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Few women in the history of rock & roll have stirred as much controversy as Yoko Ono. Although her romance with John Lennon was hardly the only factor straining the relationships between the individual Beatles, she made a convenient scapegoat for the group's breakup, and was repeatedly raked over the coals in the media for the influence she held over Lennon, both in his life and his music. Ono's own work as an artist and musician didn't mitigate the public's enmity toward her; to the average man on the street, her avant-garde conceptual art seemed bizarre and ridiculous, and her highly experimental rock & roll (which often spotlighted her primal vocals) was simply too abrasive to tolerate. That view wasn't necessarily universal (or true), and in fact the merits of her work are still hotly debated. Regardless of individual opinion, Ono has left a lasting legacy; she was an undeniably seminal figure in the history of performance art, and elements of her music prefigured the arty sides of punk and new wave (whether she was a direct influence is still debated, although the B-52's did admit to drawing from her early records). Moreover, between Lennon's assassination and the myriad drubbings she's taken in the press and the court of public opinion, an alternate portrait of Ono as a strong, uncompromising survivor has emerged in more recent years.
Although her link with John Lennon will always be foremost in the public's mind, Ono's own life story is fascinating in its own right. She was born February 18, 1933, into a wealthy Japanese family in Tokyo. Her childhood was somewhat lonely and isolated; her father, a banker and onetime classical pianist, was transferred to San Francisco a few weeks before she was born, and her socialite mother was often busy throwing elaborate parties. She didn't meet her father until age two, when the whole family moved to San Francisco. However, they returned to Tokyo three years later to avoid the anti-Japanese backlash that was beginning in the United States in response to Japan's growing military expansionism. Ono was educated at the Gakushuin School, the most exclusive private school in Japan (the Emperor's sons were her classmates). She began classical piano lessons at a very young age, and later received vocal training in opera. In 1945, her mother took the family to the countryside to escape Tokyo, in time to survive the massive Allied bombing of the city; however, rich city dwellers were unwelcome, and the Ono children were often forced to beg for food.
After the war, Ono's father transferred to New York, and she moved to the U.S. in 1952, where she studied music at Sarah Lawrence College. During this time, Ono became enamored of classical avant-gardists like Schoenberg, Webern, and especially Cage. She also began dating Juilliard student Toshi Ichiyanagi, who shared her interests and became her husband (over her family's objections) in 1956. The couple moved to Manhattan, and Ono made ends meet by teaching Japanese art and music in the public school system, among other sporadic jobs (she'd rejected her parents' wealth and the attendant lifestyle). The couple's Chambers Street loft soon became a hot spot in the nascent downtown New York art scene; Ono frequently staged "happenings" (sometimes in partnership with minimalist composer LaMonte Young) that featured music, poetry, and other performance, and John Cage used the loft space to teach classes in experimental composition. During this period, Ono's art was largely conceptual, sometimes existing only in theory or imagination; she created a series of instructional pieces suggesting nonsensical activities, which were later published in book form as Grapefruit in 1964. Her first solo show was at George Maciunas' gallery in mid-1961, but the same year, Ichiyanagi and Ono separated, with the former returning to Japan. That November, Ono performed at the Carnegie Recital Hall (not the main hall), an event that featured a miked-up toilet flushing at various points throughout the show. It received negative reviews, however. With her parents' encouragement, Ono returned to Japan in March 1962, seeking a resolution to her marriage.
Once in Japan, Ono became lonely and depressed; not only was her marriage effectively over, but she received more negative reviews for her performances in conjunction with John Cage. After an overdose of pills, she was committed to a mental institution and kept under extremely heavy sedation. Fortunately, she was rescued by Anthony Cox, a jazz musician, film producer, and friend of LaMonte Young's who had traveled to Japan hoping to study calligraphy with her. Cox threatened to publicize the callous treatment Ono had received at the institution (her sedative dosage was abnormally high), and secured her release; the two became romantically involved, and when Ono became pregnant, she made her divorce from Ichiyanagi official and married Cox. Their daughter Kyoko was born in 1963, but Cox's sometime volatility put a strain on the relationship, and they separated in 1964. Cox returned to New York, and Ono followed a few months later, after which the couple reconciled.
Once back in New York, Ono resumed her art career to considerable attention from the avant-garde community; by this time, George Maciunas had become the leader of an art movement dubbed Fluxus, whose philosophies were compatible with (and even influenced by) Ono's, prizing abstraction and audience interaction. Ono performed at the Carnegie Recital Hall for a second time in early 1965, and debuted her seminal "Cut Piece," in which audience members were invited to cut off pieces of her clothing with scissors. In September 1966, she traveled to England for an art symposium, and "Cut Piece" helped make her a sensation in the London art world. In November, she got her own exhibition at the famed Indica Gallery, which was ardently patronized by John Lennon. Lennon was impressed by her work, particularly a piece where the viewer was required to climb a ladder and hold up a magnifying glass to read a small inscription on the ceiling that said "Yes!" The two read each other's writings, and Lennon financed an exhibition in which Ono painted various everyday objects white and cut them in half. In the meantime, Ono and Cox had begun making experimental films, usually centered on the repetition of simple movements; their fourth effort, Bottoms, consisted of 365 close-ups of nude buttocks (the idea was to fill the screen with motion when the subjects walked). British film censors were scandalized, and Ono became an even more notorious public figure with "Wrapping Event," in which she wrapped the lion statues beneath Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square with white cloth and tied herself to one. She also sang in concert with pioneering free jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman at the Royal Albert Hall. The avant-garde was becoming increasingly suspicious of her visibility, which only intensified when Ono and Lennon began having an affair that spring.
Fans of Lennon the pop musician couldn't understand what he saw in Ono, but it's important to know that Lennon was an art student prior to falling in love with rock & roll, and had long harbored an interest in avant-garde art. The difficulty with understanding Ono's art was that its impact came largely from her ideas; from putting new contextual frames around everyday objects, or asking her audience to complete an experience with their own imaginations. For example, most of Ono's pieces were white, so that the audience could imagine their own colors (or, in the case of her all-white chess set Play It by Trust, to create ambiguity); even her so-called Blue Room was all-white (viewers were supposed to stay in the room until it turned blue). Her first musical composition, 1955's "Secret Piece," existed only in her mind (she was unable to transcribe the notes of a bird song effectively), and, in 1968, she announced a 13-day dance festival that would take place entirely in the imaginations of anyone who participated. In 1971, she took things a step further by presenting an imaginary art exhibit at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and filmed the spectators as the real works of art. As an artist, Ono dealt in concepts, not craft (i.e., practiced, developed technique and training in a specific medium). Her work wasn't what most people recognized as art, which was why many Beatles fans dismissed her as a talentless charlatan. Lennon, on the other hand, saw someone who could help him find a new direction.
Lennon and Ono's first musical collaboration was on the highly experimental Unfinished Music, No. 1: Two Virgins, which was recorded around the beginning of their affair and released toward the end of 1968. None of Lennon's fans knew what to make of any aspect of the album; not the odd snippets of noise, faint dialogue, and sounds from the immediate environment, and not the fully nude photographs of the couple on the record jacket, taken from the front and rear. They were further dismayed with Lennon's participation in Ono's bizarre public events, such as appearing together in black plastic bags as a statement about judging by appearances. (Ono herself long suspected that fans' hostility was due to their discomfort seeing Lennon with a woman who was not only strong-willed, but of a different race.) After Ono's divorce from Cox, the couple married in Gibraltar on March 20, 1969, and took advantage of the publicity surrounding their honeymoon to hold "Bed-Ins for Peace" in Amsterdam and Montreal (the latter of which produced the single "Give Peace a Chance"). Cox was later able to gain custody of Kyoko, pointing to Lennon and Ono's drug intake, and disappeared with the child, whom Ono would not see again for 25 years.
The second Lennon/Ono album, Unfinished Music, No. 2: Life with the Lions, was released not long after their wedding; it spotlighted Ono's cathartic, wailing vocal improvisations, as well as addressing her first of several miscarriages. It was quickly followed by The Wedding Album, one side of which featured more Ono improv, the other of which consisted of nothing but the couple calling each other's names. Over the next few years, Lennon and Ono continued their peace activism, and entered primal-scream therapy with Dr. Arthur Janov, which began to inform both of their individual careers. In 1970, they each recorded an album backed by the Plastic Ono Band; predictably, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band was the less structured, more avant-garde of the two. Ono followed it in 1971 with the double-LP Fly, which featured more conventionally structured songs as well as her typical experimentalism. In 1972 the Lennon/Ono protest-song album Sometime in New York City was released, and was roasted for the simplicity of its sentiments. Ono returned in 1973 with two of her strongest solo statements, the brutally intense, explicitly feminist Feeling the Space and the more varied Approximately Infinite Universe, both of which featured less musical involvement from Lennon. Perhaps that was symptomatic of the problems the couple had been having; they split up for a year and a half toward the end of 1973, exhausted from their constant time together and their battles with U.S. immigration over Lennon's threatened deportation. Ono recorded a more accessible album, A Story, in 1974, but it was shelved and remained unavailable until 1997.
The couple got back together in early 1975, and Ono was finally able to bear a child, Sean Taro Ono Lennon, who was born on John's birthday, October 9. Lennon dropped out of show business for several years to raise his son and effectively become a househusband, while Ono took charge of his business affairs. Although she contributed some of her most accessible songs to his 1980 comeback album, Double Fantasy, she did not return to solo recording until after Lennon's assassination on December 8, 1980. The harrowing, grief-stricken Season of Glass was released the following year to highly complimentary reviews. Ono followed it in 1982 with the more hopeful, pop-oriented It's Alright (I See Rainbows), and had a minor success with the single "Never Say Goodbye." Released in 1985, Starpeace continued that optimistic trend, and teamed Ono with producer Bill Laswell and other downtown New York scenesters, but failed to connect as her previous two efforts had.
