Yoko Ono (オノ・ヨーコ 小野 洋子 Ono Yōko), born February 18, 1933, is a Japanese multimedia artist, singer, and peace activist. She is the second wife and widow of the Beatles' John Lennon and is also known for her work in avant-garde art, music, and filmmaking.
Ono grew up in Tokyo, and remained there after her family moved to New York state to study at Peers School. She reunited with her family in New York in 1953. After some time at Sarah Lawrence College, she became involved in New York City's downtown artists scene, including the Fluxus group. She first met Lennon in 1966 when hosting an art exhibition in London, and they became a couple in 1968. She was repeatedly criticized for her influence over Lennon and his music, and blamed for the breakup of the Beatles as their relationship coincided with the band's final years. She and Lennon famously used their honeymoon as a stage for public protests against the Vietnam War in their Bed-Ins for Peace in Amsterdam and Montreal in spring of 1969. In addition to co-writing "Give Peace a Chance," she also co-wrote with Lennon the experimental piece, "Revolution 9" on The White Album. Her experimental art was not popular, and, after Lennon's death, her disagreements with Paul McCartney received as much attention as her billboards and music releases, which were perceived as self-promotion. Nevertheless, she achieved commercial success as part of the Plastic Ono Band — Live Peace in Toronto 1969 and 1972's Some Time in New York City — reached No. 10 and No. 48 on the album charts respectively. Double Fantasy from 1980, released three weeks before Lennon's death, reached No. 1.) Since 2003, eleven of her songs, mostly remixes of her older work, have hit No. 1 on the US dance chart.
Public appreciation of Ono's work shifted over time, helped by, among other things, a retrospective at a Whitney Museum branch in 1989. This was followed by a 1992 interview in L.A.-based music magazine, Option which coincided with the release of the six-disc box set Onobox. Retrospectives of her artwork were presented at the Japan Society in New York City in 2001, in Bielefeld, Germany, and the UK in 2008, and Frankfurt, Krems, Austria, and Bilbao, Spain in 2013. She received a Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale in 2009 and the 2012 Oskar Kokoschka Prize, Austria's highest award for applied contemporary art.
As Lennon's widow, Ono works to preserve his legacy, funding and maintaining Strawberry Fields in New York City, the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, and the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Japan. Individually and under her and Lennon's name, she has made significant philanthropic contributions to arts, peace, Philippine and Japan disaster relief, and outreach programs for AIDS and autism. She brought feminism to the forefront in her music influencing artists as diverse as the B-52s and Meredith Monk. Ono has also remained on the forefront in activism, inaugurating a biennial $50,000 LennonOno Grant for Peace in 2002 and co-founding the group Artists Against Fracking in 2012. She has a daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, from her marriage to Anthony Cox and a son, Sean Lennon, from her marriage to Lennon, with whom she collaborates musically.
A well-known performance artist prior to her association with John Lennon, she became more famous when the two were married. She had been interested in music for a long time, performing for John Cage in the early 1960s, although her records with John Lennon (and without) brought her to the forefront of people's conciousness. Unfortunately, she is often thought of as having broken up The Beatles, despite evidence to the contrary. The early Plastic Ono Band records were much more experimental, leading to her "unlistenable" reputation (though she was quite adept at combining Jazz sounds with Pop/Rock music); her later records were much more traditional in sound, and also ahead of their time; her 1974 A Story record sounds, in places, like it could fit in well as a Pizzicato 5 album. She is still recording music, although less frequently, instead working on other art projects.
- Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (released at the same time as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band)
- Approximately Infinite Universe
- Feeling The Space
- A Story
- Season of Glass
- It's Alright (I See Rainbows)
- Walking On Thin Ice
- New York Rock
- Rising (1995) (with IMA)
- Blueprint For A Sunrise
- "Yes, I'm A Witch"
(with John Lennon):
- Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins
- Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions
- Wedding Album
- Live Peace In Toronto (as Plastic Ono Band)
- Sometime In New York City
- Double Fantasy
- Milk and Honey
- "Open Your Box Remix EP"
- "Kiss Kiss Kiss Remix EP"
- "Yang Yang Remix EP"
- "Walking On Thin Ice Remix EP"
- "Will I/Fly Remix EP
- "Hell in Paradise Remix EP"
- "Mrs. Lennon"/"Midsummer New York"
- "Death of Samantha"/"Yang Yang"
- "Walking On Thin Ice"
- "No, No, No"
- "My Man"
- "Never Say Goodbye"
- "Hell in Paradise"
- "Cape Clear"/"Walking On Thin Ice (Re-Edit)"
(with John Lennon:)
- "Give Peace a Chance" / "Remember Love" (1969) (#14)
- "Cold Turkey" / "Don't Worry Kyoko, Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow"
- "Instant Karma" / "Who Has Seen The Wind"
- "Mother" / "Why"
- "Power to the People" / "Open Your Box"
- "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" / "Listen, The Snow is Falling"
- "(Just Like) Starting Over" / "Kiss Kiss Kiss"
- "Woman" / "Beautiful Boys"
- "Watching the Wheels" / "Yes, I'm Your Angel"
- "Nobody Told Me" / "O'Sanity"
- "I'm Stepping Out" / "Sleepless Night"
- "Borrowed Time" / "Your Hands"
- Every Man Has A Woman (Tribute with Various Artists)
- Wig In A Box: Songs From Hedwig & The Angry Inch
- Jeff Bridges... I Don't Need No Jeff Bridges To Put Music To My Poem!
- Thirteen Ugly Children Roll Gutterballs
- Dub Club: Aila's Dub Club Xmas
- Dub Club Matt Auxilliary: KITTY!!!
- Pray For My TV Show
- And A Bumper Sticker That Says "No Other Possibility"
- Dub Club: Peace Symbol - Matt
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