John Lennon: Son Julian discusses Yoko Ono in 1999
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The Beatles split up in 1970 after they released their 13th and final album, Let It Be. Behind the scenes, the members of the band were at one another’s throats, as disagreements continued to spiral out of control, but the blame was pointed mainly at John Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono (who turns 90-years-old this week on February 18, 2023). Lennon had a different perspective of the band’s end, however.
Lennon first met Ono in 1966 while he was still married to his first wife, Cynthia Lennon. In the months that followed, Lennon and Ono fell in love and began a secret relationship behind closed doors. In 1968, Lennon divorced Cynthia, and a year later, in 1969, he married Ono.
The couple spent all of their time together, including when The Beatles were recording their albums. This became a point of contention for the likes of Paul McCartney and George Harrison – but Lennon argued their disdain was more aimed towards him.
Speaking on the Dick Cavett Show in 1971, Lennon said: “[Ono] didn’t split the Beatles … The Beatles were drifting apart on their own.”
He then opened up about how things between the band were not as pleasant as they may have seemed.
“Everything’s fun off and on, you know?” Lennon explained. “So, I suppose it could have gone on being fun off and on or it could have gone worse. I don’t know.”
He also referred back to an interview he gave back in 1965, where he revealed how he was already looking forward to not singing Beatles songs anymore.
Lennon recalled: “I said that I didn’t want to be singing ‘She Loves You’ when I’m 30. I said that when I was about 25 or something, which in a roundabout way meant that I wouldn’t be doing whatever I was doing then.”
The Imagine singer was not the only person who (eventually) believed Ono had nothing to do with The Beatles’ split.
McCartney was an intense critic of Ono when she first arrived on the scene – but he changed his tune. Macca said, at that time in Lennon’s life, he “needed” Ono. Even though the band “thought she was intrusive because she used to sit in on the recording sessions and we’d never had anything like that”.
But, looking back on it, McCartney saw Lennon and Ono’s relationship for what it really was: “The guy was totally in love with her. And you’ve just got to respect that. So we did. And I do.”
He added: “John needed to give space to his and Yoko’s thing. Someone like John would want to end The Beatles period and start the Yoko period, and he wouldn’t like either to interfere with the other.”
Lennon and Ono remained together as husband and wife until December 8, 1980 when the former was murdered.
After spending the day with his wife, Lennon was shot outside his home, The Dakota Apartments, in New York City, by crazed fan Mark David Chapman.
Ono released a statement shortly after Lennon’s death, which read: “There is no funeral for John. Later in the week we will set the time for a silent vigil to pray for his soul. We invite you to participate from wherever you are at the time … John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him. Love. Yoko and Sean.”
Harrison also released a statement that read: “After all we went through together, I had and still have great love and respect for him. I am shocked and stunned. To rob a life is the ultimate robbery in life. The perpetual encroachment on other people’s space is taken to the limit with the use of a gun. It is an outrage that people can take other people’s lives when they obviously haven’t got their own lives in order.”
McCartney agreed: “I can’t take it at the moment. John was a great man who’ll be remembered for his unique contributions to art, music and peace. He is going to be missed by the whole world.”
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