Ono gradually returned to visual art, creating installations and also exploring photography. Interest in her previous work led to several retrospectives over the course of the '90s, and in 1992 Rykodisc reissued her complete back catalog on CD, as well as the six-CD box set retrospective Onobox. In 1995, she recorded a new album for Capitol called Rising, which featured son Sean and recalled the harsh experimentalism of her early recordings. The same year, her musical play New York Rock debuted off-Broadway. In 2001 another new album, Blueprint for a Sunrise, arrived, updating the feminist tone of Feeling the Space while being somewhat more accessible. V2 reissued several of her albums once again in early 2007. Also during that year, she issued Yes, I'm a Witch. For this album, she assembled a number of previously released tracks and collaborated with artists such as Cat Power, the Flaming Lips, DJ Spooky, Jason Pierce, and many others. In 2009, Ono re-formed the Plastic Ono Band with Sean and added collaborators such as Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto and members of Cornelius; she released the album Between My Head and the Sky on Sean's Chimera imprint. Take Me to the Land of Hell, which featured production by Lennon as well as cameos by tUnE-yArDs, ?uestlove, and the Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock and Mike D, was released in 2013 to coincide with Ono's 80th birthday.
Wikipedia:For the song by Die Ärzte, see Yoko Ono (song).
Yoko Ono (オノ・ヨーコ 小野 洋子 Ono Yōko), born February 18, 1933, is a Japanese multimedia artist, singer, and peace activist. She is the widow and second wife of The Beatles' John Lennon and is also known for her work in avant-garde art, music, and filmmaking.
Ono grew up in Tokyo, and studied at Peers School while her family moved to the US. They reunited in 1953, and after some time at Sarah Lawrence College, she became involved in New York City's downtown artists scene, including the Fluxus group. She first met Lennon in 1966 when hosting an art exhibition in London, and they became a couple in 1968. She was repeatedly criticized for her influence over Lennon and his music, and blamed for the breakup of the Beatles as their relationship coincided with the band's final years. She and Lennon famously used their honeymoon as a stage for public protests against the Vietnam War in their Bed-Ins for Peace in Amsterdam and Montreal in spring of 1969. In addition to co-writing "Give Peace a Chance," she also co-wrote with Lennon the experimental piece, "Revolution 9" on The White Album. Her experimental art was not popular, and, after Lennon's death, her disagreements with Paul McCartney received as much attention as her billboards and music releases, which were perceived as self-promotion. Nevertheless, she achieved commercial success as part of the Plastic Ono Band — Live Peace in Toronto 1969 and 1972's Some Time in New York City — reached No. 10 and No. 48 on the album charts respectively. Double Fantasy from 1980, released three weeks before Lennon's death, reached No. 1. Since 2003, eleven of her songs, mostly remixes of her older work, have hit No. 1 on the US dance chart.
Public appreciation of Ono's work shifted over time, helped by, among other things, a retrospective at a Whitney Museum branch in 1989 and a 1992 interview in L.A.-based music magazine, Option which coincided with the release of the six-disc box set Onobox. Retrospectives of her artwork have also been presented at the Japan Society in New York City in 2001, in Bielefeld, Germany, and the UK in 2008, and Frankfurt, Krems, Austria, and Bilbao, Spain in 2013. She received a Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale in 2009 and the 2012 Oskar Kokoschka Prize, Austria's highest award for applied contemporary art.
As Lennon's widow, Ono works to preserve his legacy, funding and maintaining Strawberry Fields in New York City, the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, and the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Japan. Individually and under her and Lennon's name, she has made significant philanthropic contributions to the arts, peace, Philippine and Japan disaster relief, and other causes. She brought feminism to the forefront in her music influencing artists as diverse as the B-52s and Meredith Monk. Ono has also remained on the forefront in activism, inaugurating a biennial $50,000 LennonOno Grant for Peace in 2002 and co-founding the group Artists Against Fracking in 2012. She has a daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, from her marriage to Anthony Cox and a son, Sean Lennon, from her marriage to Lennon, with whom she collaborates musically."Yoko Ono retrospective opens in Frankfurt". Yahoo Malaysia. February 16, 2013. Norman, Philip (2008). John Lennon: The Life. Doubleday Canada. p. 608. ISBN 978-0-385-66100-3.
Early life and family
Ono was born in Tokyo on February 18, 1933, to Isoko Ono (小野 磯子 Ono Isoko) and Eisuke Ono (小野 英輔 Ono Eisuke), a banker and one-time classical pianist. Isoko's father was ennobled in 1915. Isoko's paternal grandfather Zenjiro Yasuda (安田 善次郎 Yasuda Zenjirō) was an affiliate of the Yasuda clan and zaibatsu. Eisuke came from a long line of samurai warrior-scholars. The kanji translation of Yoko's first name Yoko means "ocean child".
Two weeks before Yoko's birth, Eisuke was transferred to San Francisco by his employer, the Yokohama Specie Bank. The rest of the family followed soon after, with Yoko meeting Eisuke when she was two. Her younger brother Keisuke was born in December 1936. Yoko was enrolled in piano lessons from the age of 4. In 1937, the family was transferred back to Japan and Ono enrolled at Tokyo's Gakushuin (also known as the Peers School), one of the most exclusive schools in Japan.
In 1940, the family moved to New York City. The next year, Eisuke was transferred from New York City to Hanoi, and the family returned to Japan. Ono was enrolled in Keimei Gakuen, an exclusive Christian primary school run by the Mitsui family. She remained in Tokyo through the great fire-bombing of March 9, 1945, during which she was sheltered with other family members in a special bunker in the Azabu district of Tokyo, far from the heavy bombing. Ono later went to the Karuizawa mountain resort with members of her family.
Ono and her family were forced to beg for food while pulling their belongings in a wheelbarrow. It was during this period in her life, Ono says, that she developed her "aggressive" attitude and understanding of "outsider" status when children taunted her and Keisuke, who were once well-to-do. Other stories have her mother bringing a large number of goods with them to the countryside, where they bartered them for food. In one anecdote, her mother bartered a German-made sewing machine for 60 kilograms (130 lb) of rice with which to feed the family. Her father remained in the city and, unbeknownst to them, was believed to have been incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in China. Ono told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now on October 16, 2007, that "He was in French Indochina, which is Vietnam actually.... in Saigon. He was in a concentration camp."
By April 1946, Gakushuin was reopened and Ono re-enrolled. The school, located near the imperial palace, had not been damaged by the war, and Ono found herself a classmate of Prince Akihito, the future emperor of Japan. She graduated in 1951 and was accepted into the philosophy program of Gakushuin University as the first woman to enter the department. However, she left the school after two semesters."Yoko Ono: biography". AllMusic. Retrieved February 1, 2014. Cite error: The named reference Stan was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference nme was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Murray Sayle, "The Importance of Yoko Ono", JPRI Occasional Paper No. 18, Japan Policy Research Institute, November 2000. Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Munroe et al. 2000, p. 231 Goodman, Amy (October 16, 2007). "EXCLUSIVE: Yoko Ono on the New Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, Art & Politics, the Peace Movement, Government Surveillance and the Murder of John Lennon". Democracy Now!. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
College and downtown beginnings
Ono's family moved to Scarsdale, New York, without her after the war. When she later rejoined her family in the US, she enrolled nearby in Sarah Lawrence College. While her parents approved of her college choice, Ono said they were disapproved of her lifestyle and chastised her for befriending people they found "beneath" her. In spite of her parents' disapproval, Ono loved meeting artists, poets and others who represented the "bohemian" lifestyle for which she longed for herself. Visiting galleries and art happenings in the city whetted her desire to display her own artistic endeavors publicly. American avant-garde artist, composer and musician 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. After Ono set a painting on fire at one performance, her mentor John Cage advised her to treat the paper with flame retardant.
Return to Japan, early career, and motherhood
In 1956, Ono left college to elope with composer Toshi Ichiyanagi, a star in Tokyo's experimental community. After living apart for several years, they filed for divorce in 1962. Ono returned home to live with her parents and, suffering from clinical depression, she was briefly placed in a mental institution. Later that year, on November 28, 1962, Ono married Anthony Cox, an American jazz musician, film producer, and art promoter, who was instrumental in securing her release from the Japanese mental institution. However, because Ono had neglected to finalize her divorce from Ichiyanagi, her second marriage was annulled on March 1, 1963. After finalizing the divorce, Cox and Ono married again on June 6, 1963. She gave birth to their daughter Kyoko Chan Cox two months later on August 8, 1963.
The marriage quickly fell apart, but the Coxes stayed together for the sake of their joint careers. They performed at Tokyo's Sogetsu Hall, with Ono lying atop a piano played by John Cage. Soon, the couple returned to New York with Kyoko. In the early years of the marriage, Ono left most of Kyoko's parenting to Cox while she pursued her art full-time. Tony also managed her publicity. She and Cox divorced on February 2, 1969. However, in 1971, Cox disappeared with their then-eight-year-old daughter, in the midst of the custody battle. He won custody after claiming Ono was an "unfit mother" for drug use. Ono's ex-husband subsequently raised Kyoko under the name Ruth Holman in an organization known as the Church of the Living Word (or "the Walk"). Ono and Lennon searched for Kyoko for years, to no avail. She first saw Kyoko again in 1998.Haven, Cynthia (December 19, 2008). "Yoko Ono to speak at Stanford, Stanford Report". Stanford University. "Yoko Ono". biography.com. Retrieved Feb 14, 2014. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 23. Cite error: The named reference allmusicB was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Yoko Ono Biography". Biography Channel (UK). Hockinson, Michael J. (1992). The Ultimate Beatles Quiz Book. Macmillan.
ContentsJohn Lennon1.1 Bed-Ins and other early collaborations1.2 The Plastic Ono Band1.3 First solo album and Fly
Fluxus, a loose association of Dada-inspired avant-garde artists that developed in the early 1960s, was active in New York and Europe Ono was invited to London for artist and political activist Gustav Metzger's Destruction in Art Symposium in September 1966, as the only woman artist chosen to perform her own events and only one of two invited to speak.
There are two versions of the story regarding how Lennon met Ono. According to the first, on November 9, 1966, Lennon went to the Indica Gallery in London, where Ono was preparing her conceptual art exhibit, and they were introduced by gallery owner John Dunbar. Lennon was initially unimpressed with the exhibits he saw, including a pricey bag of nails, but one piece had a ladder with a spyglass at the top. When he climbed the ladder, Lennon felt a little foolish, but he looked through the spyglass and saw the word "YES" which he said meant he didn't walk out, as it was positive, whereas most concept art he encountered was "anti" everything.
