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John Lennon And Yoko Ono: A Love Story That Creeped His Fans Out

Icons | July 19, 2019

John Lennon, sporting a short haircut, and his wife Yoko Ono among the spectators at the Watergate hearings 6/27. At the witness table was John Dean III. Source: Getty / Bettmann / Contributor

John Lennon, the beloved former Beatle, and Yoko Ono, the enigmatic artist, were the strangest power couple of the '70s. Some believed Ono had broken up the Beatles. Lennon was making art and movies and Ono was making music, and a lot of it was inaccessible or simply unappealing to the public. Sure, they seemed to be in love -- an eerie, all-in sort of love that made a lot of people uncomfortable. Beatles fans were concerned: What's happening to John? What is she doing to him? Do we have to see him naked so much? It was a crazy time, as Ono would later tell The Telegraph:

I was very aware that we were ruining each other’s careers and I was hated and John was hated because of me. We did everything together and we did everything publicly together.

Their all-consuming relationship received as much scrutiny as any and for good reason. The famous love birds didn’t exactly shirk from the spotlight.

From peace-seeking bed-ins to creating eight albums together, this controversial couple made headlines from the moment they left their respective spouses for each other. Their ballad undoubtedly played to its own beat as the world watched in rapt attention. It’s hard to imagine any other newlyweds making waves to such a degree.

Love At First Bite

Yoko Ono with 'Apple,' 1966. Source: Pinterest

At the time of their meeting in a London art gallery, Yoko Ono and John Lennon were both married with children -- Ono to Anthony Cox and Lennon to Cynthia Lennon. John being the musical superstar he was, irritated Ono by literally eating her art. The piece was called “Apple,” and that’s exactly what it was.

According to Ono, John was hungry at the time:

He just grabbed it and had a bite in it….and looked at me like, you know, 'There!' you know? I was so furious, I didn’t know what to say. And it all showed in my face: How dare this person mess around with my work? So he just said, ‘I’m sorry,’ and just put it on the stand again. 

A Strong Woman

Inseparable From The Start (radiox.co.uk)

Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s love was intense, to say the least. According to Beatles author Robert Rodriguez, Lennon would ask her to join him in the bathroom during Beatles recording sessions, so they wouldn’t be apart. To Lennon, Ono represented a strong woman similar to the female role models that raised him.

Paul Macartney best described what Ono’s personality meant to Lennon, “John loved strong women. His mother was a strong woman, his auntie who brought him up was a strong woman, and bless her, but his first wife wasn’t.”

The Most Comfortable Peace Demonstration In History

Lennon and Ono during their 'Bed-In.' Source: Pinterest

Yoko Ono grew up as an artist and Lennon essentially ushered in the hippie era, so it’s no surprise they were big proponents of peace. However, in March of 1969, the couple invited reporters to their Amsterdam honeymoon suite for “the century’s most uncensored love-in.”

According to the Washington Post, some reporters thought they were to witness an act of lovemaking. It wouldn't have been entirely out of character for the quirky couple. Instead, reporters entered the suite to find Ono and Lennon ensconced amid flowers and other images of peace.

The duo announced they were committing to staying in bed for seven days and growing out their hair to protest war and promote peace. Today, guests can stay in the same room as Ono and Lennon for between $1,800 to $2,300 a night. 

Not All Sunshine And Rose Petals

Lennon and May Pang's short tryst (pinterest)

Some people hold up Lennon and Ono’s relationship as an example of true love. But even international music stars and avant-garde artists endure relationship difficulties. In 1972, Ono and Lennon were living in New York and experiencing difficulties in their relationship. That’s when Ono approached their secretary May Pang. Ono told Pang that she and John were in trouble, but pitched an idea. As Pang recalled the conversation for The Independent:

She said, 'I know you don't have a boyfriend and I know you are not after John, but you need a boyfriend and you would be good for him.' I said I didn't think so, but she said, 'You don't want him to go out with somebody who is going to be nasty to him, do you?' I said, 'Of course not,' and she said, 'You will be perfect,' and walked out.

Did Yoko Ono Break Up The Greatest Band In History?

Love Conquers All Even The Beatles (theartstory.org)

Even people who know little about The Beatles or Yoko Ono have heard that she was responsible for the band’s demise. Was she? Of course, the real answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Fervent Beatle fans know that the death of long-time manager, Brian Epstein, caused as much turmoil within the band as Ono.

However, the fact of the matter stands that Ono was the only wife or girlfriend ever allowed in the recording studio. In a 2018 interview with Howard Stern, McCartney blamed Lennon as opposed to Ono, “There was a meeting where John came in and said, ‘Hey guys, I’m leaving the group.’But looking back on it you think, ‘The guy was totally in love with her and you’ve got to respect that.’ So, we did. And I do.”

It’s also important to note an Ono quote regarding their relationship, “In a way both John and I ruined our careers by getting together,” she says. “Although we weren’t aware of it at the time.” Ultimately, a variety of factors pushed The Beatles apart. So was Yoko Ono the woman that broke up The Beatles? No, but she didn’t help. 

Tags: 1970s Music | A Brief History Of... | Celebrities In The 1970s | John Lennon | The Beatles | What Did She Do?... | Yoko Ono

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Kellar Ellsworth

Writer

Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!