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Yoko Ono on John Lennon, Clubbing and War: Give Peace Another Chance

Author: Jonty Adderley
Saturday, April 12, 2003
"Yoko Ono was so important for taking John Lennon from being that Beatle-in-a-suit pop star to becoming the John Lennon that everyone reveres today. She was the one who told him he should do something worthwhile with his fame. She was years ahead of the British public and it's only now, thirty years on, that people are realising, 'Hang on a minute, she was right'."

Crushed amongst the camera crews and clubbers watching Yoko Ono's recent performance at Nag, Nag, Nag, S Express/ superstar DJ Mark Moore admits he was blown away by the 70 year old artist's presence

"In my eyes Yoko is still exactly the same Yoko, she's one of the last of a dying breed," says Mark.

"She's a person who stuck to her convictions and sat out on a limb and I think to myself, 'How many people are sitting out on a limb today-' In most people's eyes she was this weirdo who did strange art and strange music and she had to cope with that mob mentality attitude against a weirdo- let's burn the witch. She was an outsider and underdog in a strange kind of way and they tore her to shreds."

Not at the London club date, but equally enthusiastic about Yoko's legacy is Keir from avant garde electronic experimentalists The Black Dog.

"She should be recognised as one of the world's most accomplished conceptual artists, but she married a guy more famous than her, so she's screwed," he says.

"I think many artists recognise and credit Yoko for her influence and inspiration, though ironically it will probably take decades for this to reach public consciousness, and final media recognition. I doubt this troubles Yoko, though, as with any truly innovative artist she is more concerned with the work than the profile it receives."

For Yoko herself, however, what does concern her beyond her art is the issue that she's become irrevocably linked via some of John Lennon's most popular songs, namely war, or more accurately peace. At the Nag show, she'd been roundly cheered when holding up a placard declaring 'Imagine Peace' and chatting to Skrufff's Jonty Adderley the next day, she's both passionate and fearless.

"We have to keep on protesting and we have to avoid staying at home being scared or just raising your fist in your mind to the politicians," says Yoko.

"They don't care about us, they're not thinking about anyone else, they're thinking about their own ideas and we have to be like that too, instead of just watching the TV news which is fed to us. We have to stop being constantly angry about politicians who don't listen to us. I think we should create our own power, a power from the people, to create a beautiful powerbase internationally. To achieve that, we need to reach out horizontally, not vertically. If we behave in the way of saying 'Daddy, listen to me!' then Daddy will come down on us."

That a 70 year old multi-millionaire born into Japanese royalty has the energy and even inclination to still fight the West's war mongering leaders is pretty impressive, as is her willingness to promote the re-release of her seminal New York club record, Walking On Thin Ice. Recently remixed by superstar producers The Pet Shop Boys, Danny Tenaglia, Felix Da Housecat and Francois K, the 1979 track became one of Larry Levan's anthems at the Paradise Garage, ironically during the period Yoko herself stayed away from clubs, as she mourned the 1980 murder of John Lennon. Two decades on, though, she's as happy to talk about John as she is her renewed love of clubbing.

"Club culture is it; it's the only thing that's really alive, in a way. People dance and they connect with their bodies through dancing, which is so important- body to body.

Skrufff (Jonty adderley): What did you make of Nag Nag Nag as a club-

Yoko Ono: "I felt that we connected with the crowd and touched base and it was great. I kept saying give love a chance when I was on stage because I felt that feeling in the club, I felt a big love."

Skrufff: What do you think of toda