammer a nail into its surface. Since the show was not beginning until the following day, Ono refused to allow Lennon to hammer in a nail. The gallery owner whisked her away, saying, "Don't you know who that is? He's a millionaire!" Upon returning to John, she said he could hammer in a nail for five shillings. Lennon replied, "I'll give you an imaginary five shillings if you let me hammer in an imaginary nail".[9]

In a 1981 interview, Ono revealed, "I used to say to [Lennon], ‘I think you’re a closet fag, you know.’ Because after we started to live together, John would say to me, ‘Do you know why I like you? Because you look like a bloke in drag.’"[10]

Lennon referred to Ono in many of his songs. While still a Beatle he wrote "The Ballad of John and Yoko", and he alluded to her indirectly in "Julia", a song dedicated to his mother, with the lyrics: "Ocean child calls me, so I sing a song of love" (The kanji 洋子 ("Yoko") means "ocean child").

Ono and Lennon collaborated on many albums, beginning in 1968 when Lennon was still a Beatle, with Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, an album of experimental and difficult electronic music. That same year, the couple contributed an experimental piece to The White Album called "Revolution 9". Ono also contributed backing vocals (on "Birthday"), and one line of lead vocals (on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill") to The White Album. Many of the couple's later albums were released under the name the Plastic Ono Band. The couple also appeared together at concerts. When Lennon was invited to play with Frank Zappa at the Fillmore on June 5, 1971, Ono joined in as well.

In 1969, the Plastic Ono Band's first album, Live Peace in Toronto 1969, was recorded during the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival Festival. In addition to Lennon and Ono, this first incarnation of the group consisted of guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Klaus Voormann, and drummer Alan White. The first half of their performance consisted of rock standards, and during the second half, Ono took the microphone and along with the band performed an avant garde set, ending with music that consisted mainly of feedback, while Ono screamed and sang.[11]

In November of 1968 Yoko miscarried a male child which they named John Ono Lennon II. Ono and Lennon married on March 20, 1969 in Gibraltar.

Lennon and Yoko recording "Give Peace a Chance".

Ono released her first solo album, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band in 1970, as a companion piece to Lennon's better-known John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The two albums have almost identical covers: Ono's featured a photo of her leaning on Lennon, and Lennon's had a photo of him leaning on Ono. Her album included raw and quite harsh vocals that were possibly influenced by Japanese opera, but bear much in common with sounds in nature (especially those made by animals) and free jazz techniques used by wind and brass players. The performers included Ornette Coleman and other renowned free jazz performers. The personnel was supplemented by John Lennon, Ringo Starr and minor performers. Some songs consisted of wordless vocalizations, in a style that would influence Meredith Monk, and other musical artists who have used screams and vocal noise in lieu of words. The album peaked at #183 on the US charts.

In 1971, Ono released Fly - a double album. On this release Ono explored slightly more conventional psychedelic rock with tracks like "Midsummer New York" and "Mind Train", in addition to a number of Fluxus experiments. She also received minor airplay with the ballad "Mrs. Lennon". Perhaps the most famous track from the album is "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow)", an ode to Ono's kidnapped daughter.

After the Beatles disbanded, Lennon and Ono cohabited in London and then in New York. Their relationship was very strained as Lennon faced near-certain deportation from the United States based on the British drug charges and Ono was separated from her daughter, who would have remained behind if Ono followed Lennon back to England. The couple separated in 1973 and the two began living separate lives, Ono pursuing her career in New York and Lennon living in Los Angeles with personal assistant May Pang in a period commonly referred to as his "lost weekend".

In 1975, the couple reconciled. Their son, Sean, was born on Lennon's 35th birthday, October 9, 1975. After Sean's birth, the couple lived in relative seclusion at the Dakota in New York. John Lennon retired from music to become a househusband caring for their child, until shortly before his murder in December 1980, which Ono witnessed at close range. Ono has stated that the couple were thinking about going out to dinner (after spending several hours in a recording studio), but were returning to their apartment instead, because John wanted to see Sean before he was put to bed.[12] Following the murder, she went into complete seclusion for an extended period.

