Yoko Ono (オノ・ヨーコ Ono Yōko?, born 小野 洋子(Ono Yōko) February 18, 1933) is a Japanese artist and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking, as well as her 1969 to 1980 marriage to John Lennon.
Dropping out of the graduate track program in philosophy at Tokyo's Peers School, Ono moved to New York in 1953 joining her immediate family who were already there. She became involved in New York City's downtown artists scene, collaborating and working with members in and around the Fluxus group. An independent artist in her own right before meeting Lennon, both the media and the public were critical of Ono for years. She was repeatedly criticized for her influence over Lennon and his music, and blamed for the breakup of the Beatles, as the couple's early years coincided with the band's final ones. Her experimental art was also not popularly understood, and, after Lennon's death, disagreements with Paul McCartney received as much as attention as her billboards and music releases, which the media usually advanced simply as attempts at self-promotion.
This public perception shifted over time, helped by, among other things, an important 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, which included remastered highlights from all of her solo albums including a one-disc "greatest hits" release of highlights. Retrospectives of her work were presented again at the Japan Society in New York City in 2001, 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 she 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 inSaitama, Japan. Individually and under the Lennon and Ono name, she has made significant philanthropic contributions to arts, peace, Philippine and Japan disaster relief, and AIDS andautism outreach programs. She has a daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, from her marriage to Anthony Cox and a son, Sean Lennon, from her marriage to Lennon. She and Sean collaborate frequently musically.
Ono brought feminism to the forefront in her music influencing artists as diverse as the B-52s and Meredith Monk. Her collaborative albums with Lennon under the Plastic Ono Band rubric —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.
Ono 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, and contributed lead vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill," the latter marking the only occasion in the entire Beatles catalog where a woman sings lead vocal. 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. On March 20, 2013, she also tweeted an image of Lennon's bloodied glasses to her then-3.7 million Twitter followers with the words, "Over 1,057,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on 8 Dec 1980."
- 2 New York
- 3 The U.K. and John Lennon
- 4 New York: separation from Lennon and reunion
- 5 Artwork
- 6 Lennon tributes and memorials
- 7 Musical career
- 8 Public image
- 9 2000s
- 10 2010s
- 11 Political activism and social media
- 12 Relationship with the Beatles
- 13 In popular culture
- 14 Discography
- 15 Books and monographs
- 16 Films
- 17 See also
- 18 Notes
- 19 References
- 20 Further reading
- 21 External links
Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo on February 18, 1933, to mother Isoko Ono (小野 磯子 Ono Isoko), the great-granddaughter of Zenjiro Yasuda (安田 善次郎 Yasuda Zenjirō), an affiliate of the Yasuda clan and zaibatsu. His son, Ono's grandfather, was ennobled in 1915. Her father was Eisuke Ono (小野 英輔 Ono Eisuke), a banker and one-time classical pianist who came from a long line of samurai warrior-scholars. The kanji translation of Ono's first name Yokomeans "ocean child".
Two weeks before she was born, her father was transferred to San Francisco by his employer, the Yokohama Specie Bank. The rest of the family followed soon after, with Yoko meeting her father when she was two. Her younger brother Keisuke was born in December 1936. In 1937, her father was transferred back to Japan and Ono was enrolled at Tokyo's Gakushuin (also known as the Peers School), one of the most exclusive schools in Japan.
In 1940, the family moved to New York City. Her father was transferred in 1941 from New York City to Hanoi, and the family returned to Japan. Ono was enrolled in Keimei Gakuen, an exclusive Christian primary school run by the Mitsuifamily. She remained in Tokyo through the great fire-bombing of March 9, 1945, during which she was sheltered with other family members in a special bunker in the Azabu district of Tokyo, far from the heavy bombing. Ono later went to the Karuizawa mountain resort with members of her family.
Ono and her family were forced to beg for food while pulling their belongings in a wheelbarrow. It was during this period in her life, Ono says, that she developed her "aggressive" attitude and understanding of "outsider" status when children taunted her and her brother, who were once well-to-do. Other stories have her mother bringing a large number of goods with them to the countryside, where they bartered them for food. In one anecdote, her mother bartered a German-made sewing machine for 60 kilograms of rice with which to feed the family. Her father remained in the city and, unbeknownst to them, was believed to have been incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in China. In an interview by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman on October 16, 2007, Ono explained, "He was in French Indochina, which is Vietnam actually ... in Saigon. He was in a concentration camp."
By April 1946, Gakushuin was reopened and Ono enrolled again. The school, located near the imperial palace, had not been damaged by the war, and Ono found herself a classmate of Prince Akihito, the future emperor of Japan.She graduated in 1951 and was accepted into the philosophy program of Gakushuin University as the first woman to enter the department. However, she left the school after two semesters.
Ono's family moved to Scarsdale, New York, without her after the war. When she later rejoined her family in the US, she enrolled in nearby Sarah Lawrence College. While her parents approved of her college choice, they were dismayed at her ensuing lifestyle, and, according to Ono, chastised her for befriending people they considered to be "beneath" her. In spite of her parents' disapproval, Ono loved meeting artists, poets and others who represented the "bohemian" lifestyle for which she longed for herself. Visiting galleries and art happenings in the city whetted her desire to display her own artistic endeavors publicly. American avant-garde artist, composer and musician La Monte Young, her first important contact in the New York art world, helped Ono start her career by using her Chambers Street loft in Tribeca as a performance space. After Ono set a painting on fire at one performance, her mentor John Cage advised her to treat the paper with flame retardant.
In 1956, Ono left college to elope with composer Toshi Ichiyanagi, a star in Tokyo's experimental community. After living apart for several years, they filed for divorce in 1962. Ono returned home to live with her parents and, suffering from clinical depression, she was briefly placed in a mental institution. Later that year, on November 28, 1962, Ono married Anthony Cox, an American jazz musician, film producer, and art promoter, who was instrumental in securing her release from the Japanese mental institution. However, because Ono had neglected to finalize her divorce from Ichiyanagi, her second marriage was annulled on March 1, 1963. After finalizing the divorce, Cox and Ono married again on June 6, 1963. Their daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, was born two months later on August 8, 1963.
The marriage quickly fell apart, but the Coxes stayed together for the sake of their joint careers. They performed at Tokyo's Sogetsu Hall, with Ono lying atop a piano played by John Cage. Soon, the couple returned to New York with Kyoko. In the early years of the marriage, Ono left most of Kyoko's parenting to Cox while she pursued her art full-time. Tony also managed her publicity. After she divorced Cox on February 2, 1969, the couple engaged in a bitter legalbattle for custody of Kyoko. Ono was awarded full custody.
