Ono, Yoko 1933-
ONO, Yoko 1933-
PERSONAL: Born February 18, 1933, in Tokyo, Japan; immigrated to the United States, 1951; daughter of Eisuke and Isoko Ono; married Toshi Ichiyanagi (a composer), 1957 (divorced); married Tony Cox (an artist and filmmaker), 1964 (divorced, 1969); married John Lennon (a singer and songwriter), March 20, 1969 (died, December 8, 1980); companion of Sam Havadtoy; children: (second marriage) Kyoko Chan; (third marriage) Sean Taro Ono Lennon. Education: Attended Gakushuin University and Sarah Lawrence College.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Studio 1, 1 West 72nd St., New York, NY 10023.
CAREER: Artist, actress, musician, director, producer, and screenwriter. Appeared in films, including (as Ito) Satan's Bed (short film; also known as Judas City), Prometheus Ventures/Sam Lake, 1965; (and director, with Tony Cox) Bottoms (also known as Yoko Ono Film No. 4 and No. 4), 1967; (as herself) The Rolling Stones Rock-and-Roll Circus, ABKCO Films, 1968; (and producer and director) Two Virgins, 1968; (and producer and director) Bed-In, 1969; (and producer and director) Apotheosis, 1970; (as herself) The Magic Christian, Commonwealth, 1970; (as herself) Let It Be, United Artists, 1970; Freedom, 1970; Diaries, Notebooks, and Sketches, 1970; (as herself) Dynamite Chicken, Seymour Borde and Associates, 1971; (and producer) Ten for Two, 1971; Superstars in Film Concert, 1971; (and director) Imagine, 1973; (as herself) Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol (documentary), 1982; (as herself; in archive footage; uncredited) The Compleat Beatles, 1982; (as herself) He Stands in a Desert Counting the Seconds of His Life, 1985; (as herself) Imagine: John Lennon (documentary), 1988; (as herself and song performer) Just One Step: The Great Peace March, 1988; (as herself) Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues, 1988; (in archive footage) The 1960s: Music, Memories, and Milestones, 1988; (as herself and song performer, Ten for Two, 1989; Misfits—Thirty Years of Fluxus, Cinnamon Film, 1993; (as herself) The Revenge of the Dead Indians, 1993; (as herself) Jonas in the Desert, Black SUN Flower Filmproductions, 1994; (as herself) Free Tibet, The Shooting Gallery, 1998; and (as herself) Kiss My Grits: The Herstory of Women in Punk and Hard Rock, 2001. Also producer and director of other films, including No. 1, 1966; Eyeblink, 1966; No. 5, 1968; Up Your Legs Forever, 1970; Freedom, 1970; Fly, 1970; The Museum of Modern Art Show, 1971; and Erection, 1971. Appeared in television specials, including (as host) John Lennon and Yoko Ono Present the One-to-One Concert, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1972; Women of the World (also known as Women of Intrigue), syndicated, 1986; An All-Star Celebration Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1986; "John Lennon," Cinemax Vintage Performances, Cinemax, 1988; John and Yoko's Imagine, The Disney Channel, 1990; "John Cage: I Have Nothing to Say and I'm Saying It," American Masters, Public Broadcasting System (PBS), 1990; Michael Jackson . . . the Legend Continues, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1992; The Beatles on E!, E! Entertainment Television, 1995; The Beatles Anthology (documentary), ABC, 1995; (as herself) Intimate Portrait: Yoko Ono, 1995; (as herself) Moonshot—The Spirit of '69, 1999; (as herself; in archive footage) Gimme Some Truth (also known as Gimme Some Truth: The Making of the "Imagine" Album), Bravo, 2000; 100 Greatest Songs of Rock & Roll, VH1, 2000; (as herself) The Beatles Revolution, ABC, 2000; (as herself; and in archive footage) John and Yoko's Year of Peace, 2000; (as herself) The Real Yoko Ono, 2001; Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words & Music, The WB and Turner Network Television (TNT), 2001; and 2001: The Year in Music, VH1, 2001. Guest star as herself on television series, including The Dick Cavett Show; Mad about You (also known as Loved by You), 1995; and The South Bank Show, 1999. Uncredited role in "Slammer & Squire Golf Course World Golf Village," and "Desert Princess," The Sweet Spot, Comedy Central, 2002. Composer of music for films, including Ai (also known as Love), 1962; Fly, 1970; Erection, 1971; Eat Me, 1975; Imagine: John Lennon (documentary), 1988; and Misfits—Thirty Years of Fluxus, Cinnamon Film, 1993. Work on television specials includes the following: composer of music, producer, and director, Rape, 1969; "Mark Morris" (also known as "Dance in America"), Great Performances, PBS, 1986; producer, John Lennon and Yoko Ono Present the One-to-One Concert, ABC, 1972; director and music editor, John and Yoko's Imagine, The Disney Channel, 1990; executive producer and segment director, Gimme Some Truth (also known as Gimme Some Truth: The Making of the "Imagine" Album,) Bravo, 2000; and executive producer, Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music, 2001. Producer, The John Lennon Anthology (4-CD set; contains the albums Ascot, New York City, The Lost Weekend, and Dakota), Capitol, 1998.