Memorials

Yoko Ono delivering flowers to Lennon's memorial in 2005.

Ono funded the construction and maintenance of the Strawberry Fields memorial in New York City's Central Park, across from where they lived and Lennon died. It was officially dedicated on October 9, 1985, what would have been his 45th birthday.

In 2000, she founded the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Saitama, Japan.

On October 9, 2007, Ono dedicated a new memorial called the Imagine Peace Tower, located on the island of Viðey, 1 km outside the Skarfabakki harbour in Reykjavík in Iceland. Each year, between October 9 and December 8, it projects a vertical beam of light high into the sky.

In 2009, Ono created an exhibit called John Lennon: THE NEW YORK CITY YEARS for the NYC Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex. The exhibit uses music, photographs and personal items to depict Lennon's life in New York. A portion of the cost of each ticket to the exhibition is donated to Spirit Foundation, a charitable foundation set up by Lennon and Ono.

Musical career

Ono collaborated with experimental luminaries such as John Cage and jazz legend Ornette Coleman. In 1961, years before meeting Lennon, she had her first major public performance in a concert at the 258-seat Carnegie Recital Hall (not the larger "Main Hall"). This concert featured radical experimental music and performances. She had a second engagement at the Carnegie Recital Hall in 1965, in which she debuted "Cut Piece."

In early 1980, Lennon heard Lene Lovich and The B-52's' "Rock Lobster" in a nightclub, and it reminded him of Ono's musical sound. He took this as an indication that her sound had reached the mainstream.[13] Indeed, many musicians, particularly those of the new wave movement, have paid tribute to Ono (both as an artist in her own right, and as a muse and iconic figure). For example, Elvis Costello recorded a version of Ono's song "Walking on Thin Ice", the B-52's covered "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)" (shortening the title to "Don't Worry") and Sonic Youth included a performance of Ono's early conceptual "Voice Piece for Soprano" in their experimental album SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century. One of Barenaked Ladies's best-known songs is "Be My Yoko Ono", and Dar Williams recorded a song called "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono." The punk rock singer Patti Smith invited Ono to participate in "Meltdown", a two-week music festival that Smith organized in London; Ono performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall.

On December 8, 1980, Lennon and Ono were in the studio working on Ono's song Walking on Thin Ice. When they returned to The Dakota, their home in New York City, Lennon was shot dead by Mark David Chapman, a deranged fan who had been stalking Lennon for two months. "Walking on Thin Ice (For John)" was released as a single less than a month later, and became Ono's first chart success, peaking at No. 58 and gaining major underground airplay. In 1981, she released the album Season of Glass with the striking cover photo of Lennon's shattered, bloody spectacles next to a half-filled glass of water, with a window overlooking Central Park in the background. This photograph sold at an auction in London in April 2002 for about $13,000. In the liner notes to Season of Glass, Ono explained that the album is not dedicated to Lennon because "he would have been offended—he was one of us."

Some time after her husband's murder, Ono began a relationship with antiques dealer Sam Havadtoy, which lasted until 2001.[14] She had also been linked to art dealer and Greta Garbo confidante Sam Green, who is mentioned in Lennon's will.[15] In 1982, she released It's Alright (I See Rainbows). The cover featured Ono in her famous wrap-around sunglasses, looking towards the sun, while on the back the ghost of Lennon looks over her and their son. The album scored minor chart success and airplay with the singles "My Man" and "Never Say Goodbye."

In 1984, a tribute album titled Every Man Has a Woman was released, featuring a selection of Ono songs performed by artists such as Elvis Costello, Roberta Flack, Eddie Money, Rosanne Cash and Harry Nilsson. It was one of Lennon's projects that he never got to finish. Later that year, Ono and Lennon's final album, Milk and Honey, was released as an unfinished demo.

Ono's final album of the 1980s was Starpeace, a concept album that she intended as an antidote to Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense system. On the cover, a warm, smiling Ono holds the Earth in the palm of her hand. Starpeace became Ono's most successful non-Lennon effort: the single "Hell in Paradise" was a hit, reaching No. 16 on the US dance charts and #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as major airplay on MTV.