However, in 1971, Cox disappeared with their then-eight-year-old daughter, in violation of the custody order. Ono's ex-husband subsequently became a Christian and raised Kyoko in an organization known as the Church of the Living Word (or "the Walk"). Cox left the group with their daughter in 1977, after which, living underground, Cox changed the girl's name to Rosemary. Ono and Lennon searched for Kyoko for years, to no avail. But when Lennon was murdered in 1980, Cox and Kyoko sent Ono a sympathy message. Eventually, the bitterness between the Ono and Cox eased, and Ono publicly announced in People magazine that she would no longer seek out the now-adult Kyoko, although she still wished to make contact with her. In 1994, married and with children of her own, Kyoko contacted Ono.
Fluxus, a loose association of Dada-inspired avant-garde artists that developed in the early 1960s, was active in New York and Europe Ono was invited to London for artist and political activist Gustav Metzger's Destruction in Art Symposium in September 1966, as the only woman artist chosen to perform her own events and only one of two invited to speak.
There are two versions of the story regarding how Lennon met Ono. According to the first, on November 9, 1966, Lennon went to the Indica Gallery in London, where Ono was preparing her conceptual art exhibit, and they were introduced by gallery owner John Dunbar. Lennon was initially unimpressed with the exhibits he saw, including a pricey bag of nails, but one piece had a ladder with a spyglass at the top. When he climbed the ladder, Lennon felt a little foolish, but he looked through the spyglass and saw the word "YES" which he said meant he didn't walk out, as it was positive, whereas most concept art he encountered was "anti" everything.
Lennon was also intrigued by Ono's Hammer A Nail. Viewers hammered a nail into a wooden board, creating the art piece. Although the exhibition had not yet opened, Lennon wanted to hammer a nail into the clean board, but Ono stopped him. Dunbar asked her, "Don't you know who this is? He's a millionaire! He might buy it." Ono supposedly had not heard of the Beatles, but relented on the condition that Lennon pay her five shillings, to which Lennon replied, "I'll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in."
In a second version of Ono's and Lennon's first meeting, told by Paul McCartney, Ono was in London in 1965 compiling original musical scores for a book on which John Cage was working entitled Notations. McCartney declined to give her any of his own manuscripts, but suggested that Lennon might oblige. Lennon did, giving Ono the original handwritten lyrics to "The Word."
In a 2002 interview, she said, "I was very attracted to him. It was a really strange situation." The two began corresponding and, in September 1967, Lennon sponsored Ono's solo show at Lisson Gallery in London. When Lennon's wife Cynthia asked for an explanation for Ono's telephoning their home, he told her that Ono was only trying to obtain money for her "avant-garde bullshit." In early 1968, while the Beatles were making their famous visit to India, Lennon wrote "Julia" and included a reference to Ono: "Ocean child calls me," referring to the translation of Yoko's Japanese spelling. In May 1968, while his wife was on holiday in Greece, Lennon invited Ono to visit. They spent the night recording what would become the Two Virgins album, after which, he said, they "made love at dawn". When Lennon's wife returned home, she found Ono wearing her bathrobe and drinking tea with Lennon who simply said, "Oh, hi."
"Happiness is a Warm Gun," recorded September 24 and 25, 1968 and also written by Lennon makes reference to Ono sexually. A few weeks after Lennon's divorce from Cynthia was granted, Ono became pregnant and miscarried a male child they named John Ono Lennon, II, on November 21, 1968. Bed-In, Give Peace a Chance, Bagism, and Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins
During Lennon's last two years with the Beatles, he and Ono began public protests against the Vietnam War. They were married at the registry office in Gibraltar on March 20, 1969, and spent their honeymoon in Amsterdamcampaigning with a week-long Bed-In for Peace. They planned another Bed-In in the US, but were denied entry to the country. They held one instead at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, where they recorded "Give Peace a Chance". The famous couple often combined advocacy with performance art, such as in "bagism", first introduced during a Vienna press conference, where they satirised prejudice and stereotyping by wearing a bag over their entire bodies. Lennon detailed this period in the Beatles' song "The Ballad of John and Yoko".
Lennon changed his name by deed poll on April 22, 1969, adding "Ono" as a middle name. Although he used the name John Ono Lennon thereafter, official documents referred to him as John Winston Ono Lennon, since he was not permitted to revoke a name given at birth. The couple settled at Tittenhurst Park at Sunninghill, Berkshire, in southeast England. When Ono was injured in a car accident, Lennon arranged for a king-sized bed to be brought to the recording studio as he worked on the Beatles' last recorded album, Abbey Road.
The two collaborated on many albums, beginning in 1968 when Lennon was still a Beatle, with Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, an album of experimental musique concrète. The same year, the couple contributed an experimental piece to The White Album called "Revolution 9". Also on The White Album, Ono contributed backing vocals on "Birthday", and one line of lead vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill." The latter marked the only occasion in a Beatles recording in which a woman sings lead vocals.Plastic Ono Band and Live Peace in Toronto 1969Lennon and Ono recording "Give Peace a Chance", at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, Montreal, 1969
Ono influenced Lennon to produce more "autobiographical" output and, after "The Ballad of John and Yoko", they decided it would be better to form their own band than to put the material out under the Beatles name. In 1969, the Plastic Ono Band's first album, Live Peace in Toronto 1969, was recorded during the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival. This first incarnation of the group also consisted of guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Klaus Voormann, and drummer Alan White. The first half of their performance consisted of rock standards. During the second half, Ono took to the microphone and performed an avant-garde set along with the band, finishing with music that consisted mainly of feedback, while she screamed and sang.
Many of the couple's later albums were released under the name the Plastic Ono Band, with their appearing together at concerts.Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and Fly (Yoko Ono album)
Ono released her first solo album, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, in 1970 as a companion piece to Lennon's better-known John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The two albums also had companion covers: Ono's featured a photo of her leaning on Lennon, and Lennon's a photo of him leaning on Ono. Her album included raw, harsh vocals, which bore a similarity with sounds in nature (especially those made by animals) and free jazz techniques used by wind and brass players. Performers included Ornette Coleman, other renowned free jazz performers, and Ringo Starr. Some songs on the album consisted of wordless vocalizations, in a style that would influence Meredith Monk and other musical artists who have used screams and vocal noise in lieu of words. The album reached No. 182 on the US charts.
