When John Met Yoko
John heard of a show in London where Yoko was exhibiting her interactive, conceptual art pieces. She was an eccentric Japanese-American artist who experimented with different mediums, and John admitted the humour in her work impressed him.
The owner of the Indica Gallery introduced them, but Ono had never heard of The Beatles, so she asked John for money to hammer a nail into her art installation. He replied, “I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.” Although John and Yoko had their own marriages and kids when they met in 1966, sparks ignited between them – and the rest is hippie history.
Falling In Love
Yoko reached out to John to fund one of her upcoming art shows. One day, he invited her over while his first wife Cynthia was away on vacation with their son, Julian. John revealed in an interview with The Rolling Stone: “It was midnight when we started Two Virgins, it was dawn when we finished, and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful.”
John’s ex-wife returned home to find Yoko with her husband in robes, prompting the divorce in the same year. John and Yoko knew that pursuing a relationship with each other was controversial. Ono confessed to The Telegraph: “In a way, both John and I ruined our careers by getting together. Although we weren’t aware of it at the time.” Yoko became pregnant shortly after, but lost their baby to a miscarriage.
Despite their anti-establishment beliefs, they got hitched in Gibraltar, which John sang about in ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’. A few years ago, Yoko posted a photo on her Instagram with their marriage certificate in hand. “John and I got married on March 20th 1969. Exactly 46 years ago. When somebody told us that we actually got married on the first day of Spring, we just looked at each other and went Wow!”
After tying the knot in a private ceremony, the newlyweds went public. They spent their honeymoon doing Bed-Ins For Peace in protest of the Vietnam war. They made hand-drawn signs and grew their hair out to rebel against violence – staying in bed for a week at the Amsterdam Hilton, followed by The Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
They allowed the press to interview them for 12 hours a day to discuss their views and cuddle up in front of the cameras. In 2014, Yoko Ono released a documentary of their Amsterdam and Montreal bed-ins that features John performing the revolutionary anthem ‘Give Peace A Chance’.
Make Art, Not War
The couple created lots of films, art pieces, and performances together. Deeply involved in each other’s affairs, John had Yoko around for rehearsals in recording studios, music video shoots, and even on stage, causing friction with other members of the band.
They were equally passionate about activism, putting out paper ads and billboards with the powerful message: “War is over! If you want it.”
John and Yoko made several albums together, including the experimental Two Virgins which featured both of them naked on the cover, along with two other noisy LPs. Their more notable releases were The Wedding Album and their last collaborative album, Double Fantasy.
The Beatles Break Up
A year into their marriage, the Beatles shocked the world when they went their separate ways in 1970. The public was quick to blame Yoko for the group’s disbandment, but the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, passed away the same year, causing grief for the whole band. They were drifting apart as tensions grew, and Yoko inspired John to find himself, away from the pressure of being in the most popular rock band of all time.
John expressed his views on The Dick Cavett show in 1971, saying: “She didn’t split the Beatles. Because how could one girl split the Beatles, or one woman? The Beatles were drifting apart on their own.”
John’s Affair With May
By 1973, Yoko shared with The Telegraph how much she needed a break, so she set John up with her assistant May Pang before fleeing to New York. They had an 18-month long relationship until John and Yoko reconciled.
“I started to notice that he became a little restless on top of that, so I thought it’s better to give him a rest and me a rest. May Pang was a very intelligent, attractive woman and extremely efficient. I thought they’d be OK. John’s affair wasn’t hurtful to me. I needed a rest. I needed space.”
Getting Back Together
John and Yoko got back together in 1975, later that year, Yoko Ono gave birth to their only son, Sean Lennon, who was born on John’s birthday.
Songs Inspired by Yoko
John Lennon wrote many songs inspired by his love for Yoko. She was his muse and he always found himself writing about her. John’s greatest hit ‘Imagine’ was a collaboration inspired by Yoko’s poetry book titled Grapefruit, published in 1964. John has attributed most of his best work to her, and she recently received song credits for the chart-topping hit they wrote together.
Yoko shared in an interview with The Rolling Stone: “The fact that ‘Imagine’ as a song was written and put out in the world was magical. And I hope you will smell the magic of it. I feel in the big picture the fact that John and I met — was to do this song.”
- ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’
- ‘Oh My Love’
- ‘Jealous Guy’
- ‘Oh, Yoko’
- ‘Dear Yoko’
- ‘Hold On’
- ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’
They were together for 11 years until John’s tragic assassination in 1980. Mark Chapman shot him five times right outside The Dakota as he was heading home with Yoko from a studio recording. Fans flooded the streets not long after, mourning the death of the legendary musician.
Yoko After John
As John Lennon’s spouse, Yoko continues to pay tribute to her husband’s legacy with projects and monuments, including the John Lennon Museum in Japan. It goes to show that no matter how old she has become, her artistic expression and love for him remains the same.
She is still alive at the age of 80, making art, music, plays, and films. She’s been working on a documentary titled John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky which features never-before-seen footage from the making of ‘Imagine’, along with intimate snippets of their life together.
Against all odds, John and Yoko sparked a revolution of love and peace, not just within the world of activism and music, but also within each other. Their inspiring story proves that all we need is love!