AWARDS, HONORS: Grammy Award (with John Lennon), Recording Academy, 1981, for Double Fantasy.
Plastic Ono Band, Apple, 1970.
Fly, Apple, 1971.
Approximately Infinite Universe, Apple, 1973.
Feeling the Space, Apple, 1973.
Season of Glass, Geffen, 1981.
Starpeace, PolyGram, 1985.
Onobox, Rykodisc, 1992.
Blueprint for a Sunrise, Capitol, 2001.
Singles include "Walking on Thin Ice."
ALBUMS WITH JOHN LENNON
Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, Apple, 1968.
Wedding Apple, Apple, 1969.
Live Peace in Toronto, Apple, 1969.
Some Time in New York City, Apple, 1972.
(And producer, with John Lennon and Jack Douglas), Double Fantasy, Geffen, 1980.
Milk and Honey: A Heart Play, Polydor, 1984.
Imagine (soundtrack), 1988.
Bottoms (also known as Yoko Ono Film No. 4), 1967.
No. 5, 1968.
Two Virgins, 1968.
The Museum of Modern Arts Show, 1971.
Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions, introduction by John Lennon, Wunternaum Press (Bellport, NY), 1964, published as Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1971, reprinted, 2000.
A Hole to See the Sky Through, 1971.
(With others) The Trials of Oz (stage production), produced at Anderson Theatre, New York, NY, 1972.
(With others) The Lennon Tapes: John Lennon andYoko Ono in Conversation with Andy Peebles, 6 December 1980 (transcript of a radio special), British Broadcasting Corporation, 1981.
(With John Lennon) Heart Play (Unfinished Dialogue) (taped reading), Polydor, 1983.
(With John Lennon) Reflections and Poetry (taped reading), Silhouette Music, 1984.
(And composer and lyricist) New York Rock (stage production), produced at WPA Theatre, New York, NY, 1994.
(With IMA) Rising (album), 1996.
Author of dedication, Give Peace a Chance: Music and the Struggle for Peace: A Catalog of the Exhibition of the Peace Museum, Chicago, by Marianne Philbin, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 1983; contributor to John Lennon: Summer of 1980, Putnam (New York, NY), 1983; author of personal essays accompanying The John Lennon Anthology (4-CD set; contains albums Ascot, New York City, The Lost Weekend, and Dakota), Capitol, 1998.
SIDELIGHTS: Although she may be best known as the wife of the late Beatle John Lennon, Yoko Ono is an accomplished musician, artist, and author in her own right. As a member of the Fluxus group in the 1960s, Ono achieved some measure of prominence in the avant-garde art world with her paintings, her works of performance art, and her anti-narrative films. The most notable of the latter may be Bottoms, which consists entirely of shots of the bare backsides of 365 different people walking on a treadmill. "The point that we're all human has been made before, but not usually with tongue so literally in cheek," Richard Lacayo commented in Time.
