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Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono is with us. She’s got a new book and a career-spanning exhibition in London.

Yoko Ono, a Japanese born artist, musician and widow of Beatle John Lennon, waves as she speaks at a press conference after receiving the Oskar Kokoschka art price for her artistic and political commitment in Vienna, Austria, on Friday, March 2, 2012. (AP)

Yoko Ono, a Japanese born artist, musician and widow of Beatle John Lennon, waves as she speaks at a press conference after receiving the Oskar Kokoschka art price for her artistic and political commitment in Vienna, Austria, on Friday, March 2, 2012. (AP)

Yoko Ono became instantly, globally famous when she appeared at the side of John Lennon at the height of his fame with The Beatles.  The Beatles, Lennon, were epically revered.  Yoko Ono was something new.  They were pop.  She was Dada.  A challengingly conceptual artist.

With a personal history few knew or understood.  Then came life and death – Lennon’s.  Her own remarkable life in art and activism.  Peace activism above all.  At almost 80, Yoko Ono’s still performing, with Sonic Youth and much more.  And still challenging.

This hour, On Point:  a conversation with Yoko Ono.

-Tom Ashbrook


Yoko Ono, multiple-award-winning artist, musician, author and activist. Her book is An Invisible Flower. “Yoko Ono: To The Light,” a major exhibition of Ono’s work is currently showing at London’s Serpentine Gallery through September.

C-Segment: Nora Ephron

We remember the iconic writer/director Nora Ephron. She died yesterday at 71. She sat down with us in 2006.

From Tom’s Reading List

Bloomberg “Her exhibition “To the Light,” at the Serpentine Gallery in London, will probably attract far more visitors than you might expect for a mini-retrospective by a 79-year-old pioneer of conceptual art.”

The Guardian “As part of the artist’s digital takeover, we asked you to send Yoko Ono your smiles. Here are a selection of the best grins from around the globe uploaded on Twitter this week”


“Healing” Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band
“Nobody Sees Me Like You Do” Yoko Ono
“Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins” John Lennon and Yoko Ono
“Early In The Morning” Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon
“Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him” John Lennon and Yoko Ono
“Between My Head And the Sky” Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band
“Walking on Thin Ice” Yoko Ono, remixed by Jason Pierce

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  • Little Johnny B.

    Don’t forget to ask Ms.Ono on what prompted her to introduce heroin to her then new boyfriend and future husband John Lennon…

    • JGC

      Ouch! No class.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=706086954 Christ Devos

      Just no respect is this !!

    • jim

      seriously… do you think John Lennon music would be so good and legendary without the experiment of drugs?

      c’mon.. we are talking about the 60s.. i guess you were just bornt? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003854179878 Orange Sunshine

      John was heavily and enthusiastically into many drugs before he met Yoko.  Your question/comment sounds like an accusation.

  • JGC

    Hey Yoko,

    Our family went to the Montreal Beaux Arts exhibition of “Imagine: the Peace Ballad of John and Yoko” a few years ago.  Our kids were still pretty young at the time: they were bemused by the Bed in the gallery, central to the John and Yoko Bed-In (upon which anyone could sit and reflect on the surroundings); they waited impatiently for their turns at the piano and to sit at the long white chess table; and they wrote their young wishes to hang on the Peace Tree.

    A memorable and contemplative day for our family.  Thank you.  

  • Victor Vito

    Gonna be a rough day in the comment section…

    I’ll give Yoko Ono credit.  She could easily have put away her career and raised her kids and lived out her life fairly anonymously.  She never did.  She has pursued her craft amid all the hard feelings and criticism she has experienced over the years.

  • Quadraticus

    Yoko Ono, most famous for marrying John Lennon. Remind me again why anyone should care otherwise? Zzzzz…

    • JGC

      Because she is a fascinating performance artist pioneer, with an interesting personal history, even respected in her own right, well before meeting John Lennon.

      Because at the age of 79, she is still making visual commentary, expanding the minds of people and breaking down barriers of age, race and sex.

      Go back to sleep, Quadraticus, sweet dreams…  

    • JustSomeLonelyGal

       As an artist, Yoko Ono was way ahead of her time. Her music was avant garde and punk before those terms even existed. People would boo her when she performed in the early days – before even meeting John Lennon. Then, lo and behold, some twenty-five years later, her style of music became popular and ‘edgy’. Like it or not, her art influenced countless others.

