John Lennon and Yoko Ono
No image or utterance of Yoko Ono is possible without some mental reference to the man who made her famous, the legendary Beatle John Lennon. Likewise, no mention of Yoko Ono in the company of a die-hard Beatles fan can pass without some derogatory observation on how she was the demise of that great pop quartet. It is debatable, of course, whether this was true, but John Lennon was the only Beatle who did not utterly despise her, and she certainly was an extremely unwelcome addition to the dysfunctional Beatles family. Did she influence John Lennon? Absolutely. Was it a positive influence? If one thinks in terms of the quality of his artistic output, probably not, but in terms of his journey as an icon for humanity, peace and love, she certainly had much to contribute.
Yoko Ono is nothing if not an original, and there can be no doubt that her circles would have been much smaller had she not married John Lennon, but what fate dished up for her, she used for all that it was worth. When the two met in London in 1966, Yoko was on the furthest fringe of the New York avant-garde movement. ‘Yoko was having an art show in London at Indica Gallery.’ Lennon revealed on the Mike Douglas Show in 1972. ‘In those days most art put everybody down, got people upset. I walked up the stepladder and picked up the spyglass. In teeny little writing it just said ‘Yes’. And I made my decision to go see the rest of the show.’
And the rest, of course, is history. The influence that Yoko Ono brought to bear on John Lennon was profound, and instantaneous. She immediately interposed herself into the intimate business of the Beatles, attending recording sessions, and no doubt expressing her opinion. Committed Beatles fans revile her for breaking the band up, and although, according to Paul McCartney, interviewed much later, she did not, there are many who will take more convincing than that.
John certainly engaged in peace activism much more intensively after his marriage to Yoko, and his musical collaborations with her introduced a far more experimental and avant-garde phase. In general, though, it is agreed that her influence was positive only insofar as he loved him with enormous passion, and that can never be a bad thing, but creatively, the jury is still out.