When Lennon was invited to play with Frank Zappa at the Fillmore (then the Filmore West) on June 5, 1971, Ono joined them. Later that year, she released Fly, a double album. On this release, she explored slightly more conventionalpsychedelic rock with tracks including "Midsummer New York" and "Mind Train", in addition to a number of Fluxus experiments. She also received minor airplay with the ballad "Mrs. Lennon". The most famous track from the album is probably "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)", an ode to Ono's missing daughter, featuring Eric Clapton on guitar.
In 1971, while studying with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Majorca, Spain, Ono's ex-husband Anthony Cox accused Ono of abducting their daughter Kyoko from his hotel. Accusations flew between the two, as well as the matter of custody. Cox eventually moved to Houston, Texas, with Kyoko, and converted to Evangelical Christianity with his new wife, who was originally from Houston. At the end of the year, a custody hearing in Houston went against Cox and, again, in violation of the order, he took Kyoko and disappeared. Ono launched a search for her daughter with the aid of the police and private investigators. It was during this time that she wrote "Don't Worry Kyoko," which also appears on Lennon and Ono's album Live Peace In Toronto 1969, in addition to her album Fly. Kyoko is also referenced in the first line of "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" when Yoko whispers "Happy Christmas, Kyoko", followed by Lennon whispering, "Happy Christmas, Julian." The song reached No. 4 in the UK, where its release was delayed until 1972, and has periodically reemerged on the UK Singles Chart. Originally a protest song about the Vietnam War, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" has since become a Christmas standard.
After the Beatles disbanded, Ono and Lennon lived together in London and then in New York—the latter to escape the tabloid racism of the former. Their relationship, however, became strained by the threat of deportation Lennon faced (because of drug charges filed in Britain), and Ono's separation from her daughter. The couple separated in 1973, with Ono pursuing her career and Lennon living between Los Angeles and New York with personal assistant May Pang, with Ono's blessing.
By December 1974, Lennon and Pang were considering buying a house together, and he was refusing to accept Ono's phone calls. The next month, Lennon agreed to meet Ono, who claimed to have found a cure for smoking. After the meeting, he failed to return home or call Pang. When Pang telephoned the next day, Ono told her Lennon was unavailable, being exhausted after a hypnotherapy session. Two days later, Lennon reappeared at a joint dental appointment with Pang, stupefied and confused to such an extent that the Pang believed he had been brainwashed. He told her his separation from Ono was now over, though Ono would allow him to continue seeing her as his mistress.
Ono and Lennon's son, Sean, was born on October 9, 1975, Lennon's 35th birthday. The couple maintained a low profile for the next five years. Sean has followed in his parents' footsteps with a musical career, performing solo work and forming a band, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.Death of John Lennon
John Lennon retired from music, becoming a househusband to care for Sean, until shortly before his murder in December 1980, which Ono witnessed at close range. Ono has stated that the couple were thinking about going out to dinner after spending several hours in a recording studio, but were returning to their apartment instead, because Lennon wanted to see Sean before he was put to bed. Following the murder, Ono went into complete seclusion for an extended period.
During this time, Cox and Kyoko sent a message of sympathy to Ono, still without revealing their location. Ono later printed an open letter to Kyoko saying how she missed her, but that she would cease her attempts to find her.Kyoko would later appear on the 1987 title track of American English by the British pop band Wax.
Ono was an occasional member of Fluxus, whose founder George Maciunas, a friend of Ono's during the 1960s, admired her work and promoted it with enthusiasm. In one example of Ono's work during this time, she took a fly as her alter ego, then used it as inspiration for her work. Maciunas invited her to more formally join the Fluxus group, but she declined because she wanted to remain independent. She did however, collaborate with Maciunas, Charlotte Moorman, George Brecht, and Jackson Mac Low, among others associated with the group.
Marcel Duchamp is an important influence on Ono's art, as is John Cage. It was her relationship with Ichiyanagi Toshi, a pupil in Cage's legendary experimental composition class at the New School for Social Research, that would introduce Ono to the unconventional neo-Dadaism of Cage and his protégés in New York City.
After Cage finished teaching at the New School in the summer of 1960, Ono was determined to rent a place to present her works along with the work of other avant-garde artists in the city. She eventually found a cheap loft in downtown Manhattan at 112 Chambers Street that she used as a studio and living space. Ono allowed composer La Monte Young to organize concerts in the loft. Both began organizing a series of events there, with people such as Marcel Duchamp and Peggy Guggenheim attending, and both Ono and Young claimed to have been the primary curator of these events, with Ono claiming to have been eventually pushed into a subsidiary role by Young. The Chambers Street series hosted some of Ono's earliest conceptual artwork, including Painting to Be Stepped On, which was a scrap of canvas on the floor that became a completed artwork upon the accrual of footprints. With that work, Ono suggested that a work of art no longer needed to be mounted on a wall and inaccessible. She showed this work and other instructional work again at Macunias's AG Gallery in July 1961.
Ono was an explorer of conceptual art and performance art. A seminal performance work is Cut Piece, first performed in 1964 at the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo. Cut Piece had one simple but destructive verb as its instruction: "Cut." Ono executed the performance by walking on stage and casually kneeling on the floor in a draped garment, and audience members were requested to come on stage and begin cutting until she was naked.
The next year, she performed the piece at Carnegie Hall, where it received a lot of attention. She performed it again in London and at other venues, garnering drastically different attention, depending on the audience. In Japan, the audience was typically shy and cautious, while London participants were more zealous, requiring her to be protected by security. She reprised the piece in Paris in 2003, in the low post-9/11 period between the US and France, saying she hoped to show that this is "a time where we need to trust each other."Grapefruit (book)
Another example of her conceptual art includes her book of instructions titled Grapefruit. First published in 1964, the book includes surreal, Zen-like instructions that are to be completed in the mind of the reader. One example from the book is "Hide and Seek Piece: Hide until everybody goes home. Hide until everybody forgets about you. Hide until everybody dies." An example of heuristic art, Grapefruit was published several times, most widely distributed by Simon and Schuster in 1971, who reprinted it again in 2000.
David Bourdon, art critic for The Village Voice and Vogue, called Grapefruit "one of the monuments of conceptual art of the early 1960's." He noted that her conceptual approach was made more acceptable when white male artists likeJoseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner came in and "did virtually the same things" she did, and that her take also has a poetic and lyrical side that sets it apart from the work of other conceptual artists.
She would enact many of the book's scenarios as performance pieces throughout her career, which formed the basis for her art exhibitions, including one highly publicized show at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York, that was nearly closed when it was besieged by excited Beatles fans, who broke several of the art pieces and flooded the toilets.
