John Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono changed the course of The Beatles forever.
Although the impact of Oko’s arrival on the group has been widely documented over the years, the actual relationship between Oko and the other three members of the band is still relatively unknown to many.
Yoko’s first interaction with any of The Beatles was with Paul.
McCartney and Oko were both part of London’s then-thriving avant-garde scene in 1966.
Eager for some Beatles merchandise, Ono approached McCartney hoping he’d deliver some handwritten lyrics to her.
McCartney refused. However, he directed Ono to John Lennon saying that he may accept Ono’s request. Lennon obliged, and gave Ono the handwritten lyrics to the 1965 song The Word featured on the Rubber Soul album.
There have been reports stating that Ono was originally pursuing Paul for a romantic relationship but this remains pure speculation.
Yoko Ono’s Influence on John
Of course, Yoko Ono had the biggest influence on John Lennon.
After their first meeting, a courtship soon developed between the two that culminated in them ”making love at dawn” after recording the Two Virgins album in 1968.
Lennon was still married to Cynthia Powell at the time and his romance with Oko came at the expense of his marriage.
A Guiding Voice
Within the context of The Beatles, Ono’s influence on John was enormous. She was allowed to sit in on Beatles recording sessions and was even allowed to input her own opinions to the music and recording processes.
Lennon was transifxed by the young Japanese artist. To him, Ono was the guiding voice of reason that had long been missing from his life. After losing his mother at a young age, the young Lennon was thrust into worldwide fame without any direction.
It was Ono’s guidance that persuaded John to let her run virtually every area of his life. His finances, appearances, and songwriting content were all overseen by Ono.
A Passionate Presence
Everything about John Lennon changed after he met Yoko Ono.
His appearance, once slightly chubby and well-dressed, changed to a long-haired, slender Hippie as he embraced ‘bed-ins for peace’ and hard drug use.
Lennon’s songwriting also changed significantly. Gone were autobiographical songs such as Help and Nowhere Man and in were peace-embracing anthems Give Peace a Chance and Imagine.
Yoko Ono was truly the muse of John Lennon’s creative voice during the last 11 years of his life. Although not universally loved by all, it can’t be disputed that her influence on John Lennon’s life was unprecedented.
A Changed Man
After the birth of Sean Lennon in 1975, John Lennon retired from music and spent the next five years at home looking after him.
This housebound, fatherly John Lennon was a far cry from the young man who recklessly toured the bars of Hamburg and Liverpool some 15 years before. This is more evidence of the impact Yoko Ono had on him as the thought of Lennon doing this kind of routine previously was almost unthinkable.
As Sean got older, John began to miss music and it was only after Yoko’s blessing that he got permission to return to the studio in 1980 to record a new album.
A Tragic Ending
After collaborating with Ono on the new Double Fantasy album, Lennon embarked on a press tour to promote the album.
The pair were interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine on December 8, 1980, where the couple seemed to be as happy as ever.
Tragedy, however, was only a few hours away. After a recording session that evening, John Lennon was murdered in front of his New York City home by Mark David Chapman.
John Lennon’s short life was perhaps most influenced by Yoko Ono. Her guidance, along with his extreme love for her, came to define the latter period of his time on Earth.
Yoko’s Legacy on John
No Beatle, of course, was more influenced by Yoko Ono than him. Her impact on the group was felt shortly after her arrival and has become the stuff of legend with music fans all over the world.
In order to fully assess her influence on The Beatles, we must look at her interactions with the other three members and investigate how her sudden introduction in the middle of the group impacted the already fragile nature of the band.
After John Lennon, the Beatle who spend the most time around Yoko Ono was Paul McCartney. Their relationship, including their famous feud, is a very important one in the story of the Fab Four.
Paul’s Relationship With Yoko Ono
By all accounts, Paul McCartney’s relationship with Yoko Ono was a tumultuous one.
A Rivalry Begins
After her relationship with John Lennon started in 1968, Ono was a regular presence in The Beatles’ recording sessions.
Her appearcnes started to aggravate McCartney as he was extremely privy to Beatles material and didn’t want anybody not actively involved the the band attending recording sessions.
Paul has since gone on record to say that he began to feel a touch of resentment to Ono during this time period. In an interview with CNN, Paul stated ”we weren’t sexist, but girls didn’t come into the studio.”
McCartney felt as if his creative side was hindered by the attendance of outsiders in the studio. Ono may have been John’s partner, but she was not a member of The Beatles. As difficult as McCartney found Ono during this time, their relationship would only get worse.
A Rivalry Continued
Many years after John Lennon’s death, a Beatles compilation album named Anthology was released and it led to yet another chapter in the Oko/McCartney feud.
An attempt to get the billing of some of the album’s songs changed from Lennon-McCartney to McCartney-Lennon was thwarted by Ono who argued that her ex-husband was not around to speak for himself regarding the credit.
McCartney was furious at Oko’s objection, stating the she was getting involved in events that transpired long before she was introduced to the band.
The Silver Lining
Despite the hostility and bad blood between Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney, their relationship has not been without its highlights.
