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In Japanese kanji, her name is written 小野 洋子 (Ono Yōko). Recently the Japanese press and Ono's album covers have spelled her name in katakana, a writing system used primarily for foreign words, as she spends most of her time in other countries.
Yoko Ono on the cover of her album FlyYoko Ono Lennon (born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese musician and artist who has lived most of her life in the United States. She was then a minor celebrity in the art world until she achieved worldwide fame (or notoriety) through her relationship and eventual marriage with then-Beatle John Lennon. She currently resides in New York City.
Born into a privileged background in Tokyo, Japan, she was the oldest child of Isoko Isuda, a member of one of Japan's wealthiest banking families, and Eisuke Ono, who sacrificed a career as a classically-trained pianist to work as a banker. She attended the exclusive Gakushuin academy in Tokyo from primary school to the college division. Ono has mentioned in interviews that her parents left the upbringing of her and her younger brother to nannies; her parents were often distant, emotionally and physically.
During World War II, the Ono family survived the bombing of Tokyo in an underground shelter. Ono and her siblings fled to the countryside, and were forced to beg for food while pulling their belongings in a wheelbarrow. It was during this period in her life she developed what some would refer to as her "aggressive" attitude; local children taunted the once well-to-do Yoko and her brother, now reduced to poverty. Her father remained in the city and, unbeknownst to them, was incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in China.
After the war, Ono's family moved to Scarsdale, New York. She soon enrolled in Sarah Lawrence College. While her parents approved her choice of college, they were dismayed at her lifestyle, and often chastised Ono for befriending people they considered to be "beneath" her. In spite of this, Ono loved meeting artists, poets, and people who represented the "bohemian" freedom she longed for herself. Visiting galleries and art "happenings" in the city whetted her desire to publicly display her own artistic endeavors.
In 1956, she married composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. They divorced in 1962. On November 28 that same year, Ono married American Anthony Cox. Cox was a jazz musician, film producer, and art promoter. Their marriage was annulled on March 1, 1963; they re-married on June 6, and finally divorced on February 2, 1969. Their daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, was born on August 8, 1963. After a bitter legal battle, Ono was awarded permanent custody of Kyoko. However in 1971, Cox, who had become a Christian fundamentalist after his divorce from Ono, abducted Kyoko and vanished. Ono and her daughter were finally reunited in 1998.
Ono performing "Cut Piece".Ono was an early member of Fluxus, a loose association of avant-garde artists that developed in the early 1960s.
Ono was among the first artists to explore conceptual art and performance art. An example of her performance art is "Cut Piece", during which she sat on stage and invited the audience to use scissors to cut off her clothing until she was naked. An example of her conceptual art includes her book of instructions called Grapefruit. This book, first produced in 1964, includes surreal, Zen-like instructions that are to be completed in the mind of the reader, for example: "Hide and Go Seek Piece: Hide until everyone forgets about you. Hide until everyone dies." The book was published several times, most widely distributed by Simon and Schuster in 1971, and reprinted by them again in 2000.
Ono was also an experimental filmmaker. She made sixteen films between 1964 and 1972, and gained particular renown for a 1966 film called simply No. 4, but often referred to as "Bottoms". The film consists of a series of close-ups of human buttocks as the subject walks on a treadmill. The screen is divided into four almost equal sections by the elements of the gluteal cleft and the horizontal gluteal crease. The soundtrack consists of interviews with those who are being filmed as well as those considering joining the project. In 1996, the watch manufacturing company Swatch produced a limited edition watch that commemorates this film.
Ono's work may best be appreciated by an open mind. She has been described as "the world's most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does."