      • Quadraticus

        All stipulated, but lots of groundbreaking artists are forgotten completely: the only reason we’re still talking about Yoko Ono and not any of the others (Pietro Grossi, anyone?) is that she married John Lennon and they didn’t.

        This whole situation reminds me of that Family Guy cut scene where, in an alternate reality, Kurt Cobain doesn’t kill himself, introduces his wife Courtney Love to some friends, and they say, “Courtney Who?”

  • Chris B

    No reflection on Yoko, but that photo just looks too much like the cover of Trout Mask Replica.

    • http://www.facebook.com/charlesfaris Charles Faris

      Magic mirror!

      • Chris B

         :)) Much better that than, “separated at birth”!

  • Johan d.

    Please thank Ms. Ono for being the inspiration behind John Lennon’s beautiful song “Oh Yoko!”  It’s right up there with “Imagine” and “Happy X-mas (War Is Over)” for me.

  • Bobbie

    I’d like to know why she considers screaming an art form?

  • Beth, Mansfield, CT

    When I started studying feminist art, and performance art, Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece was one of the most powerful uses of audience participation…I still get a shiver when I think about the concept of that piece and only wish I had been born to see it performed. The image of Ono sitting, wild woman hair and demure look down, is one that I think of often.

    Thank you Yoko!

  • Walter Benda

    Yoko was a victim of international child abduction when her daughter, Kyoko, was abducted by her American husband, and she was out of her life for 23 years.  International child abduction is a big issue between the U.S. and Japan.  I would like to know Yoko’s feelings about this and any advise she has for parents whose children have been internationally abducted.

  • Adhesq

    The creative spirit is being kept alive by the John Lennon Educational bus that Yoko helps fund.  It can come to a school near you. For more info, see

  • Cindy

    My favorite part of your interview with Yoko Ono besides the obvious was that it brought out such sweetness in Tom Ashbrook who I love (don’t get me wrong) but I perceive as a tough guy. Tom you were so endearingly sweet. Nice touch.   

    • JGC

      Funny thing, perception! I don’t perceive Tom Ashbrook as a tough guy; just a regular guy who is able to balance left brain/right brain as the task requires.  Yes, it was a very good interview.  

      A little while back, Tom interviewed that prickly pear Billy Bob Thornton, and I had trepidation before the program, but Tom was able to elicit another fine, considered hour with his guest. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001436729213 Wes Nickerson

    What was said during the program about John’s opinion of Maharishi was misleading. As I understand it Ringo left TM because he didn’t like the food. John left TM because he felt betrayed by the hypocrisy of Maharishi, who claimed to be celibate while engaging in sex with his female followers. For more on the many loves of Maharishi please see the book, “Robes of Silk, Feet of Clay” by Judith Bourque.


    John wrote Sexy Sadie to express his anger toward Maharishi, “Sexy Sadie (Maharishi), what have you done? You’ve made a fool of every one. Sexy Sadie, you’ll get yours yet. However big you think you are.” George convinced John to change the name Maharishi to Sexy Sadie.

  • Gregg

    I remember watching John and Yoko on the Mike Douglas Show calling random people out of the phone book and telling them “I love you”. It was a little creepy …but cool. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001436729213 Wes Nickerson

    Yoko and John complimented each other in their relationship and in the Plastic Ono Band. Their energies created balance and harmony. Similarly, John and Paul complimented each other in the Beatles. I miss the energy that John brought to the music and to the political culture. Code Pink and Occupy express some of that creative political theater today.

  • Unreal

    Did you hear that tune with Sonic Youth? What the hell was that? Oh wait, it was Yoko yet again choking on a cat. This is art? Did I miss a meeting?

  • jm

    Although their relationship was complex on several levels, I believe John & Yoko loved each other. What I don’t believe is Yoko didn’t know who John was during their initial meeting at the art gallery in 1966. He was a member of the Beatles, world famous and a household name.Who didn’t know of John, Paul, George and Ringo!

  • starumbra

    Many artists create in their younger years then live on those accolades of their early creations. Yoko keeps exploring her creative self. Three cheers for a woman who doesn’t stop creating.

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