Ono's paintings from the 1960s generally require the participation of the viewer to create the art. Some works consist entirely of instructions to the viewer, such as "Watch the sun until it becomes square" or "Hammer a nail into a piece of glass." (Ono's first book, Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions, was a collection of roughly one hundred such works.) Other "paintings," such as "Painting to See the Room Through" (a piece of screen hung in a doorway) and "Painting to Hammer a Nail Into" (a piece of wood attached to the wall, into which viewers could hammer nails), provided a visual as well as a participatory element. Another of Ono's works which encourages viewer interaction is "Play It by Trust," a chess set with all of the pieces painted white. This makes it impossible for the players to keep track of which piece belongs to whom, forcing them to work together peacefully rather than acting out a war as they would in a normal game of chess.
Ono's most well-known piece of performance art is "Cut Piece," which was performed several times in the mid-1960s. Ono emerged onto the stage, sat down in the classic, subservient pose that was expected of Asian women, and laid a pair of scissors on the stage, encouraging audience members to come forward and snip the clothing off of her. Invariably, the audience did, despite the sense of exploitation and violation that their acts created. "It reveals something scary about us that we are prepared to participate in a work like that," Arthur C. Danto wrote in Nation.
It was an exhibition of Ono's work that led to her meeting Lennon. The first thing that caught his eye as he walked into the gallery was a stepladder begging to be climbed. At the top of the ladder, a canvas hung horizontally just below the ceiling. Using the attached magnifying glass, from the top of the ladder the viewer could see what the canvas contained: a single word, "YES." "So it was positive," Lennon later recalled, as quoted by Danto. "It's a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn't say no or f*** you; it says YES. . . . That 'YES' made me stay."
After Lennon and Ono married, they collaborated on films, performance art, and music. Their best-known joint work may be their Bed-In, a protest for peace staged from hotel room beds in the Netherlands and Canada, but their musical works are also notable. Ono's musical style, which mixes wails, groans, and screams with singing, seemed the antithesis of the Beatles' mass-appeal pop tunes, but in albums such as Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins and Double Fantasy, the fusion worked. The latter album, which featured alternating songs by Ono and Lennon, earned the couple a Grammy award in 1981. Lennon, however, was not there to receive it: he was shot and killed by a mentally ill fan on the sidewalk in front of his and Ono's New York apartment on December 8, 1980.
After fading from the musical and artistic scene by the late 1980s, Ono re-emerged in the late 1990s with an off-Broadway musical, two new albums, and a major retrospective of her artwork, "YES Yoko Ono," which toured in the United States and Asia. Around the same time, a remixed version of Ono's song "Walking on Thin Ice," which had been recorded on the day Lennon was killed, became a dance-club hit.
Ono's musical, New York Rock, "sports many catchy songs and has a strong central cry of 'Stop the violence in America,'" David Sheward explained in Back Stage. The plot, about coping with the violent deaths of family members, is clearly drawn from Ono's own experiences with her husband's death, but she insists that she show is not autobiographical. "While it is unlikely the show would have been staged but for the curiosity value of its author, Ono does have talent," William A. Henry III commented in Time.
The first of Ono's new albums, Rising, pairs Ono's trademark wailing vocals with the music of Ono and Lennon's son Sean Lennon and Sean's rock band, IMA. The album, like all of Ono's work, is eclectic; as Bruce Hainley wrote in Artforum International, "Rising ranges from thrashing, aggressive numbers to bass-sexy danceable grooves, from fusion moments to others that are about as close to ikebana as rock can get."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Schirmer (New York, NY), 2001.
Contemporary Musicians, Volume 11, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Newsmakers 1989, Issue 4, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.
Notable Asian Americans, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1995.
Women Filmmakers and Their Films, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
America's Intelligence Wire, October 24, 2003, interview with Ono.
Art Business News, September, 2002, review of "Yes Yoko Ono," p. 118.