In 1986 Ono set out on a goodwill world tour for Starpeace, mostly visiting Eastern European countries.

Ono went on hiatus until signing with Rykodisc in 1992 to release the comprehensive six-disc box set Onobox. It included remastered highlights from all of Ono's solo albums, as well as unreleased material from the 1974 "lost weekend" sessions. There was also a one-disc "greatest hits" release of highlights from Onobox, simply titled Walking on Thin Ice. That year, she agreed to sit down for an extensive interview with music journalist Mark Kemp for a cover story in the alternative music magazine Option. The story took a revisionist look at Ono's music for a new generation of fans more accepting of her role as a pioneer in the merger of pop and the avant-garde.

In 1994, Ono produced her own musical entitled New York Rock, featuring Broadway renditions of her songs. In 1995, she released Rising, a collaboration with her son Sean and his band, Ima. Rising spawned a world tour that traveled through Europe, Japan and the United States. The following year, she collaborated with various alternative rock musicians for an EP entitled Rising Mixes. Guest remixers of Rising material included Cibo Matto, Ween, Tricky, and Thurston Moore.

In 1997, Rykodisc reissued all her solo albums on CD, from Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band through Starpeace. Ono and her engineer Rob Stevens personally remastered the audio, and various bonus tracks were added including outtakes, demos and live cuts.

2001 saw the release of Ono's feminist concept album Blueprint for a Sunrise. In 2002 Yoko joined The B-52's in New York for their 25th anniversary concerts. She came out for the encore and performed Rock Lobster with the band. Starting in 2002, some DJs remixed other Ono songs for dance clubs. For the remix project, she dropped her first name and became known as simply "ONO", as a response to the "Oh, no!" jokes that dogged her throughout her career. Ono had great success with new versions of "Walking on Thin Ice", remixed by top DJs and dance artists including Pet Shop Boys, Orange Factory, Peter Rauhofer, and Danny Tenaglia. In April 2003, Ono's Walking on Thin Ice (Remixes) was rated No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's "Dance/Club Play Chart", gaining Ono her first number one hit. On the 12" mix of the original 1981 version of "Walking on Thin Ice", Lennon can be heard remarking "I think we've just got your first No.1, Yoko." She returned to No. 1 on the same charts in November 2004 with "Everyman...Everywoman...", a reworking of her song "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him", in January 2008 with "No No No", and in August 2008 with "Give Peace a Chance." In June 2009, at the age of 76, Ono scored her fifth No. 1 hit on the "Dance/Club Play Chart" with "I'm Not Getting Enough."

Ono released the album Yes, I'm a Witch in 2007, a collection of remixes and covers from her back catalog by various artists including The Flaming Lips, Cat Power, Antony, DJ Spooky, Porcupine Tree and Peaches, released in February 2007, along with a special edition of Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band [16].Yes I'm a Witch has been critically well-received.[17] A similar compilation of Ono dance remixes entitled Open Your Box was also released in April of that year.[18]

In 2009 Ono recorded Between My Head and the Sky, her first album to be released as "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band" since 1973's Feeling the Space. The all-new Plastic Ono Band lineup includes Sean Lennon, Cornelius and Yuka Honda amongst others. On February 16, 2010, Sean organized a concert in Brooklyn, New York called "We Are Plastic Ono Band," at which Yoko performed her music with Sean, Clapton, Klaus Voorman and Jim Keltner, for the first time since the 1970s. Guests including Bette Midler, Paul Simon and his son Harper, and principal members of Sonic Youth interpreted her songs in their own styles.[19]

During her career, Ono has collaborated with a diverse group of artists and musicians including John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada, Naoki Shimizu and Yoko Araki), Frank Zappa, Sean Lennon, Yuka Honda, Jim Keltner, Earl Slick, Peaches, John Cage, David Tudor, George Maciunas, Ornette Coleman, Charlotte Moorman, George Brecht, Jackson Mac Low, Jonas Mekas, Fred DeAsis, Yvonne Rainer, La Monte Young, Richard Maxfield, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Yo La Tengo, and Andy Warhol (in 1987 Ono was one of the speakers at Warhol's funeral). As a dance music artist, Ono has worked with re-mixers/producers such as Basement Jaxx, Pet Shop Boys, Cat Power, Bill Kates, Tricky, Thurston Moore, Nick Vernier Band, Cibo Matto, Billy Martin, DJ Spooky, Apples In Stereo, Damien Price, The Flaming Lips, DJ Chernobyl, Bimbo Jones, DJ Dan, Craig Armstrong, Jorge Artajo, Shuji Nabara, and Konrad Behr, among others.

