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  • Yoko Ono onstage at the 2005 Meltdown Festival in London photographed by Mark Mawston

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono is a renowned Japanese multimedia artist, musician, filmmaker, and peace activist who was a pioneer of performance art in the 1960s and who became internationally famous as the wife and artistic partner of John Lennon.

Yoko Ono was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1933 and moved to New York in the mid-50s with her family, where she studied writing and music at Sarah Lawrence College. Over the next few years, she travelled between New York, London, and Tokyo, and highly influenced the Fluxus and conceptual art scenes. She became the unofficial curator for some of the smaller New York galleries and as her reputation and influence grew she became affectionately known as "The high priestess of happening”.

Following the success of her performance piece Cut Piece, Yoko Ono was invited to hold an exhibition of her work at a London gallery. It was here that she first met John Lennon and in 1968 the two began collaborating on experimental films and recordings. Following Lennon's divorce, the pair married the following year and used their now-famous honeymoon ‘bed-ins’ to promote world peace and protest against the Vietnam War.

In 1969 Yoko Ono collaborated with Lennon to begin a career in popular music with the creation of the Plastic Ono Band. The band featured a rotating line-up of musicians, including Eric Clapton and Keith Moon, plus Lennon's former Beatles bandmates George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Yoko Ono achieved her greatest musical success and received critical acclaim in 1980 with the release of the award-winning album Double Fantasy, a collaboration with John Lennon. The recording included the classic songs Watching the Wheels and (Just Like) Starting Over and was released just three weeks before John Lennon's murder.

Following Lennon’s death, Yoko Ono funded several memorials to her late husband including the Strawberry Field’s Forever Memorial in New York. She also continued to be an ardent campaigner for the arts, peace, and human rights.

During the 21st Century, Yoko Ono has achieved huge success on the US dance charts. Producers and artists, such as the Pet Shop Boys and Basement Jaxx, have remixed tracks from her original avant-garde archive, to create chart hits. Yoko Ono is now one of the most successful dance artists of all time.

Yoko Ono onstage at the 2005 Meltdown Festival in London photographed by Mark Mawston

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono performing at Patti Smith's Meltdown Festival at the Royal Albert Hall, London in June 2005.

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