L is for Lennon: John and Yoko

Lennon’s lead guitar work on Walking on Thin Ice, which he recorded 8 December 1980, was his final creative act.

JohnandYokoJohn Lennon met Yoko Ono at an art gallery in November 1966. Very soon, the thing that would really bug Paul, George, and Ringo was that SHE was in the studio with John and them; this had been the Beatles’ nexus, but now he’s bringing in his girlfriend?

Her vocals would eventually show up on Beatles songs, notably Revolution 9 from the white album, and the very strange song What’s The New Mary Jane [LISTEN, if you want] which actually never made it onto a legitimate record until the third Beatles Anthology album, released in the 1990s.

They did a number of albums together, including two avant-garde albums called Unfinished Music. Two Virgins had the infamous nude cover; the CD release added the Yoko song Remember Love [LISTEN], the B-side to the Plastic Ono Band single, Give Peace A Chance [LISTEN].

The Life with the Lions, which corresponded with Yoko’s miscarriage, also had extra material for the CD release. This was followed by The Wedding Album, with side 1 filled with John yelling “Yoko!” and Yoko screaming, “John!”; at least side two was an informative interview.

Live Peace In Toronto was interesting, with Eric Clapton and “Revolver” cover artist Klaus Voorman playing with John. Side two was all Yoko, mostly experimental stuff. LISTEN for yourself to the whole album.

Almost saw John & Yoko at an antiwar demonstration in 1972 or 1973. We had taken a charted bus down from New Paltz, NY to NYC, but we had to get back at the appointed hour. While we were on the bus, still in Manhattan, we heard John on the radio at the rally we had just left only minutes earlier. Speaking of war: Yoko and a bunch of kids appear on Merry Xmas (War is Over) [LISTEN]. Likewise, John regularly appears as guitarist and/or producer on songs she recorded in the 1970s.

They had their famous breakup, the “Lost Weekend”, but got back together in late 1974, then had a son together, Sean, on John’s 35th birthday, October 9, 1975.

When John decided to go back into recording in 1980, Yoko was inarguably an equal musical partner, with their songs alternating on Double Fantasy and the album after John’s death, Milk and Honey. No song better reflects, for me, John’s evolution as a person than Woman, from the former album.

Perhaps my favorite Yoko song is Walking on Thin Ice:

Released in 1981. She and John Lennon concluded the recording of the song on December 8, 1980. It was upon their return from the recording studio to The Dakota (their home in New York City) that Lennon was murdered… Lennon was clutching a tape of a final mix when he was shot.

Lennon’s lead guitar work on the track, which he recorded [that day], was his final creative act.

The B-side was It Happened [LISTEN], which starts with a dialogue between John and Yoko before she sings. Here’s a list, with links, to Yoko’s best songs, including the aforementioned Walking on Thin Ice.

Yoko has continued to record, as well as keep John’s music in the public eye. Sean is a recording artist as well, and I got to see him play a few years back.


ABC Wednesday – Round 14