Why Yoko Ono once performed backup vocals for "Rock Lobster" onstage with The B-52's

In February 2002, Yoko Ono took the stage with the B-52's during a New York performance of "Rock Lobster." The story about how she got there is fascinating and I'm surprised this is the first time I'm hearing of it. It begins in June 1980 when John Lennon heard the song and was inspired to start making music again after a long creative lull. The song's unusual backing vocals reminded him of Yoko Ono's style.

John Lennon, in a 1980 Rolling Stone interview:

"I was at a dance club one night in Bermuda... Upstairs, they were playing disco, and downstairs, I suddenly heard 'Rock Lobster' by the B-52's for the first time. Do you know it? It sounds just like Yoko's music, so I said to meself, 'It's time to get out the old axe and wake the wife up!' We wrote about twenty-five songs during those three weeks, and we've recorded enough for another album."

Writer Brian Scott MacKenzie:

"Rock Lobster" lit a fuse of inspiration that flared into Lennon’s 2-LP set Double Fantasy (1980), plus a posthumous release, Milk and Honey (1984). Without the B-52's, our world might lack "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)," "Watching the Wheels," "Woman," "(Just Like) Starting Over," and "Nobody Told Me."

Atlanta Magazine (2013):

"I said, 'That’s Yoko!,'" Lennon recalled that fall in an interview with the BBC. "I thought there were two records going at once or something. Because it was so her. I mean, this person had studied her... I called her and I said, 'You won’t believe this, but I was in a disco and there was somebody doing your voice.

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Today is the anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Bed-In For Peace

Forty-seven years ago today, John Lennon and Yoko Ono celebrated their honeymoon with a weeklong Bed-In For Peace at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. Was it a prank or a protest? Yes.

"It's part of our policy not to be taken seriously," Lennon said. "Our opposition, whoever they may be, in all manifest forms, don't know how to handle humour. And we are humorous."

Above is the short documentary of the events, titled Bed Peace.

War is over! (If you want it).

More at Imagine Peace.

Below, the song "Give Peace A Chance," recorded June 1, 1969 during the second Bed-In, at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel. (Bonus appearance by bOING bOING patron saint Dr. Timothy Leary!)

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Ono to Cuomo: "Imagine there’s no fracking"

CBS Outdoor via Rolling Stone

Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon launched "Artists Against Fracking" earlier this year, and have received no response from NY gov. Andrew Cuomo to their request to meet and talk about the idea of a ban of fracking in New York. Now, Ono and Lennon have launched a billboard campaign on a route where the governor often passes. “Governor Cuomo: Imagine there’s no fracking,” the sign reads. Read the rest

Tim & Rosemary Leary, John Lennon & Yoko Ono in conversation in 1969 - released for 1st time today

Michael Horowitz*, Timothy Leary's longtime archivist, has permitted the Timothy Leary Archives website to publish a transcription of a tape recorded conversation between Dr. Leary and his wife Rosemary, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono, made during John and Yoko's Bed-In for Peace in Montreal, May 1969. Tim had given it to Michael, in 1984, as a present for finishing Tim's bibliography.

The conversation took place during John and Yoko’s week-long Bed-In, on May 29th, 1969. This is just a few months before John would leave the Beatles and move with Yoko to the U.S. where they were closely monitored by the FBI and threatened with deportation, and ten months before Tim would be put in prison for possessing a minuscule amount of marijuana, and Rosemary would be putting on benefits to raise money for his appeal.

This transcript was intended to be added to a previously published piece, “Thank God for the Beatles” (The Beatles Book, 1968), an essay about the Beatles as "evolutionary agents sent by God, endowed with mysterious power to create a new human species," to be published in an anthology of Tim's shorter writings, but the project was abandoned.

The transcript, as far as we can tell, has remained unpublished until now.

Transcription of a tape recorded conversation between Timothy Leary and his wife Rosemary, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono

*Michael Horowitz was Timothy Leary's archivist, editor and bibliographer. He co-founded the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library and co-edited Moksha: Aldous Huxley's Classic Writings on Psychedelics and the Visionary Experience and Sisters of the Extreme: Women Writing on the Drug Experience (with Cynthia Palmer). Read the rest

Interview: Yoko Ono

Artist and peace activist Yoko Ono (78), wife of the late John Lennon, was recently honored with the 8th Hiroshima Art Prize, an award for artists whose work has contributed to peace. To commemorate the award, The Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting "The Road of Hope: Yoko Ono 2011," an exhibit honoring the “spirit of Hiroshima that yearns for permanent world peace and prosperity for all humanity." The show is on display through October 16, 2011, and features new works by Yoko Ono inspired by the survival of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and by the disasters that struck Japan in March, 2011, "with hope for the future."

I spoke to Yoko Ono in Japan a few days after she received the Hiroshima prize. She was in Tokyo to speak about "The Road of Hope" at the MORI art museum.