A Day in the Wife: Yoko Going Strong at 70


Sunday New York Post, February 16, 2003

On Tuesday, Yoko Ono turns 70. Imagine that.

And life could hardly be more hectic for John Lennon's widow.

She plans soon to release a new dance mix of Walking On Thin Ice -- the song Lennon was mixing at the Hit Factory the night he was murdered in 1980 -- which will follow her recent success on the charts with hip new remixes of three of her own songs.

Her acclaimed art show "Yes Yoko Ono" continues to tour the world, she personally manages many aspects of her husband's estate, and later this year she will go to London's Abbey Road Studios to re-mix another Lennon album for re-release as part of her ongoing commitment to maintain his legacy.

When asked what her late husband might think of all this, Ono told The Post, "If he's observing from up there, I'm sure he's proud of me. It's gonna go on and on. This is what I love now, so it's great."

As she turns 70, Ono finds herself in great demand -- professionally and personally.

Family and friends have planned a gala cocktail reception this week at the midtown restaurant Mr. Chow's to mark Ono's birthday. More than 200 guests are expected to attend.

That too shows how much Ono's life has changed.

This is the woman who once was almost universally blamed for breaking up the Beatles and hated by the band's fans for marrying John. Even Lennon once said he could never understand why some people regarded his wife as "the Japanese witch who made me crazy."

As tough as those times were, Ono has no bitterness and is philosophical.

"I think that through that kind of incredible, strange confrontation, people started to understand me," she said.

"I was really in an ivory tower before that, and I didn't know that these things could happen. Being with John, I really connected myself to the world."

It has been 22 years since Lennon was shot outside the Dakota and 35 years since he first musically introduced her to the world on the cover of their Two Virgins album.

In reinventing herself in recent times, Ono is particularly proud she has found a new relevance with dance mixes of her once-controversial songs Open Your Box, Kiss Kiss Kiss and Yang Yang.

"There are still some very severe critics around, but in general I think there's a big turnaround...I'm very thankful about that," Ono said.

"Maybe in the last few years, people have started to enjoy my work. It's really very rewarding.

"Right after John passed away, I think there was that feeling that I was alone and so naturally people were understanding. But this is a different thing."

Ono also continues to reach out to Lennon's fans. Just last week, she gave permission for her husband's childhood home in Liverpool, England, which she bought last year and donated to the National Trust, to be opened for public tours.

Ono said there would be no birthday blues when she turns 70.

"When I turned 60, it didn't bother me at all. And this one doesn't bother me," she said.

"I just want to say to the people who have not yet reached this age...and most of the fans of John Lennon and John and Yoko are younger than me...I want to tell them, it's fine. It's ok. You shouldn't be scared of it. In fact, it gets better."

Copyright © 2003 The New York Post

Read the entire Absolute Elsewhere Interview with Yoko Ono