[MUSIC] Sean Lennon's New CD (John Lennon & Yoko Ono Info)
- His life -- tumultuous times and all -- plays out in song
" 'Friendly Fire' refers to a relationship that turned emotionally
violent ," says Sean Lennon of his new album. "Some people take
antidepressants. I write songs." (Steve Gainer)
By Joan Anderman, Globe Staff
Sean Lennon, the 31-year-old son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono,
recently released his second album, "Friendly Fire." A collection of
gentle, psychedelic indie pop on a theme of romantic catastrophe, the
album is chock-a-block with Lennon's A-list associates, including ex-
girlfriend Bijou Phillips (daughter of John, centerpiece of the
catastrophe), ex-girlfriend Yuka Honda (of Cibo Matto), Harper Simon
(son of Paul), and actor Vincent Gallo. The CD is bundled with a film
on DVD written and directed by Lennon. It comprises 10 music videos,
one for each of the album's tracks, and stars more of his friends:
Carrie Fisher, Lindsay Lohan, Jordana Brewster, etc. He called
recently from his home in New York to chat about disturbing source
material, singles versus albums, and his formidable musical heritage.
Q "Friendly Fire" is dedicated to the memory of your best friend, who
slept with your girlfriend and died in a motorcycle accident before
the two of you could reconcile. Were you ambivalent about making all
of that public?
A I definitely struggled with whether or not I felt comfortable
talking about it. But it was such a heavy part of my life and still
is, it was basically impossible not to talk about it. If I didn't, it
would have felt like a coverup. I didn't want it to be the
centerpiece of my press junket, but it wound up that way because it's
Q The album's title and the song of the same name seem to have
several layers of meaning.
A "Friendly Fire" refers to a relationship that turned emotionally
violent. My whole life revolves around processing that he passed
away. Some people take antidepressants. I write songs.
Q It's been eight years since you released your debut album, "Into
the Sun. " What have you been doing?
A One of the main things I've been working on is developing a
screenplay, "Coin Locker Babies, " based on a Japanese spy novel. I
produced and wrote tracks for Esthero , I'm on Albert Hammond Jr.'s
album, Brian Bell's album. I play in a band called Dopo Yume . I
played bass and toured with Buffalo Daughter . I have a band with
Vincent Gallo. I've been writing with Ryan Adams and I play with my
mom. That's just off the top of my head.
Q Does it feel good to be putting out your own music again?
A It really does, actually. When I was young, everything seemed a bit
more chaotic. My brain wasn't functioning. I feel I know what I want
now, which is to get better at the craft of songwriting, creating a
body of work and supporting it with touring and everything else that
goes with it. In my 20s I was more cynical.
Q You've said that the songs on "Friendly Fire" add up to a whole,
not just a collection of singles. But isn't the very concept of an
album -- a cohesive work tethered by vision and ideas -- basically
obsolete in a world where downloading single tracks is the trend?
A I'm not worthy of making blanket statements about whether it's good
or bad, but something is happening that I don't understand.
Personally, I understand records in a classic sense, and I don't
think it's generational. It's my personal relationship with music. I
think a good record should have one, two, or three acts. There's
something about a side A and side B. It should be 35 to 45 minutes.
Records like [Joni Mitchell's] "Blue," "Revolver," and "Sgt. Pepper"
are perfect. The "White Album" is a masterpiece, but nobody ever
listens to both sides.
Q Your melodies and chord changes are undeniably Beatles-esque. Was
there a time when you wanted to push that legacy away?
A I think at the very height of my frustration, at the age of 21, in
the midst of the eye of the storm dealing with the son-of-Lennon
media rampage, I think at that moment I was feeling reactionary. But
it was a brief moment and it didn't come from a place of wisdom.
Q Who's your greatest musical influence?
Sound Effects: Music news and notes from the Globe staff
A The truth is my greatest influence is my mother because I was
asleep on the couch when she was making records. Second is my dad. I
was there when he was making "Double Fantasy, " and I grew up
listening to Beatles music. Third would be Hendrix. Fourth the Beach
Boys. Then Beethoven and Debussy. There's a million people I worship
and adore. They include a myriad of geniuses available to all of us.
Q Did you take music lessons as a child?
A I took a couple of piano lessons when I was 7 because every single
person in my class was taking lessons. When I was 12 I started
teaching myself guitar because everyone else started studying Hebrew.
I'm 99 percent self-taught.
Q Do you think that your music would be heard differently, and judged
more fairly, if your last name wasn't Lennon?
A I don't even know that I would be heard at all. I could pretend my
name was Johnny Bumpkin and put out indie records, but I'm not sure
I'd have a deal with Capitol/EMI. A lot of people run away from the
advantages they're born with in order to prove something to
themselves. I feel like everyone is born with certain advantages and
disadvantages. To exploit the tools I've been given seems like the
best life strategy.
INTERVIEW: Sean Lennon comes home to his musical legacy.
Source: AZ Central
It's hard enough to be a young musician, and trying to break into the
music business. There is an upside to that however. There are no
expectations, and there is relatively little pressure except that
which you put on yourself. It must be harder to be Sean Lennon. His
first album, much in the vein of a lot of his father's artier work,
and his mother's work, was a great exercise in art. Demanding pop-
rock is what I like to call it. It is not the easiest thing to
listen to by any means. A huge sense of pressure must have been
lifted from Sean Lennon with the release of this album
Well several years have passed and the pressure had been building on
Sean Lennon. Few snippets of news would come out that he is working
on this mammoth of a pop album. Lately, the critics have been giving
him good to great reviews. You see, this album is the album that
they've been expecting to be made by the son of a Beatle, aside from
Julian Lennon's amazing and largely ignored Photograph Smile. Sean's
new album is a beauty in that in manages to combine some of his
fringe musical sensibilities inside these lovely pop songs. Dare I
say it, it sounds Beatlesque, ala Elliott Smith. All puns aside it
is a great album that the indie kids should dig. Being the son of a
Beatle is hard enough, however, being a musician and the son of a
Beatle must be even harder. Kudos to you Sean for sticking to your
muses and writing songs for you. Your father would be proud.
I love the question in the interview that asks about The Beatles and
their influence on him. It reminds me of one of those early inane
Beatle press conference questions. Of course The Beatles are an
influence on him. He is a rock/pop musician. Doesn't the
interviewer know that if you are a musician, it's in your blood, it's
undeniable, you have to be influenced by The Beatles, unless you were
raised in a cave in the Arctic. Funny.
Here's what we've read.