Lennon was also intrigued by Ono's Hammer A Nail. Viewers hammered a nail into a wooden board, creating the art piece. Although the exhibition had not yet opened, Lennon wanted to hammer a nail into the clean board, but Ono stopped him. Dunbar asked her, "Don't you know who this is? He's a millionaire! He might buy it." Ono supposedly had not heard of the Beatles, but relented on the condition that Lennon pay her five shillings, to which Lennon replied, "I'll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in."
In a second version of Ono's and Lennon's first meeting, told by Paul McCartney, Ono was in London in 1965 compiling original musical scores for a book on which John Cage was working entitled Notations. McCartney declined to give her any of his own manuscripts, but suggested that Lennon might oblige. Lennon did, giving Ono the original handwritten lyrics to "The Word."
In a 2002 interview, she said, "I was very attracted to him. It was a really strange situation." The two began corresponding and, in September 1967, Lennon sponsored Ono's solo show at Lisson Gallery in London. When Lennon's wife Cynthia asked for an explanation for Ono's telephoning their home, he told her that Ono was only trying to obtain money for her "avant-garde bullshit." In early 1968, while the Beatles were making their famous visit to India, Lennon wrote "Julia" and included a reference to Ono: "Ocean child calls me," referring to the translation of Yoko's Japanese spelling. In May 1968, while his wife was on holiday in Greece, Lennon invited Ono to visit. They spent the night recording what would become the Two Virgins album, after which, he said, they "made love at dawn". When Lennon's wife returned home, she found Ono wearing her bathrobe and drinking tea with Lennon who simply said, "Oh, hi."
Lennon wrote and recorded "Happiness is a Warm Gun" on September 24 and 25, 1968. It contains sexual references toward Ono. A few weeks after Lennon's divorce from Cynthia was granted, Ono became pregnant though suffered a miscarriage of what would have been a male child on November 21, 1968.
Bed-Ins and other early collaborationsMain articles: Bed-In, Give Peace a Chance, Bagism and Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins
During Lennon's last two years with the Beatles, he and Ono began attending as well as creating their own public protests against the Vietnam War. They were married at the registry office in Gibraltar on March 20, 1969, and spent their honeymoon in Amsterdam campaigning with a week-long Bed-In for Peace. They planned another Bed-In in the US, but were denied entry to the country. They held one instead at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, where they recorded "Give Peace a Chance". Lennon later stated his regrets about feeling "guilty enough to give McCartney credit as co-writer on my first independent single instead of giving it to Yoko, who had actually written it with me." The famous couple often combined advocacy with performance art, such as in "bagism", first introduced during a Vienna press conference, where they satirised prejudice and stereotyping by wearing a bag over their entire bodies. Lennon detailed this period in the Beatles' song "The Ballad of John and Yoko".
Lennon changed his name by deed poll on April 22, 1969, switching out Winston for Ono as a middle name. Although he used the name John Ono Lennon thereafter, official documents referred to him as John Winston Ono Lennon, since he was not permitted to revoke a name given at birth. The couple settled at Tittenhurst Park at Sunninghill, Berkshire, in southeast England. When Ono was injured in a car accident, Lennon arranged for a king-sized bed to be brought to the recording studio as he worked on the Beatles' last recorded album, Abbey Road.
The two collaborated on many albums, beginning in 1968 when Lennon was still a Beatle, with Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, an album of experimental musique concrète. The same year, the couple contributed an experimental piece to The White Album called "Revolution 9". Also on The White Album, Ono contributed backing vocals on "Birthday", and one line of lead vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill." The latter marked the only occasion in a Beatles recording in which a woman sings lead vocals.
The Plastic Ono BandMain articles: Plastic Ono Band and Live Peace in Toronto 1969
Ono influenced Lennon to produce more "autobiographical" output and, after "The Ballad of John and Yoko", they decided it would be better to form their own band than to put the material out under the Beatles name. In 1969, the Plastic Ono Band's first album, Live Peace in Toronto 1969, was recorded during the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival. This first incarnation of the group also consisted of guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Klaus Voormann, and drummer Alan White. The first half of their performance consisted of rock standards. During the second half, Ono took to the microphone and performed an avant-garde set along with the band, finishing with music that consisted mainly of feedback, while she screamed and sang.
First solo album and FlyMain articles: Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Fly (Yoko Ono album)
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 also had companion covers: Ono's featured a photo of her leaning on Lennon, and Lennon's a photo of him leaning on Ono. Her album included raw, harsh vocals, which bore a similarity with sounds in nature (especially those made by animals) and free jazz techniques used by wind and brass players. Performers included Ornette Coleman, other renowned free jazz performers, and Ringo Starr. Some songs on the album 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 reached No. 182 on the US charts.
When Lennon was invited to play with Frank Zappa at the Fillmore (then the Filmore West) on June 5, 1971, Ono joined them. Later that year, she released Fly, a double album. In it, she explored slightly more conventional psychedelic rock with tracks including "Midsummer New York" and "Mind Train", in addition to a number of Fluxus experiments. She also received minor airplay with the ballad "Mrs. Lennon". The track "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)" was an ode to Ono's missing daughter, and featured Eric Clapton on guitar. That same year, while studying with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Majorca, Spain, Ono's ex-husband Anthony Cox accused Ono of abducting their daughter Kyoko from his hotel. Accusations flew between the two, as well as the matter of custody. Cox eventually moved away with Kyoko; Ono would not see her daughter until 1998. It was during this time that she wrote "Don't Worry Kyoko," which also appears on Lennon and Ono's album Live Peace In Toronto 1969, in addition to Fly. Kyoko is also referenced in the first line of "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" when Yoko whispers "Happy Christmas, Kyoko", followed by Lennon whispering, "Happy Christmas, Julian." The song reached No. 4 in the UK, where its release was delayed until 1972, and has periodically reemerged on the UK Singles Chart. Originally a protest song about the Vietnam War, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" has since become a Christmas standard. That August the couple appeared together at a benefit in Madison Square Garden with Roberta Flack, Stevie Wonder, and Sha Na Na for mentally handicapped children organized by WABC-TV's Geraldo Rivera.Munroe et al. 2000, p. 27. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 168. Harry 2001, p. 682. Buskin, Richard. "John Lennon: John Lennon Meets Yoko Ono". HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved April 17, 2014. Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. St. Martin's Griffin. Miles 1997, p. 272. Cite error: The named reference Scot was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Yoko Ono: Biography". Rolling Stone. Retrieved Feb 5, 2014. Harry 2001, p. 683. ""Brought to Book," 31 July 1971 interview with Alan Smith". Uncut Presents NME Originals Beatles-The Solo Years. 2010. p. 42. Two Virgins liner notes, Apple, SAPCOR 2 Lennon, Cynthia, A Twist of Lennon, Avon, ISBN 978-0-380-45450-1, 1978, p. 183 Spizer, Bruce, The Beatles on Apple Records, 498 Productions, ISBN 0-9662649-4-0, 2003, pp. 107-108 Harry 2001, p. 510. Spitz, Bob, The Beatles: The Biography, 2005, p. 800 Kruse, Robert J. II, "Geographies of John and Yoko's 1969 Campaign for Peace: An Intersection of Celebrity, Space, Art, and Activism," in Johansson, Ola, Bell, Thomas L., eds., Sound, Society and the Geography of Popular Music, Ashgate, ISBN 978-0-7546-7577-8, 2009, p. 16 Cite error: The named reference PN was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Harry 2001, p. 276. Norman, Philip, John Lennon: The Life, 2008, Doubleday Canada, p. 608, ISBN 978-0-385-66100-3 Coleman, Ray, Lennon: The Definitive Biography, 1992, p. 550 Coleman, Ray, Lennon: The Definitive Biography, 1984b, p. 64 Norman, Philip, John Lennon The Life, Hammersmith, England: Harper Collins, 2008, ISBN 978-0-00-719741-5, p. 615 et seq Emerick, Massey, 2006, pp. 279–80 Gibron, Bill (21 December 1968). "An in-depth Look at the Songs on Side-Three". Rolling Stone. The White Album Project. Retrieved 1 February 2014. Lewisohn, Mark, 2000, The Complete Beatles Chronicle, London: Hamlyn, ISBN 978-0-600-60033-6, p. 284 McDonald, Ian, Revolution in the Head, 3rd ed., Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2007, ISBN 978-1-55652-733-3, 1556527330 Calkin, Graham. "Live Peace in Toronto 1969". Jpgr.co.uk. Retrieved February 1, 2014. Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0. "Women in Music: Trailblazing Female Singers, Songwriters and Musicians". makers.com. "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band: Awards". AllMusic. Liner notes to Disc 2, Sometime In New York City album. Carr, R. & Tyler, T. (1978). The Beatles: An illustrated record. Harmony Books. p. 83. ISBN 0-517-53367-7. Cite error: The named reference BioChannel was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Jackson, Andrew Grant. Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of The Beatles' Solo Careers, Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, July 2012 (p.50) "Various Artists: Now That's What I Call Christmas!: The Essential". AllMusic. Retrieved Feb 14, 2014. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over): Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved Feb 14, 2014. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 320.
Separation from Lennon and reunion
After the Beatles disbanded, Ono and Lennon lived together in London and then in New York—the latter to escape the tabloid racism of the former. Their relationship, however, became strained by the threat of deportation Lennon faced (because of drug charges filed in England), and Ono's separation from her daughter. The couple separated in 1973, with Ono pursuing her career and Lennon living between Los Angeles and New York with personal assistant May Pang, with Ono's blessing.
By December 1974, Lennon and Pang were considering buying a house together, and he was refusing to accept Ono's phone calls. The next month, Lennon agreed to meet Ono, who claimed to have found a cure for smoking. After the meeting, he failed to return home or call Pang. When Pang telephoned the next day, Ono told her Lennon was unavailable, being exhausted after a hypnotherapy session. Two days later, Lennon reappeared at a joint dental appointment with Pang, stupefied and confused to such an extent that Pang believed he had been brainwashed. He told her his separation from Ono was now over, though Ono would allow him to continue seeing her as his mistress.