Political activism

Since the 1960s, Ono has been an activist for peace and human rights. After their wedding, Lennon and Ono held a "Bed-In for Peace" in their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel in March 1969. The press fought to get in, presuming that the two would be having sex for their cameras, but they instead found a pair of newlyweds wearing pajamas and eager to talk about and promote world peace. Another Bed-In in May 1969 in Montreal, Canada, resulted in the recording of their first single, "Give Peace A Chance", a Top 20 hit for the newly-christened Plastic Ono Band. Other demonstrations with John included Bagism. Introduced in Vienna, Bagism encouraged a disregard for physical appearance in judging others.

In the 1970s, Ono and Lennon became close to many radical leaders, including Bobby Seale, Jerry Rubin, Michael X, John Sinclair (for whom they organized a benefit after he was imprisoned), Angela Davis, Kate Millett, and David Peel. They appeared on The Mike Douglas Show and took over hosting duties for a week, during which Ono spoke at length about the evils of racism and sexism. Ono remained outspoken in her support of feminism, and openly bitter about the racism she had experienced from rock fans, especially in the United Kingdom. For example, an Esquire article of the period was titled "John Rennon's Excrusive Gloupie" and featured an unflattering David Levine cartoon.

In 2002, Ono inaugurated her own peace award by giving $50,000 (£31,900) prize money to artists living "in regions of conflict." Israeli and Palestinian artists were the first recipients.

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2003, on the eve of the Iraqi invasion by the Americans and the British, Ono heard about a romantic couple holding a love-in protest in their tiny bedroom in Addingham, West Yorkshire. She sent the couple, Andrew and Christine Gale, some flowers and wished them the best.[20]

In 2004, Ono remade her song "Everyman... Everywoman..." to support same-sex marriage, releasing remixes that included "Every Man Has a Man Who Loves Him" and "Every Woman Has a Woman Who Loves Her."

Relationship with Paul McCartney

Ono occasionally disagreed with Beatle Paul McCartney about issues such as the writing credits for many Beatles songs. While the Beatles were still together, every song written by Lennon or McCartney, apart from those appearing on the album Please Please Me, was credited as Lennon-McCartney regardless of whether the song was a collaboration or a solo project. Also, as written in Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band That Shook Youth, Gender, and the World, before Ono first met John in 1966, she was trying to contact Paul to donate some music scores that he and John had written for an exhibit.[citation needed]

After Lennon's death, McCartney attempted to change the order to "McCartney-Lennon" for songs such as "Yesterday" that were solely or predominantly written by him, but Ono would not allow it. She says she felt this broke an agreement that the two had made while Lennon was still alive. However, McCartney has stated that such an agreement never existed. The two other Beatles agreed that the credits should remain as they always had been and McCartney withdrew his request. However, the dispute resurfaced in 2002. On his Back in the U.S. Live 2002 album, 19 Beatles' songs are described as "written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon."[citation needed] However earlier albums released by both Lennon and McCartney also modified credits for Beatles songs. In 1976, McCartney released a live album called Wings Over America which credited several Beatles tracks as P. McCartney-J. Lennon compositions. Similarly, a 1998 John Lennon anthology, Lennon Legend, listed the composer of "Give Peace a Chance" as John Lennon rather than the original composing credit of Lennon-McCartney.[citation needed]