Ono has sometimes been maligned and vilified by critics who condemn her art. For example, Brian Sewell, art critic for the London Evening Standard and television personality, said: "She's shaped nothing, she's contributed nothing, she's simply been a reflection of the times...I think she's an amateur, a very rich woman who was married to someone who did have some talent and was the driving force behind the Beatles. If she had not been the widow of John Lennon, she would be totally forgotten by now...Yoko Ono was simply a hanger-on. Have you seen her sculpture or paintings? They're all awful." However, the more common critical opinion is that Ono's work has been misunderstood and that it deserves attention and respect. Many scholars, art critics and members of the media have begun to reassess her art and to examine it seriously. In the past few years, Ono's work has regularly received recognition and acclaim. For example, Matthew Teitelbaum, director of the Art Gallery of Ontario, believes that "Yoko Ono is one of the world's most original and inspirational visual artists." Michael Kimmelman, the chief Art critic of the New York Times, wrote: "Yoko Ono's art is a mirror≈like her work 'a Box of Smile,' we see ourselves in our reaction to it≈a tiny prod toward personal enlightenment, very Zen."
In 2001, YES YOKO ONO, a forty-year retrospective of Ono's work received the prestigious International Association of Art Critics USA Award for Best Museum Show Originating in New York City. (This award is considered one of the highest accolades in the museum profession.) In 2002 Ono was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for work in assorted media. And in 2005 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Japan Society of New York.
Ono received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Liverpool University in 2001; in 2002 she was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Bard College. Scott MacDonald, visiting professor of film at Bard, said: "She is to be congratulated for the body of work she has made, and celebrated for what she has come to represent, within media history and throughout the world: courage, resilience, persistence, independence, and, above all, imagination, and a belief that peace and love remain the way toward a brighter, ever-more-diverse human future."
Life with Lennon
John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, 22 December 1969 Ottawa, OntarioOno is best known for marrying John Lennon of The Beatles, a popular classic rock band that was active from 1962 to 1970. They first met when Lennon visited a preview of an exhibition of Ono's at the Indica Gallery in London on November 9, 1966. He was taken with the positiviness, humor, and interactivity of her work, such as a ladder leading up to a black canvas with a spyglass on a chain allowing John to read the word "Yes" written on the canvas. There was a real apple displayed with a card reading "APPLE." When John was told the price of the apple was 200 pounds, he thought, "This is a joke, this is pretty funny" (Spitz, page 650). Another display was a white board with nails in it with a sign inviting visitors to hammer a nail into its surface. Since the show was not beginning until the following day, Ono refused to allow Lennon to hammer in a nail. The gallery owner whisted her away saying "don't you know who THAT is? He's a millionaire!" Upon returning to John she said he could hammer in a nail for five shillings. Lennon replied, "I'll give you an imaginary five shillings if you let me hammer in an imaginary nail" (Spitz, page 632). They began an affair approximately two years later, eventually resulting in Lennon divorcing his first wife, Cynthia. They married on March 20, 1969 at the Rock of Gibraltar. Their son, Sean, was born on Lennon's 35th birthday, on October 9, 1975.
Lennon referred to Ono in many of his songs. While still a Beatle he wrote "The Ballad of John and Yoko," and also implicitly mentions her in "Julia," a song dedicated to his mother, with the lyrics: "Ocean child calls me, so I sing a song of love" (The kanji 洋子 ("Yoko") mean "ocean child.") Other Lennon songs about Ono include: "Oh Yoko!," and "Dear Yoko."
Ono and Lennon collaborated on many albums, beginning in 1968 when Lennon was still a Beatle, with Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, an album of experimental and difficult electronic music. That same year, the couple contributed an experimental piece to The White Album called "Revolution 9," which is to this day a love/hate phenomenon among fans. Many of the couple's later albums were released under the name the Plastic Ono Band.
In 1969, the Plastic Ono Band's first album, Live Peace In Toronto, was recorded during the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival Festival. In addition to Lennon and Ono, this first incarnation of the group consisted of guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Klaus Voorman, and drummer Alan White. The first half of their performance consisted of rock standards, but during the second half, Ono took the microphone and along with the band performed what may be one of the first expressions of the avant garde during a rock concert. The set ended with music that consisted mainly of feedback, while Ono screamed and sang.