If we had Shakespeare around to write about Sean Lennon, he might
call the play "Henry IV 1/2."
Shakespeare's "Henry IV" (Parts I and II) and "Henry V" explored the
progression of a spoiled, partying, bad-boy prince into a courageous,
inspiring King. Sean Lennon, son of John, seems to be trapped
somewhere between the slacker prince and the heir to his father's
For years, the youngest Lennon (he is 31; Julian Lennon is his older
half-brother) has been known more for his celebrity romances - with
Mick Jagger's daughter Elizabeth, actresses Bijou Phillips and
Lindsay Lohan - than for his actual work. He had come to be viewed as
a musical underachiever, wasting away whatever talent he might have
Now, eight years after his promising first album, he has finally
released his second full-length, "Friendly Fire." Here, Lennon sings
in a relaxed voice about love and loss over pleasing pop music that
has, at times, Beatles-esque melodies and arrangements. It comes with
a second disc, a DVD with extravagant music videos produced by his
mother, the artist Yoko Ono, and featuring Lohan, Phillips, Carrie
Fisher and other familiar actors. He calls the combined videos "an
art film." (Visit www.seanonolennon.com for excerpts.)
During a recent phone interview, Lennon sounded like a reluctant
royal, committed to making pop music but not terribly comfortable as
a celebrity - or, as he puts it, a "cultural phenomenon." His voice
is gentle and lilting, though the tone of his brief answers ranged
between languidly tight-lipped and sharply guarded.
The reviews have been more friendly than fiery, but don't expect the
next John Lennon. As the occasionally Zen-sounding Sean
warns: "Expectation is the root of all disappointment."
Q: Well, it's been long time no music. Why so long?
A: I always write songs. I didn't want to deal with the superficial
aspects of promoting myself and all that crap.
Q: Like what you're doing right now?
A: Exactly what I'm doing now. I've come to a point in my life where
I realize I shouldn't fight the inevitable. One must accept reality.
Q: What was it like to work with your mother on the videos?
A: She produced them. She advised me on business and technical
decisions; she's a great filmmaker.
Q: Did she give you any acting directions?
A: If you can call it acting it's just me goofing around.
Q: Did that make you want to act in movies?
A: I don't have the face for it. I'm not the type.
Q: Why are you a musician?
A: Probably because it's the hardest thing to do. Probably there's
like some Freudian reason I've chosen to do it that I don't
Q: Is it rewarding?
A: Music is very satisfying. It's immediately satisfying.
Q: You're the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono - do you ever feel like
you should just get away from all the pressure of being a musician
and be a lawyer or something?
A: If I thought that would relieve the pressure maybe I would, but I
don't see any release from being this cultural phenomenon.
Q: What are your favorite memories of your father, as a musician and
as a father?
A: I don't like talking about that. It's a bit too precious to give
it away too easily.
Q: How about your favorite Beatles song?
A: I don't have favorite things. I don't have a favorite color.
(suddenly) "Rubber Soul" - no, not "Rubber Soul," "Revolver." (Two
Q: Just about every other pop musician in your generation has been
influenced by the Beatles. Is it fair for you to be?
A: Is it fair? I don't think fair has anything to do with it. As a
musician you're influenced by people doing good music before you,
whether it's Beethoven or Bob Dylan or Elvis
Q: Or the Beatles?
A: How could you not be influenced by the Beatles if you write songs?
If you make anything as an artist you have to study the masters or
else there's no point.
Q: What were you wanting "Friendly Fire" to be - a pop record? A
A: Not really a dance record, more like a take-a-bath record.
Expectations are the root of all disappointment.
Q: Are you happy with how it's been received?
A: I think my satisfaction is found more in the process of making
music than societal recognition.
Yoko is Mom. John was Dad. There is only one person in the world for
whom this situation could seem absolutely normal.
By Ethan Smith
Barefoot, in baggy jeans and a blue T-shirt, Sean Lennon ambles
across his living room, picks up a double bass, and plunks out the
opening bars of Miles Davis's "All Blues." "It sounds nice, right?"
he asks, nodding at the instrument. "It was a present from the
Lennon, 22, is a few weeks away from the May 19 release of his debut
CD, Into the Sun, on the aforementioned Boys' Grand Royal label. To
anyone looking around the sprawling West Village loft he shares with
his girlfriend, 37-year-old Yuka Honda, it's obvious Sean Lennon is
no dilettante cashing in on his last name. Nineteen guitar cases are
strewn about the house, as are vintage keyboards, effects pedals,
turntables, multitrack recording units, mixers, plus a drum kit, a
sitar, a theremin, and a Steinway grand. The apartment's upper level
houses a small digital-recording studio. God only knows what's
stashed at his SoHo rehearsal space.
For the past year or so, Lennon has been going through a Beach Boys
obsession. "Every morning I wake up and I listen to Smiley Smile or
Pet Sounds," he says, referring to Brian Wilson's most intricate,
laboriously produced late-sixties albums. Sitting on a sofa -- if you
can call a series of half-on-furniture, half-on-floor
postures "sitting" -- in his living room, he's all good-natured
hyperactivity. "Smiley Smile is like the Beach Boys' White Album," he
says, grasping for a way to convey the record's import. "No. Smiley
Smile is like Sgt. Pepper."
"I live with Brian Wilson," jokes Honda, sitting on the floor and
spreading cream cheese on a bagel.
In a way, there's nothing too surprising about the revelation -- the
Beach Boys' experimental-pop phase is trendy enough these days. But
it was also part of the most heated rivalry of its decade -- one that
involved Sean's own father. Pet Sounds, notes Lennon, "didn't kind of
inspire Sgt. Pepper. It literally did. Like, Paul McCartney heard Pet
Sounds and said, `We ought to do something as good as this.'"
Sean Lennon's own eclectic sound is equally indebted to both camps,
with smatterings of bossa nova, sunny Stevie Wonder-esque soul, and
experimental jazz thrown in. "Home," the album's first single,
conjures John Lennon's approach to melody, George Martin's ornamental
curlicues, and Brian Wilson's tweaked-out harmonies. Such
propensities, though, make Lennon as much a child of his era -- in
which the influence of Pop-with-a-capital-P is as pervasive as it's
been at any point since the sixties -- as of his lineage. It's a
fortunate position, one that allows him to put his patrimony to use
without raising charges of simple appropriation.
Into the Sun was produced by Honda, who also happens to be the
keyboard-playing half of the indie-pop outfit Cibo Matto. "I probably
could have asked for any producer in the world," says Lennon. "Not to
brag, but I have the juice to do that. And I asked for Yuka. She's
the best producer on the planet."