In 1995, McCartney and his family collaborated with Ono and Sean Lennon to create the song "Hiroshima Sky is Always Blue", which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of that Japanese city. Of Ono, McCartney stated: "I thought she was a cold woman. I think that's wrong ... she's just the opposite ... I think she's just more determined than most people to be herself." McCartney did not invite Ono to his wife Linda's memorial service in 1998.[21]

Accepting an award at the 2005 Q Awards, Ono mentioned that Lennon had once felt insecure about his songwriting, and asked her why other musicians "always cover Paul's songs, and never mine".[22] Ono had responded, "You're a good songwriter; it's not June with spoon that you write. You're a good singer, and most musicians are probably a little bit nervous about covering your songs".[23] Ono later issued a statement claiming she did not mean any offense, as her comment was an attempt to console her husband, not attack McCartney; she went on to insist that she respected McCartney and that it was the press who had taken her comments out of context. She also said, "People need light-hearted topics like me and Paul fighting to escape all the horror of the world, but it's not true anymore...We have clashed many times in the past. But I do respect Paul now for having been John's partner and he respects me for being John's wife."[22] At the June 2006 Las Vegas premiere of Cirque du Soleil's Beatles performance "Love", pictures were taken of her and Paul hugging. They appeared again together in July 2007 for the show's one year anniversary.

Strained relationship with Cynthia Lennon

Her relationship with Cynthia Lennon (John's first wife) remains strained. In a recent BBC interview, Cynthia Lennon said Ono's behaviour toward Julian Lennon after his father's death was "shameful" and remarked of Ono's "lonely" existence in her "ivory tower". In her 2006 biography, John, (London: Hodder; U.S.: Crown Publishing) Cynthia Lennon portrays Ono as a selfish, spiteful woman. In the book she describes learning about Ono's control over John (who referred to Ono as "mother") in the period in the mid-1970s when Ono chose May Pang to be John's companion. Cynthia hypothesizes that John had a "mother complex," allowing himself to be dominated by strong women and draws a parallel between his relationship with Ono and that with his domineering aunt Mimi Smith in childhood.

Recent life

At the Liverpool Biennial in 2004, Yoko flooded the city with banners, bags, stickers, postcards, flyers, posters and badges, with two images: one of a woman’s naked breast, the other of the same woman's vulva. The piece, titled "My Mummy Was Beautiful", was dedicated to Lennon's mother, Julia, who had died when Lennon was a teenager. According to Ono the work was meant to be innocent, not shocking. She was attempting to replicate the experience of a baby looking up at his or her mother’s body: the mother’s pudendum and breasts are a child’s introduction to humanity.

The Dakota, Ono's residence since 1973

Some in Liverpool, including Lennon's half-sister, Julia Baird, found the citywide installation offensive. Indeed, the BBC program North West Tonight invited viewers to phone in their opinion of the piece, and of the 6,000 viewers who responded 92% wanted the images removed. Others appreciated the conceptuality of the work. Chris Brown, of Liverpool's Daily Post, wrote: "Many have loved the work… and Ono has again managed to get the eyes of the world looking in our direction."[citation needed]

Ono performed at the opening ceremony for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, wearing white, like many of the others who performed during the ceremony, to symbolize the snow that makes the Winter Olympics possible. She read a free verse poem calling for peace in the world. The poem was an intro to a performance of the song "Imagine", Lennon's anthem to world peace.

On December 13, 2006, Ono's bodyguard was arrested after he was taped trying to extort Ono for two million dollars, threatening to release private conversations and photographs.[24]

On June 26, 2007, Ono appeared on Larry King Live along with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Olivia Harrison. Ono headlined the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago on July 14, 2007, performing a full set that mixed music and performance art. She sang "Mulberry", a song about her time in the countryside after the Japanese collapse in World War II for only the third time in her life, with Thurston Moore. Ono had previously performed the song once with John Lennon and once with Sean Lennon and told the audience of thousands that she will never perform it again.

On October 9, 2007 Ono officially lit the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island in Iceland, dedicated to peace and to her late husband, John Lennon.

Yoko returned to Liverpool for the 2008 Liverpool Biennial, where she unveiled "Sky Ladders" in the ruins of Church of St Luke, Liverpool (which was largely destroyed during World War II and now stands roofless as a memorial to those killed in the Liverpool Blitz).

