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Yoko Ono's Candid Introspection At The Grammy Museum

By Mike Palecki
Published: Tuesday, October 05, 2010, at 01:31PM
Yoko Ono at the Grammy Museum Becky Sapp / WireImage

Yoko Ono talks with Grammy Museum director Robert Santelli during Sunday's event at the museum.

Following a weekend of concerts in Downtown Los Angeles, Yoko Ono slowed the pace at the Grammy Museum on Sunday, taking time to be introspective in an interview with museum director Robert Santelli.

Ono was at the museum for the opening of its "John Lennon, Songwriter" exhibit, which she curated. After a members preview in the afternoon, she spent an intimate evening with 200 guests in the Clive Davis Theater discussing the life and legacy of John Lennon.

As the author of more than a dozen books on American music and one of the original curators of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Santelli knew exactly what questions to ask Ono and solicit candid and frank responses.

The million dollar question of the decades was one on everyone’s mind, though, as Santelli queried Ono on her meeting and courtship of John Lennon.

As a successful performance artist in New York City, Yoko had been invited to London by art critics for a one woman show. Little did she know that while she involved herself in separate performance acts and prepared for the gallery exhibition, Lennon had been watching her from a distance and was quite smitten.

“I was an elitist, focused on my career and knew little about the ‘mop heads,’ other than reading a small article about them from a Japanese newspaper," Yoko confessed to Santelli. On the day of her London opening, in spite of clear directives that “No one be admitted to the show until I have finalized everything, there was John Lennon standing in the gallery looking at my white block of wood, with nothing on it”.

She continued, “You have to understand, a lot of my works are conceptual ideas to be executed later, with no clear monetary value intrinsic to the art on display. And so, I decided to charge admission to the show, but John had no money with him. He didn’t need money. He was famous and everything he wanted was paid for later by his manager”.

“And then John wanted to commission me to build my 'Light Tower' in his garden, but I didn’t know what to say, because it was just an idea”.

Following that, Yoko described a pivotal moment in which Lennon grabbed her “Fresh Apple” from a pedestal and took a bite.

“He kind of got the message that I was not happy and put it back," she exclaimed. "However, in my mind I was thinking he was fairly attractive and wouldn’t mind having an affair with him. But I just let it go”. Sometime later she said, "John invited me to a party-but I was the only guest.”

From those disclosures, it finally became clear who initiated the historic romance and what inspired the logo for the Beatles' Apple Records.

“An Evening With Yoko Ono,” along with 62 other presentations sponsored by American Express, can be viewed at the Grammy Museum. In time, they will become available to the public for purchase as DVDs.

In the meantime, the John Lennon exhibit at the Grammy Museum opened to the public on Monday and PBS's “John Lennon NYC” will be televised soon, filling in all the blanks and answering most of the questions germane to the rock and roll legend who would have turned 70 on October 9.

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