In July 2013, she released a sequel to Grapefruit, another book of instructions, Acorn via OR Books.
Ono was also an experimental filmmaker who made 16 films between 1964 and 1972, gaining particular renown for a 1966 Fluxus film called simply No. 4, often referred to as Bottoms. The five-and-a-half-minute film consists of a series of close-ups of human buttocks as the subject walks on a treadmill. The screen is divided into four almost equal sections by the elements of the gluteal cleft and the horizontal gluteal crease. The soundtrack consists of interviews with those who are being filmed, as well as those considering joining the project. In 1996, the watch manufacturing company Swatch produced a limited edition watch that commemorated this film.
Another example of Ono's participatory art was her Wish Tree project, in which a tree native to the installation site is installed. Her 1996 Wish Piece had the following instructions:
- Make a wish
- Write it down on a piece of paper
- Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree
- Ask your friends to do the same
- Keep wishing
- Until the branches are covered with wishes.
Her Wish Tree installation in the Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, established in July 2010, has attracted contributions from all over the world. Other installation locations include London, St. Louis, Washington, DC, San Francisco, the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California, Japan, Venice, and Dublin.
John Lennon once described her as "the world's most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does." Her circle of friends in the New York art world has included Kate Millett, Nam June Paik, Dan Richter, Jonas Mekas, Merce Cunningham, Judith Malina, Erica Abeel, Fred DeAsis, Peggy Guggenheim, Betty Rollin, Shusaku Arakawa, Adrian Morris, Stefan Wolpe, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol(she was one of the speakers at Warhol's 1987 funeral), as well as George Maciunas and La Monte Young. In addition to Mekas, Maciunas, Young, and Warhol, she has also collaborated with DeAsis, Yvonne Rainer, and Zbigniew Rybczyński.
In 1989, the Whitney Museum held a retrospective of her work, marking Ono's reentry into the New York art world after a hiatus. Over a decade later, in 2001, Yes Yoko Ono, a 40-year retrospective of Ono's work, received theInternational Association of Art Critics USA Award for Best Museum Show Originating in New York City, considered one of the highest accolades in the museum profession. That same year, she also received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Liverpool University and, in 2002, was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Bard College, as well as the Skowhegan Medal for work in assorted media. In 2005, she received a lifetime achievement award from the Japan Society of New York, which had hosted Yes Yoko Ono.
In 2008, she showed a large retrospective exhibition, Between The Sky And My Head, at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany, and the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England. The following year, she showed a selection of new and old work as part of her show "Anton's Memory" in Venice, Italy. She also received a Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale in 2009. In 2012, Ono was the winner of the 2012Oskar Kokoschka Prize, Austria's highest award for applied contemporary art. In February 2013, to coincide with her 80th birthday, the largest retrospective of her work, Half-a-Wind Show, opened at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and travelled to Denmark's Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Austria's Kunsthalle Krems, and Spain's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.Yoko Ono delivering flowers to Lennon's memorial, inNew York City, 2005.
Ono funded the construction and maintenance of the Strawberry Fields memorial in New York City's Central Park, directly across from the Dakota Apartments where they lived and Lennon died. It was officially dedicated on October 9, 1985, which would have been his 45th birthday. In 1990, Ono collaborated with music consultant Jeff Pollack to honor what would have been Lennon's 50th birthday with a worldwide broadcast of "Imagine". Over 1,000 stations in over 50 countries participated in the simultaneous broadcast. Ono felt the timing was perfect, considering the escalating conflicts in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Germany.
In 2000, she founded the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Saitama, Japan. In March 2002, she was present with Cherie Blair, at the unveiling of a 7-foot statue of Lennon, to mark the renaming of Liverpool airport to the Liverpool John Lennon Airport. On October 9, 2007, she dedicated a new memorial called the Imagine Peace Tower, located on the island of Viðey, 1 km outside the Skarfabakki harbour in Reykjavík, Iceland. Each year, between October 9 and December 8, it projects a vertical beam of light high into the sky. In 2009, Ono created an exhibit called "John Lennon: The New York City Years" for the NYC Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex. The exhibit used music, photographs, and personal items to depict Lennon's life in New York, and a portion of the cost of each ticket was donated to Spirit Foundation, a charitable foundation set up by Lennon and Ono.
In 1961, years before meeting Lennon, Ono had her first major public performance in a concert at the 258-seat Carnegie Recital Hall (smaller than the "Main Hall"). This concert featured radical experimental music and performances. She had a second engagement at the Carnegie Recital Hall in 1965, in which she debuted Cut Piece.
In early 1980, Lennon heard Lene Lovich and The B-52's' "Rock Lobster" in a nightclub, and it reminded him of Ono's musical sound. He took this as an indication that her sound had reached the mainstream. In addition to her collaborations with experimental artists including John Cage and jazz legend Ornette Coleman, many other musicians, particularly those of the new wave movement, have paid tribute to Ono (both as an artist in her own right, and as amuse and iconic figure). For example, Elvis Costello recorded a version of Ono's song "Walking on Thin Ice", the B-52's (who drew from her early recordings) covered "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)" (shortening the title to "Don't Worry"), and Sonic Youth included a performance of Ono's early conceptual "Voice Piece for Soprano" on their experimental album SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century. The punk rock singer Patti Smithinvited Ono to participate in "Meltdown", a two-week music festival that Smith organized in London. Ono performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall.
On December 8, 1980, Lennon and Ono were in the studio working on Ono's song "Walking on Thin Ice". When they returned to The Dakota, their home in New York City, Lennon was shot dead by Mark David Chapman, a deranged fan who had been stalking Lennon for two months. "Walking on Thin Ice (For John)" was released as a single less than a month later, and became Ono's first chart success, peaking at No. 58 and gaining major underground airplay. In 1981, she released the album Season of Glass, which featured the striking cover photo of Lennon's bloody spectacles next to a half-filled glass of water, with a window overlooking Central Park in the background. This photograph sold at an auction in London in April 2002 for about $13,000. In the liner notes to Season of Glass, Ono explained that the album was not dedicated to Lennon because "he would have been offended—he was one of us." The album received highly favorable reviews and reflected the public's mood after Lennon's assassination.
Four months after her husband's murder, Ono began a relationship with antiques dealer and interior designer Sam Havadtoy, which lasted until 2001. She was also linked to art dealer and Greta Garbo confidante Sam Green.
In 1982, she released It's Alright (I See Rainbows). The cover featured Ono in her famous wrap-around sunglasses, looking towards the sun, while on the back the ghost of Lennon looks over her and their son. The album scored minor chart success and airplay with the singles "My Man" and "Never Say Goodbye".
