Cover Photo: Yoko Ono in En Trance, 1997; Half-A-Wind Show, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013; photo by Bjarke Ørsted Yoko Ono
Where to begin? Love her or hate her, Yoko Ono is a key player in the continuing Beatles saga. This mysterious “witchy woman” literally and figuratively volleys between light and dark, black hat white hat metaphors unlike any other woman in the Beatles entourage. Who is Yoko Ono? And how did she come to be one of (if not THE) most influential characters in John Lennon’s and therefore the Beatles lives? Her story is either best suited to be told properly by Shakespeare or perhaps Stanley Kubrick – and though likely highly unqualified to tell the tale adequately, I will do my best to convey this very odd and convoluted story for you.
Ono’s Background in a nutshell:
Yoko Ono was born into a very wealthy banking aristocratic family on February 18, 1933 in Tokyo, Japan. Coming from a long distinguished line of Samurai warriors, Ono was the eldest of Isoko and Eisuke Ono’s three children. Eisuke, Yoko’s father worked for the Yokohama Specie Bank, and was transferred to San Francisco, California in 1933. Ono’s mother held the nobility line in the family. Her grandfather, Zenjiro Yasuda established the Third National Bank in 1876, the Yasuda bank in 1880 (later known as the Fugi Bank- and now the Mizuho Financial Group) which became the financial arm of Imperial Japan.
The family moved to New York in 1940 and then back to Japan in 1941, when her father was transferred to Hanoi on the eve of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Ono remained in Tokyo through World War II, enduring the great firebombing of 1945. At the age of 18, Ono moved with her parents to Scarsdale, New York. She studied at Sarah Lawrence College, but left to elope with her first husband, Toshi Ichiyanagi in 1956.
Her marriage with Ichiyanagi ultimately fell apart, and ended with a suicide attempt by Yoko in 1962. Her family had her committed to a mental facility- and like a ‘Knight in Shining Armor’ an alleged “fan” by the name of Anthony Cox (who happened to be a film producer) managed to get her released from the medical facility. They married June 6, 1963 and a daughter, Kyoko was born two months later.
Anthony Cox and Yoko Ono had a seemingly strange relationship. There have been many rumors and stories floating about over the years about this couple, some of which may or may not have any merit. However, the strange circumstances that unfolded mere years later between the Ono-Lennon’s and Cox and Kyoko are a bit more concrete.
Don’t worry Kyoko
Ono and Cox were divorced in 1969, the same year John Lennon and Yoko married in Gibraltar. At first, all seemed well with John Yoko and sometimes Kyoko, whom Yoko did not have custody of. Reportedly Anthony Cox tried to hide Kyoko away from both John and Yoko for quite some time. Yoko actively sought Kyoko and her whereabouts for years, hiring private investigators and other heavies to find her without much success.
Here’s where it gets weird. I don’t intend to make light of this situation. I’m sure it was a traumatic experience for all those involved, especially the children. However let’s consider this- if your ex-wife just married a Beatle, and you were actively trying to keep your child away from that situation, would you go to India to the Maharishi and ask for asylum? I don’t know if that would be my first choice personally, but that is exactly what Anthony Cox did. The Maharishi camp… where the Beatles had stayed only a few years earlier. The same Maharishi camp that Yoko Ono may have been at secretly during the Beatles stay in 1968 (and then still married to Anthony Cox) perusing John. The same Maharishi camp that John wrote “Julia” a song supposedly about his mother, Julia Stanley using the lyric:
Julia, ocean child
so I sing this song of love for Julia
Yoko means Ocean child in Japanese, and John referred to Yoko as “mother” quite frequently. Irony? Coincidence? Perhaps. If you believe in that sort of thing.
If that wasn’t weird enough for you, you’re in luck! After Cox was discovered there with Kyoko one way or another, and other kidnapping attempts by the Ono-Lennon’s, as well as an attempted kidnapping of Julian Lennon, John son, Cox and Kyoko ran to Houston Texas, where a court order demanded that Yoko be able to visit with Kyoko. Cox ran again, this time to California where they joined a fundamentalist cult group known as The Living Word, aka The Walk. According to this original people magazine article (linked) from 1983, the Walk group was known for its mix of Pentecostal, occult and eastern mysticism belief system. Anthony Cox climbed quickly into the upper echelons of this cult.
“The Walk’s beliefs have been described by a cult expert as a mixture of Pentecostalism, occult practices and Eastern mysticism, and Cox became a prominent figure, a “prophet and set-aside elder.” Cox claims in Vain Glory that cult founder John Robert Stevens, in addition to praying for the deaths of political leaders, considered himself the earthly incarnation of Jesus Christ and practiced “forehead bonding,” a form of mind control and hypnotism, with his disciples. (When Stevens died in 1983, Cox claims, cult members kept his body lying in state for eight months awaiting his resurrection.)” Source
Another cult connection! There seem to be so many surrounding the Beatles story. Here’s yet another to add to that list.’The Walk’ has been said to be a Doomsday type of mind-control cult, where the former leader John Robert Stevens would instruct his followers to pray for the deaths of certain political leaders. According to Anthony Cox and his documentary film ‘Vain Glory‘ (linked below), Stevens prophesied and took responsibility for the assassination of Robert F Kennedy, and prayed for the demise of Walter Mondale who was labeled a Nephillium by Stevens and his disciples, President Jimmy Carter and other political leaders and influential persons. Source
Something to consider:
As we have seen, the mind-control techniques and (for lack of a better term) spellcasting of death or wishes of harm to political leaders was practiced within ‘The Walk’ on a regular, ritualistic basis, and Anthony Cox was a upper-echelon elder member of this group. Cox was also on the run at this time hiding Kyoko away from her mother and John Lennon. He has also mentioned in interviews that his reasoning behind the abduction was due to the fact that John and Yoko were “corrupt”, “evil-doers” and “heavily influenced by the occult”. He obviously had a major distaste for John as well as Yoko at this time. Was John Lennon on the list of those political leaders that were targeted by this group?
Anthony Cox and Kyoko left ‘The Walk’ in 1982, but didn’t contact Yoko again until 2000. Kyoko finally reunited with her mother in 2001, after being told for the majority of her life by her father that Yoko and John were “corrupted, drug users that were heavily into the occult.” There were even rumors of Kyoko moving into the Dakota apartments- although never officially confirmed. Kyoko’s daughter, Emi is believed to be entrusted with half of the Lennon estate, which she will share with her half-brother Sean Lennon. Source
Yoko Ono’s story is complex and mysterious. This is just one tiny fraction of the oddities and mysteries surrounding Ono. In future parts of “The Ocean Child” series, I plan to dive even further down the walrus hole into the life and legacy of this very strange ‘witchy woman’. Her nearly obsessive fascination with Egyptian artifacts, occult beliefs as well as a host of other curiosities make Yoko Ono a fascinating subject for the whimsical musings of the Number Nine Blog. Stay Tuned for more soon!
Your comments, critiques and questions are always appreciated in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!