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The most misunderstood people in pop #1: Yoko Ono

Updated: Mar 26, 2019

That Yoko Ono - she broke The Beatles up didn’t she? The greatest band in history, ended because of her. That’s why every time a woman is considered to be having a negative impact on a (male) band, references to Yoko Ono get thrown around.

We’ll come to the casual sexism in a minute, but first of all no, Yoko Ono did not break up The Beatles. Absolutely, categorically not.

Don’t believe me? Well listen to John Lennon - “The Beatles were drifting apart on their own”

Ok, so he was a bit biased - so here’s Paul McCartney instead - "She certainly didn't break the group up, the group was breaking up,"

Actually far from breaking up The Beatles, I think she helped keep them together for longer than they would have done otherwise. The reasons for their demise have been covered and analysed by Beatle-historians far far more knowledgeable on this than me - and I can recommend this excellent Rolling Stone article from 2009 for a detailed but not too detailed overview of events - but everyone agrees, including as far as I’m aware, everyone who was actually in The Beatles, that John would have left sooner or later. He wasn’t happy and was looking for a way out. The Beatles were always going to end, the only issue is when.

In the period preceding the end, John was almost always accompanied by Yoko Ono including in the studio, something not much appreciated by the others. They’d never had wives or girlfriends as permanent fixtures in the writing and recording process before and absolutely weren’t loving it now it was happening.

But why is that considered to be Yoko Ono’s fault exactly? Why is she the one that keeps on getting blamed here? By his own account, John Lennon did not always have a very healthy way around women and could turn very aggressive. All the evidence is that far from Yoko Ono inserting herself as an unwelcome addition to the band, it was John Lennon who insisted that she come. He wouldn’t let her leave his side for a minute, even when he went to the bathroom.

That’s why I think far from playing a part in the band's downfall, on the contrary she helped keep it going for longer than it would have done otherwise. She had become John’s emotional crutch by then and without her in his life he would have blown apart from the others, not coming to many or even any further sessions with the band. I doubt it was any more fun for her than it was for Paul, George and Ringo having this weird new arrangement for the band with her there all the time, but at least it kept John going as a Beatle for a bit longer. That’s right, Yoko Ono kept The Beatles together. For a short time anyway.

And even if that wouldn’t have been the case, one thing is sure, none of what happened to The Beatles was her fault. Yet time and time again we see this reflexive desire to blame the woman for what was going wrong with the men. Stop! Just leave her alone!

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