In 1984, a tribute album titled Every Man Has a Woman was released, featuring a selection of Ono songs performed by artists such as Elvis Costello, Roberta Flack, Eddie Money, Rosanne Cash, and Harry Nilsson. It was one of Lennon's projects that he never got to finish. Later that year, Ono and Lennon's final album, Milk and Honey, was released as an unfinished demo. It peaked at No. 3 in the UK and No. 11 in the U.S., where it went gold.
Ono's final album of the 1980s was Starpeace, a concept album that she intended as an antidote to Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense system. On the cover, a warm, smiling Ono holds the Earth in the palm of her hand.Starpeace became Ono's most successful non-Lennon effort. The single "Hell in Paradise" was a hit, reaching No. 16 on the US dance charts and No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100, and received major airplay on MTV. In 1986, Ono set out on a goodwill world tour for Starpeace, primarily visiting Eastern European countries.
Ono went on hiatus until signing with Rykodisc in 1992 to release the comprehensive six-disc box set Onobox. It included remastered highlights from all of Ono's solo albums, as well as unreleased material from the 1974 "lost weekend" sessions. There was also a one-disc "greatest hits" release of highlights from Onobox, simply titled Walking on Thin Ice. That year, she agreed to sit down for an extensive interview with music journalist Mark Kemp for a cover story in the alternative music magazine Option. The story took a revisionist look at Ono's music for a new generation of fans more accepting of her role as a pioneer in the merger of pop and the avant-garde.
In 1994, Ono produced her own off-Broadway musical entitled New York Rock, featuring Broadway renditions of her songs. In 1995, she released Rising, a collaboration with her son Sean and his then-band, Ima. Rising spawned a world tour that traveled through Europe, Japan, and the United States. The following year, she collaborated with various alternative rock musicians for an EP entitled Rising Mixes. Guest remixers of Rising material included Cibo Matto, Ween, Tricky, and Thurston Moore. In 1997, Rykodisc reissued all her solo albums on CD, from Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band through Starpeace. Ono and her engineer Rob Stevens personally remastered the audio, and various bonus tracks were added, including outtakes, demos, and live cuts.
2001 saw the release of Ono's feminist concept album Blueprint for a Sunrise. In 2002, Yoko joined The B-52's in New York for their 25th anniversary concerts. She came out for the encore and performed "Rock Lobster" with the band. Starting in 2002, some DJs remixed other Ono songs for dance clubs. For the remix project, she dropped her first name and became known simply as "Ono", in response to the "Oh, no!" jokes that dogged her throughout her career. Ono had great success with new versions of "Walking on Thin Ice", remixed by top DJs and dance artists including Pet Shop Boys, Orange Factory, Peter Rauhofer, and Danny Tenaglia.
In April 2003, Ono's Walking on Thin Ice (Remixes) was rated No. 1 on Billboard's Dance/Club Play chart, gaining Ono her first No. 1 hit. She returned to No. 1 on the same charts in November 2004 with "Everyman ... Everywoman ...", a reworking of her song "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him", in January 2008, with "No No No", and in August 2008, with "Give Peace a Chance". In June 2009, at the age of 76, Ono scored her fifth No. 1 hit on the Dance/Club Play chart with "I'm Not Getting Enough".
Ono released the album Yes, I'm a Witch in 2007, a collection of remixes and covers from her back catalog by various artists including The Flaming Lips, Cat Power, Antony, DJ Spooky, Porcupine Tree, and Peaches, released in February 2007, along with a special edition of Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band. Yes I'm a Witch has been critically well received. A similar compilation of Ono dance remixes entitled Open Your Box was also released in April of that year.
In 2009, Ono recorded Between My Head and the Sky, her first album to be released as "Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band" since 1973's Feeling the Space. The all-new Plastic Ono Band lineup included Sean Lennon, Cornelius, and Yuka Honda. On February 16, 2010, Sean organized a concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music called "We Are Plastic Ono Band", at which Yoko performed her music with Sean, Clapton, Klaus Voormann, and Jim Keltner for the first time since the 1970s. Guests including Bette Midler, Paul Simon and his son Harper, and principal members of Sonic Youth interpreted her songs in their own styles.
During her career, Ono also has collaborated with Earl Slick, David Tudor, Fred DeAsis, and Richard Maxfield. As a dance music artist, Ono has worked with re-mixers/producers including Basement Jaxx, Bill Kates, Keiji Haino, Nick Vernier Band, Billy Martin, DJ Spooky, Apples In Stereo, Damien Price, DJ Chernobyl, Bimbo Jones, DJ Dan, Craig Armstrong, Jorge Artajo, Shuji Nabara, and Konrad Behr.
In 2012, the album Yokokimthurston was released featuring a collaboration between Ono Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. Notable also as the first collaboration between Moore and Gordon after their divorce, it was characterized by AllMusic as "focused and risk-taking" and "above the best" of the couple's experimental music, with Ono's voice described as "one-of-a-kind."
Both the press and the public were critical of Ono for many years. She was blamed for the breakup of the Beatles and repeatedly criticized for her influence over Lennon and his music. Her experimental art was also not popularly understood. The British press were particularly nasty, and prompted the couple's move to the US. As late as December 1999, an NME music critic called her a "no-talent charlatan".
One month after the 9/11 attacks, she organized the concert "Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music" at Radio City Music Hall. Hosted by the actor Kevin Spacey and featured Lou Reed, Cyndi Lauper and Nelly Furtado, it raised money for September 11 relief efforts and aired on TNT and the WB.
During the Liverpool Biennial in 2004, Ono flooded the city with two images on banners, bags, stickers, postcards, flyers, posters and badges: one of a woman's naked breast, the other of the same model's vulva. (During her stay in Lennon's city of birth, she said she was "astounded" by the city's renaissance.) The piece, titled My Mummy Was Beautiful, was dedicated to Lennon's mother, Julia, who had died when he was a teenager. According to Ono, the work was meant to be innocent, not shocking; she was attempting to replicate the experience of a baby looking up at its mother's body, those parts of the mother's body being a child's introduction to humanity.The Dakota, Ono's residence since 1973
Ono performed at the opening ceremony for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, wearing white, like many of the others who performed during the ceremony, to symbolize the snow that makes the Winter Olympics possible. She read a free verse poem calling for peace in the world as an introduction to a performance of the song "Imagine".