Artforum International, April, 1996, Bruce Hainley, review of Rising, p. 23; October, 1998, Ronald Jones, review of "En Trance" and "Ex It," p. 121; September, 2000, Meghan Dailey, review of "Yes Yoko Ono," p. 49; January, 2001, Martha Schwendener, review of "Yes Yoko Ono," p. 139.
Art in America, February, 2002, J. W. Mahoney, "Transmodern Yoko," pp. 90-95; November, 1993, Michael Duncan, "Yoko Ono at Shoshana Wayne," p. 139; December, 1998, Lilly Wei, "New York: Yoko Ono at Andre Emmerich and Deitch," p. 93.
Back Stage, April 8, 1994, David Sheward, review of New York Rock, p. 52.
Billboard, November 22, 1997, "Lennon/BMI Song Scholarship," p. 100; September 29, 2001, review of Blueprint for a Sunrise, p. 17; January 12, 2002, Michael Paoletta, "Yoko Rising," p. 28; February 22, 2003, Michael Paoletta, review of "Walking on Thin Ice," p. 24.
East West, September, 1989, Francine Rota, review of The Peace Tapes, Volume 1, p. 50.
Entertainment Weekly, April 14, 1995, Jim Farber, review of New York Rock, p. 64; December 15, 1995, Josef Woodard, review of Rising, p. 72; November 5, 1999, Joe Neumaier, "Instant Karma: Something about Yoko Ono Intrigued John Lennon When They Met at an Art Gallery on November 9, 1966," p. 92; October 12, 2001, Jim Farber, review of Blueprint for a Sunrise, p. 88.
Interview, December, 1995, Evelyn McDonnell, interview with Ono, pp. 58-59; April, 2000, Ray Rogers, interview with Ono, p. 66; March, 2001, Kim Gordon, review of "Yes Yoko Ono," p. 108.
Isis, spring, 2002, Cristina DeSalvo, review of DoubleFantasy, p. 52.
Maclean's, November 5, 2001, "A Peace of Ono," p. 59.
Nation, December 18, 2000, Arthur C. Danto, "Yoko Ono," p. 34.
Newsweek, March 18, 1996, Jeff Giles, review of Rising, pp. 64-65.
Newsweek International, August 4, 2003, B. J. Lee, review of "Yes Yoko Ono," p. 50.
New Yorker, May 19, 2003, John Seabrook, interview with Ono, p. 35.
Orlando Business Journal, October 22, 1999, David Kopp, "Reflecting with Yoko on Leadership," p. 35.
Parachute, July-September, 2001, Valerie Lamontagne, review of "Yes Yoko Ono," p. 2.
People, April 2, 1984, review of Milk and Honey, pp. 20-21; October 1, 1984, review of Every Man Has a Woman, pp. 26-27; December 2, 1985, Jeff Jarvis, review of John and Yoko, p. 21, Ralph Novak, review of Starpeace, pp. 33-34; October 8, 1990, David Hiltbrand, review of John and Yoko's Imagine, pp. 10-11; March 28, 1994, Vicki Sheff-Cahan, interview with Ono, pp. 110-113; February 12, 1996, "John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Greatest Love Stories of the Century)," pp. 92-94; January 21, 2002, Kyle Smith, review of Blueprint for a Sunrise, p. 33; March 31, 2003, Steve Dougherty, interview with Ono, p. 97.
Time, January 30, 1984, Jay Cocks, review of Milk and Honey, p. 72; April 11, 1994, William A. Henry, review of New York Rock, p. 76; March 18, 1996, Christopher Farley, concert review, p. 88; October 30, 2000, Richard Lacayo, review of "Yes Yoko Ono," p. 83; May 26, 2003, Josh Tyrangiel, review of "Walking on Thin Ice," p. 71.
Time International, April 28, 2003, Lisa Takeuechi Cullen, interview with Ono, p. 72.
Video Business, October 14, 2002, Ed Grant, review of John and Yoko's Year of Peace, p. 13.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, December, 2002, "Yoko Ono Honors Israeli, Palestinian Artists," p. 39.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (August 27, 2003), "Yoko Ono."*