Working with older women has been Lennon's forte for years now -- he
has, after all, spent most of his life as the only child of a single
mother. "As a kid, I was in fact more into my mom's music than my
dad's," Sean recalls. Three years ago, he put that enthusiasm to use,
collaborating with Yoko Ono on the album Rising. "I know every song
she ever wrote. I'm an expert in Yoko Ono's music, basically. So in
the studio, when she'd say something like `Make that guitar part more
ocean-cricket,' I'd know exactly what she meant."
Defying celebrity-offspring type, Lennon comes across as a
preternaturally well-adjusted being, comfortable discussing his
emotional life -- quirky maternal issues included -- without being an
exhibitionist. "Beyond her just being my mom who I love and adore,
she's also a really good friend," he says. "I'll call her up and be
like, `What do you think of this lyric?' Any decision I have, I'll
ask her about it. And she'll call me about everything else. `I'm
going to the bathroom now.' `I got out of the bathroom, and I'm
drying my hair.' `Okay, now I'm on my way to the door.' I'm like,
Mom, you called me eight times in the last ten minutes."
Despite their unusual bond, mother and son haven't lived together in
a decade: Sean shipped out to a Swiss boarding school at 11; when he
returned, at 15, he enrolled at Dalton and moved into his own
apartment on the seventh floor of the Dakota, down the hall from
Yoko. "It actually kind of ostracized me from the kids I went to
school with," he says. "They'd be like, `Hey, you want to go do whip-
its after school?' `No, I think I'm going to go home and be domestic
with my older Italian girlfriend.'"
For the son of the most influential figure in the history of pop
music, working in the indie-rock idiom -- which, even if it embraces
certain of pop's aesthetic choices, eschews stardom, Top 40 hits, and
other commercial trappings -- might seem an easy out, a way of
escaping inevitable comparisons. And who could blame him? "I read a
review of one of my shows," Lennon says. "And the guy said that I was
not a great guitar player, which is fine because I'm not. But they
never say Bob Dylan isn't a great guitar player. Or they never say
Beck isn't. They never say Lou Reed isn't a great guitar player. None
of them are John McLaughlin, but because I'm John Lennon's son, he
has to say it."
John Lennon had devoted much of his life to being Sean's father,
building world peace from the ground up, when he was shot outside the
Dakota. Sean was 5 at the time. "I remember when my dad died," Lennon
says matter-of-factly. For the first time in the interview, he stops
fidgeting. "That whole early period of my life became kind of
cemented in my mind. I think it was a desperate reaction to him going
away that my memories became that much more clear. You don't really
miss anything specific. You just miss them breathing, just being
there. I miss the way his skin felt, the sound of his voice. Him
tucking me in at night.
"I remember him showing me how to clean the tip of my penis with a
piece of toilet paper after I'd peed."
"That's nice," Yuka says.
"I guess that's the kind of thing dads show kids when they're 4. I
mean, I don't think it's that weird. But that's what I remember."
He pauses, his eyes still focused on some invisible point above the
coffee table. "We went on vacation to the Caribbean, and a lot of
that I remember, because he said I could swim like a fish. I was a
really good swimmer. I could swim, like, way better than I could
walk. And he'd always be like, in his best Liverpudlian accent `Sean
can swim like a fish. Look at him!' And I'd be like, `Yeah!' Whoosh!"
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Birth name Sean Taro Ono Lennon
Born 9 October 1975 / New York, USA
Genre(s) Rock / Indie Rock / Pop
Occupation(s) Singer-Songwriter, Writer, Actor
Instrument(s) Guitar, Bass, Piano, Drums
Years active 1991 - 2001, 2006
Label(s) Grand Royal Records, Capitol
Associated acts - Cibo Matto
Sean Taro Ono Lennon (aka Sean Ono Lennon, born October 9, 1975) is
an American singer, songwriter, musician and actor. He is the son of
musicians and peace activists John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Kyoko Chan
Cox and Julian Lennon are therefore his half-siblings).
Lennon was born in New York City on his father's 35th birthday. After
Sean's birth, John became a house husband, doting on his young son
until his murder in 1980. Sean was educated at two exclusive private
boarding schools, at Institut Le Rosey (which Strokes members Julian
Casablancas and Albert Hammond, Jr. also attended) in Switzerland,
and at the Dalton School, in New York City.
His first appearance on record was on Ono's album Season of Glass
(1981), reciting a story that his father used to tell him. At the age
of 9, he performed the song "It's Alright" on the Yoko Ono tribute
album Every Man Has A Woman (1984). Later in life, his initial
efforts as a serious musician were collaborations: he appeared on
Lenny Kravitz's album Mama Said (1991) and formed backing-band IMA
for his mother's album Rising (1995).
Cibo Matto and Into The Sun
In 1997 Sean joined New York-based Japanese duo Cibo Matto (Miho
Hatori & Yuka Honda). Through his association with Cibo Matto, he was
approached by the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, who expressed an interest
in Sean's music. His debut solo album, Into the Sun, was released in
1998 on the Beastie Boys' record label, Grand Royal Records. The
album garnered positive reviews from the music press as well
mainstream media attention. Regarding Grand Royal, Sean has said, "I
think I found the only label on the planet who doesn't care who my
parents are and what my name is. It's a good feeling to know that I
wouldn't have gotten the offer if they wouldn't have liked my songs.
That's pretty rare in the music business!". A music video for "Home",
a single from the album, was directed by Spike Jonze and enjoyed
extended airplay on MTV. Cibo Matto played as Sean's backing band on
Into The Sun and joined him during the closing scene in the "Home"
In 1999, Sean's EP Half Horse, Half Musician was released featuring
new tracks such as "Heart & Lung" and "Happiness" as well as remixes
of songs from Into The Sun. Later in the year, Cibo Matto released
their second album (Stereo Type A) as a foursome with Sean and Timo
Ellis. Though the album was highly praised by fans, Cibo Matto has
since disbanded. In the following years, Sean collaborated with
various artists such as Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Handsome Boy
Modeling School, Money Mark and Soulfly. In 2001, Sean
performed "This Boy" and "Across The Universe" live with Rufus
Wainwright and Moby for Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's
Words and Music.
