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PODCAST EPISODE 13 – John & Yoko, A Love Story

The cover photo of this episode was taken in 1980, but no one could have imagined that on December 8 of that year Yoko Ono would become a widow and the world would never recover from the murder of one of its greatest musicians and peace activist . Shortly before John Lennon’s murder, he resumed his songwriting career following a break as househusband and caretaker to their son Sean. Their “Double Fantasy” album was in the works and was released just three weeks before his cold-blooded killing in front of his apartment house-The Dakota-in New York City. The album gave us such memorable songs as “Woman,” and “(Just like) Starting Over.”

Yoko Ono was known as”The woman who broke up The Beatles.” John insisted on her attending the recording sessions that had been off limits to girlfriends and wives. 

Shadowing John into the studio and pushing her musical critiques onto the other three band members created a resentment and was seen as the force behind The Beatles breakup in 1970. To clarify the situation, Paul McCartney told the Observer that it wasn’t Ono who caused the split. ‘”She certainly didn’t break the group up, the group was breaking up,” he says. 

“When Yoko came along, part of her attraction was her avant garde side, her view of things, so she showed him another way to be, which was very attractive to him. So it was time for John to leave, he was definitely going to leave [one way or another].” John and Yoko met at her art show in London on November 9, 1966. The Japanese-born, privileged woman had an eccentric side that spewed over into her art work and experimental music. John was fascinated with all of it and fell in love with her. Both were married to others at the time. On March 14, 1969 John and Yoko officially became a couple. They spent their honeymoon in Amersterdam with their first week-long “Bed in for Peace.” A second would be held in Montreal where they recorded “Give Peace a Chance.” 

Solo

Early musical collaborations with John and Yoko were not that successful. In 1969, recording as the Plastic Ono Band, they released an album consisting of John singing rock standards in the first half and a screeching Ono singing in the second half. The Lennons moved to Manhattan in 1970 to get away from all of the bad press that the London tabs were printing about Yoko. However, in 1970, he faced deportation charges from the U.S. due to an earlier drug charge and was added to President Nixon’s Enemy List because of his anti-war protests. The couple separated in 1973 and Ono handed John over to May Pang -her assistant- with her blessings. They were together 18 months. This time has been referred to as John’s “Lost Weekend.” John realized he couldn’t live without Yoko and they recharged as a couple. Their son Sean would be born on October 9, 1975-John’s 35th birthday. 

Imagine

John’s solo career will be forever etched with his song for peace, “Imagine.” It was one of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century and recently featured in a big production at the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. In 2017, it was announced that Yoko would receive co-songwriting credit for the song per John Lennon’s wishes. In a 1980 interview Lennon said credit for “Imagine” should be shared with Ono because he took the concept and the lyrics from her book “Grapefruit.” The words are still strong and valid: “I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.” Yoko Ono turned 85 on February 18, 2018.

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