Ono's versionOno released her first solo album, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band in 1970, as a companion piece to Lennon's better-known John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The two albums have almost identical covers, but Ono's featured a photo of her leaning on Lennon, and Lennon's had a photo of him leaning on Ono. To some, it appeared as if the two had conspired to deceive Lennon's fans into accidentally purchasing Ono's album. Both records explore primal scream vocalizations. However, while Lennon's utilized mostly conventional songwriting, Ono's was an all-out screaming assault. Her album included raw and quite harsh vocals that were possibly influenced by Japanese opera. Perhaps, the most (in)famous song on Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band is "Why", which features Ono screaming the word "Why" for five minutes. Some critics were receptive of the work, declaring her voice "the most interesting instrument since the Moog". It peaked at #183 on the US charts.
1971 saw the follow-up release, Fly — a double album. On this release Ono explored slightly more conventional punk rock with tracks like "Midsummer New York" and "Mind Train." She also received minor airplay with the ballad "Mrs. Lennon". Perhaps the most famous track from the album is "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow)", an ode to Ono's kidnapped daughter. Ono later released two feminist rock albums in 1973, Approximately Infinite Universe and Feeling the Space, which received little attention at the time but are today recognized with much critical respect, particularly for tracks such as "Move on Fast," "Yang Yang" and "Death of Samantha."
Ono is often accused by Beatles fans of breaking up the band. Others argue that she did not, since by the late 1960s the members of the Beatles were inevitably moving in different directions musically and personally. John, also, said he had wanted 'out' of the group even before he met Yoko.
When the Beatles recorded their music, outsiders were not generally permitted in the studio. John Lennon invited Ono, however, to accompany him during the initial recording sessions for The White Album (The Beatles). They remained together throughout these and other sessions. At first, Ono just observed, but later gave advice to Lennon who was interested in, and influenced by, her opinions. Eventually, Ono offered advice and sometimes criticism to the group as a whole. The other band members did not receive this well. According to George Harrison, Ono was putting out "negative vibes." The recording sessions by this time were already a contentious time for the band, and many believe that her presence added to the difficulties. "The studio was where we were together, and that's why we worked so well," Ringo explained. "We were all trying to be cool and not mention it, but inside we were all feeling it and talking in corners" (Spitz, page 778).
To this day, women who have (intentionally or not) come between high-profile musicians and their bandmates are compared to Ono, Nancy Spungen and Courtney Love being just two examples. In a 2003 interview with Jay Leno, Ono described the disappointment she felt by the breakup of the Beatles.
There are Lennon fans who, in addition, blame Ono for the experimental phase (considered difficult and bizarre) that Lennon explored in his work immediately before the Beatles' breakup. On the other hand, many fans consider≈as Lennon consistently attested≈that Ono had a profound and beneficial influence on his body of work.
Ono is also sometimes blamed for Lennon's heroin addiction in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as she is widely believed to have introduced him to the drug. Both suffered from addiction on and off for a few years.
From the early 1970s until Lennon's public seclusion upon Sean's birth in 1975, Lennon and Ono produced less music as they became increasingly engaged in political activism (which possibly was a cause of Lennon's troubles with U.S. Immigration).
The stress of Lennon's almost-certain expulsion from the U.S., coupled with Ono's unhappy and unsuccessful search for her daughter brought out the worst in the couple. Lennon began drinking heavily, Ono immersed herself further in her work, and they became emotionally numb to each other. When Lennon and Ono separated in 1973, Ono "selected" their secretary May Pang to be Lennon's lover while they were apart. (Accounts on this vary; Ono herself claimed that Pang was merely sent to be an assistant to Lennon while he was scheduled to work on several projects in Los Angeles.) Lennon carried on several affairs at this time, and after each incident, would call Ono, alternately taunting her with his infidelity and begging her to allow him to return. Ono, who was also re-entering the dating scene, remained adamant that he keep his distance. Lennon returned time and again to Pang, his only source of security then. Lennon and Pang were together until 1974, when he and Ono reconciled. In 2003 Ono courted controversy by editing herself into the video of the classic song "#9 Dream" for the "Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon" DVD set. There you will find her mouthing the backup vocals that were sung by May Pang. Pang claimed, "She is trying to erase everyone who had anything to do with John with her alone. I am definitely upset at her misleading everyone into thinking she is on '#9 Dream.' She had nothing to do with this particular album and it was John's only No.1 album and No. 1 single during his lifetime. Boy, do I understand how Paul [McCartney] feels."