After Grand Royal Records' demise in 2001, Sean signed with Capitol
Records, yet no material surfaced until early February 2006 on his
MySpace page. A song called "Dead Meat" was to be the first (and so
far only) single from his new album, Friendly Fire. A promotional
trailer for the CD/DVD package of Friendly Fire was leaked online in
the spring of 2006. The trailer featured scenes from the Friendly
Fire (film version) of the album, a DVD comprised of unique music
videos for each song. Friendly Fire went on to be released in
October, 2006. Though mixed reviews (however mostly positive) came
from the music press, the album was highly praised by fans and many
consider it to be Sean's strongest work to date. The night the album
was released, Sean made his first major T.V. appearance since 2001,
performing "Dead Meat" live on Late Show with David Letterman. His
official website is now up and equipped with a message board that
Sean himself & "S.O.L." administer.
Into the Sun (1998)
Friendly Fire (2006)
Half Horse, Half Musician (1999)
"Queue (Radio Mix)" (1999)
"Dead Meat" (2006)
Friendly Fire (2006)
Coin Locker Babies (2008?)
IN DEPTH: Sean Lennon "Friendly Fire"
Considering that anything Sean Lennon creates is immediately compared
with the work of his father John Lennon aka one of the greatest
songwriters and most famous figures of all time it's not surprising
that eight years have passed since his debut album, Into The Sun. His
new release, Friendly Fire, finds him in a distinctly different head
space than what permeated Into The Sun. Gone is the light-hearted
genre-hopping, replaced with a more melancholic sound that mixes
strains of his father's distinctive timbre with the West Coast singer-
songwriter vibe most associated with producer/musician Jon Brion
who performs on the album. Maybe it's a reaction to the critical
attention he's always been subject to; Maybe it's all due to the
tragic, romantic triangle he found himself in while working on the
Accompanying the new album is a DVD that ties together videos for
each song on the album. Utilizing a variety of styles the main
reference points seem to be all foreign films, especially those
directed by Federico Fellini Lennon stars alongside a cast of well-
known starlets, including Lindsay Lohan, Jordana Brewster, Devon
Aoki, Asia Argento and his real life ex-girlfriend Bijou Phillips.
Quintessence Films director Michele Civetta took some time out from
working on his movie Coin Locker Babies to discuss the video
accompaniments to Friendly Fire.
Video Static: Let's start at the start... How did the project come
Michele Civetta: I've been working on a film called Coin Locker
Babies, based on the novel by Japanese writer Ryu Murakami for a
number of years. Sean is a big fan of the novel and got involved with
the project a few years back. This fall I decided to shoot a camera
test for the film with my DP Steve Gainer and it ended up becoming
the "Parachute" video. We had such a blast shooting it on an ultra
shoestring budget that Sean came back and suggested we shoot a video
for every track on the record. We initially planned to create ten
autonomous videos, but we're both fans of overindulgent '70s rock
odysseys like Tommy, The Wall, and Head, so it evolved into more of a
conceptual accompaniment for the record.
VS: I didn't notice a lot of the typical elements or influences from
music videos in these clips. They're definitely not edited or shot
like traditional music videos.
MC: Film references were stronger as that is really where my heart
is. I like videos a lot, but I've always been more compelled by the
more narrative driven ones of yesteryear. If anything, there is a
tinge of influence from Hipgnosis, Storm Thorgersons' design team
that's responsible for a ton of the Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and
Edgar Broughton Band artwork.
VS: Even beyond the focus on narrative though, I noticed the way the
shots linger and the lack of quick edits. Those things are pretty
antithetical to the usual music video structure.
MC: It's easy to make images compelling when you chop them up in a
Cuisinart. There is something to be said for long takes. Also the
music is very melodic and orchestral so it didn't call for quick
VS: The transition between the pieces is usually that TV with the
fireplace within... Seemed kind of mysterious.
MC: The TV in the house was a final interstitial element we shot
while editing the finished film... The fire image is a play on the
record's title. The other idea is that the fire in the TV is primal
and it represents mankind and civilization, but when projected
through the cathode ray tube it takes on an alien presence. Kind of
like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's an object used in
the videos to transcend time and act as a virtual rabbit hole of
VS: So, there's not really a narrative tying these together, is there?
MC: The project would have been approached differently if it was a
true concept record. Many of the songs have been written over the
years and then a few of the final tracks, including "Friendly Fire,"
were written around the time we filmed "Parachute" and while Sean was
finishing the record. One of our best friends Max LeRoy died in a
motorcycle accident and Sean wrote the title track "Friendly Fire,"
about him. The song references the betrayal and affair that occurred
between Max and [Sean Lennon's girlfriend at the time] Bijou
Phillips. There is a real sadness in the song, since it was Sean's
way of processing his feelings; It was almost a first attempt towards
reconciliation with our friend and then a week later he was gone.
VS: And the video for that song is definitely the DVD's centerpiece
in terms of the narrative.
MC: We wanted it to anchor the sensibilities, since everything else
is so quixotic and bizarre. It seemed like an obvious choice to make
that film be the reality from which all the others are stemming.
That Sean and Bijou re-enacted their breakup and betrayal seemed like
it was taking a real bite out of the postmodern construct of the
concept; I thought it was uniquely brave of them both.
VS: Absolutely. It's one thing to reference a break-up for artistic
purposes. It's another thing to cast yourself and your ex for the re-
enactment. You also have an acting roll in the fictional version with
Lindsay Lohan, right? [see photo at right with Lohan, Lennon and
MC: Yeah, that was more of a gag. We had a scheduling change and one
of our actors couldn't show. Since it was supposed to be a French New
Wave ultra arty homage of the breakup story, it was a perfect subject
for parody. We decided I should act and Sean should direct the scene.
It just felt appropriately irreverent and a bit of cosmic retribution
for the torture that Sean was being put through on a daily basis
(learning how to swordfight, rollerskate, etc.)
VS: It was also interesting how Sean is constantly cast as the
underdog in these videos and that he doesn't always emerge as the
MC: Yeah, I think that was wholly intentional. Sean is a strange
amalgamation. He is very brave and heroic, but I think that many of
the videos played on subconscious undercurrents. What was terrific
about the project was that we had so many opportunities to put Sean's
personality on display and this character is very similar to who he
really is in life with his friends; a total goof.
VS: I can totally imagine the scene where a schmuck in a movie
theatre line says, "Hey Julian, I love your work" to him being
directly taken from real life.
MC: Happens all the time when we're together. I've also heard people
come up and unknowingly say, "Hey man, you look like John Lennon!"
But, as Sean says, it's the ones who come up and want to talk about
his Mom that you have to really watch out for.
VS: The ones that invite him to primal therapy sessions?
VS: That self-awareness and self-deprecating humor is definitely
evident throughout all the videos. Like, when Sean calls it "a series
of shorts that quite simply fall short" while in line for the movie.