On December 13, 2006, one of Ono's bodyguards was arrested after he was allegedly taped trying to extort $2 million from her, threatening to release private conversations and photographs. His bail was revoked, and he pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted grand larceny. In February 16, 2007 a deal was reached where extortion charges were dropped, and he pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny in the third degree, a felony, and sentenced to the 60 days he had already spent in jail. After reading an unapologetic statement, he was released to immigration officials because he had also been found guilty of overstaying his business visa.
On June 26, 2007, Ono appeared on Larry King Live along with McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Olivia Harrison. She headlined the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago on July 14, 2007, performing a full set that mixed music and performance art. She sang "Mulberry," a song about her time in the countryside after the Japanese collapse in World War II for only the third time ever, with Thurston Moore. She had previously performed the song with John and with Sean. On October 9 of that year, she officially lit the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey Island in Iceland, dedicated to peace and to Lennon.
Ono returned to Liverpool for the 2008 Liverpool Biennial, where she unveiled Sky Ladders in the ruins of Church of St Luke (which was largely destroyed during World War II and now stands roofless as a memorial to those killed in the Liverpool Blitz). Two years later, on March 31, 2009, she went to the inauguration of the exhibition "Imagine: The Peace Ballad of John & Yoko" to mark the 40th anniversary of the Lennon-Ono Bed-In at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada, from May 26 to June 2, 1969. (The hotel has been doing steady business with the room they stayed in for over 40 years.)In May 2009, she designed a T-shirt for the second Fashion Against AIDS campaign and collection of HIV/AIDS awareness, NGO Designers Against AIDS, and H&M, with the statement "Imagine Peace" depicted in 21 languages.
Ono appeared onstage at Microsoft's June 1, 2009, E3 Expo press conference with Olivia Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr to promote the Beatles: Rock Band video game, which was universally praised by critics.Ono appeared on the Basement Jaxx album Scars, featuring on the single "Day of the Sunflowers (We March On)".
On February 16, 2010, Ono revived an early Plastic Ono Band lineup with Eric Clapton, and special guests including Paul Simon and Bette Midler. On April 1 of that year, she was named the first "Global Autism Ambassador" by theAutism Speaks organization. She had created an artwork the year before for autism awareness and allowed it to be auctioned off in 67 parts to benefit the organization. Ono appeared with Ringo Starr on July 7 at New York'sRadio City Music Hall in celebration of Starr's 70th birthday, performing "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Give Peace a Chance". On October 2, Ono and the Plastic Ono Band performed at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, with special guest Lady Gaga, whom she deeply admires.
On February 18, 2011, her 78th birthday, Ono took out a full page advert in the UK free newspaper Metro for "Imagine Peace 2011". It took the form of an open letter, inviting people to think of, and wish for, peace. With son Sean, she held a benefit concert to aid in the relief efforts for earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Japan on March 27 in New York City. The effort raised a total of $33,000. In July 2011, she visited Japan to support earthquake and tsunami victims and to buoy tourism to the country. She also collected the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize for her contributions to art and for peace, that she was awarded the year prior.
In January 2012, a Ralphi Rosario mix of her 1995 song "Talking to the Universe" became her seventh consecutive No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart. In March of the same year, she was awarded the 20,000-euro ($26,400) Oskar Kokoschka Prize in Austria. From June 19 to September 9, her work To the Light was exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery in London. It was held in conjunction with the London 2012 Festival, a 12-week UK-wide celebration featuring internationally-renowned artists from Midsummer's Day (June 21) to the final day of the Paralympic Games on September 9.
On June 29, 2012, Ono received a lifetime achievement award at the Dublin Biennial. During this (her second) trip to Ireland (the first was with John before they married), she visited the crypt of Irish leader Daniel O'Connell at Glasnevin Cemetery and Dun Laoghaire, from where Irish departed for England to escape the famine. In February 2013, Ono accepted the Rainer Hildebrandt Medal at Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie Museum, awarded to her and Lennon for their lifetime of work for peace and human rights. The next month, she tweeted an anti-gun message with the Season of Glass image of Lennon's bloodied glasses on what would have been her and Lennon's 44th anniversary, noting that more than 1 million people have been killed by guns since Lennon's death in 1980. She was also given a Congressional citation from the Philippines for her monetary aid to the victims of typhoon Pablo. She also donated to disaster relief efforts after typhoon Ondoy in 2009, and she assists Filipino schoolchildren. In June 2013, she curated the Meltdown festival in London, where she played two concerts, one on June 15 with the Plastic Ono Band,and the second on June 23 to perform Double Fantasy with special guests.
In July 2013, she released a sequel to Grapefruit, another book of instructions, Acorn. As of 30 July 2013, it's only available, in print or as an e-book, directly from its publisher, OR Books. She was made an honorary citizen ofReykjavik, Iceland, on October 9, 2013.Bed-In, Give Peace a Chance, and Bagism
Ono has been an activist for peace and human rights since the 1960s. After their wedding, she and Lennon held a "Bed-In for Peace" in their honeymoon suite at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel in March 1969. The press fought to get in, presuming that the two would be having sex for the cameras, but instead found a pair of newlyweds wearing pajamas and eager to talk about and promote world peace. Another Bed-In two months later at the Queen Elizabeth Fairmont in Montreal resulted in the recording of their first single, "Give Peace A Chance", a top 20 hit for the newly christened Plastic Ono Band. Other demonstrations with John included "bagism". Introduced in Vienna, the work encouraged a disregard for physical appearance in judging others. In December of that year, the two continued spread their message of peace with billboards in 11 major world cities reading "WAR IS OVER! If You Want It - Happy Christmas From John and Yoko."
In the 1970s, Ono and Lennon became close to many radical, counterculture leaders, including Bobby Seale, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Michael X, John Sinclair (for whose rally in Michigan they flew to sing Lennon's song about him that effectively released the poet from prison), Angela Davis, and street musician David Peel. Friend and Sexual Politics author Kate Millett has said Ono inspired her activism. Ono and Lennon appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, taking over hosting duties for a week. Ono spoke at length about the evils of racism and sexism. She remained outspoken in her support of feminism, and openly bitter about the racism she had experienced from rock fans, especially in the UK. Her reception within the UK media was not much better. For example, an Esquire article of the period was titled "John Rennon's Excrusive Gloupie" and featured an unflattering David Levine cartoon.
