Continuing our week-long celebrations commemorating John Lennon's 75th birthday, here Yoko Ono recalls their relationship
Yoko had also been writing to Lennon, who returned from Rishikesh, where he had been studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, earlier than expected. It was spring, and John and Yoko were only a taxi ride away from the love affair that would shock the nation – and The Beatles.
There have been stories that both before and after India, Yoko had pursued John relentlessly, arriving at his house unannounced and bombarding him with phonecalls. Yoko has only recently started to address these allegations, replying firmly that it was Lennon who made the running. She tells Uncut that on each and every occasion she visited John at Kenwood, it was at his invitation.
What happened when John came back from India?
“I was in London because of this concert that I did with Ornette Coleman. So one day John called me and said, ‘OK, shall we meet?’ but by then we knew how we were feeling, totally, through the letters. It was at night. He said, ‘Are you coming?’ I said, ‘OK.’ He didn’t have the driver that night, and so he said, ‘Take a taxi.’ I went there, and he was waiting with the change to pay the taxi. And that night we made it.”
You also recorded the music that became Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins…
“Oh yes, of course. John said, ‘We can do two things.’ He was sitting in the living room. ‘One is just sit here and chat, or go up and make music.’ He didn’t mean ‘make music’ in a ‘funny’ way. He really meant make music. [Giggles] I said, ‘Let’s make music.’ I’m not very good at small talk, sitting and chatting. That sounded boring to me. It sounds more exciting to make music. We went in the attic and we made music, and that was Two Virgins.”
Cynthia was abroad at the time. One famous story says that when she came home, she was shocked to find you and John together, and that you were wearing her dressing gown or kimono. Is any of this true?
“That’s a dramatic story. I’m not saying it came from Cynthia. I don’t know who… maybe some writer embellished it or something like that. First of all, the driver and Lil, who was Julian’s nanny – they were reporting to Cynthia all the time. She knew. It was an open thing in a way. She said, ‘I don’t want to come back now.’ The first time that she came, she was with Pattie Boyd’s sister [Jenny] and [Magic] Alex [Mardas] and there was another person. So Cynthia and Alex and Pattie Boyd’s sister and whoever the guy was said they were gonna visit, and they came in from the garden side.
“I immediately tried to sit a little bit further from John, and John said, ‘No, don’t worry about that, it’s OK.’ He just grabbed my hand and we were sitting together, kind of thing. He wanted it that way. I don’t know why. He wasn’t like, ‘My wife is coming, I have to hide the situation.’ Totally not like that. They stayed a while to say ‘hi’, and left from the front door – not in a huff. There was an underlying tension, but we were all civil, like the flower children we were.”
So you weren’t wearing Cynthia’s clothes?
“No, I wasn’t wearing… I was always wearing a kind of Indian shirt, one of those loose, cotton pullovers, and the Indian big pants. And their visit happened in May, immediately after John and I started to live together.”
Things obviously moved very quickly after that first night together. Was it a hard decision to break away from your past lives?
“It wasn’t like that. It was like I was ready to be independent from my marriage and I thought, well, OK then, I would probably live in a loft by myself or something like that. John didn’t like that idea. And so we came together that first time and we finally got together in May – we started living together.”