MC: That is a typical play on words for Sean. He is always twisting
speech in funny, anachronistic ways. I don't think he took the
project overly serious as a grand statement. It was really an attempt
to create a bunch of different little statements and experiments.
Also, we couldn't help but reference the semi-pretentious nature of
making ten films about oneself.
Sean Lennon Friendly Fire (Capitol)
Michele Civetta, director | Manu Gargi & Griffin Marcus, producers |
Quintessence Films, production co | Bryan Newman, DP | Steve Gainer,
DP for "Parachute" | Josh Ferrazano/Thought Crime & Jenny
Golden/Nuncle Group, editors
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yoko Ono Lennon (born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese musician and
artist best known as the widow of John Lennon of The Beatles. She
lives in New York City and has spent a significant portion of her
childhood and most of her adult life in the United States.
Ono's name is written 小野 洋子 (Ono Yōko) in Japanese kanji, but appears
in katakana (ヨーコ・オノ) in the Japanese press and on her album covers.
The katakana writing system is used primarily for foreign words.
Yoko Ono was born in 1933. Her parents were Isoko Ono of the Yasuda
banking family and Eisuke Ono who worked for the Yokohama Specie
Bank. Two weeks before she was born, her father was transferred to
San Francisco. The rest of the family followed soon afterward. In
1937, her father was transferred back to Japan and Yoko Ono was
enrolled at the Peers' School in Tokyo which was the most exclusive
school in Japan open only to those decended from either aristocrats
(in the House of Peers) or the Imperial family.
In 1940, the family moved to New York where Yoko's father was
working. In 1941, her father was transferred to Hanoi and the family
returned to Japan. Yoko was then enrolled in an exclusive Christian
primary school run by the Mitsui family. She remained in Tokyo
through the great fire-bombing of March 9, 1945. During the fire-
bombing, she was sheltered with other members of her family in a
special bunker in the Azabu district of Tokyo far from the heavy
bombing. After the bombing, Ono went to the Karuizawa mountain resort
with members of her family. The younger members of the imperial
family were sent to the same resort area.
Ono has claimed that she and her family were forced to beg for food
while pulling their belongings in a wheelbarrow; it was during this
period in her life that Ono says she developed her "aggressive"
attitude and understanding of "outsider" status when local children
taunted the once well-to-do Yoko and her brother, now reduced to
poverty. Other stories have her mother bringing a large amount of
property with them to the countryside which they bartered for food.
One often quoted story has her mother bartering a German-made sewing
machine for sixty kilograms of rice to feed the family with. Her
father remained in the city and, unbeknownst to them, was eventually
incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in China.
By April 1946, the exclusive Peers' school was reopened and Yoko was
enrolled. The school, located near the imperial palace had not been
damaged by the war. While now in theory open to anyone, the students
were still almost exclusively aristocratic. She graduated in 1951 and
was accepted into the Philosophy program of Peers' University. She
was the first woman ever to be accepted into the Philosophy program
of the exclusive univeristy. But after two semesters, she left the
Emergence into the art world
Ono's family had moved to Scarsdale, New York after the war. She left
Japan to re-join the family and enrolled in Sarah Lawrence College.
While her parents approved her choice of college, they were dismayed
at her lifestyle, and, according to Ono, chastised her for
befriending people they considered to be "beneath" her. In spite of
this, Ono loved meeting artists, poets, and people who represented
the "Bohemian" freedom she longed for herself. Visiting galleries and
art "happenings" in the city whetted her desire to publicly display
her own artistic endeavors. La Monte Young, her first important
contact (and lover) in the New York art world, helped Yoko start her
career by using her Lower East Side loft as a concert hall. At one
concert Yoko set a painting on fire; fortunately John Cage had
advised her to treat the paper with flame retardant.
In 1956, she married composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. They divorced in 1962
after living apart for several years. On November 28 that same year,
Ono married American Anthony Cox. Cox was a jazz musician, film
producer, and art promoter; according to Albert Goldman, he also
flirted with crime and male prostitutes. He had
heard of Yoko in New York and tracked her down to a mental
institution in Japan, where her family had placed her following a
Their marriage was annulled on March 1, 1963 (Ono having neglected to
finalize her divorce from Ichiyanagi first); they re-married on June
6, and finally divorced on February 2, 1969. Their daughter, Kyoko
Chan Cox, was born on August 8, 1963. The marriage quickly fell apart
(observers describe Tony and Yoko threatening each other with kitchen
knives) but the Coxes stayed together for the sake of their joint
career. They performed at Tokyo's Sogetsu Hall with Yoko lying atop a
piano played by John Cage. Soon the Coxes returned to New York with
In the early years of this marriage, Yoko left most of Kyoko's
parenting to Cox, while she pursued her art full-time and Tony
managed publicity. Yoko became much more attached to Kyoko after she
left Cox for John Lennon. After a bitter legal battle, Ono was
awarded permanent custody of Kyoko. In 1971 Cox disappeared with
eight-year-old Kyoko in violation of the custody order. Cox thought
Lennon was a bad influence and that Yoko was incapable of raising a
child. He vanished with Kyoko, became a Christian fundamentalist and
raised her in an Christian group known as the Church of the Living
Word or ("the Walk"). Cox with Kyoko left the group in 1977. Cox,
living an underground existence, changed the girl's name to Rosemary,
and told her stories of her mother's 'wicked, hateful ways'. In
1980, Cox and Kyoko sent a sympathy message to Yoko after the death
of John Lennon. Afterward, the bitterness between the parents
lessened slightly and Yoko publically announced in a newspaper ad
that she would no longer seek out the now adult Kyoko but still
wished to make contact with her.
Ono and Kyoko were finally reunited in 1998 after Kyoko bore Yoko a
granddaughter, Emi. Kyoko's children, daughter Emi and son Jack are
said to be Ono's chief legal heirs. Kyoko lives
quietly in Colorado and avoids publicity.
