Top 10 Interesting facts about Yoko Ono


Yoko Ono Lennon née Yoko Ono or Ono Yōko in Japanese, is a musician and artist who is considered a 1960s influential practitioner of conceptual and performance art. Ono was also known as the artistic partner and wife of musician John Lennon.

Born on February 18, 1933 in Tokyo, Japan, Ono was from a wealthy Japanese family. She grew up mainly in Tokyo and attended an elite school. Ono became the first woman to be admitted to the philosophy program at Gakushūin University in Tokyo, in 1952. After about three years, Ono moved to the New York City area where her father who was a bank executive, had been transferred.

Ono studied music and writing in Bronxville, New York at the Sarah Lawrence College. Although she never graduated, Ono studied for three years and struggled to find an artistic niche. A multimedia artist, musician and composer, Ono’s life has always been around John Lennon or The Beatles.  She however started performing, creating music, videos and paintings in the 60s. This was before Ono met John Lennon.

Below are ten fascinating facts about Yoko Ono.

1. Ono experienced war during her childhood

John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Photo by Joost Evers / Anefo / Wikimedia Commons

Ono experienced WWII when she was a child. In 1945, Ono, her two siblings and their mother hid in an underground bunker one night when the war was taking place.

The US army bombed their city killing 83,000 people and burned down a quarter of the city.

2. Ono was a big part of the music scene

Ono moved to New York and became a part of the new and experimental music scene. While there, Ono met an avant-garde composer of Japanese origin. Against her parents’ wishes, Ono married Toshi Ichiyanagii in 1956.

She later got a divorce in 1962 and married Anthony Cox. Cox, who is an American art promoter and movie producer and Ono had a daughter named Kyoto.

3. Ono’s most memorable performance is title Cut Piece

Yoko Ono at the 70th Annual Peabody Awards for American Masters. Photo by Anders Krusberg /Peabody Awards/Wikimedia Commons

In 1966, at the Destruction In Art symposium held in London, Ono had one of her most memorable performances.

In the performance titled Cut Piece, Ono knelt on stage and invited the audience to be part of her performance. The audience were asked to cut off her clothing with a pair of scissors.

4. John Lennon was Yoko Ono’s third husband

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, photographed for the New York Times on November 2, 1980. Photo by Jack Mitchell / Wikimedia Commons

Ono met Lennon in 1966 in London while having an exhibition to show her conceptual artwork. The artwork Titled “Ceiling Painting” caught Lennon’s attention.

When they realized they had similar interests in the arts, and similar but radical political beliefs and views, Ono and Lennon started working together.

Together they worked on music projects such as Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins in 1968 and also created the 1969 activist work titled Bed-In.

In the summer of 1973, Ono and Lennon separated for about two years after Lennon’s affair with May Pang, who was his personal assistant. Ono and Lennon got back together at an Elton John concert in November 1974.

Shortly after, Ono gave birth to their only son, Sean.

5. One of Ono and Lennon’s performance was holding meetings in pyjamas

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the Amsterdam Hotel. Photo by Koch, Eric / Anefo/ Wikimedia Commons

Ono and Lennon held a series of events and performances together. These performances were sometimes received with outrage and disbelief. One of their performances was titled ‘Bed-in.’

This was a concept that comprised of holding meetings for peace in bed and in their pyjamas. Their first bed-in was held at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel during their honeymoon in March 1969.

6. Ono held an imaginary exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Recording “Give Peace a Chance”. Left to right: Rosemary Leary (face not visible), Tommy Smothers (with back to camera), John Lennon, Timothy Leary, Yoko Ono, Judy Marcioni and Paul Williams. Photo by Roy Kerwood/Wikimedia Commons

In 1971, Ono held an imaginary show at the MoMa. The audience were perplexed when they arrived and discovered they were the work of art and were being filmed by Lennon’s assistants.

The museum clarified the nature of the exhibition by showing large notices to the audience.

7. Ono was not limited by the confines of conceptual art

War Is Over! (if you want it) Yoko Ono’ exhibition – Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Photo by Eva Rinaldi. Flickr/Wikimedia Commons

Ono is also well known for her exhibition of canvases with instructions attached to them. Titled instruction pieces, this exhibition portrayed Ono as one not limited by the confines of modern art.

The book titled Grapefruit published all the instruction pieces.

8. Ono had been away from her daughter Kyoto for almost 20 years

Antony Cox, Ono’s second husband became a Christian fundamentalist. After their divorce, the movie director kidnapped Kyoto, Ono’s daughter in 1971.

They disappeared till 1988 when Ono reunited with her daughter.

9. While in London Ono also produced movies

Yoko Ono’s 2014 billboard promoting peace and her exhibit at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW in Fort Myers, Florida. Photo by Dawniraci/Wikimedia Commons

Ono produced movies during her time in London. Her most memorable production is a series of closely shot human buttocks titled No.4 (Bottoms).

This 1967 production shows human buttocks moving up and down as artists walk on an unseen treadmill. The popularity of the movie only grew due to its controversy which made Ono the ‘high priestess of the happening’.

10. Ono is said to be behind the infamous break-up of The Beatles

Yoko Ono 4 – Echo of Moscow. Photo by
Aleksandr Plyushchev. Flicker/Wikimedia Commons

During The Beatles era, Lennon and Ono formed a different band. Known as ‘Plastic Ono Band, the aim of this band was to create protest songs such as Give Peace a Chance, Instant Karma and Cold Turkey.

Till today, Ono is often accused of infamously breaking up The Beatles. Paul McCartney, one of The Beatles band members, also stated that Lennon became a heroin addict after he met Ono.

Ono however, denies the rumor stating that the albums titled The White Album and Abbey Road may never have been created if she hadn’t ensured Lennon went to the recording sessions.

Even after Lennon’s tragic death, Ono continued with her career in music and art. In 2007, she unveiled the Imagine Peace Tower on Lennon’s birthday at an event which took place at Videy, an island in Iceland.

In 2011, at the age 78 years, Ono’s song ‘Move on Fast’, placed her on the dance charts making her the oldest artist to have number-one hit song. In 2015, the New York Museum of Modern Art held a special exhibition showcasing Ono’s 100 artworks created between 1960 to1971.