In May 2009 Yoko designed a T-shirt for the second 'Fashion against AIDS'campaign/collection of HIV/AIDS awareness NGO Designers against AIDS and H&M, with the statement 'Imagine Peace' depicted in 21 different languages [25]

On March 31, 2009, Yoko Ono went to the inauguration of the exhibition: "Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko" to mark the 40th anniversary of Lennon-Ono bed-in at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada from May 26 to June 2, 1969.

Yoko appeared on-stage at Microsoft's June 1, 2009 E3 press conference with Olivia Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to promote The Beatles: Rock Band video game.[26]

She appears on the new Basement Jaxx album, 'Scars', featuring on the single, 'Day of the Sunflowers (We March On)'.[27]

On February 16th, 2010, Yoko Ono revived an early Plastic Ono Band line-up with Eric Clapton, including Paul Simon, Bette Midler and others as special guests.[28] [See "Musical Career" above.]

Sean Lennon

Lennon and Ono would endure two more miscarriages before 1975, when they finally succeeded in having a child together, whom they named Sean Taro Ono Lennon. Sean was born on Lennon's 35th birthday, October 9, 1975.

Kyoko Chan Cox

Kyoko Chan Cox (born August 3, 1963) is the daughter of Ono and film producer Anthony Cox, and is Sean Lennon's half-sister. Kyoko spent her earliest years surrounded by a variety of artists, musicians, and film-makers. Cox raised her alone from 1965 to 1969 after Ono left him. She divorced him in 1969.

In 1971, while studying with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Majorca, Cox accused Ono of abducting Kyoko from his hotel. A large number of accusations were then made by both parents toward each other and the matter of custody. Cox eventually moved to Houston, Texas and converted to Evangelical Christianity with his new wife, who was originally from Houston. At the end of 1971, a custody hearing in Houston went against Cox. In violation of the order, he took Kyoko and disappeared. Ono then launched a search for her daughter with the aid of the police and private investigators.[29] Ono wrote a song about her daughter, "Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow)", which appears on Lennon and Ono's album Live Peace In Toronto 1969 and her album Fly. Both versions feature Eric Clapton on guitar. Kyoko is also referenced on the first line of "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" when Yoko whispers "Happy Christmas Kyoko" followed by Lennon whispering "Happy Christmas Julian".

Cox had fled to Los Angeles where he lived with a friend who was associated with the Church of the Living Word. He joined the group in 1972 and then lived in various communities associated with the group in Iowa and California. In 1977, Cox left the group. In 1978, Cox and Kyoko stayed with the Jesus People USA commune in Chicago.

After the murder of John Lennon in 1980, Cox along with Kyoko (then 17 years old) sent a message of sympathy to Ono but did not reveal their location. Ono later printed an open letter to Kyoko saying how she missed her but that she would cease her attempts to find her.[30]

Kyoko next appeared in 1986 when she was listed as an associate producer on a documentary film made by Cox about his involvement in the Church of the Living Word called Vain Glory. Cox resurfaced in public in the same year, but Kyoko did not.

In 1987, Kyoko appeared on the title track of American English by the British pop band Wax; this apparently is her only musical credit to date.

In 1994 (some sources say 1998), Kyoko re-established a connection with her mother that resulted in a 2001 reunion. Kyoko's daughter Emi also met her grandmother at this time. Although Kyoko avoids publicity, she did grant an interview where she revealed that her reunion with Ono was a very happy one, and they remain in close contact to this day. Kyoko made a rare public appearance in August 2005 at the opening of Lennon, the Musical.

Today, Kyoko lives in Colorado.