Ono and Lennon's son, Sean, was born on October 9, 1975, Lennon's 35th birthday. John did not help relations with his first son when he described Julian in 1980 as being part of the "ninety percent of the people on this planet [who resulted from an unplanned pregnancy]" and that "Sean is a planned child, and therein lies the difference." He said, "I don't love Julian any less as a child. He's still my son, whether he came from a bottle of whiskey or because they didn't have pills in those days." The couple maintained a low profile for the next five years. Sean has followed in his parents' footsteps with a musical career, performing solo work, working with Ono, and forming a band, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.
Lennon's murder, tributes, and memorialsMain article: Death of John Lennon
John Lennon retired from music, becoming a househusband to care for Sean, until shortly before his murder in December 1980, which Ono witnessed at close range. She 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 Lennon wanted to see Sean before he was put to bed. Following the murder, Ono went into complete seclusion for an extended period.
Ono funded the construction and maintenance of the Strawberry Fields memorial in New York City's Central Park, directly across from the Dakota Apartments where they lived and Lennon died. It was officially dedicated on October 9, 1985, which would have been his 45th birthday. In 1990, Ono collaborated with music consultant Jeff Pollack to honor what would have been Lennon's 50th birthday with a worldwide broadcast of "Imagine". Over 1,000 stations in over 50 countries participated in the simultaneous broadcast. Ono felt the timing was perfect, considering the escalating conflicts in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Germany.
In 2000, she founded the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Saitama, Japan. In March 2002, she was present with Cherie Blair, at the unveiling of a 7-foot statue of Lennon, to mark the renaming of Liverpool airport to the Liverpool John Lennon Airport. (Julian and Cynthia Lennon were present at the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument next to ACC Liverpool in the same city eight years later.) On October 9, 2007, she dedicated a new memorial called the Imagine Peace Tower, located on the island of Viðey, 1 km outside the Skarfabakki harbour in Reykjavík, 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 used music, photographs, and personal items to depict Lennon's life in New York, and a portion of the cost of each ticket was donated to Spirit Foundation, a charitable foundation set up by Lennon and Ono.Ali, Tariq (Feb 2, 2010). "John Lennon's power for the people". The Guardian. Brenda Giuliano, Geoffrey Giuliano (1998). Press Release Interview with May Pang. ISBN 978-0-7119-6470-9. Retrieved June 9, 2011. Harry 2001, p. 698-99. Harry 2001, p. 700-01. Willman, Chris (7 April 2013). "Julian Lennon At 50: It's Never 'Much Too Late' For Lennon Family Discord | Stop The Presses! (NEW)". Music.yahoo.com. Retrieved April 17, 2014. H, Erika. "Sean Ono Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl to release debut as Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger; win award for worst band name since Dogs Die in Hot Cars". tinymixtapes.com. Retrieved September 28, 2011. Dakss, Brian (Dec 8, 2005). "John Lennon Remembered". CBS News. Allin, Olivia (March 27, 2011). "Yoko Ono headlining shows for Japan relief efforts". On the Red Carpet. "Worldwide Broadcast Planned In Honor of Lennon's 50th Birthday". The Tufts Daily. October 5, 1990. p. 3. Cite error: The named reference Scot was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Steve Hochman, GRAMMY.com. "A Monument In The Life". "Spirit Foundation". Retrieved January 31, 2014.
ContentsArtwork1.1 Association with Fluxus1.2 Cut Piece, 19641.3 Grapefruit book, 19641.4 Experimental films, 1964–19721.5 Wish Tree, 1981–present1.6 Recognition and retrospectives
Association with Fluxus
Ono was an occasional member of Fluxus, whose founder George Maciunas, her friend during the 1960s, admired her work and promoted it with enthusiasm. In one example of Ono's work during this time, she took a fly as her alter ego, then used it as inspiration for her work. Maciunas invited her to more formally join the Fluxus group, but she declined because she wanted to remain independent. She did however, collaborate with him, Charlotte Moorman, George Brecht, and the poet Jackson Mac Low, among others associated with the group.
John Cage and Marcel Duchamp were significant influences on Ono's art. She learned of Cage at Sarah Lawrence and met him through his student Ichiyanagi Toshi in Cage's legendary experimental composition class at the New School for Social Research: She was thus introduced to more of Cage's unconventional neo-Dadaism first hand and his New York City protégés Allan Kaprow, Brecht, Mac Low, Al Hansen and the poet Dick Higgins.
After Cage finished teaching at the New School in the summer of 1960, Ono was determined to rent a place to present her works along with the work of other avant-garde artists in the city. She eventually found a cheap loft in downtown Manhattan at 112 Chambers Street that she used as a studio and living space. Supporting herself through secretarial work and lessons in the traditional Japanese arts at the Japan Society, Ono allowed composer La Monte Young to organize concerts in the loft. Both began organizing a series of events there from December 1960 through June 1961, with people such as Marcel Duchamp and Peggy Guggenheim attending, and both Ono and Young claimed to have been the primary curator of these events, with Ono claiming to have been eventually pushed into a subsidiary role by Young. 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. With that work, Ono suggested that a work of art no longer needed to be mounted on a wall and inaccessible. She showed this work and other instructional work again at Macunias's AG Gallery in July 1961.
Cut Piece, 1964
Ono was an explorer of conceptual art and performance art. A seminal performance work is Cut Piece, first performed in 1964 at the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo. It had one simple but destructive verb as its instruction: "Cut." Ono executed the performance by walking to the center of a stage in her best garments and inviting the audience to cut off her clothing, casually sitting on the floor legs tucked underneath, and audience members would begin.
In 1965, she performed the piece at Carnegie Hall, where it received a lot of attention and the audience was more aggressive. She performed it again in London where the audience was even more zealous, and at other venues, garnering drastically different reactions, depending on the audience. In Kyoto, one man dramatically raised the scissors over her head, which culled from Ono a reaction more of dismay than fear. London participants required her to be protected by security; the performance had been publicized as part of Gustav Metzger's Destruction of Art Symposium. Of the piece, John Hendricks in the catalogue to Ono's Japan Society retrospective wrote: "[Cut Piece] unveils the interpersonal alienation that characterizes social relationships between subjects, dismantling the disinterested Kantian aesthetic model..... It demonstrates the reciprocity between artists, objects, and viewers and the responsibility beholders have to the reception and preservation of art."
Other performers of the piece have included Charlotte Moorman and John Hendricks. Ono reprised the piece in Paris in 2003, in the low post-9/11 period between the US and France, saying she hoped to show that this is "a time where we need to trust each other." In 2013, Peaches reprised it at the multi-day Meltdown festival at the Southbank Centre in London, which Ono curated.
Grapefruit book, 1964Main article: Grapefruit (book)
Another example of her conceptual art includes her book of instructions titled Grapefruit. First published in 1964, the book includes surreal, Zen-like instructions to be completed in the mind of the reader. One example is "Hide and Seek Piece: Hide until everybody goes home. Hide until everybody forgets about you. Hide until everybody dies." An example of heuristic art, Grapefruit was published several times, most widely distributed by Simon and Schuster in 1971, who reprinted it again in 2000. David Bourdon, art critic for The Village Voice and Vogue, called Grapefruit "one of the monuments of conceptual art of the early 1960's." He noted that her conceptual approach was made more acceptable when white male artists like Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner came in and "did virtually the same things" she did, and that her take also has a poetic and lyrical side that sets it apart from the work of other conceptual artists.
Ono would enact many of the book's scenarios as performance pieces throughout her career, which formed the basis for her art exhibitions, including one highly publicized show at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York, that was nearly closed when it was besieged by excited Beatles fans, who broke several of the art pieces and flooded the toilets. Thirty years later, in July 2013, she released a sequel to Grapefruit, another book of instructions, Acorn via OR Books.
Experimental films, 1964–1972
Ono was also an experimental filmmaker who made 16 films between 1964 and 1972, gaining particular renown for a 1966 Fluxus film called simply No. 4, often referred to as Bottoms. The five-and-a-half-minute 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 commemorated this film.
In March 2004, the ICA London, showed most of her films from this period in their exhibition The Rare Films of Yoko Ono. She also acted in an obscure exploitation film in 1965, Satan's Bed.
Wish Tree, 1981–present
Another example of Ono's participatory art was her Wish Tree project, in which a tree native to the installation site is installed. Her 1996 Wish Piece had the following instructions:Make a wishWrite it down on a piece of paperFold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish TreeAsk your friends to do the sameKeep wishingUntil the branches are covered with wishes.
Her Wish Tree installation in the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, established in July 2010, has attracted contributions from all over the world. Other installation locations include London, St. Louis, Washington, DC, San Francisco, the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California, Japan, Venice, and Dublin.
Recognition and retrospectives
John Lennon once described her as "the world's most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does." 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 (she was one of the speakers at Warhol's 1987 funeral), as well as George Maciunas and La Monte Young. In addition to Mekas, Maciunas, Young, and Warhol, she has also collaborated with DeAsis, Yvonne Rainer, and Zbigniew Rybczyński.
In 1989, the Whitney Museum held a retrospective of her work, marking Ono's reentry into the New York art world after a hiatus. Over a decade later, in 2001, Yes Yoko Ono, a 40-year retrospective of Ono's work, received the 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. That same year, she also received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Liverpool University and, in 2002, was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Bard College, as well as the Skowhegan Medal for work in assorted media. The next year, she was awarded the fifth MOCA Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts from the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. In 2005, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Japan Society of New York, which had hosted Yes Yoko Ono and where she had worked in the late '50s and early '60s.
