The Japanese artist, singer, and peace activist Yoko Ono is currently not married. She chose to remain a widow after more than four decades since the passing of her husband, John Lennon in 1980. Since then, she has promoted the legacy of the rock legend. Prior, she was married to two other men bringing her total spouses to three.
Like Lennon, her other two husbands had involvement with the entertainment industry. Her first husband, Toshi Ichiyanagi was a celebrated Japanese Composer and pianist while her second husband, Anthony was a movie producer and art promoter.
Yoko Ono’s Husband: The Three Men She Married
1. She Eloped with her First Husband in 1956
Having been born into an affluent Japanese family, Ono proved to have other life choices that were quite unacceptable especially when it comes to people she befriended and dated. In 1956, she left Sarah Lawrence College where she was schooling to elope with Japanese composer and pianist, Toshi Ichiyanagi.
At the time, Ichiyanagi was studying at Julliard but they later got married within the same year. During the marriage, the pair enjoyed career growth as they did many collaborations.
However, this collaboration did not help make the marriage last forever as they soon started living separately. Details about their divorce suggest that Toshi’s move back to Japan in 1960 caused a strain on the relationship since Yoko chose to remain in New York. The divorce was finalized in 1962.
On his own, Toshi remarried a woman named Sumiko in 1963. Together, they welcomed a son named Kei in 1964. Sadly, the pianist passed away on October 7, 2022, in Tokyo at 89.
Yoko on the other hand was diagnosed with clinical depression and she had to move back home to live with her parents in Tokyo. She was later placed in a mental institution.
2. The Remember Love Crooner Got Married to Anthony Cox in 1962
Yoko married creative Anthony Cox the same year she divorced Toshi. Before they got married, Cox was able to secure her release from the mental institution when he went to Japan to study calligraphy. They tied the knot on November 28 in Tokyo before moving back to the States.
Like Yoko, Cox was already an established jazz musician, movie maker, and art promoter and with this background, they found ways of complementing each other’s career. He became her artistic assistant and manager.
Soon enough, their union faced a big challenge that led to an annulment on March 1, 1963. The big question is what happened? It turns out that Yoko had failed to finalize her divorce from Toshi and under the law, she could not contract another marriage till she had finalized it.
The pair did not allow this setback to hold them. They quickly remarried in June of 1963. Two months later, they welcomed their only child, a daughter named Kyoko Chan Cox on August 18, 1963.
Despite having a good understanding of managing fame and marriage, the marriage ended in divorce. While some sources claim the marriage ended in 1964, others like Wikipedia state their divorce to be February 2, 1969. Following the divorce, things turned ugly between the two as they started a custody battle over their only child together.
In 1971, Cox disappeared with their 8-year-old daughter. He was granted custody on the grounds of Yoko’s drug use. Following this, Cox disappeared with Chan and raised her in the Church of the Living Word.
To keep her concealed, he changed her name to Ruth Holman, and for years Yoko did not see her till 1998.
3. How She Met and Married her Third Husband, John Lennon
Yoko gave love a chance again when she met John Lennon, one of the Beatles members. They first met in 1966 at a gallery in London and were introduced by gallery owner, John Dunbar and got married in 1969.
At the time, she was preparing for an exhibition of Unfinished Paintings, a collection of her conceptual art. One piece, Ceiling Painting/Yes Painting stood out among others due to its positive message of Yes which Lennon took as a sign. Another incident brought them close when she pretended not to know who the Beatles were and demanded Lennon pay her 5 shillings before putting a nail into a board at an exhibition.
She was very attracted to him even though he was married to Cynthia Powell at the time.
Regardless of this, she started writing and sending her artwork to him. The feeling must have been a mutual one because he also started corresponding with her and by 1967, he sponsored one of her exhibitions titled Half-A-Wind Show. This attraction soon moved to his song composition as he included references to her in the song Julia.
Reportedly, his marriage with Cynthia ended after she returned from a trip and found them together. With both celebrities being free from ex-spouses, they concentrated on their relationship. Notably, Lennon and Yoko shared a lot of things in common.
Artistically they formed bands like Plastic Ono band. Lennon also added her surname to his name in 1969. Together, they protested against the Vietnam War, the Nigerian Civil War, and many others. Based on this protest, they recorded anti-war songs such as Give Peace a Chance(1969) and Imagine(1971).
The Couple was Separated for 18 Months
Despite Ono and Lenon’s marriage’s attention, they also had challenges. Unsurprisingly, they got separated in 1973 while he was recording Mind Games. Lennon referred to the separation period as the Lost Weekend.
More on this, Ono is said to have asked a music executive who had worked as their assistant, May Pang to be Lenon’s companion. Though was not comfortable with the suggestion at first, she later got seduced by Lennon. They remained together till 1975 when Ono and Lennon reconciled. Ono was able to do this after she promised to have found a cure for Lennon’s smoking addiction.
Lennon Welcomed a Son after They Reconciled
Ono and Lennon gave birth to their only son together, Sean Ono Lennon on October 9, 1975. Prior, Ono had three miscarriages. When she got pregnant with Sean, she almost had an abortion but decided to keep the child only if Lennon would be a househusband.
He agreed and took a break from music for the next five years. More on their son, Sean is also a musician like his famous parents. Professionally he has collaborated with his mother on her 1995 album Rising.
Their Marriage Outlived Lennon
Having passed through several challenges including an 18-month separation and miscarriages, his death was quite shocking. He was fatally shot on December 8, 1980, by Mark David Chapman, a Beatles Fan. He died shortly after.
Chapman’s motive for killing the 2 Virgin’s crooner was jealousy over Lennon’s fame and a past comment he made about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus.
On her own, she never remarried despite a romantic stint with the Hungarian antique dealer, Sam Havadtoy whom she parted ways with in 2001. Needless to say, she is involved in running different legacy works that celebrate her late husband, the talented British singer-songwriter. Every December 8, she lights a candle in the window of his room in the Dakota. Also, she has contributed to funding;
- The Strawberry Fields Memorial in Central Park
- The Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland
- The John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Japan
- LennonOno Grant for Peace