Poster for Ono's first major exhibit, This is Not Here, at the
Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New YorkOno was an early member of
Fluxus, a loose association of Dada-inspired avant-garde artists that
developed in the early 1960s. Fluxus founder George Maciunas, a
friend and love interest of Ono's during the 60's, admired her work
and promoted it with enthusiasm. Maciunas, with Young and Cage, was
one of the most important influences on Ono's performance art. His
humorously subversive philosophy of avant-gardism, spoofing the
overserious, commercialized attitude to abstract art typical of 1950s
New York, is obvious in Ono's "sales lists" of imaginary or useless
objects (tapes of snow falling, machines dispensing clouds, etc.)--as
Ono once said, "I think it would be very good for someone's mental
health to buy something that didn't exist!" Ono's interactive art
objects (like her "Painting to be Stepped On," where the painting is
created by footprints on a blank canvas) also owe something to
Maciunas' spoofy Fluxus objects or ideas for the same. Some critics
 have described Ono's art as a synthesis between
John Cage's Zen-influenced musical ideas, incorporating silence and
natural sounds, and Maciunas' earthier and more macabre wit, which
found an echo in Ono's readiness to shock and dramatizations of her
mental pain as well as her shared appreciation of gags (she once
said, "Every artist is a conceptual artist. I'm a con artist"
 ). Another influence cited by art critics [citation
needed] was Ono's Japanese contemporary Yayoi Kusama. Kusama's events
involving nudity may have inspired the famous cover of Ono and John
Lennon's Two Virgins record, where both appear naked. Kusama was also
an organizer of pacifist events similar to Ono and Lennon's "bed-in"
Ono was an explorer of conceptual art and performance art. An example
of her performance art is "Cut Piece", during which she sat on stage
and invited the audience to use scissors to cut off her clothing
until she was naked. An example of her conceptual art includes her
book of instructions called Grapefruit. This book, first produced in
1964, includes surreal, Zen-like instructions that are to be
completed in the mind of the reader, for example: "Hide and seek
Piece: Hide until everybody goes home. Hide until everybody forgets
about you. Hide until everybody dies." The book, an example of
Heuristic art, was published several times, most widely distributed
by Simon and Schuster in 1971, and reprinted by them again in 2000.
Many of the scenarios in the book would be enacted as performance
pieces throughout Ono's career and have formed the basis for her art
exhibitions, including one highly publicized show at the Everson
Museum in Syracuse, New York that was nearly closed by a fan riot.
Ono was also an experimental filmmaker. She made sixteen films
between 1964 and 1972, and gained particular renown for a 1966 film
called simply No. 4, but often referred to as "Bottoms". The 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 commemorates this film. (Ono also acted in an
obscure exploitation film of the sixties, Satan's Bed.)
John Lennon once described her as "the world's most famous unknown
artist: everybody knows her name, but nobody knows what she does."
 Her friends and lovers in the New York art world have included
Kate Millett, Nam June Paik, Dan Richter, Jonas Mekas, Merce
Cunningham, Judith Malina, Erica Abeel, Peggy Guggenheim, Betty
Rollin, Shusaku Arakawa, Adrian Morris, Stefan Wolpe, Keith Haring,
and Andy Warhol, as well as Maciunas and Young.
In a lecture at Wesleyan University, January 1966, Yoko Ono explained
the inspiration behind her conceptual art: "All of my work in fields
other than music have an Event bent ... event, to me, is not an
assimilation of all the other arts as Happening seems to be, but an
extrication from various sensory perceptions. It is not a get
togetherness as most happenings are, but a dealing with oneself. Also
it has no script as Happenings do, though it has something that
starts it moving- the closest word for it may be a wish or hope ...
After unblocking one's mind, by dispensing with visual, auditory and
kinetic perception, what will come out of us? Would there be
anything? I wonder. And my events are mostly spent in wonderment ...
The painting method derives as far back as the time of the Second
World War, when we had no food to eat, and my brother and I exchanged
menus in the air." 
Ono has sometimes been maligned and vilified by critics who condemn
her art. For example, Brian Sewell, an art critic noted for his
artistic conservatism and acerbic reviews of conceptual art,
said: "She's shaped nothing, she's contributed nothing, she's simply
been a reflection of the times...I think she's an amateur, a very
rich woman who was married to someone who did have some talent and
was the driving force behind the Beatles. If she had not been the
widow of John Lennon, she would be totally forgotten by now...Yoko
Ono was simply a hanger-on. Have you seen her sculpture or paintings?
They're all awful."  In the past few years, Ono's
work has received recognition and acclaim. For example, Matthew
Teitelbaum, director of the Art Gallery of Ontario, stated that "Yoko
Ono is one of the world's most original and inspirational visual
artists."  Michael Kimmelman, the chief Art critic
of the New York Times, wrote: "Yoko Ono's art is a mirrorlike her
work 'a Box of Smile,' we see ourselves in our reaction to ita tiny
prod toward personal enlightenment, very Zen." 
In 2001, YES YOKO ONO, a forty-year retrospective of Ono's work,
received the prestigious International Association of Art Critics USA
Award for Best Museum Show Originating in New York City. (This award
is considered one of the highest accolades in the museum profession.)
In 2002 Ono was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for work in assorted
media. And in 2005 she received a lifetime achievement award from the
Japan Society of New York.
Ono received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Liverpool University
in 2001; in 2002 she was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor
of Fine Arts from Bard College. Scott MacDonald, visiting professor
of film at Bard, said: "She is to be congratulated for the body of
work she has made, and celebrated for what she has come to represent,
within media history and throughout the world: courage, resilience,
persistence, independence, and, above all, imagination, and a belief
that peace and love remain the way toward a brighter, ever-more-
diverse human future." 
Life with Lennon
John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau,
22 December 1969 Ottawa, OntarioOno first met John Lennon when he
visited a preview of an exhibition of Ono's at the Indica Gallery in
London on November 9, 1966. Lennon's first intimate encounter with
Ono involved her passing him a card that simply read "Breathe". He
was taken with the positivity, humour, and interactivity of her work
, such as a ladder leading up to a black canvas with
a spyglass on a chain allowing John to read the word "Yes" written on
the canvas along with a real apple displayed with a card
reading "APPLE." When John was told the price of the apple was 200
pounds, he thought, "This is a joke, this is pretty funny" (Spitz,
page 650). Another display was a white board with nails in it with a
sign inviting visitors to hammer a nail into its surface. Since the
show was not beginning until the following day, Ono refused to allow
Lennon to hammer in a nail. The gallery owner whisked her away
saying "don't you know who THAT is? He's a millionaire!" (Ono later
claimed not to know who John Lennon or the Beatles were, though some
friends remember her being quite interested in the band and wanting
to get involved with them.) Upon returning to John she said he could
hammer in a nail for five shillings. Lennon replied, "I'll give you
an imaginary five shillings if you let me hammer in an imaginary
nail" (Spitz, page 632).
