YOKO ONO Biography - Other artists & entretainers


Biography » other artists entretainers » yoko ono


Name: Yoko Ono Lennon                                                                   
Birth name: Yoko Ono                                                                     
Born: 18 February 1933 Tokyo, Japan                                                     
Yoko Ono Lennon (born February 18, 1933),                                               
is a Japanese artist and musician. She is known for her work as avant-garde             
artist and musician and her marriage and works with English musician John Lennon.       
She currently lives in New York City.                                                   
Ono was born in 1933. Her mother was Isoko Ono, of the Yasuda banking family,           
and her father was Eisuke Ono, who worked for the Yokohama Specie Bank. Two             
weeks before she was born, her father was transferred to San Francisco. The rest         
of the family followed soon after. In 1937, her father was transferred back to           
Japan and Ono was enrolled at Tokyo's Peers' School, the most exclusive school           
in Japan, open only to those descended from aristocrats (in the House of Peers)         
or the imperial family.                                                                 
In 1940, the family moved to New York where Ono's father was working. In 1941,           
her father was transferred to Hanoi and the family returned to Japan. Ono was           
then enrolled in an exclusive Christian primary school run by the Mitsui family.         
She remained in Tokyo through the great fire-bombing of March 9, 1945. During           
the fire-bombing, she was sheltered with other members of her family in a               
special bunker in the Azabu district of Tokyo, far from the heavy bombing. After         
the bombing, Ono went to the Karuizawa mountain resort with members of her               
family. The younger members of the imperial family were sent to the same resort         
Ono has said that she and her family were forced to beg for food while pulling           
their belongings in a wheelbarrow; and it was during this period in her life             
that Ono says she developed her "aggressive" attitude and understanding of "outsider"   
status when children taunted her and her brother, who were once well-to-do.             
Other stories have her mother bringing a large amount of property with them to           
the countryside which they bartered for food. One often quoted story has her             
mother bartering a German-made sewing machine for sixty kilograms of rice with           
which to feed the family. Her father remained in the city and, unbeknownst to           
them, was eventually incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in China. In an             
interview by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman on October 16, 2007, Ono said of her           
father "He was in French Indo-China which is Vietnam actually...in Saigon. He           
was in a concentration camp."                                                           
By April 1946, the Peers' school was reopened and Ono was enrolled. The school,         
located near the imperial palace, had not been damaged by the war. She graduated         
in 1951 and was accepted into the philosophy program of Peers' University, the           
first woman ever to be accepted into that department of the exclusive university.       
But after two semesters, she left the school.                                           
Ono's family moved to Scarsdale in the suburbs of New York City after the war.           
She left Japan to rejoin the family and enrolled in nearby Sarah Lawrence               
College. While her parents approved of her college choice, they were dismayed at         
her lifestyle, and, according to Ono, chastised her for befriending people they         
considered to be "beneath" her. In spite of this, Ono loved meeting artists,             
poets and others who represented the "Bohemian" freedom she longed for herself.         
Visiting galleries and art "happenings" in the city whetted her desire to               
publicly display her own artistic endeavors. La Monte Young, her first important         
contact in the New York art world, helped Ono start her career by using her             
Lower East Side loft as a concert hall. At one concert, Ono set a painting on           
fire; fortunately John Cage had advised her to treat the paper with flame               
In 1956, she married composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. They divorced in 1962 after             
living apart for several years. On November 28 that same year, Ono married               
American Anthony Cox. Cox was a jazz musician, film producer and art promoter.           
He had heard of Ono in New York and tracked her down to a mental institution in         
Japan, where her family had placed her following a suicide attempt.                     
Their marriage was annulled on March 1, 1963 (Ono having neglected to finalize           
her divorce from Ichiyanagi first); they re-married on June 6, and finally               
divorced on February 2, 1969. Their daughter, Kyoko Chan Cox, was born on August         
8, 1963. The marriage quickly fell apart (as observers describe Tony and Ono             
threatening each other with kitchen knives) but the Coxes stayed together for           
the sake of their joint career. They performed at Tokyo's Sogetsu Hall with Ono         
lying atop a piano played by John Cage. Soon the Coxes returned to New York with         
In the early years of this marriage, Ono left most of Kyoko's parenting to Cox           
while she pursued her art full-time and Tony managed publicity. After she left           
Cox for John Lennon, Ono and Cox engaged in a bitter legal battle for custody of         
Kyoko, which resulted in Ono being awarded full custody. However, in 1971, Cox           
disappeared with eight-year-old Kyoko, in violation of the custody order. Cox           
subsequently became a Christian and raised Kyoko in a Christian group known as           
the Church of the Living Word (or "the Walk"). Cox left the group with Kyoko in         
1977. Living an underground existence, Cox changed the girl's name to Rosemary.         
In 1980, Cox and Kyoko sent a sympathy message to Ono after the death of John           
Lennon. Afterward, the bitterness between the parents lessened slightly and Ono         
publicly announced in People Magazine that she would no longer seek out the now-adult   
Kyoko but still wished to make contact with her.                                         
Ono and Kyoko were finally reunited in 1994. Kyoko lives quietly in Colorado and         
avoids publicity.