In 1999, after the Columbine High School massacre, Ono paid for billboards to be put up in New York City and Los Angeles that bore the image of Lennon's blood-splashed spectacles. Early in 2002 she paid about £150,000 ($213,375) for a billboard in Piccadilly Circus with a line from Lennon's "Imagine": "Imagine all the people living life in peace." Later the same year, she inaugurated a peace award, the LennonOno Grant for Peace, by giving $50,000 (£31,900) in prize money originally to artists living "in regions of conflict". The award is given out every two years in conjunction with the lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower, and was first given to Israeli and Palestinian artists. Its program has since expanded to include writers, such as Michael Pollan and Alice Walker, activists such as Vandana Shiva and Pussy Riot, organizations such as New York's Center for Constitutional Rights, even an entire country (Iceland).
On Valentine's Day 2003, on the eve of the Iraqi invasion by the US and UK, Ono heard about a couple, Andrew and Christine Gale, who were holding a love-in protest in their tiny bedroom in Addingham, West Yorkshire. She phoned them and said, "It's good to speak to you. We're supporting you. We're all sisters together." The couple said that songs like "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine" inspired their protest. In 2004, Ono remade her song "Everyman ... Everywoman ..." to support same-sex marriage, releasing remixes that included "Every Man Has a Man Who Loves Him" and "Every Woman Has a Woman Who Loves Her".
In August 2011, she made the documentary film about the Bed-Ins Bed Peace available for free on YouTube, as part of her website "Imagine Peace". In January 2013, the 79-year-old Ono, along with Sean Lennon and Susan Sarandon, took to rural Pennsylvania in a bus under the banner of the Artists Against Fracking group they created in 2012 to protest against hydraulic fracturing.
Ono promotes her artistic and political causes, and shares inspirational messages and images, through a robust and active Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook presence. In February 2014 her Twitter followers reached 4.67 million,while her Instagram followers exceeded 99,000. Her tweets are short instructional poems, comments on media and politics, and notes about performances.Break-up of the Beatles
According to British journalist Barry Miles, after Lennon and Ono had been injured in a car accident in June 1969, partway through recording Abbey Road, a bed was installed in the studio with a microphone so the latter could make artistic comments about the album. According to Miles, Ono's continual presence in the studio during the latter part of the Beatles' career put strain on Lennon's relationship with the other band members. George Harrison verbally assaulted her after she took one of his chocolate digestive biscuits without asking. The British press dubbed her as "the woman who broke up the Beatles", but Ono has stated that the Beatles broke up themselves without any direct involvement from her, adding "I don't think I could have tried even to break them up."
While the Beatles were together, every song written by Lennon or McCartney was credited as Lennon–McCartney regardless of whether the song was a collaboration or written solely by one of the two (except for those appearing on their first album, Please Please Me, which originally credited the songs to McCartney–Lennon). In 1976, McCartney released a live album called Wings over America, which credited the five Beatles tracks as P. McCartney–J. Lennon compositions. Neither Lennon nor Ono objected. After Lennon's death, McCartney again attempted to change the order to McCartney–Lennon for songs that were solely or predominantly written by him, such as "Yesterday,"  but Ono would not allow it, saying she felt this broke an agreement that the two had made while Lennon was still alive, and the surviving Beatle argued that such an agreement never existed. The two other Beatles agreed that the credits should remain as they always had been, and McCartney withdrew his request.
In a Rolling Stone interview in 1987, Ono pointed out McCartney's place in the process of the disintegration of the band. On the 1998 John Lennon anthology, Lennon Legend, the composer credit of "Give Peace a Chance" was changed to "John Lennon" from its original composing credit of "Lennon–McCartney." Although the song was written by Lennon during his tenure with the Beatles, it was both written and recorded without the help of the band, and released as Lennon's first independent single under the "Plastic Ono Band" moniker. Lennon subsequently expressed regret that he had not given co-writing credit to Ono instead, who actually helped him write the song. In 2002, McCartney released another live album, Back in the U.S. Live 2002, and the 19 Beatles songs included are described as "composed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon", which reignited the debate over credits with Ono. Her spokesperson Elliott Mintz called it "an attempt to rewrite history." Nevertheless, Ono did not sue.
In 1995, after the Beatles released Lennon's "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", with demos provided by Ono, McCartney and his family collaborated with her and Sean to create the song "Hiroshima Sky is Always Blue", which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of that Japanese city. Of Ono, McCartney stated: "I thought she was a cold woman. I think that's wrong ... she's just the opposite ... I think she's just more determined than most people to be herself." Two years later, however, Ono publicly compared Lennon to Mozart, while McCartney, she said, more closely resembled his less-talented rival Salieri. This remark infuriated Linda McCartney, who was dying from breast cancer at the time. When Linda died less than a year later, McCartney did not invite Ono to his wife's memorial service in New York.
Accepting an award at the 2005 Q Awards, Ono mentioned that Lennon had once felt insecure about his songwriting. She had responded, "You're a good songwriter. It's not June with spoon that you write. You're a good singer, and most musicians are probably a little bit nervous about covering your songs."
In an October 2010 interview, Ono spoke about Lennon's "lost weekend" and her subsequent reconciliation with him. She credited McCartney with helping save her marriage to John. "I want the world to know that it was a very touching thing that he [Paul] did for John." While visiting with Ono in March 1974, McCartney, on leaving, asked "[W]hat will make you come back to John?" McCartney subsequently passed her response to Lennon while visiting him in Los Angeles. "John often said he didn't understand why Paul did this for us, but he did." In 2012, McCartney revealed that he did not blame Ono for the breakup of the Beatles and credited Ono with inspiring much of Lennon's post-Beatles work.
Ono has had a difficult relationship with her stepson, Lennon's son Julian. He has expressed disappointment at her handling of Lennon's estate, and at the difference between his upbringing and Sean's, adding, "when Dad gave up music for a couple of years to be with Sean, why couldn't he do that with me?"
One of Barenaked Ladies's best-known songs is "Be My Yoko Ono" from 1990. It includes the lyrics: "Isn't it beautiful to see two people / So much in love? / Barenaked as two virgins hand in / Hand and and / And hand in glove", referring to the couple's famous Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins cover. The Canadian foursome go on to sing, "I know that when I say this, / I may be stepping on pins and / Needles; / But I don't like all these people / Slagging her / For breaking up the Beatles."