However, some fans argue that Ono's inclusion there is called for. The backup vocals are sung immediately after Lennon sings "two spirits dancing, so strange", and at the time Lennon was both in love with Ono and living with May Pang, the two women in his life, hence "two spirits".
A still from the "Walking on Thin Ice" video.Ono achieved success as a musician in her own right. In 1961, years before meeting Lennon, she had her first major public performance in an all-Ono concert at the 258-seat Carnegie Recital Hall (not the larger "Main Hall"). This concert featured radical experimental music and performances. She also collaborated with experimental luminaries such as John Cage and jazz legend Ornette Coleman.
Ono's music changed after her marriage; while many of her early songs retain the surreal quality of her art and films, her later songs are usually more conventional ≈ for example, the seven pop songs that she contributed to the album, Double Fantasy.
In the spring of 1980, Lennon heard Lene Lovich and the B-52's' "Rock Lobster" in a nightclub, and it reminded him of Ono's musical sound. He ran to a public phone, called Yoko and said "They're finally ready for us, love!" Indeed, many musicians, particularly those of the new wave movement, have paid tribute to Ono (both as an artist in her own right, and as a muse and iconic figure). For example, Elvis Costello recorded a version of Ono's song "Walking On Thin Ice", the B-52's covered "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow)" (shortening the title to "Don't Worry"), and Sonic Youth included a performance of Ono's early conceptual "Voice Piece for Soprano" in their fin de siecle album SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century. One of Barenaked Ladies's best-known songs is "Be My Yoko Ono," and Dar Williams recorded a song called "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono." The punk rock singer Patti Smith invited Ono to participate in "Meltdown," a two-week music festival that Smith organized in London during June 2005; Ono performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall.
On the night of 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 murdered at age 40 by a deranged fan, Mark David Chapman. "Walking on Thin Ice (For John)" was released as a single less than a month later, and became Ono's first chart success, peaking at No. 58 and gaining major underground airplay. In 1981, she released the album Season of Glass with the striking cover photo of Lennon's shattered, bloody spectacles next to a half-filled glass of water, with a window overlooking Central Park in the background. This led some critics to accuse her of being tasteless and exploitative. However, Ono said that she chose such a provocative image because she wanted to remind people that Lennon hadn't just died or committed suicide, but had been murdered. She stated that those who thought the picture of bloody spectacles was too much to stomach should remember that John had to stomach a lot more. (This photograph sold at an auction in London in April 2002 for about $13,000.) In the liner notes to Season of Glass, Ono explained that the album is not dedicated to Lennon because "he would have been offended — he was one of us."
Life after Lennon
1982 saw the release of It's Alright (I See Rainbows), a more positive album as Ono began the healing process following the loss of her husband. The cover featured Ono in her famous wrap-around sunglasses, looking boldly towards the sun, while on the back the ghost of Lennon looks over Ono and Sean. The album has been described as Ono's pop sensibilites and avant-garde influences meeting each other halfway. It scored minor chart success and airplay with the singles "My Man" and "Never Say Goodbye."
In 1984, a tribute album entitled Every Man Has A Woman was released, featuring Ono classics performed by artists such as Elvis Costello, Roberta Flack, Eddie Money, Roseanne 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 in unfinished demo state.
The program from Ono's 1986 "Starpeace" world tour.Ono's final album of the 1980s was Starpeace, a concept album glowing with positivity that was 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. Despite almost unanimous critical praise for the album, Starpeace received little commercial attention. The single "Hell in Paradise" was a hit, however, reaching No. 16 on the US dance charts.
In 1986 Ono set out on a goodwill world tour for Starpeace, mostly visiting Eastern European countries that she felt were in need of her message of peace.
