Yoko Ono

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About Yoko Ono

Groundbreaking avant-garde icon, unrelenting advocate for peace, visionary artist across media—Yoko Ono has remained a singular creative voice since she became a public figure in the ‘60s. Born in 1933 in Tokyo, where she began her classical training in piano and voice, Ono left Japan’s biggest city—where she survived WWII firebombs—in 1945, moved to the U.S. in 1953, and settled in New York City in the ‘60s. She had established herself as a trailblazing experimental artist by the time she met John Lennon, her eventual husband and primary musical collaborator. Her work with Lennon, including her boundary-expanding influence on his late-era Beatles work, pushed against convention, most notably for its activism, like 1969’s protest-ready “Give Peace a Chance,” but also for its intimacy: 1968’s delicate hotel-bedroom recording “Remember Love” is so bare that it feels like listening in on a whispered secret. A defiant current, often turbocharged by her singing styles, runs through Ono’s solo work, by turns ballistic (1970’s sensory overloader “Why”), ferocious (1973’s booming “Woman Power”), and hopeful, like her folky 1973 song “Now or Never,” a scathing indictment of American injustices. Just a couple months after Lennon’s murder in December 1980, Ono released the song on the tape he had been holding when he was shot—“Walking On Thin Ice”—which became her first and only pop hit in 1981. Ono’s ability to cross genres while remaining wholly herself has also inspired countless composers, noise merchants, and riot grrrls alike, and two remix records featuring acolyte collaborators backing her singing (2007’s Yes, I’m a Witch and 2016’s Yes, I’m a Witch Too) prove not only a fitting tribute to her wide-reaching influence, but also an apt avenue for her message to pursue peace and love to resonate with new generations.

Tokyo, Japan
February 18, 1933
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