Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Yoko Ono’s musical legacy and share your personal memories of her with us in the comments below!
Born: February 18, 1933
Biography: Few women in the history of rock & roll have stirred as much controversy as Yoko Ono. Although her romance with John Lennon was hardly the only factor straining the relationships between the individual Beatles, she made a convenient scapegoat for the group's breakup, and was repeatedly raked over the coals in the media for the influence she held over Lennon, both in his life and his music. Ono's own work as an artist and musician didn't mitigate the public's enmity toward her; to the average man on the street, her avant-garde conceptual art seemed bizarre and ridiculous, and her highly experimental rock & roll (which often spotlighted her primal vocals) was simply too abrasive to tolerate. That view wasn't necessarily universal (or true), and in fact the merits of her work are still hotly debated. Regardless of individual opinion, Ono has left a lasting legacy; she was an undeniably seminal figure in the history of performance art, and elements of her music prefigured the arty sides of punk and new wave (whether she was a direct influence is still debated, although the B-52's did admit to drawing from her early records). Moreover, between Lennon's assassination and the myriad drubbings she's taken in the press and the court of public opinion, an alternate portrait of Ono as a strong, uncompromising survivor has emerged in more recent years.
Although her link with John Lennon will always be foremost in the public's mind, Ono's own life story is fascinating in its own right. She was born February 18, 1933, into a wealthy Japanese family in Tokyo. Her childhood was somewhat lonely and isolated; her father, a banker and onetime classical pianist, was transferred to San Francisco a few weeks before she was born, and her socialite mother was often busy throwing elaborate parties. She didn't meet her father until age two, when the whole family moved to San Francisco. However, they returned to Tokyo three years later to avoid the anti-Japanese backlash that was beginning in the United States in response to Japan's growing military expansionism. Ono was educated at the Gakushuin School, the most exclusive private school in Japan (the Emperor's sons were her classmates). She began classical piano lessons at a very young age, and later received vocal training in opera. In 1945, her mother took the family to the countryside to escape Tokyo, in time to survive the massive Allied bombing of the city; however, rich city dwellers were unwelcome, and the Ono children were often forced to beg for food. [Read more via AllMusic here]
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