Yoko Ono

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Yoko Ono

b. 18 February 1933, Tokyo, Japan. Yoko Ono moved to the USA at the age of 14 and was later immersed in the New York avant garde milieu. A reputation as a film-maker and conceptual artist preceded her collaborations with John Lennon which followed in the wake of their meeting in 1966. The couple’s links were both professional and personal – they married in 1969 – and whereas Lennon introduced Yoko to rock, she in turn brought an appreciation of electronic music. Early collaborations, Two Virgins, Life With The Lions and Wedding Album, were self-indulgent and wilfully obscure, but with the formation of the Plastic Ono Band the Lennons began to forge an exciting musical direction. Unfairly vilified as the architect of the Beatles’ demise, Yoko emerged as a creative force in her own right with a series of excellent compositions, including “Don’t Worry Kyoto” and “Listen, The Snow Is Falling”. Yoko Ono/The Plastic Ono Band, her companion collection to Lennon’s cathartic solo debut, was equally compulsive listening and a talent to captivate or confront was also prevalent on Fly, Approximately Infinite Universe and Feeling The Space. Several tracks, including “Men Men Men” and “Woman Power”, addressed feminist issues while her music’s sparse honesty contrasted with the era’s penchant for self-indulgence. The couple’s relationship continued to undergo public scrutiny, particularly in the wake of a highly publicized separation, but the birth of their son Sean, following their reconciliation, resulted in a prolonged retirement. The Lennons re-emerged in 1980 with Double Fantasy, for which they shared creative responsibility, and were returning home from completing a new Yoko single on the night John was shot dead. The resultant track, “Walking On Thin Ice”, was thus imbued with a certain poignancy, but while not without merit, the artist’s ensuing albums have failed to match its intensity. Ono has also supervised the release of unpublished material – videos, writings and recordings – drawn from Lennon’s archive and continues to pursue their pacifist causes. She has tolerated much indifference and abuse over the years, initially because she dared to fall in love with a Beatle and latterly because it was felt that she manipulated Lennon. Through all the flack Ono has maintained her integrity and dignity, and her music was granted a belated reappraisal on 1992’s The Ono Box. She returned to music in 1995 together with her son Sean Lennon and his band Ima. Rising came as a surprise, with Ima adding great texture to Ono’s strong lyrics.

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