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, England. The following year, she showed a selection of 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. In 2012, Ono was the winner of the 2012 Oskar Kokoschka Prize, Austria's highest award for applied contemporary art. In February 2013, to coincide with her 80th birthday, the largest retrospective of her work, Half-a-Wind Show, opened at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and travelled to Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Austria's Kunsthalle Krems, and Spain's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
In 2014 she contributed several artworks to the triennial art festival in Folkestone, EnglandFrank, Peter. "Yoko Ono: One Woman Show". Newhall, Edith (Oct 2000). "A Long and Winding Road". ARTnews. p. 163. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 40-41. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 233. Cardace, Sara (Oct 9, 2009). "Influences: Sean Lennon". New York magazine. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 17. Blau, Max (Sep 5, 2012). "33 Musicians on What John Cage Communicates". npr.org. Cite error: The named reference MH232 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Munroe et al. 2000, p. 65. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 21 Kotz, Liz (Winter 2001). "Post-Cagean Aesthetics and the "Event" Score". October 95: 55–89 . JSTOR 779200. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 158 Cite error: The named reference Stan was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Empire, Kitty (June 22, 2013). "Yoko Ono's Meltdown – review". The Guardian. Taylor, Paul (February 5, 1989). "Yoko Ono's New Bronze Age At the Whitney". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2014. Pang, May (1983). Loving John. Warner Books (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-446-37916-8. Ono, Yoko (2013). Acorn. OR Books. ISBN 978-1-939293-23-7. "Yoko Ono Biography: Films". Biography Channel (UK). "New York 65–66 Fluxus Films + London 66–67". "England 68–69". "London 69–71". "Around the World 69–71". "New York 70 – 71". "Ann Arbor/NYC 71–72 + 2000". ICA website. "Film No. 4". swatch.com. Retrieved February 5, 2014. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 294. "Pharrell Williams Wrote a Pretty Cool Wish on Yoko Ono's Wish Tree". N.Y. Observer. June 6, 2013. "Yoko Ono's Wish Tree at Saint Louis Art Museum". Blouin Art Info. August 19, 2013. "Yoko Ono's Wish Trees". Imagine Peace Tower website. "Yoko Ono". Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Cite error: The named reference Dub was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Higgins, Charlotte (June 8, 2012). "The Guardian Profile: Yoko Ono". The Guardian. . Munroe et al. 2000, pp. 23, 55. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 28. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 18. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 55. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 82. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 22. "Visual and Recording Artist Yoko Ono To Be Awarded An Honorary Degree At Bard College on Tuesday, October 29 (press release)". Bard College website. October 17, 2002. Retrieved October 28, 2011. "Yoko Ono: Freight Train". MoMA/P.S.1. "The Curve: The 8th MOCA Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts Luncheon". Sep 3, 2013. "Yoko Ono wins achievement award". Japan Times. Retrieved April 18, 2014. Imagine Peace at the Wayback Machine (archived December 19, 2010). imaginepeace.com "53rd International Art Exhibition: Jury and Awards". La Biennale di Venezia. Retrieved October 28, 2011. "Yoko Ono wins Oskar Kokoschka art prize in Austria". BBC News. March 2, 2012. Retrieved November 11, 2013. Cite error: The named reference my.entertainment.yahoo.com was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Retrospective. Yoko Ono. Half-a-Wind Show". Kunsthalle Krems. Cite error: The named reference SBank was invoked but never defined (see the help page). http://www.folkestonetriennial.com
ContentsMusical career1.1 Pre-Lennon1.2 1980s1.3 1990s1.4 2000s1.5 2010s1.6 Collaborations
Ono took piano from the age of 4 to 12 or 13. She attended kabuki performances with her mother, who was trained in shamisen, koto, otsuzumi, kotsuzumi, nagauta, and could read Japanese musical scores. At 14 Yoko took up vocal training in lieder-singing. At Sarah Lawrence, she studied poetry with Alastair Reid, English literature with Kathryn Mansell, and music composition with the Viennese-trained André Singer. Of this time Ono has said that her heroes were the twelve-tone composers Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg. She said, "I was just fascinated with what they could do. I wrote some twelve-tone songs, then my music went into [an] area that my teacher felt was really a bit off track, and..... he said, 'Well, look, there are people who are doing things like what you do and they're called avant-garde.'" Singer introduced her to the work of Edgar Varèse, John Cage, and Henry Cowell. She left college and moved to New York in 1957, supporting herself through secretarial work and lessons in the traditional Japanese arts at the Japan Society.
She met Cage through Ichiyanagi Toshi in Cage's legendary composition class at the New School for Social Research, and in the summer of 1960, she found a cheap loft in downtown Manhattan at 112 Chambers Street and allowed composer La Monte Young to organize concerts in the loft with her, with people like Marcel Duchamp and Peggy Guggenheim attending. Ono only presented work once during the series. In 1961, years before meeting Lennon, Ono had her first major public performance in a concert at the 258-seat Carnegie Recital Hall (smaller than the "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" on vacation in Bermuda, and it reminded him of Ono's musical sound. He took this as an indication that her sound had reached the mainstream. (The band in fact had been influenced by Ono.) In addition to her collaborations with experimental artists including John Cage and jazz legend Ornette Coleman, many other 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 (who drew from her early recordings) 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" on their experimental album SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century.
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, which featured the striking cover photo of Lennon's 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 was not dedicated to Lennon because "he would have been offended—he was one of us." The album received highly favorable reviews and reflected the public's mood after Lennon's assassination. and dated photographer-turned-interior decorator Sam Havadtoy for many years.
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 single "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. It peaked at No. 3 in the UK and No. 11 in the U.S., going gold in both countries as well as in Canada.
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 No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the video, directed by Zbig Rybczynski received major airplay on MTV and won "Most Innovative Video" at Billboard Music Video Awards in 1986. In 1986, Ono set out on a goodwill world tour for Starpeace, primarily visiting Eastern European countries.
Ono went on a musical 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. She also released a one-disc sampler of highlights from Onobox, simply titled Walking on Thin Ice. That year, she sat 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 off-Broadway musical entitled New York Rock, featuring Broadway renditions of her songs. In 1995, she released Rising, a collaboration with her son Sean and his then-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, Ono joined The B-52's in New York for their 25th anniversary concerts, coming out for the encore and performing "Rock Lobster" with the band. Starting the next year, some DJs remixed other Ono songs for dance clubs. For the remix project, she dropped her first name and became known simply as "ONO", in 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's Dance/Club Play chart, gaining Ono her first No. 1 hit. She returned to No. 1 on the same chart 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. Yes I'm a Witch has been critically well received. A similar compilation of Ono dance remixes entitled Open Your Box was also released in April of that year.
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 included Sean Lennon, Cornelius, and Yuka Honda. On February 16, 2010, Sean organized a concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music called "We Are Plastic Ono Band", at which Yoko performed her music with Sean, Clapton, Klaus Voormann, 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 and the Scissor Sisters interpreted her songs in their own styles.
In April 2010, RCRD LBL made available free downloads of Junior Boys' mix of "I'm Not Getting Enough," a single originally released 10 years prior on Blueprint for a Sunrise. That song and "Wouldnit (I'm a Star)," released September 14, made it to Billboard's end of the year list of favorite Dance/Club songs at #23 and #50 respectively. The next year, "Move on Fast" became her sixth consecutive number-one hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart and her eighth number-one hit overall. In January 2012, a Ralphi Rosario mix of her 1995 song "Talking to the Universe" became her seventh consecutive No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart, and both songs charted again as favorites on Billboard's year-end lists for Dance/Club songs for 2011. In June 2013, Ono curated the Meltdown festival in London, where she played two concerts, one on June 15 with the Plastic Ono Band. She and her band released the LP Take Me to the Land of Hell on September 17 of that year which featured numerous guests including Yuka Honda, Cornelius, Hirotaka "Shimmy" Shimizu, mi-gu's Yuko Araki, Wilco's Nels Cline, tUnE-yArDs, Questlove, Lenny Kravitz, and Ad-Rock and Mike D of the Beastie Boys. Her online video for "Bad Dancer" released in November 2013, which featured some of these guests, was well-liked by the press. By the end of the year she had become one of three artists with two songs in the Top 20 Dance/Club and had two consecutive No. 1 hits on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play Charts. On the strength of the singles "Hold Me" (Featuring Dave Audé) and "Walking on Thin Ice" the artist, the then-80 year old beat Katy Perry, Robin Thicke, and her friend Lady Gaga.
During her career, Ono also has collaborated with Earl Slick, David Tudor, Fred DeAsis, and Richard Maxfield. As a dance music artist, Ono has worked with re-mixers/producers including Basement Jaxx, Bill Kates, Keiji Haino, Nick Vernier Band, Billy Martin, DJ Spooky, Apples In Stereo, Damien Price, DJ Chernobyl, Bimbo Jones, DJ Dan, Craig Armstrong, Jorge Artajo, Shuji Nabara, and Konrad Behr.