They began an affair approximately two years later, eventually
resulting in Lennon divorcing his first wife, Cynthia Lennon. Cynthia
recalled that Ono pursued Lennon relentlessly from the date of the
Indica show, sending him poems and artwork daily, haunting their
London mansion, and even threatening suicide if he did not support
her work [verification needed]. Lennon was at first ambivalent about
Ono, then increasingly fascinated, and finally devoted to her after
they recorded Two Virgins together on LSD. They
married on March 20, 1969 in Gibraltar. Their son, Sean, was born on
Lennon's 35th birthday, on October 9, 1975.
Lennon referred to Ono in many of his songs. While still a Beatle he
wrote "The Ballad of John and Yoko," and he alluded to her indirectly
in "Julia," a song dedicated to his mother, with the lyrics: "Ocean
child calls me, so I sing a song of love" (The kanji 洋子 ("Yoko")
mean "ocean child"). Other Lennon songs about Ono are said[citation
needed] to include: "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," "Don't Let Me
Down," "Happiness is a Warm Gun," "Well Well Well," "Because," "Oh
Yoko!," "I'm Losing You," "Bless You," and "Dear Yoko."
Ono and Lennon collaborated on many albums, beginning in 1968 when
Lennon was still a Beatle, with Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins,
an album of experimental and difficult electronic music. That same
year, the couple contributed an experimental piece to The White Album
called "Revolution 9". Ono also contributed backing vocals
(on "Birthday"), and one line of lead vocals (on "The Continuing
Story of Bungalow Bill") to the White Album. Many of the couple's
later albums were released under the name the Plastic Ono Band.
In 1969, the Plastic Ono Band's first album, Live Peace In Toronto,
was recorded during the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival Festival. In
addition to Lennon and Ono, this first incarnation of the group
consisted of guitarist Eric Clapton, bass player Klaus Voorman, and
drummer Alan White. The first half of their performance consisted of
rock standards, and during the second half, Ono took the microphone
and along with the band performed what may be one of the first
expressions of the avant garde during a rock concert. The set ended
with music that consisted mainly of feedback, while Ono screamed
Lennon's version Ono's versionOno 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 have almost
identical covers: Ono's featured a photo of her leaning on Lennon,
and Lennon's had a photo of him leaning on Ono. Her album included
raw and quite harsh vocals that were possibly influenced by Japanese
opera. Some songs consisted of wordless vocalizations, in a style
that would influence Diamanda Galas, Meredith Monk, and other musical
artists who have used screams and vocal noise in lieu of words.
Perhaps, the most famous song on Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band is "Why",
which features Ono repeating the word "Why" for five minutes. Some
punk bands, including Public Image Ltd)  consider
this album (and other early albums by her) as laying the foundation
for punk. The album peaked at #183 on the US charts.
In 1971, Ono released Fly - a double album. On this release Ono
explored slightly more conventional punk rock with tracks
like "Midsummer New York" and "Mind Train", in addition to a number
of Fluxus experiments. She also received minor airplay with the
ballad "Mrs. Lennon". Perhaps the most famous track from the album
is "Don't Worry, Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand In The
Snow)", an ode to Ono's kidnapped daughter. Ono later released two
feminist rock albums in 1973, Approximately Infinite Universe and
Feeling the Space, which received little attention at the time but
are today recognized with much critical respect,
particularly for tracks such as "Move on Fast," "Yang Yang"
and "Death of Samantha."
Ono has been accused by some music historians for
breaking up the band, while others argue that the
breakup was caused by the fact that the Beatles were moving in
different directions musically and personally. John, also, said he
had wanted 'out' of the group even before he met Yoko.
In a 2003 interview with Jay Leno, Yoko revealed the disappointment
she felt by the breakup and how it impacted a life that she was used
to. Beatles historian Bob Spitz concluded that John Lennon wanted to
disband the Beatles and saw in Yoko the perfect wedge to drive
between himself and the others.
After the Beatles disbanded, Lennon and Ono lived together in London
and then in New York. They became addicted to heroin in London and
were arrested for possession of cannabis resin on October 18, 1968.
They would suffer from heroin addiction on and off for many years,
and the arrest would be significant to their future together. Their
relationship came under great strain as Lennon faced near-certain
deportation from the U.S. based on the British drug charges and Ono
was separated from her daughter, who would have remained behind if
she followed Lennon back to England. Lennon began drinking heavily
and Ono buried herself in her work. The marriage had soured by 1973
and the two began living separate lives, Ono pursuing her career in
New York and Lennon living in Los Angeles with personal assistant May
In 1975, the couple reconciled. After the birth of their son Sean,
they lived in seclusion until shortly before Lennon's murder in
December 1980, which Yoko witnessed at close range.
A still from the "Walking on Thin Ice" video.Ono has achieved
considerable success as a musician. Ono collaborated with
experimental luminaries such as John Cage and jazz legend Ornette
Coleman. In 1961, years before meeting Lennon, she had her first
major public performance in a concert at the 258-seat Carnegie
Recital Hall (not the larger "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
her now legendary and influential "Cut Piece."
Ono's music changed after her marriage; while many of her early songs
retain the surreal quality of her art and films, her later songs are
usually more conventional for example, the seven pop songs that she
contributed to the album, Double Fantasy (which were considered, by
some critics, to be better than Lennon's offerings on the album).
In the spring of 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 ran to a public phone, called Yoko and said "They're finally ready
for us, love!" Indeed, many musicians, particularly
those of the new wave movement, have paid tribute to Ono (both as an
artist in her own right, and as a muse and iconic figure). For
example, Elvis Costello recorded a version of Ono's song "Walking On
Thin Ice", the B-52's 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" in their fin de siecle album
SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century. One of Barenaked Ladies's best-known
songs is "Be My Yoko Ono," and Dar Williams recorded a song called "I
Won't Be Your Yoko Ono." The punk rock singer Patti Smith invited Ono
to participate in "Meltdown," a two-week music festival that Smith
organized in London during June 2005; Ono performed at Queen
On the night of 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 a
deranged fan, Mark David Chapman. "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 with the
striking cover photo of Lennon's shattered, bloody spectacles next to
a half-filled glass of water, with a window overlooking Central Park
in the background. This led some critics to accuse her of being
tasteless and exploitative. However, Ono said that she chose such a
provocative image because she wanted to remind people that Lennon
hadn't just died or committed suicide, but had been murdered. She
stated that those who thought the picture of bloody spectacles were
offensive because of the blood stains should remember that there was
more to John's murder than just a stained pair of glasses, and the
picture was only a small part of what she, and other members of
John's family, had to face when he died. (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 is not
dedicated to Lennon because "he would have been offended - he was one
Life after Lennon
Some time after her husband's murder, Ono began a relationship with
antiques dealer Sam Havadtoy, which lasted until 2001.  She had
also been linked to art dealer and Greta Garbo confidante Sam Green,
who is mentioned in John Lennon's Will.  1982 saw the release of
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 Ono and Sean. The album scored minor
chart success and airplay with the singles "My Man" and "Never Say
In 1984, a tribute album entitled 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
in unfinished demo state.
