When John Lennon was assassinated on December 1980, he had been married to fellow singer-songwriter for eleven years. Together, the couple would combine advocacy with art and go on to release several albums. Yoko Ono is a Japanese singer, songwriter, author, filmmaker, and peace activist. Asides being famous as a singer, Ono is perhaps more famous for being the wife of the English singer-songwriter John Lennon. As sources believe, her involvement with Lennon, brought strain to the Beatles eventually leading to their disbandment in 1970. Though Ono herself holds a much different view, love certainly got in the way many times.
Who is Yoko Ono?
Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo, Japan, on February 18, 1933, to Eisuke and Isoko Ono. Her father, Eisuke, was a well-to-do banker with a strong flair for classical music. From her father’s side, Yoko Ono hails from a family of samurai warrior-scholars. On her mother’s side, however, she can be traced to the Yasuda clan and zaibatsu.
Growing up, Yoko Ono’s family shuttled between Japan and the United States, as her father’s role in the Yokohama Specie Bank continued to evolve. Two weeks before her birth, Eisuke was transferred to San Francisco on official duty. He was later joined by his family. According to Ono, she first met her father when she was two. A year later, her younger brother, Keisuke was born in the United States; in December 1936.
When she clocked four, Ono began taking piano lessons. But then, it didn’t last for long as her father got transferred back to Japan in 1937. In Tokyo, Ono was enrolled in Gakushuin—an exclusive school in Tokyo. Only three years later, the family moved back to the United States and settled in New York City this time. A year later, in 1941, her father was again transferred to Hanoi, Japan.
Back in Japan, Yoko Ono was enrolled in Keimei Gakuen—a highbrow Christian primary school operated the Mitsui family. The family of four remained in Tokyo throughout the second World War and experienced the great fire-bombing of March 9, 1945, from the comfort of a special bunker in Tokyo’s Azabu district. After graduating from Gakushuin in 1951, she was got admitted into Gakushuin University to study philosophy. Becoming the first female to be enrolled in the program. However, she dropped out after two semesters.
She later joined her family in the United States. Now away from Japan, Yoko Ono enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College where she met and befriended artists, poets, and a mixed array of people who led the nonconformist life she so admired. Her regular attendance at art festivals pushed her farther into the Bohemian culture and would earn her disapproving rows from her parents.
After the crash of her first marriage to Japanese composer Toshi Ichiyanagi, Ono became disoriented and returned to Tokyo to live with her parents. In a matter of months, she met and later married American jazz musician and filmmaker Anthony Cox in June 1963. Together they have a daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox (b. August 8, 1963). But her marriage to Cox also ran around aground. However, the couple managed to stay together because of their intertwined career interests.
Relationship With John Lennon
When they finally divorced in February 1969, Cox disappeared with their daughter and later convinced the court about Yoko Ono’s ineptitude in raising a child, owing to her drug abuse problem. Cox would change Kyoko’s name to Ruth Holman. It was within this period she married John Lennon, after first meeting the singer in November 1966 during a preview of her art exhibition in London.
The couple collaborated on several musical and artistic projects. They released their first album; Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins and a trial piece Revolution 9 in The White Album. Soon after that, they released Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions and The Wedding Album followed soon after.
In 1981, A year after John Lennon was assassinated, Yoko Ono released a soulful solo album Season of Glass and an optimistic album It’s Alright (I See Rainbows) in 1982. In the years that followed, she released of Every Man has a Woman, Milk and Honey, and Starpeace. She made a brief switch into the visual arts, releasing New York Rock. In the early 2000s, Yoko Ono began singing again and recorded several albums including; Blueprint for a Sunrise, Walking on Thin Ice (Remixes), Yes, I’m a Witch, Between My Head and the Sky and Yokokimthurston.
In 2005, she published her only book; an autobiography Memories of John Lennon. By that time, her efforts over the decades were getting recognized from all over. In 1982, her collaboration with John Lennon, Double Fantasy, won the Grammy Award for International Album of the Year and Album of the Year. In 2001, the album, Gimme Some Truth – The Making Of John Lennon’s Imagine Album won the Grammy Awards for Best Long Form Music Video.
In 2005, the Japan Society of New York awarded Yoko Ono the lifetime achievement award. Only four years later, she received the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Biennale. In 2012, Yoko Ono was honored with the Oskar Kokoschka Prize; Austria’s highest award for applied art. The following year, she was declared an honorary patron to Alder Hey Charity, London and was made an honorary citizen of Reykjavik, Iceland. In 2015, Ono received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Observer Ethical Awards. And the NME Inspiration Award the following year.