American folk singer Dar Williams recorded a 2000 song titled "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono", which included the refrain, "But I won't be your Yoko Ono / If you're not good enough for me." That same year German punk band Die Ärzte recorded the song "Yoko Ono" for their 2000 album with a decidedly different take on Ono: Farin Urlaub sings about an ex-girlfriend that annoys him, describing her as "more annoying than Yoko Ono". According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is also shortest single ever released, with a run time of 30 seconds.
|Year||Album||US chart peak||Notes|
|1970||Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band||182|
|1972||Approximately Infinite Universe||193|
|1973||Feeling the Space||-|
|1974||A Story||-||Unreleased until 1997|
|1981||Season of Glass||49|
|1982||It's Alright (I See Rainbows)||98|
|2001||Blueprint for a Sunrise||-|
|2007||Yes, I'm a Witch||-|
|Open Your Box||-|
|2009||Between My Head and the Sky||-|
|2013||Take Me to the Land of Hell||-|
|Year||Album||US chart peak|
|1968||Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins||124|
|1969||Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions||174|
|Live Peace in Toronto 1969||10|
|1972||Some Time in New York City||48|
|1984||Milk and Honey||11|
- Onobox (1992)
- Walking on Thin Ice (1992)
- New York Rock (1994) (Original cast recording)
- Rising Mixes (1996)
- A Blueprint for the Sunrise (2000) (3-track EP included with YES YOKO ONO book)
- Don't Stop Me! EP (2009)
- Onomix (2012)
- Every Man Has a Woman (1984)
- Mrs. Lennon (2010)
|1971||"Mrs. Lennon"/"Midsummer New York"||–||–||Fly|
|"Mind Train"/"Listen, the Snow Is Falling"||–||–||Non-album single|
|1972||"Now or Never"/"Move on Fast"||–||–||Approximately Infinite Universe|
|1973||"Death of Samantha"/"Yang Yang"||–||–|
|"Josejoi Banzai (Part 1)"/"Josejoi Banzai (Part 2)" (Japan-only)||–||–||Non-album single|
|"Woman Power"/"Men, Men, Men"||–||–||Feeling the Space|
|"Run, Run, Run"/"Men, Men, Men"||–||–|
|1974||"Yume O Motou (Let's Have a Dream)"/"It Happened" (Japan-only)||–||–||Non-album single|
|1981||"Walking on Thin Ice"/"It Happened"||35||13|
|"No, No, No"/"Will You Touch Me"||–||–||Season of Glass|
|1982||"My Man"/"Let the Tears Dry"||–||–||It's Alright (I See Rainbows)|
|"Never Say Goodbye"/"Loneliness"||–||–|
|1985||"Hell in Paradise"/"Hell in Paradise" (instrumental)||–||12||Starpeace|
|"Cape Clear"/"Walking on Thin Ice" (promo)||–||–|
|2001||"Open Your Box" (remixes)||144||25||Non-album singles|
|2002||"Kiss Kiss Kiss" (remixes)||–||20|
|"Yang Yang" (remixes)||–||17|
|2003||"Walking on Thin Ice" (remixes)||35||1|
|"Will I" (remixes)/"Fly" (remixes)||–||19|
|2004||"Hell in Paradise" (remixes)||–||4|
|"Everyman... Everywoman..." (remixes)||–||1|
|2007||"You're the One" (remixes)||–||2|
|"No, No, No" (remixes)||–||1|
|2008||"Give Peace a Chance" (remixes)||–||1|
|2009||"I'm Not Getting Enough" (remixes)||–||1|
|2010||"Give Me Something" (remixes)||–||1|
|"Wouldnit (I'm a Star)" (remixes)||–||1|
|2011||"Move on Fast" (remixes)||–||1|
|"Talking to the Universe" (remixes)||–||1|
|2012||"She Gets Down on Her Knees" (remixes)||–||5|
|"Early in the Morning"||–||–||Yokokimthurston|
|"I'm Moving On" (remixes)||–||4||Non-album single|
|2013||"Hold Me" (featuring Dave Audé)||–||1|
|"Walking on Thin Ice 2013"||–||1|
- "Remember Love" (on "Give Peace a Chance") (1969)
- "Don't Worry, Kyoko" (on "Cold Turkey") (1969)
- "Who Has Seen the Wind?" (on "Instant Karma!") (1970)
- "Why" (on "Mother") (1971)
- "Open Your Box" (on "Power to the People") (1971)
- "Listen, the Snow is Falling" (on "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)") (1971)
- "Sisters, O Sisters" (on "Woman Is the Nigger of the World") (1972)
- "Kiss Kiss Kiss" (on "(Just Like) Starting Over") (1980)
- "Beautiful Boys" (on "Woman") (1981)
- "Yes, I'm Your Angel" (on "Watching the Wheels") (1981)
- "O'Sanity" (on "Nobody Told Me") (1984)
- "Your Hands (あなたの手" (on "Borrowed Time") (1984)
- "Sleepless Night" (on "I'm Stepping Out") (1984)
- "It's Alright" (on "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him") (1985)
- Grapefruit (1964)
- Summer of 1980 (1983)
- ただの私 (Tada-no Watashi – Just Me!) (1986)
- The John Lennon Family Album (1990)
- Instruction Paintings (1995)
- Grapefruit Juice (1998)
- YES YOKO ONO (2000)
- Odyssey of a Cockroach (2005)
- Imagine Yoko (2005)
- Memories of John Lennon (editor) (2005)
- 2:46: Aftershocks: Stories From the Japan Earthquake (contributor) (2011)
- 郭知茂 Vocal China Forever Love Song
- Acorn (2013)
- Eye blink (1966, 5 min)
- Bottoms (1966, 5½ min)
- Match (1966, 5 min)
- Cut Piece (1965, 9 min)
- Wrapping Piece (1967, approx. 20 min, music by Delia Derbyshire)
- Film No. 4 (Bottoms) (1966/1967, 80 min)
- Bottoms, advertisement/commercial (1966/1967, approx. 2 min)
- Two Virgins (1968, approx. 20 min), a portrait film consisting of super-impositions of John's and Yoko's faces.
- Film No. Five (Smile) (1968, 51 min)
- Rape (1969, 77 min), filmed by Nick Rowland, a young woman is relentlessly pursued by a camera crew.
- Apotheosis (1970, 18½ mins)
- Freedom (1970, 1 min), a slow-motion film showing a woman attempting to take off her bra.
- Making of Fly (1970, approx. 30 min)
- Up Your Legs Forever (1970, 70 min), a film consisting of continuous panning shots up a series of 367 human legs.
- Erection (1971, 20 min), a film of a hotel's construction over many months, based on still photographs by Iain McMillan.
- Sisters, O Sisters (1971, 4 min)
- Luck of the Irish (1971, approx. 4 min)
- Blueprint for the Sunrise (2000, 28 min)
- Onochord (2004, continuous loop)
- With John Lennon, Bed-In, (1969, 74 min)
- With Jonas Mekas, Fly (1970, 25 min), a fly crawls slowly across a woman's naked body. Premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1971.