The program from Ono's 1986 "Starpeace" world tour.Ono's final album
of the 1980s was Starpeace, a concept album that Ono 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 #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as major airplay on
In 1986 Ono set out on a goodwill world tour for Starpeace, mostly
visiting Eastern European countries that she felt were in need of her
message of peace.
Ono went on hiatus until signing with Rykodisc in 1992 to release the
comprehensive 6-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. In 1994, Yoko produced her own musical entitled
New York Rock, featuring Broadway renditions of her songs.
1995 saw Ono's comeback with the release of Rising, a collaboration
with her son Sean Lennon and his 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.
The cover of ONO's successful "Walking on Thin Ice" 2003 remix
single.In 2000, she founded the John Lennon museum in Saitama, her
home town. John Lennon museum
2001 saw the release of Ono's feminist concept album Blueprint For A
Sunrise. Starting in 2002, some DJs remixed other Ono songs for dance
clubs. For the remix project, she dropped her first name and became
known as simply "ONO", as a 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 Magazine's "Dance/Club Play Chart",
gaining ONO her first number one hit. On the 12" mix of the original
1981 version of "Walking on Thin Ice", Lennon can be heard
remarking "I think we've just got your first No.1, Yoko." She
returned to No. 1 on the same charts in November of 2004
with "Everyman...Everywoman...". A reworking of her song "Every Man
Has a Woman Who Loves Him" from Double Fantasy, the track contained
new lyrics supportive of gay marriage.
During her career, Ono has collaborated with a diverse group of
artists and musicians including John Cage, David Tudor, George
Maciunas, Ornette Coleman, Charlotte Moorman, George Brecht, Jackson
Mac Low, Jonas Mekas, Yvonne Rainer, La Monte Young, Richard
Maxfield, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Yo La Tengo, and Andy Warhol. In 1987
Ono was one of the speakers at Warhol's funeral.
Since the 1960s, Ono has been an activist for peace and human rights.
After their wedding, Lennon and Ono 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 their cameras, but they instead found a pair of newlyweds
wearing pajamas and eager to talk about and promote world peace.
Another Bed-In in May 1969 in Montreal, Canada, 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, Bagism encouraged a
disregard for physical appearance in judging others.
In the 1970s, Ono and Lennon became close to many radical leaders,
including Jerry Rubin, Michael X, John Sinclair (for whom they
organized a benefit after he was imprisoned), Angela Davis, Kate
Millett, and David Peel. They appeared on The Mike Douglas Show and
took over hosting duties for a week, during which Ono spoke at length
about the evils of racism and sexism. They were forced to curtail
much of their political activity when the United States government
put them under surveillance and Lennon was threatened with
deportation on drug charges. Ono remained outspoken
in her support of feminism, and openly bitter about the racism she
had experienced from rock fans, especially in England. For example,
an Esquire article of the period was titled "John Rennon's Excrusive
Gloupie" and featured an unflattering David Levine cartoon.
In 2002, Ono inaugurated her own peace award by giving $50,000
(£31,900) prize money to artists living "in regions of conflict."
Israeli and Palestinian artists were the first recipients.
In 2003, Ono turned 70, a milestone of sorts. Far from mellowing with
age, she re-staged the "Cut Piece" in protest of terrorism.
In 2004, Ono remade her song "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him" 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."
Relationship with Paul McCartney and Cynthia Lennon
Ono occasionally argued with Beatle Paul McCartney about issues such
as the writing credits for many Beatles songs. While the Beatles were
still together, every song written by Lennon or McCartney was
credited to Lennon-McCartney regardless of whether the song was a
collaboration or a solo project. After Lennon's death, McCartney
attempted to change the order to "McCartney-Lennon" for songs, such
as "Yesterday," that were solely or predominantly written by him, but
Ono would not allow it. She says she felt this broke an agreement
that the two had made while Lennon was still alive. However,
McCartney has stated that no such agreement ever existed. The two
other Beatles agreed that the credits should remain as they always
had been and McCartney withdrew his request. However, the dispute
reappeared in 2002. On his "Back in the U.S. Live 2002" album, 19
classic Beatle songs are described as "written by Paul McCartney and
In 1995, McCartney and his family collaborated with Ono and Sean
Lennon to create the song "Hiroshima Sky is Always Blue," which
commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the dropping of an atomic
bomb on the 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
McCartney did not invite Ono to his wife Linda McCartney's memorial
service in 1998, even though both Ono and Linda McCartney had
attended Sarah Lawrence College.
Accepting an award at the 2005 Q Awards, Ono made a controversial
comment that some music critics have interpreted as an insult to Paul
McCartney's songwriting. She mentioned that Lennon had once felt
insecure about his songwriting, and asked her why other
musicians "always cover Paul's songs, and never mine". Ono then
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".  Heather Mills
McCartney, when asked about her husband's thoughts on the subject,
said "He doesn't even know yet. Look at how successful Yoko's music
is compared to Paul's. Speaks for itself".
Ono later issued a statement claiming she did not mean any offense,
as her comment was an attempt to reconcile John, not attack Paul; she
went on to insist that she respected McCartney and that it was the
press who had taken her comments out of context.
She went on to say: "People need light-hearted topics like me and
Paul fighting to escape all the horror of the world, but it's not
true anymore...We have clashed many times in the past. But I do
respect Paul now for having been John's partner and he respects me
for being John's wife."
Her relationship with Cynthia Lennon remains strained. In a recent
BBC interview, Cynthia Lennon said Ono's behaviour toward Julian
Lennon after the death of John was "Shameful" and remarked of
Ono's "Lonely" existence in her "Ivory Tower". This interview can
been seen on a link here.
Ono again proved herself to be a provocative and controversial artist
with her contribution to the fourth Liverpool Biennial in 2004. With
banners, bags, stickers, postcards, flyers, posters and badges, she
flooded the city with two images: one of a woman's naked breast, the
other of her vulva. The piece, titled "My Mummy Was Beautiful," was
dedicated to Lennon's mother, Julia, who had died when Lennon was a
teenager. According to Ono the work was meant to be innocent, not
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