In 2012, the album Yokokimthurston was released featuring a collaboration with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. Notable also as the first collaboration between Moore and Gordon after their divorce, it was characterized by AllMusic as "focused and risk-taking" and "above the best" of the couple's experimental music, with Ono's voice described as "one-of-a-kind."Cite error: The named reference MH231 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Munroe et al. 2000, p. 232 Munroe et al. 2000, p. 65. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 233. Cite error: The named reference MH21 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Ono, Yoko: Cut Piece". Medien Kunst Netz (Media Art Net). Retrieved November 2013. "#29: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 18, 2014. Wiskirchen, Julie. "The B-52s 25th Anniversary Concert with Chicks on Speed". Ape Culture. Retrieved April 18, 2014. "Elvis Costello-Walking on Thin Ice". last.fm. Retrieved Feb 7, 2014. Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "SYR4 - Goodbye 20th Century". NME. Dec 1, 1999. AllMusic Season of Glass Review. AllMusic. Retrieved January 1, 2012. Trebay, Guy (April 6, 2011). "A Collector of People Along With Art". New York Times. "Onobox: Credits". AllMusic. Dougherty, Steve (March 31, 2003). "Oh Yes! Ono Turns 70". People. "Yoko Ono, It's Alright (I See Rainbows), Billboard Albums". Feb 7, 2014. "Yoko Ono: Biography". iTunes. "Various Artists, Every Man Has a Woman, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved Feb 7, 2014. "John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Milk and Honey, Overview". AllMusic. "John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Milk and Honey, Awards". AllMusic. "John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Searchable Database". riaa.com. page 3 "Searchable Database". bpi.co.uk. "Gold Platinum Database: John Lennon". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2011-07-12. "ZBIG RYBCZYNSKI::FILM AND VIDEO AWARD". ZBIG RYBCZYNSKI. Retrieved 26 July 2011. Cite error: The named reference RS was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Yoko Ono: Onobox". AllMusic. "Yoko Ono": Walking on Thin Ice". AllMusic. Kemp, Mark (July–Aug 1992). "She Who Laughs Last: Yoko Ono Reconsidered". Option. pp. 74–81. "Yoko Ono, New York Rock [Original Cast]". AllMusic. Retrieved Nov 7, 2014. "The Ballads (and Uptempo Songs) of Yoko: Ask Billboard". Billboard.com. Sep 18, 2009. Retrieved Feb 7, 2014. "Ima/Yoko Ono: Rising Mixes". AllMusic. Kaufman, Gil (Feb 19, 1997). "Ready Or Not: Yoko Ono Albums To Be Reissued". MTV.com. "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band", The". Discogs. "Yoko Ono - Starpeace". Discogs. "Yoko Ono: Blueprint for a Sunrise". Pitchfork Media. Oct 25, 2001. Locker, Melissa (December 19, 2013). "Q&A: Yoko Ono On Her Rebirth As A Dance-Music Star". TIME. "ONO-Hell in Paradise". Discogs. Retrieved April 18, 2014. "ONO - Walking On Thin Ice 2013 (Danny Tenaglia and Sebastian Dub)". Soundcloud. Retrieved April 18, 2014. Plastic Ono Band (Mlps): Yoko Ono: Music. Amazon.com. Retrieved April 4, 2011. Petridis, Alexis (February 16, 2007). "Yoko Ono, Yes, I'm a Witch". The Guardian (London). "Basement Jaxx, Pet Shop Boys Remix Yoko Ono". Pitchforkmedia.com via the Way Back Machine. March 5, 2007. "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band: Between My Head and the Sky, Overview". AllMusic. "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band: Between My Head and the Sky, Credits". AllMusic. Pareles, Jon (February 18, 2010). "Review: "Amid All That Experience, Innocence"". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2010. Fitzmaurice, Larry. "Yoko Ono: "Give Me Something" (Junior Boys Remix)". Pitchfork Media. "Wouldnit (I'm a Star) – Single by Yoko Ono". iTunes Store US. Apple Inc. Retrieved 28 July 2011. "Dance Club Songs, Best of 2010, 21-30". Retrieved 18 April 2014. "Dance Club Songs, Best of 2010, 41-50". Retrieved 18 April 2014. Perpetua, Mathew. "Yoko Ono Scores Sixth Consecutive Dance Chart-Topper With 'Move On Fast'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 July 2011. "Dance Club Songs, Best of 2011, 21-30". Retrieved 18 April 2014. Cite error: The named reference SBank was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "The Approval Matrix". New York magazine. Nov 18, 2013. Hermes, Will (Dec 3, 2013). "Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band: Take Me To The Land Of Hell". Rolling Stone. Cite error: The named reference gp was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Yoko Ono / Ima (2) – Rising Mixes". Discogs. "Bio". DJSpooky.com. "Yoko Ono: You're the One [Bimbo Jones Main Mix]". AllMusic. "Yoko Ono: Give Peace a Chance [DJ Dan Vocal Mix]". AllMusic. "Craig Armstrong / Yoko Ono Shiranakatta (I Didn't Know)". AllMusic. "THE SUN IS DOWN! remix competition – THE 20 WINNING REMIXES". ImaginePeace.com. Jan 26, 2010. "Kim Gordon/Thurston Moore/Yoko Ono/YOKOKIMTHURSTON". AllMusic.
Ono was frequently criticized by the press and the public for many years. She was blamed for the breakup of the Beatles and repeatedly criticized for her influence over Lennon and his music. Her experimental art was also not popularly understood. The English press were particularly negative, and prompted the couple's move to the US. As late as December 1999, NME was calling her a "no-talent charlatan," and in October 2013 tennis pro Andy Murray's mother took over a Twitter handle entitled Destroying Yoko Ono on Twitter.
Her name still connotes the figure of the evil female interloper to the mainstream. Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain's widow, has endlessly been compared to Ono for her supposed bothersome role in Nirvana's businesses and as a scapegoat for Cobain's suicide.
In 2007, when American singer Jessica Simpson was dating Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, the Simpson-Romo relationship was blamed for Romo's poor performances. In response, some Cowboys' fans gave her the moniker "Yoko Romo."
In 2012, American country singer-songwriter Taylor Swift was compared to Yoko Ono as her relationship with the lead singer Harry Styles from the British boy-band One Direction was leading to tension and conflict within the group. Swift and Styles subsequently broken up (acrimoniously) in early 2013.Badman 1999, p. 40. Cite error: The named reference Dub was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference allmusicB was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference allmusic was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference TA was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference NME was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference GL was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Jackson, Buzzy (2005-02-17). A Bad Woman Feeling Good: Blues and the Women Who Sing Them. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 264–65. ISBN 978-0-393-05936-6. Dahlberg, Tim (2007-12-22). "Yoko Romo: Jessica Simpson cast in the role of villain". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-08-07. Caulfield, Philip (2012-12-10). "The new Yoko? Taylor Swift blasted as the 'Yoko Ono' of One Direction as new beau Harry Styles ditches bandmates to fly on her private jet". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
One month after the 9/11 attacks, she organized the concert "Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music" at Radio City Music Hall. Hosted by the actor Kevin Spacey and featured Lou Reed, Cyndi Lauper and Nelly Furtado, it raised money for September 11 relief efforts and aired on TNT and the WB.
During the Liverpool Biennial in 2004, Ono flooded the city with two images on banners, bags, stickers, postcards, flyers, posters and badges: one of a woman's naked breast, the other of the same model's vulva. (During her stay in Lennon's city of birth, she said she was "astounded" by the city's renaissance.) The piece, titled My Mummy Was Beautiful, was dedicated to Lennon's mother, Julia, who had died when he 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 its mother's body, those parts of the mother's body being a child's introduction to humanity.The Dakota, Ono's residence since 1973
Ono performed at the opening ceremony for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, wearing white, like many of the other performers during the ceremony, to symbolize the snow of winter. She read a free verse poem calling for world peace as an introduction to a Peter Gabriel's performance of "Imagine".
On December 13, 2006, one of Ono's bodyguards was arrested after he was allegedly taped trying to extort $2 million from her, threatening to release private conversations and photographs. His bail was revoked, and he pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted grand larceny. In February 16, 2007 a deal was reached where extortion charges were dropped, and he pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in the third degree, a felony, and sentenced to the 60 days he had already spent in jail. After reading an unapologetic statement, he was released to immigration officials because he had also been found guilty of overstaying his business visa.
On June 26, 2007, Ono appeared on Larry King Live along with McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Olivia Harrison. She 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 ever, with Thurston Moore: She had previously performed the song with John and with Sean. On October 9 of that year, the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island in Iceland, dedicated to peace and to Lennon, was turned on with her, Sean, Ringo, George Harrison's widow Olivia in attendance.
Ono returned to Liverpool for the 2008 Liverpool Biennial, where she unveiled Sky Ladders in the ruins of Church of St Luke (which was largely destroyed during World War II and now stands roofless as a memorial to those killed in the Liverpool Blitz). Two years later, on March 31, 2009, she went to the inauguration of the exhibition "Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko" to mark the 40th anniversary of the Lennon-Ono Bed-In at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada, from May 26 to June 2, 1969. (The hotel has been doing steady business with the room they stayed in for over 40 years.) That year she became a grandmother, when Emi was born to Kyoko.
In May 2009, she designed a T-shirt for the second Fashion Against AIDS campaign and collection of HIV/AIDS awareness, NGO Designers Against AIDS, and H&M, with the statement "Imagine Peace" depicted in 21 languages. Ono appeared onstage at Microsoft's June 1, 2009, E3 Expo press conference with Olivia Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr to promote the Beatles: Rock Band video game, which was universally praised by critics. Ono appeared on the Basement Jaxx album Scars, featuring on the single "Day of the Sunflowers (We March On)".Cite error: The named reference Scot was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Come Together: A Night For John Lennon's Words & Music, Dedicated To New York City & It's People (2001)". tntdrama.com. "Yoko Ono: I'm astounded by Liverpool's renaissance". Daily Post via the Free Library. September 18, 2004. Coslett, Paul. "But Is It Art?". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved Feb 8, 2014. "Interview with Michele Robecchi" (84). Contemporary Magazine. 2006. via ImaginePeace.com Doug Elfman (February 22, 2006). "Agony of defeat: Coverage of "oh no" Games seems lackluster to callous generation of American viewers". Chicago Sun-Times (Sun-Times Media). Retrieved December 8, 2010. "Olympics Open in Spectacular Style". CNN. Feb 10, 2006. "Yoko Ono: IMAGINE PEACE at the opening ceremony for The 2006 XX Winter Olympic Games". ImaginePeace.com. Feb 10, 2006. "Gabriel, Pavarotti Participate In Surreal Olympic Opening". Billboard. Feb 10, 2006. Nina Pineda (December 13, 2006). "Yoko Ono bodyguard accused of extortion". Eyewitness News (ABC). WABC-TV. Retrieved December 8, 2010. "Driver's Lawyer Calls Yoko Ono Abusive". The New York Times. December 19, 2006. "Deal Ends Case Against Yoko Ono's Chauffeur". The New York Times. February 16, 2007. "The Beatles, Aired June 26, 2007 - 21:00 ET". CNN. Retrieved Feb 8, 2014. "Yoko imagines peace on Lennon's birthday". Oct 11, 2007. Yoko Ono: SKYLADDERS – Articles. Imagine Peace (October 21, 2008). Retrieved April 4, 2011. "Montreal hotel celebrates 40th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Bed-in for Peace"". The Seattle Times. June 28, 2009. Retrieved November 9, 2013. ) "Star Tracks". People. Jan 15, 2001. Designers against AIDS Website. Designersagainstaids.com. Retrieved January 1, 2012. Daniel Radosh (August 16, 2009). "While My Guitar Gently Beeps". The New York Times. p. MM26. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 8, 2010. Fletcher, Brenden (June 2, 2009). "Best Animated Game-Intro Ever: The Beatles Rock Band". fps magazine. Retrieved June 4, 2009. Bernardin, Marc (June 2, 2009). "'The Beatles: Rock Band': Most amazing animated commercial ever?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 4, 2009. "Basement Jaxx feat. Yoko Ono – Day Of The Sunflowers (We March On)". Imagine Peace. September 1, 2009. Retrieved December 8, 2010.