Ono went on hiatus until signing with Rykodisc in 1992 to release the comprehensive 6-disc box set Onobox. It included remastered highlights from all of Ono's solo albums, as well as unreleased material from the 1974 "lost weekend" sessions. There was also a one-disc "greatest hits" release of highlights from Onobox, simply titled Walking on Thin Ice. In 1994, Yoko produced her own musical entitled New York Rock, featuring Broadway renditions of her songs.
1995 saw Ono's comeback with the release of Rising, a collaboration with her son Sean Lennon and his band Ima. It received wide critical praise and is often considered one of her best albums. 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, as public interest was growing in Ono's work, 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.
The cover of ONO's successful "Walking on Thin Ice" 2003 remix single.2001 saw the release of the critically successful feminist concept album Blueprint For A Sunrise. Starting in 2002, cutting-edge DJs began remixing other Ono songs for dance clubs. For the remix project, she dropped her first name and became known as simply "ONO", as a response to the "Oh, no!" jokes that dogged her throughout her career. ONO had great success with new versions of "Walking on Thin Ice", remixed by top DJs and dance artists including Pet Shop Boys, Orange Factory, Peter Rauhofer, and Danny Tenaglia. In April 2003 ONO's Walking On Thin Ice (Remixes) was rated No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's "Dance/Club Play Chart", gaining ONO her first number one hit. On the 12" mix of the original 1981 version of "Walking on Thin Ice", Lennon can be heard remarking "I think we've just got your first No.1, Yoko."
During her career, Ono has collaborated with a diverse group of artists and musicians including John Cage, David Tudor, George Maciunas, Ornette Coleman, Charlotte Moorman, George Brecht, Jackson Mac Low, Jonas Mekas, Yvonne Rainer, La Monte Young, Richard Maxfield, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Yo La Tengo, and Andy Warhol. (In 1987 Ono was one of the speakers at Warhol's funeral.)
Since the 1960s, Ono has been a consistent and outspoken supporter of peace and human rights. After their wedding, Lennon and Ono held a "Bed-In for Peace" in their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel in March 1969. The press fought to get in, presuming that the two would be having sex for their cameras, but they instead found a pair of newlyweds wearing pajamas and eager to talk about and promote world peace. Another Bed-In in May 1969 in Montreal, Canada, resulted in the recording of their first single, "Give Peace A Chance," a Top 20 hit for the newly-christened Plastic Ono Band. Other demonstrations with John included Bagism. Introduced in Vienna, Bagism encouraged a disregard for physical appearance in judging others.
In 2002, Ono inaugurated her own peace award by giving $50,000 (ё31,900) prize money to artists living "in regions of conflict." Israeli and Palestinian artists were the first recipients. In 2003, Ono turned 70, a milestone of sorts. In 2004 Ono remade her song "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him" to support same-sex marriage, releasing remixes that included "Every Man Has a Man Who Loves Him" and "Every Woman Has a Woman Who Loves Her."
Relationship with Paul McCartney
Ono has had a turbulent relationship with Beatle Paul McCartney.
One of the issues in their dispute is the writing credits for many Beatles songs. While the Beatles were still together, every song written by Lennon or McCartney was credited to Lennon-McCartney regardless of whether the song was a collaboration or a solo project. After Lennon's death, McCartney attempted to change the order to "McCartney-Lennon" for songs, such as "Yesterday," that were solely or predominantly written by him, but Ono would not allow it. She says she felt this broke an agreement that the two had made while Lennon was still alive. However, McCartney has stated that no such agreement ever existed. The two other Beatles agreed that the credits should remain as they always had been and McCartney withdrew his request. However, the dispute reappeared in 2002. On his "Back in the U.S. Live 2002" album, 19 classic Beatle songs are described as "written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon."
Despite their differences, in 1995 McCartney and his family collaborated with Ono and Sean Lennon to create the song "Hiroshima Sky is Always Blue," which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on the Japanese city. Of Ono, McCartney stated: "I thought she was a cold woman. I think that's wrong ... she's just the opposite ... I think she's just more determined than most people to be herself."
McCartney did not invite Ono to his wife Linda McCartney's memorial service in 1998.