Discography (with U.S. chart peak positions)

Albums

[*] = with John Lennon

Singles

Year Song U.K. U.S. Dance Album
1971 "Mrs. Lennon"/"Midsummer New York" - - Fly
1971 "Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)" - - Fly
1972 "Now or Never"/"Move on Fast" - - Approximately Infinite Universe
1972 "Mind Train"/"Listen, the Snow is Falling" - - -
1973 "Death of Samantha"/"Yang Yang" - - Approximately Infinite Universe
1973 "Josejoi Banzai (Part 1)"/"|"Josejoi Banzai (Part 2)" (Japan-only release) - - -
1973 "Woman Power"/"Men, Men, Men" - - Feeling the Space
1973 "Run, Run, Run"/"Men, Men, Men" - - Feeling the Space
1974 "Yume O Motou (Let's Have A Dream)"/"It Happened" (Japan-only release) - - -
1981 "Walking on Thin Ice"/"It Happened" 35 13 Season of Glass (1997 re-release), Double Fantasy (2000 re-relase)
1981 "No, No, No"/"Will you Touch Me" - - Season of Glass
1982 "My Man"/"Let The Tears Dry" - - It's Alright (I See Rainbows)
1982 "Never Say Goodbye"/"Loneliness" - - It's Alright (I See Rainbows)
1985 "Hell in Paradise"/"Hell in Paradise (instr.)" - 12 Starpeace
1985 "Cape Clear"/"Walking on Thin Ice [Re-edit]" (promo) - - Starpeace
2001 "Open Your Box [Remixes]" - 25 Open Your Box (2007)
2002 "Kiss Kiss Kiss [Remixes]" - 20 Open Your Box (2007)
2002 "Yang Yang [Remixes]" - 17 Open Your Box (2007)
2003 "Walking on Thin Ice [Remixes]" 35 1 Open Your Box (2007)
2003 "Will I" [Remixes]/"Fly" [Remixes] - 19 Open Your Box (2007)
2004 "Hell in Paradise [Remixes]" - 4 Open Your Box (2007)
2004 "Everyman… Everywoman… [Reaixes]" - 1 Open Your Box (2007)
2007 "You’re The One [Remixes]" - 2 Open Your Box (2007)
2007 "No, No, No [Remixes]" - 1 Season of Glass (1981)
2008 "Give Peace a Chance [Remixes]" - 1 -
2009 "Day Of The Sunflowers (With Basement Jaxx) " - - Scars (2009)
2009 "I'm Not Getting Enough" - 1 Blueprint for a Sunrise (2001)
2010 "Give Me Something" [Remixes] - 8 Open Your Box (2007)

B-Side appearances on John Lennon singles:

Compilations

Bibliography

  • Grapefruit (1964)
  • Summer of 1980 (1983)
  • ただの私 (Tada-no Watashi - Just Me!) (1986)
  • The John Lennon Family Album (1990)
  • Instruction Paintings (1995)
  • Grapefruit Juice (1998)
  • YES YOKO ONO (2000)
  • Odyssey of a Cockroach (2005)
  • Imagine Yoko (2005)
  • Memories of John Lennon (editor) (2005)

Films

  • Eye blink (1966, 5 mins)
  • Bottoms (1966, 5½ mins)
  • Match (1966, 5 mins)
  • Cut Piece (1965, 9 mins)
  • Wrapping Piece (1967, approx. 20 mins., music by Delia Derbyshire)
  • Film No. 4 (Bottoms) (1966/1967, 80 mins)
  • Bottoms, advertisement/commercial (1966/1967, approx. 2 mins)
  • Two Virgins (1968, approx. 20 mins)
  • Film No. Five (Smile) (1968, 51 mins)
  • Rape (1969, 77 mins)
  • Bed-In, (1969, 74 mins)
  • Let It Be, (1970, ? mins)
  • Apotheosis (1970, 18½ mins)
  • Freedom (1970, 1 min)
  • Fly (1970 (25 mins)
  • Making of Fly (1970, approx. 30 mins)
  • Erection (1971, 20 mins)
  • Imagine (1971, 70 mins)
  • Sisters O Sisters (1971, 4 mins)
  • Luck of the Irish (1971, approx. 4 mins)
  • Flipside (TV show) (1972, approx. 25 mins)
  • Blueprint for the Sunrise (2000, 28 mins)

Quotes

  • "Art is my life and my life is art."
  • "Artists are going to be the metronome of this society."
  • "Everybody's an artist. Everybody's God. It's just that they're inhibited."
  • "I just go with the flow, so any style can be in my music - that makes it exciting."
  • "I saw that nothing was permanent. You don't want to possess anything that is dear to you because you might lose it."
  • "The 1960s were about releasing ourselves from conventional society and freeing ourselves."
  • "People make music to get a reaction. Music is communication."
  • "We are all dreamers creating the next world, the next beautiful world for ourselves and for our children."
  • "What we do really affects the world. Most of us think we can't do anything, but it really isn't true."