On February 16, 2010, Ono revived an early Plastic Ono Band lineup with Eric Clapton, and special guests including Paul Simon and Bette Midler. On April 1 of that year, she was named the first "Global Autism Ambassador" by the Autism Speaks organization. She had created an artwork the year before for autism awareness and allowed it to be auctioned off in 67 parts to benefit the organization. Ono appeared with Ringo Starr on July 7 at New York's Radio City Music Hall in celebration of Starr's 70th birthday, performing "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Give Peace a Chance". On September 16, she and Sean attended the opening of Julian Lennon's photo exhibition at the Morrison Hotel in New York City, appearing for the first time photos with Cynthia and Julian. She also promoted his work on her website. On October 2, Ono and the Plastic Ono Band performed at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, with special guest Lady Gaga, whom she deeply admires.
On February 18, 2011, her 78th birthday, Ono took out a full page advert in the UK free newspaper Metro for "Imagine Peace 2011". It took the form of an open letter, inviting people to think of, and wish for, peace. With son Sean, she held a benefit concert to aid in the relief efforts for earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Japan on March 27 in New York City. The effort raised a total of $33,000. In July 2011, she visited Japan to support earthquake and tsunami victims and to buoy tourism to the country. During her visit, Ono gave a lecture and performance entitled "The Road of Hope" at Tokyo's Mori Art Museum, during which she painted a large calligraphy piece entitled "Dream" to help raise funds for construction of the Rainbow House, an institution for the orphans of the Great East Japan Earthquake. She also collected the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize for her contributions to art and for peace, that she was awarded the year prior.
In January 2012, a Ralphi Rosario mix of her 1995 song "Talking to the Universe" became her seventh consecutive No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. In March of the same year, she was awarded the 20,000-euro ($26,400) Oskar Kokoschka Prize in Austria. From June 19 to September 9, her work To the Light was exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery in London. It was held in conjunction with the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week UK-wide celebration featuring internationally renowned artists from Midsummer's Day (June 21) to the final day of the Paralympic Games on September 9.
On June 29, 2012, Ono received a lifetime achievement award at the Dublin Biennial. During this (her second) trip to Ireland (the first was with John before they married), she visited the crypt of Irish leader Daniel O'Connell at Glasnevin Cemetery and Dun Laoghaire, from where Irish departed for England to escape the famine. In February 2013, Ono accepted the Rainer Hildebrandt Medal at Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie Museum, awarded to her and Lennon for their lifetime of work for peace and human rights. The next month, she tweeted an anti-gun message with the Season of Glass image of Lennon's bloodied glasses on what would have been her and Lennon's 44th anniversary, noting that more than 1 million people have been killed by guns since Lennon's death in 1980. She was also given a Congressional citation from the Philippines for her monetary aid to the victims of typhoon Pablo. She also donated to disaster relief efforts after typhoon Ondoy in 2009, and she assists Filipino schoolchildren. In June 2013, she curated the Meltdown festival in London, where she played two concerts, one on June 15 with the Plastic Ono Band, and the second on June 22 with the band again and Peaches, with other sets by Kim Gordon, The Stooges, and Savages who played their own work.
In July 2013, she released a sequel to Grapefruit, another book of instructions, Acorn. As of its release date, it is only available for purchase, in print or as an e-book, directly from its publisher, OR Books. She was made an honorary citizen of Reykjavík, Iceland, on October 9, 2013. In 2013 she became an honorary patron to Alder Hey Charity.Rob Harvilla (February 23, 2010). "Oh, Yoko Ono". The Village Voice. Retrieved December 8, 2010. "Your Global Autism Ambassador Is ... Yoko Ono? Really?". About.com. April 2, 2010. "Amazing Ringo 70th Birthday show – McCartney, Yoko, Joe Walsh, Little Steven and much more.". Rock Art Show Blog. Rock Art Show. July 8, 2010. Retrieved December 8, 2010. "Julian Lennon on His 'Timeless' Photo Exhibition". Rolling Stone. Sep 17, 2010. Cite error: The named reference yahoo1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Julian Lennon: 'Timeless' exhibition at Morrison Hotel Gallery, NYC: Sept17-Oct7". Imagine Peace. Sep 30, 2010. "Yoko Ono on Lady Gaga: 'She is Incredible'". The Hollywood Reporter. September 12, 2011. Retrieved November 17, 2013. Metro (UK), page 30, February 18, 2011 March 27 JAPAN BENEFIT Concert: YOKO ONO, Sean Lennon, Sonic Youth, Mike Patton, Cibo Matto & more (Miller Theater Columbia University, NY). Imagine Peace (March 24, 2011). Retrieved April 4, 2011. "Yoko Ono to Japanese Disaster Victims: 'We Are All Together'". Billboard.com. July 22, 2011. The Hiroshima Art Prize – Hiroshima MOCA. Retrieved February 21, 2014. Russeth, Andrew (March 2, 2012). "Awards: 2012 Oscar Kokoschka Prize Goes to Yoko Ono". Galleristny. "Yoko Ono, To the Light". Serpentine Gallery. Retrieved Feb 10, 2014. "Yoko Ono To Exhibit At London 2012 Festival". Huffington Post UK. Dec 13, 2011. Retrieved Feb 10, 2014. "Yoko Ono receives a lifetime achievement award in Dublin | Irish Entertainment in Ireland and Around the World". IrishCentral. June 28, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2012. "Yoko Ono picks up German human rights prize at Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie Museum". Agence France-Presse via Artdaily.org. Retrieved November 11, 2013. "Yoko Ono Tweets Photo of John Lennon's Bloody Glasses With Anti-Gun Statement". The Hollywood Reporter. March 21, 2013. "Congressional Citation for Yoko Ono". Manila Bulletin. February 21, 2013. Archived from the original on February 24, 2013. "Yoko Ono, HP donate to Pablo victims". The Philippine Star. Retrieved November 17, 2013. "YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND Part of Festival of Neighbourhood and Meltdown Royal Festival Hall Friday 14 June 2013". Southbank Centre website. Retrieved November 11, 2013. Cite error: The named reference guML was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference acorn_get was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Yoko Ono given top Iceland honour". express.co.uk. October 10, 2013. Alder Hey Charity. "Meet our supporters", Liverpool 2013. Retrieved on 23 June 2014.
Main articles: Bed-In, Give Peace a Chance and Bagism
Ono has been an activist for peace and human rights since the 1960s. After their wedding, she and Lennon held a "Bed-In for Peace" in their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel in March 1969, where the pair of newlyweds in pajamas invited visitors and members of the press, eager to talk about and promote world peace. Another Bed-In two months later at the Queen Elizabeth Fairmont in Montreal resulted in the recording of their first single, "Give Peace A Chance", a top-20 hit for the newly christened Plastic Ono Band. Other performance/demonstrations with John included "bagism," iterations with John of the Bag Pieces she introduced in the early '60s, which encouraged a disregard for physical appearance in judging others. In December 1969, the two continued spread their message of peace with billboards in 12 major world cities reading "WAR IS OVER! If You Want It - Happy Christmas from John & Yoko."
In the 1970s, Ono and Lennon became close to many radical, counterculture leaders, including Bobby Seale, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Michael X, John Sinclair (for whose rally in Michigan they flew to sing Lennon's song "Free John Sinclair" that effectively released the poet from prison), Angela Davis, and street musician David Peel. Friend and Sexual Politics author Kate Millett has said Ono inspired her activism. Ono and Lennon appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, taking over hosting duties for a week. Ono spoke at length about the evils of racism and sexism. She remained outspoken in her support of feminism, and openly bitter about the racism she had experienced from rock fans, especially in the UK. Her reception within the UK media was not much better. For example, an Esquire article of the period was titled "John Rennon's Excrusive Gloupie" and featured an unflattering David Levine cartoon.
In 1999, after the Columbine High School massacre, Ono paid for billboards to be put up in New York City and Los Angeles that bore the image of Lennon's blood-splashed spectacles. Early in 2002 she paid about £150,000 ($213,375) for a billboard in Piccadilly Circus with a line from Lennon's "Imagine": "Imagine all the people living life in peace." Later the same year, she inaugurated a peace award, the LennonOno Grant for Peace, by giving $50,000 (£31,900) in prize money originally to artists living "in regions of conflict". The award is given out every two years in conjunction with the lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower, and was first given to Israeli and Palestinian artists. Its program has since expanded to include writers, such as Michael Pollan and Alice Walker, activists such as Vandana Shiva and Pussy Riot, organizations such as New York's Center for Constitutional Rights, even an entire country (Iceland).
On Valentine's Day 2003, on the eve of the Iraqi invasion by the US and UK, Ono heard about a couple, Andrew and Christine Gale, who were holding a love-in protest in their tiny bedroom in Addingham, West Yorkshire. She phoned them and said, "It's good to speak to you. We're supporting you. We're all sisters together." The couple said that songs like "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine" inspired their protest. 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".
In August 2011, she made the documentary film about the Bed-Ins Bed Peace available for free on YouTube, and as part of her website "Imagine Peace". In January 2013, the 79-year-old Ono, along with Sean Lennon and Susan Sarandon, took to rural Pennsylvania in a bus under the banner of the Artists Against Fracking group she and Sean created with Mark Ruffalo in August 2012 to protest against hydraulic fracturing. Other group members include Lady Gaga and Alec Baldwin.
