It was the romance that made headlines, advocated for world peace, wrote love and war songs, and perhaps split one of the greatest bands of all time.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono met in the fall of 1966 when the Beatles were at the peak of their fame. Their fifth studio album “Help!” had sold over 1.3 million copies. Ono was an avant-garde artist and was preparing her art for display at an exhibition in London. Lennon was there too. The singer wasn’t too fond of the artworks at the show, but Ono’s work drew his attention.
They instantly connected, and a whirlwind romance followed. Ono became an essential part of Lennon’s life and was said to be one of the only people allowed in the band’s recording sessions. At that time, the band was recording “The White Album” and did not take it very well. In a Rolling Stones interview, Paul McCartney revealed that the band felt “threatened” by her presence, and it was something that “most bands couldn’t handle.”
The Beatles broke up in 1970, a year after Lennon and Yoko got married. The newlywed couple moved to New York in 1971 and went on to collaborate on several projects. They even had a child who they named Sean Taro Ono Lennon.
Naturally, Lennon and Ono did impact each other’s lives, and their relationship molded their work to a great extent, so much so that Lennon even credited her for the “Imagine” album.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon's love for art, change, and each other went together
John Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono also served as a creative transition for the singer and songwriter. He got more experimental with his music. The fact that both were creative individuals helped ease the change, which Lennon seemed to undertake effortlessly.
The Guardian quotes Ono, saying that Lennon was a “great artist and a great musician” and she never felt that he was “too dependent on her.”
“We were the kind of people if we did not love the songs we wouldn’t put them out. Our love for each other and our love for the songs went together,” Ono said of their collaboration, which produced several albums. Their last album, “Double Fantasy,” came three weeks before Lennon’s assassination in 1980.
Lennon and Yoko’s relationship also groomed a part of them that wanted change in the world. Ono and Lennon held a demonstration in Amsterdam where they advocated for peace and called for the end of the Vietnam war.
“We decided that if we were going to do anything like get married that we would dedicate it to peace,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971. “And during that period, because we are what we are, it evolved that somehow we ended up being responsible to produce peace.”
John Lennon and Yoko Ono didn't have a perfect relationship
John Lennon had his vices. In a 1980 interview with Playboy, he admitted to hitting “any woman,” saying that this was one of the reasons he was “always on about peace.” He believed that the “most violent” people talk about peace or love. There was also a rediscovered letter written by Lennon’s housekeeper Dorothy Jartlett that criticizes Lennon for smacking young Julian for things as trivial as table manners. He was also said to have been sleeping with other women and leaving drugs “lying around the house.”
Lennon and Yoko Ono worked it out without the former having the cleanest credentials to sustain a relationship healthily. While the passion ran wild at the beginning of the relationship, the cracks began to gape after a few years, and the two took a break. Lennon moved out and had an affair with their assistant, May Pang.
“The affair was not something that was hurtful to me,” Ono told The Telegraph in 2012. “I needed a rest. I needed space. Can you imagine every day of getting this vibration from people of hate?”
Ono added how she’d started noticing Lennon’s restlessness. “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,” she told the publication. The two later reunited in 1974, and Ono was okay with letting Lennon see Pang as his mistress.
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