In 1973, Ono and Lennon were going through a serious rough patch and were on the verge of breaking up. According to Ono, both Paul and Linda McCartney visited her to ask how John could win back her love.
When Ono told McCartney that she wanted John to court her again, Paul flew to Los Angeles in order to tell John.
The couple were reunited shortly after Paul’s LA visit.
These days, the relationship between Ono and McCartney remains amicable. McCartney told a Rolling Stone reporter in 2013 that he no longer harbored any malice towards her.
”If John loved her, there’s got to be something. He’s not stupid.”
Although the two aren’t friends, they at least respect each other nowadays.
Yoko’s Relationship With George Harrison
Bad Vibes and Fistfights
Perhaps the strongest relationship within The Beatles belonged to John Lennon and George Harrison.
George’s laid back persona perfectly meshed with the outspoken, confident Lennon, and it was this dichotomy that led to a burgeoning relationship in the mid-60s. The two musicians regularly indulged in LSD trips to the envy of Starr and McCartney.
Therefore, when Yoko Ono entered the picture in 1968, Harrison was hardly over the moon. An infamous incident where George said Yoko had ”bad vibes” to her face enraged Lennon.
The two engaged in a row that apparently resulted in a fistfight, although this remains unconfirmed. The dispute did ,however, lead to Harrison walking about of the band and being replaced with Eric Clapton.
Perhaps the most infamous instance of George Harrison losing his temper came when Yoko Ono helped herself to his biscuit supply lying on his amp.
A bed was constructed at Abbey Road studios for Ono to use as she relaxed during the band’s recording sessions. Both Ono and Lennon had been involved in a car accident that apparently injured both of them severely. However, when Oko arose from her bed to eat some of Harrison’s biscuits, he erupted in anger.
Harrison considered Ono’s free movement proof that she wasn’t really injured and the bed was a mere ruse she had constructed for attention. There are reports of Harrison calling Ono ”a bitch” before storming out of the recording session although this, again, is not confirmed.
Ono’s constant presence and disrespectful attitude played an integral part in Harrison’s leaving of The Beatles. Fed up with her arrogance and attention-seeking, Harrison left the band in 1969.
His dislike for Ono along with his burgeoning songwriting pursuits was enough motivation for George to be the first Beatle to release his own solo album, which he achieved with his 1971 album All Things Must Pass.
That same year, Harrison was interviewed on the Dick Cavett Show where he referred to Lennon and Ono as ”good friends of mine”, suggesting that some of the animosity between the trio had calmed down a bit.
However, Harrison never fully warmed up to Yoko Ono the same way Paul did. He was, however, understandably devastated following John Lennon’s senseless 1980 murder.
After Lennon’s death, George became estranged and reclusive from The Beatles, and likely did not speak to Ono much at all up until his own death in 2001.
Perhap’s Yoko Ono’s biggest nemesis in The Beatles was George Harrison. Their dislike for each other was influential in the band’s break up, and they likely did not correspond much after that.
Yoko’s Relationship with Ringo Starr
With the large egos of Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison in full-swing in the late stages of The Beatles’ career, the soft-spoken and peaceful Ringo Starr is often overlooked.
There aren’t many accounts of interactions between Starr and Ono during this time as most of the issues within the band centered around this aforementioned trio.
Starr’s reputation as the most approachable and friendly of all The Beatles was quickly affirmed by Ono. There are no records to suggest they ever had a major fallout and no proof of any bad blood between the pair has ever surfaced.
Ono went on to say that Starr was ”the most influential of all The Beatles” due to his embodiment of the peace and love manifesto that encapsulated the 1960s.
Recently, the two joined Sir Paul McCartney to lead a tribute to John Lennon who was murdered 40 years ago this December.
Yoko’s Influence On The Beatles After the Split
Yoko Ono Wasn’t The Main Reason For the Break-Up
The problems in The Beatles had been slowly manifesting for a number of years.
After the band quit touring in 1966 following Lennon’s ”bigger than Jesus” remark, the group began to slowly and steadily lose cohesion and disagreements within the Fab Four got more and more common.
To say that Yoko Ono was the sole reason why The Beatles split up is both revisionist and overly-assumptive. Sure, her presence didn’t help matters, but the decline of the band was inevitable.
Being so famous for so long would put an enormous pressure on any group. It was only a matter of time before The Beatles outgrew eachother and starting pursuing other things.
Yoko Ono Today
None of the fierce animosty that existed between Yoko Ono and The Beatles survives today.
With George gone and Paul burying the hatchet with her, there is no reason to suggest that she is disliked by any of the members.
Today, Ono dedicates herself to both the pursuit of world peace and containing the immense legacy of her late husband. Both issues are in alignment with McCartney and Starr’s values.
Fifty years have passed since the most famous band break-up of all time. With all of those involved with The Beatles now entering old-age, any resentment within the inner circle is futile.
Yoko Ono now has relationships with the two surviving members that are at least cordial and it is unlikely that any bad blood will ever surface again.