Ono promotes her art, and shares inspirational messages and images, through a robust and active Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook presence. In April 2014 her Twitter followers reached 4.69 million, while her Instagram followers exceeded 99,000. Her tweets are short instructional poems, comments on media and politics, and notes about performances.Cite error: The named reference RS was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference PN was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "John Lennon: Awards". AllMusic. Munroe et al. 2000, p. 162-65. Cite error: The named reference allmusicB was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Munroe et al. 2000, p. 190-91. Doggett, Peter (2007). There's a Riot Going on: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of the '60s. Grove/Atlantic. p. 501. Risen, Tom (Jan 22, 2014). "John Lennon: Rebel Beatle". U.S. News & World Report. Harry 2001. O'Hagan, Sean (March 2, 2014). "John Sinclair: 'We wanted to kick ass – and raise consciousness'". The Guardian. Retrieved April 29, 2014. Derienzo, Paul (Dec 13, 2012). "John Lennon, David Peel and rock's greatest flattery". The Villager. Simmons, William (December 1, 2011). "Conversations with Kate Millett". The Harvard Independent. "The Mike Douglas Show with John Lennon & Yoko Ono". AllMusic. Cite error: The named reference TA was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cronin, J. Ken; Robertson, Kirsty (2011). Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture and Activism in Canada. Wilfrid Laurier University Press. p. 71. Cite error: The named reference Scot was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Yoko brings peace message to UK". BBC News. March 5, 2002. Oanda.com's currency converter, 3/5/02 Imagine Peace. (PDF). Taipei Times. December 24, 2008. Retrieved January 1, 2012. "Yoko Ono supports bed protest". BBC. April 3, 2003. Retrieved Feb 10, 2014. Johnstone, Nick. Yoko Ono Talking. Omnibus Press. p. 13. ISBN 085712255X. "BED PEACE starring John Lennon & Yoko Ono". Aug 12, 2011. Yoko Ono Lennon (September 3, 2011). "Watch the film #BEDPEACE starring John Lennon & Yoko Ono ✩✩✩ FREE ✩✩✩". ImaginePeace.com. Gabbatt, Adam (January 18, 2013). "Fracking debate draws Yoko, Lennon and Sarandon to rural battlegrounds: Artists Against Fracking board bus for magical mystery tour of Pennsylvania as New York and New Jersey decisions draw near". The Guardian. "Intelligencer: Fracklash". New York. September 10, 2012. Jamieson, Ruth (February 23, 2009). "Art on Twitter: yes, but is it twart?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 February 2014. "Yoko Ono". Twitter. Retrieved April 17, 2014. Sinclair, Hannah (July 8, 2011). "Yoko Ono's Tweets of Wisdom". Yen. Retrieved July 30, 2013. "Yoko Ono tweets John Lennon's bloody glasses". CBS News. March 21, 2013. Retrieved July 30, 2013. Phillips, Brian (March 24, 2014). "Today in Twitter Beefs: Andy Murray’s Mom vs. Yoko Ono". Grantland.
Relationship with the BeatlesMain article: Break-up of the Beatles
According to journalist Barry Miles, after Lennon and Ono had been injured in a car accident in June 1969, partway through recording Abbey Road, a bed was installed in the studio with a microphone so the latter could make artistic comments about the album. Miles also thought Ono's continual presence in the studio during the latter part of the Beatles' career put strain on Lennon's relationship with the other band members. George Harrison verbally assaulted her after she took one of his chocolate digestive biscuits without asking. The English press dubbed her as "the woman who broke up the Beatles", but Ono has stated that the Beatles broke up themselves without any direct involvement from her, adding "I don't think I could have tried even to break them up."
While the Beatles were together, every song written by Lennon or McCartney was credited as Lennon–McCartney regardless of whether the song was a collaboration or written solely by one of the two (except for those appearing on their first album, Please Please Me, which originally credited the songs to McCartney–Lennon). In 1976, McCartney released a live album called Wings over America, which credited the five Beatles tracks as P. McCartney–J. Lennon compositions. Neither Lennon nor Ono objected. After Lennon's death, McCartney again attempted to change the order to McCartney–Lennon for songs that were solely or predominantly written by him, such as "Yesterday," but Ono would not allow it, saying she felt this broke an agreement that the two had made while Lennon was still alive, and the surviving Beatle argued that such an agreement never existed. A spokesman for Ono said McCartney was making "an attempt to rewrite history".
In a Rolling Stone interview in 1987, Ono pointed out McCartney's place in the process of the disintegration of the band. On the 1998 John Lennon anthology, Lennon Legend, the composer credit of "Give Peace a Chance" was changed to "John Lennon" from its original composing credit of "Lennon–McCartney." Although the song was written by Lennon during his tenure with the Beatles, it was both written and recorded without the help of the band, and released as Lennon's first independent single under the "Plastic Ono Band" moniker. Lennon subsequently expressed regret that he had not given co-writing credit to Ono instead, who actually helped him write the song. In 2002, McCartney released another live album, Back in the U.S. Live 2002, and the 19 Beatles songs included are described as "composed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon", which reignited the debate over credits with Ono. Her spokesperson Elliott Mintz called it "an attempt to rewrite history." Nevertheless, Ono did not sue.
In 1995, after the Beatles released Lennon's "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", with demos provided by Ono, McCartney and his family collaborated with her and Sean 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." Two years later, however, Ono publicly compared Lennon to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, while McCartney, she said, more closely resembled his less-talented rival Antonio Salieri. This remark infuriated McCartney's wife Linda, who was dying from breast cancer at the time. When Linda died less than a year later, McCartney did not invite Ono to his wife's memorial service in New York.
Accepting an award at the 2005 Q Awards, Ono mentioned that Lennon had once felt insecure about his songwriting. She 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."
In an October 2010 interview, Ono spoke about Lennon's "lost weekend" and her subsequent reconciliation with him. She credited McCartney with helping save her marriage to John. "I want the world to know that it was a very touching thing that [Paul] did for John." While visiting with Ono in March 1974, McCartney, on leaving, asked "[W]hat will make you come back to John?" McCartney subsequently passed her response to Lennon while visiting him in Los Angeles. "John often said he didn't understand why Paul did this for us, but he did." In 2012, McCartney revealed that he did not blame Ono for the breakup of the Beatles and credited Ono with inspiring much of Lennon's post-Beatles work.
Relationship with Julian LennonMain article: John Lennon § Julian Lennon
Ono had a difficult relationship with her stepson, Lennon's son Julian, which has improved over the years. He has expressed disappointment at her handling of Lennon's estate, and at the difference between his upbringing and Sean's, adding, "when Dad gave up music for a couple of years to be with Sean, why couldn't he do that with me?" More egregiously, however, Julian was left out of his father's will, and he battled Ono in court for years, settling in 1996 for an unspecified amount which the papers reported was "believed to" be in the area of £20 million, which Julian has denied.
He has admitted that he is his "mother's boy", which Ono has cited as the reason why she was never able to get close to him: "Julian and I tried to be friends. Of course, if he's too friendly with me, then I think that it hurts his other relatives. He was very loyal to his mother. That was the first thing that was in his mind." Nevertheless, she and Sean attended the opening of Julian's photo exhibition at the Morrison Hotel in New York City in 2010, appearing for the first time for photos with Cynthia and Julian. She also promoted the exhibition on her website, and Julian and Sean are close.Miles 1997, p. 552. Udovitch, Mim (8 October 2000). "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men". New York Times. Retrieved 21 February 2014. Badman 1999, p. 40. Badman 1999, p. 41. "Talking Point | Lennon-McCartney: Who do you give credit to?". BBC News. December 23, 2002. Retrieved April 18, 2012. "Update: McCartney Reignites Beatles Credit Controversy". Billboard.com. Retrieved Feb 14, 2014. Vultaggio, Maria (December 29, 2012). "Yoko Ono Blames Paul McCartney For The Beatles' Breakup?". International Business Times. Cite error: The named reference PN was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Garcia, Gilbert. (January 27, 2003) "The ballad of Paul and Yoko". Salon. Retrieved April 4, 2011. Williams, Precious (May 19, 2002). "Eternal flame". The Scotsman (UK). Herbert, Ian (October 15, 2005). "Yoko Ono claims she was misquoted over McCartney outburst". The Independent (London). Retrieved February 1, 2014. "Can't buy me love: Yoko tells how Paul saved her marriage to John". The Times. October 9, 2010. "Paul McCartney: Yoko Ono Didn't Break Up the Beatles". Rolling Stone. October 29, 2012. "Julian Lennon blames father John for his lack of children". The Daily Telegraph. 4 December 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2014. Cite error: The named reference yahoo1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Rolling_Stone was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Imagine_Peace was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
In popular culture
One of Barenaked Ladies's best-known songs is "Be My Yoko Ono" from 1990. It includes the lyrics: "Isn't it beautiful to see two people / So much in love? / Barenaked as two virgins hand in / Hand and and / And hand in glove", referring to the couple's famous Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins cover. The Canadian foursome go on to sing, "I know that when I say this, / I may be stepping on pins and / Needles; / But I don't like all these people / Slagging her / For breaking up the Beatles."
American folk singer Dar Williams recorded a 2000 song titled "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono", which included the refrain, "But I won't be your Yoko Ono / If you're not good enough for me." That same year German punk band Die Ärzte recorded the song "Yoko Ono" for their 2000 album with a decidedly different take on Ono: Farin Urlaub sings about an ex-girlfriend that annoys him, describing her as "more annoying than Yoko Ono". According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is also shortest single ever released, with a run time of 30 seconds.
The British band Elbow mentioned Ono in their song "New York Morning" from their 2014 album The Take Off and Landing of Everything ("Oh, my giddy aunt, New York can talk / It's the modern Rome and folk are nice to Yoko"). In response Ono posted an open letter to the band on her website, thanking them and reflecting on her and Lennon's relationship with the city.
Work in popular culture
The post-punk rock band Death of Samantha named themselves after her single on 1973's Approximately Infinite Universe."Barenaked Ladies: Be My Yoko Ono". last.fm. Retrieved Feb 7, 2014. "Barenaked Ladies: Be My Yoko Ono (Overview)". AllMusic. Retrieved Feb 7, 2014. "Dar Williams - I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono". Discogs. Retrieved Feb 7, 2014. "Dar Williams, I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono, Lyrics". AllMusic. Retrieved Feb 13, 2014. Ankeny, Jason. "Die Ärzte: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved Feb 14, 2014. "Yoko Ono thanks Elbow for new song 'New York Morning' in open letter". NME.com. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014. "Death of Samantha: Notes from the Underground," The Plain Dealer Magazine, February 22, 1987, Christopher Evans, Page 6