Recently, accepting an award at the 2005 Q Awards, Ono made a controversial comment that the media have interpreted as an insult to Paul McCartney's songwriting. She mentioned that Lennon had once felt insecure about his songwriting, and asked her why other musicians "always cover Paul's songs, and never mine". Ono then 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".  Whether she honestly meant this as an insult is debatable. Heather Mills McCartney, when asked about her husband's thoughts on the subject, said "He doesn't even know yet. Look at how successful Yoko's music is compared to Paul's. Speaks for itself".
Ono later issued a statement claiming she did not mean any offense, as her comment was an attempt to reconcile John, not attack Paul; she went on to insist that she respected McCartney and that it was the press who had taken her comments out of context.
She went on to say: "People need light-hearted topics like me and Paul fighting to escape all the horror of the world, but it's not true anymore...We have clashed many times in the past. But I do respect Paul now for having been John's partner and he respects me for being John's wife."
Ono again proved herself to be a provocative and controversial artist with her contribution to the fourth Liverpool Biennial in 2004. With banners, bags, stickers, postcards, flyers, posters and badges, she flooded the city with two images: one of a woman’s naked breast, the other of her vagina. The piece, titled "My Mummy Was Beautiful," was dedicated to Lennon's mother, Julia, who had died when Lennon was a teenager. According to Ono the work was meant to be innocent, not shocking. She was attempting to replicate the experience of a baby looking up at his or her mother’s body: the mother’s pudendum and breasts are a child’s introduction to humanity.
Some in Liverpool, including Lennon's half-sister, Julia Baird, found the citywide installation offensive. Indeed, the BBC program North West Tonight invited viewers to phone in their opinion of the piece, and of the 6,000 viewers who responded 92% wanted the images removed.
However, others appreciated the conceptuality of the work. Chris Brown, of Liverpool's Daily Post, wrote: "Many have loved the work and Yoko Ono has again managed to get the eyes of the world looking in our direction."
An editorial in The Times of London wrote: "Her unmissable contribution to the fourth Liverpool Biennial dominates the event and seems also to symbolise the new international Liverpool Ono manages successfully to get right up the noses of the locals, as she always has. Brilliant As always with Ono's art, a simple act has become a radical one."
Some local councillors welcomed the removal of Ono's image from the deconsecrated Church of St. Luke. "I'm delighted that it has been removed," said Joe Anderson, leader of the Labour Party group. "I find it appalling that the picture was put in a place which offended people. St. Luke's is a war memorial and many people felt it was being desecrated with this picture." (Ono's art was placed there at the invitation of St Luke's Peace Centre in recognition of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's steadfast promotion of peace.) The biennial's chief executive, Lewis Biggs, denied the claim that it was moved due to public pressure: "The banner was taken down to replace the one torn down at the Bluecoat Centre over the weekend. The only banner of the same size was at St. Luke's. If the biennial had the money to replace the one at the church, we would have." He further stated, "There are a great many people who enjoy and support this project."
Paul Domela, deputy chief executive of Liverpool Biennial, said: "We were aware that some would object to it. But, at the same time, we realised that a great many would love it as well We have got bags, stickers and badges that are so popular we cannot give out enough of them because they are going so quickly." He continued, "In the campaign for the election in the European Union, there was an image of a woman breast feeding. The campaign was aired across Europe, including some very Catholic countries. Over here, the difference was that the nipple was removed. This baby had its mouth open into nothingness. What does that say about the relationship we have in this country to motherhood? To begin to think about that and talk about it is very important."
In response to the controversy Ono stated, "I wasn't trying to insult Liverpool. In fact, when I thought of the idea and I visualized this beautiful mom's breasts and vagina all around the city I thought, 'Ah, it would be so beautiful', and it's like giving them love, because we are all born from [our] mother's body, and that's the first thing that we were nurtured by≈mothers' breasts. Somehow people try to inhibit that memory. Women are put in a position of feeling embarrassed about their bodies. It's so ridiculous, but also astounding≈we have to always be apologetic about having created the human race."
