Of course it’s a facetious title but one that sets up an agreement. If I was a great artist I would just have a picture of a grapefruit with the words ‘pick me’ across the front but I’m not a great artist.
Yoko One is.
Her concepts and ideas make you explode with excitement, opening your mind up to new places and her music was also brilliant. The song that her and Lennon were working on the night he was murdered was ‘Walking On Thin Ice’, perhaps the best post Beatles song.
I’m sat here watching Yoko One get interviewed onstage and she is great. Funny, modest and smart you can see why John Lennon fell for her.
Lennon recognised her brilliance, he saw her as an equal and even if rolling her bed into the studio during the recoding of The Beatles Abbey Road was, perhaps, a bit too much their partnership was a creative powerhouse that in Lennon’s eyes was equal to the one he had with Paul McCartney.
If anything Yoko woke Lennon up from the LSD dream and made him realize it was time to move on. The end of the Beatles was the end of the dream but in all honesty they were already over. They instinctively knew their time and the seventies would not have been kind to the band if they had continued…just imagine a 1972 Beatles album and what an anti climax it would have been.
The Beatle split was a good thing.
Despite this years Yoko has even painted as the chancer who split the Beatles up but that’s looking at rock n roll with bloke goggles on. The same bloke goggles that were part of the sixties so called revolution where the so called sexual liberation was the male rock star shagging the so called groupies and orgasms for women were not invented yet.
In this blokey world with a little bit more hair a woman was a mere appendage to rock stars and the stars themselves, saving up for their country piles, seemed to fit seamlessly into the aristocracy with the same houses and attitudes.
A young divorced Japanese artist snaring one of our loveable mop tops was far roo much for the grunting press to bear at the time and their campaign of hate against Yoko and Lennon possibly drove the pair of them out of the country.
This latent xenophobia missed the fact that Lennon was in love and had found an equal that may have reminded him of the brilliant Hamburg photographer Astrid Kirsch whose Beatle photos in the late fifties are still the greatest rock n roll pictures ever taken. Astrid was one of the first modern artists and she fell in love with Stu Sutcliffe- the Beatles soon to eave errant bass player and equally gifted artist whose young death left so many what ifs, with Sutcliffe a definite candidate for potentially being one of the great artists of his time, along with Astrid, who chose to work in a low key way.
Lennon met Yoko at the Indra Gallery in 1966 and was blown away by her ideas and concepts. For Yoko art was a living thing – ideas that made you think, made you look at reality with a different slant. If, at the time, she seemed positively lunatic avant garde, many her ideas have become mainstream now. If you read her book, Grapefruit, published before she met Lennon you could sense her genius and her concepts that so enthralled Lennon.
She bowled Lennon over in a way that noone else had. This was glimpse into the real John Lennon, the great songwriter who yearned for so much more. The art school drop out suddenly reconnected with art.
The pair of them became partners in crime and their bed ins for peace are so quintessentially naive, beautiful and sixties that it’s hard to get them from your mind when you think of that decade.
The bed ins for peace were pure Yoko. Art was a living thing confronting and questioning and the bed ins certainly did this. They were as effective as a great John Lennon song and made all the right headlines. The pair of them used to the media as the message and to confront and if the world laughed, so what, somebody, somewhere understood.
Lennon was high on a lot of things at the time but excitement must have been the main one, suddenly unleashed from being the Beatle he reverted to form and his artful ingenuity was allowed to blossom just like it had all those before in those damp Liverpool front rooms as he worked on songs with Macca.
Yoko’s concepts were brilliant. She was easily Lennon’s equal and it was great to hear her talk. In 2011 we still live in a man’s world but the last four decades have seen some big changes. By the time punk arrived some of the woman involved in the movement existed in the space she had created and a Yoko equivalent these days would not take quite the battering that she did. One day the true potential of half of the world’s population will be taken into account. Yoko was, perhaps the true sixties pioneer, she broke the codes of sex, race, art and of conduct and it’s great to see her getting the recognition for more than just being the woman who bagged a Beatle.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I love the feelings you share for Yoko’s significance as an artist. She was absolutely a pioneer of many avant garde concepts, an amazingly forward-thinking lady with a truly unique presence. I think she rocks.

    However, in this article it seems your giving a little less credit to John Lennon. He was also a pioneer, a forward-thinker, and a unique and fascinating presence. Yoko Ono couldn’t be bothered otherwise to marry and stay with someone whose fame and success so overshadowed her, whose fans were rabid and jealous, and whose media attention took every opportunity to put her down as an artist and slam her as a person. Yoko chose John as much as he chose her- because she saw someone who went against the status quo and had a larger than life way of presenting his ideals. The Bed-Ins for peace were very much John as well- in fact they were his idea. But together they were able to do something so interesting and poignant that, yes, you can’t think of the late-60s peace movement without remembering this wonderful demonstration. I love it, and I wasn’t even around in that era.

    John and Yoko TOGETHER were so fantastic and amazing that I honestly look at the lady today and can’t help but picture a 70 year-old John sitting next to her. It’s just a given. Each of them made their own art, but the way they stirred people, shook them, and often confused was quite similar. John Lennon was so much more than just a great songwriter- he had his finger on the button of so many people’s thoughts and ideas, and he knew when and how to push to make the biggest impact. With Yoko Ono, it couldn’t be louder or more in-your-face.

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