Notes

  1. ^ Yoko Ono at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Murray Sayle, "The Importance of Yoko Ono", JPRI Occasional Paper No. 18, Japan Policy Research Institute, November 2000.
  3. ^ Newhall, Edith. "A Long and Winding Road." ARTnews Oct., 2000: 163.
  4. ^ a b Munroe, Alexandra, and John Hendricks. YES YOKO ONO. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, 2000. (p. 233)
  5. ^ Kotz, Liz. "Post-Cagean Aesthetics and the "Event" Score." October 95. (Winter, 2001) Pg. 56. 25 Dec., 2007 <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0162-2870%28200124%2995%3C54%3APAAT%22S%3E2.0.CO%3B2-A>.
  6. ^ Munroe, Alexandra, and John Hendricks. YES YOKO ONO. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, 2000. (p. 65)
  7. ^ "Yoko Ono: Rebirth of a renaissance rebel". Asian heroes section of TIME Magazine's website. From the April 28, 2003 issue of TIME Magazine.
  8. ^ Spitz 2005. p650
  9. ^ Spitz 2005. p632
  10. ^ New York Magazine: pp. 38. May 25, 1981. http://books.google.com/books?id=9uUCAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA38&lpg=PA38&dq=%22new+york+magazine%22+1981+ono+lennon+%22closet+fag%22&source=bl&ots=ESjx__PlKp&sig=oxGA1iPR4PHrUY6BrLVlqKXeGlM&hl=en&ei=6kEJS-nFKNSd_AaXrM3PBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=&f=false. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  11. ^ http://beatles.ncf.ca/live_peace_in_toronto_p1.html
  12. ^ "Yoko Ono Tells of Last Night With Lennon". http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=entertainment&id=5385885. 
  13. ^ "Rolling Stone: Review of Double Fantasy". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/johnlennon/albums/album/204269/review/6067626/double_fantasy. Retrieved 2007-02-13. 
  14. ^ NOW: Yoko Ono, Feb 21 - 27, 2002
  15. ^ Court Tv Online - People
  16. ^ Amazon.com: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band: Yoko Ono: Music
  17. ^ Yoko Ono, Yes, I'm a Witch | | guardian.co.uk Arts
  18. ^ Basement Jaxx, Pet Shop Boys Remix Yoko Ono | Pitchfork
  19. ^ "Review: "Amid All That Experience, Innocence"". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/arts/music/18yoko-xx.html. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  20. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/videonation/articles/b/bradford_yokoono.shtml
  21. ^ Scotsman.com News
  22. ^ a b MACCA-News: ONO: `THE PRESS INVENTED MY FEUD WITH McCARTNEY` - Nov. 3, 2005 @MACCA-Central.com
  23. ^ Yoko Ono claims she was misquoted over McCartney outburst - News, Music - The Independent
  24. ^ Ono bodyguard accused of extortion
  25. ^ (http://designersagainstaids.com)
  26. ^ Radosh, Daniel (2009-08-11), "While My Guitar Gently Beeps", The New York Times: MM26, 2009-08-16, ISSN 0362-4331, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/magazine/16beatles-t.html?pagewanted=9, retrieved 2009-08-26 
  27. ^ http://imaginepeace.com/archives/7280
  28. ^ http://www.lastchanceatmusic.com/yokono.htm
  29. ^ Press conference with Lennon and Ono discussing the progress of their search
  30. ^ Croce, Maria (April 2000) "Weekend Life: The Lost Daughter of Ono; I Thought About My Daughter Every Day of My Life" Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland) from Questia Online Library, subscriber access only

References

Further reading

External links








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