Of her artistic inspiration she said, "I'm always inside myself and listening to what's coming into my head. I'm like a conduit of some message coming through me. I'm interested in everything, equally, every day. I'm in love with life, the world, every moment."
Yoko Ono performed at the opening ceremony for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, wearing white (symbolic of the snow that makes the winter olympics possible) like many of the others who performed during the ceremony. She read a free verse poem from a prepared script calling for peace in the world. The poem worked as an intro to a performance of the song "Imagine", which was written by John Lennon. The performance drew criticism, mainly because Yoko read the lyrics from a sheet of paper instead of performing it from memory. Jon Stewart was perhaps the most outspoken critic of her performance. A significant amount of time on one episode of The Daily Show involved Stewart mocking Yoko and her performance.
(with US chart positions)
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (1970) #182
Fly (1971) #199
Approximately Infinite Universe (1972) #193
Feeling the Space (1973)
A Story (1974) (Unreleased until 1997)
Season of Glass (1981) #49
It's Alright (I See Rainbows) (1982) #98
Every Man Has A Woman (1984) (Tribute album with various artists)
Walking On Thin Ice (1992)
New York Rock (1994) (original cast recording)
Rising Mixes (1996)
Blueprint For A Sunrise (2001)
With John Lennon
Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins (1968) (#124)
Unfinished Music No.2: Life With The Lions (1969) (#174)
Wedding Album (1969) (#178)
Live Peace In Toronto 1969 (1969) (#10)
Sometime In New York City (1972) (#48)
Double Fantasy (1980) (#1)
Milk and Honey (1984) (#11)
"Mrs. Lennon"/"Midsummer New York" (1971)
"Now or Never"/"Move on Fast" (1972)
"Mind Train"/"Listen, the Snow is Falling" (1972)
"Death of Samantha"/"Yang Yang" (1973)
"Josejoi Banzai" (1973) (Japan-only release)
"Woman Power"/"Men, Men, Men" (1973)
"Run, Run, Run"/"Men, Men, Men" (1973)
"Walking On Thin Ice" (1981) #58
"Goodbye Sadness"/"I Don't Know Why" (promo) (1981)
"No, No, No" (1981)
"My Man" (1982)
"Never Say Goodbye" (1983)
"Hell in Paradise" (1985) #16 Dance
"Cape Clear"/"Walking On Thin Ice (Re-Edit)" (promo) (1985)
"Open Your Box" originally released 1971; (remix) (2001)
"Kiss Kiss Kiss" (remix) (2002) #20 Dance
"Yang Yang" (remix) (2002) #17 Dance
"Walking On Thin Ice" (remix) (2003) #1 Dance
"Will I"/"Fly" (remix) (2003) #19 Dance
"Hell in Paradise" (remix) (2004) #4 Dance
"Everyman... Everywoman" (maxi-single promoting gay marriage) (2004) #1 Dance
With John Lennon
"Give Peace a Chance"/"Remember Love" (1969) (#14)
"Cold Turkey" (Lennon)/"Don't Worry, Kyoko" (Ono) (1969) (#30)
"Instant Karma" (Lennon)/"Who Has Seen the Wind?" (Ono) (1970) (#3)
"Mother" (Lennon)/"Why" (Ono) (1971) (#43)
"Power to the People" (Lennon)/"Open Your Box" (Ono) (1971) (#11)
"Happy Xmas (War is Over)"/"Listen, the Snow is Falling" (1971) (#3)
"(Just Like) Starting Over" (Lennon)/"Kiss Kiss Kiss" (Ono)(1980) (#1)
"Woman" (Lennon)/"Beautiful Boys" (Ono)(1981) (#2)
"Watching the Wheels" (Lennon)/"Yes, I'm Your Angel" (Ono) (1981) (#10)
"Nobody Told Me" (Lennon)/"O'Sanity" (Ono)(1984) (#5)
"I'm Stepping Out" (Lennon)/"Sleepless Night" (Ono)(1984) (#55)
"Borrowed Time" (Lennon)/"Your Hands" (Ono)(1984)
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