John Lennons girlfriend was hand-picked by Yoko Ono during marriage

John Lennon: Son Julian discusses Yoko Ono in 1999

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In 1973, just a few years after The Beatles had split up, John Lennon was working on his fourth solo album, Mind Games. But he wasn’t happy. He was struggling with the changes and stagnation in his life, and things were getting out of hand with his wife, Yoko Ono, to whom he had been married for four years. Eventually, Ono (who turns 90-years-old this week on February 18, 2023) decided to step away from the marriage.

Ono explained: “I was hated and John was hated because of me … I needed a rest. I needed space. Can you imagine every day of getting this vibration from people of hate? You want to get out of that.”

She added that she and Lennon were so close they didn’t even “go to the bathroom alone”. “‘I will come with you,’ he would say.” Ono remembered. “And this would be in public places like the EMI recording studios.”

Eventually, she partnered up Lennon with their assistant, May Pang, a 22-year-old American woman in who the former Beatle had previously expressed interest.  

“May Pang was a very intelligent, attractive woman,” Ono recalled. “And extremely efficient. I thought they’d be okay.”

Lennon left Ono and New York with Pang for Los Angeles to build a new life there. He was with his new girlfriend for 18 months in what he described as his “Lost Weekend” – referencing the film and book of the same title (the story follows an alcoholic who loses a weekend to his vices and bad decisions).

Despite the fact Lennon was gone for 18 months, Ono admitted: “The affair was something that was not hurtful to me.”

“I was prepared to lose him,” she confessed. “But it was better he came back. I didn’t think I would lose him.”

Once Lennon and Ono got back together they had a joint interview with Playboy Magazine. Ono said: “John was a fine person. It was society that had become too much. We laugh about it now, but we started dating again.”

Ono went on to say she wanted “to be sure” about Lennon.

She continued: “I’m thankful for John’s intelligence… that he was intelligent enough to know this was the only way that we could save our marriage, not because we didn’t love each other but because it was getting too much for me.”

Pang herself opened up about the 18-month affair in 2011. She claimed Ono brought her together with Lennon when things got too much for their marriage.

“Yoko came to me at 9:30 in the morning,” Pang recalled. “I hadn’t even had my first cup of coffee – and she said: ‘May, I’ve got to talk to you. John and I are not getting along.’ I knew because the tension was thick.”

Ono told her: “He’s going to start going out with other people. I know you don’t have a boyfriend and I know you are not after John, but you need a boyfriend and you would be good for him.”

Pang told her: “I said I didn’t think so, but she said: ‘You don’t want him to go out with somebody who is going to be nasty to him, do you?’ I said: ‘Of course not.’ She said: ‘You will be perfect,’ and walked out.”

Once Lennon and Ono got back together around the end of 1974, Ono fell pregnant. She later gave birth to their son, Sean Lennon, on October 9, 1975.

Lennon then took five years away from music to look after his son. A month after releasing his album, Double Fantasy, with Ono in November 1980, he was murdered on December 8.


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