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Flashback: John Lennon & Yoko Ono marry

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

It was 48 years ago today (March 20th, 1969) that John Lennon and Yoko Ono married in Gibraltar -- only eight days after Paul McCartney wed first wife Linda Eastman in London. Directly after the wedding, the couple opened up their hotel room to the world's press during their Amsterdam honeymoon, and launched their first "Bed In" for peace.

The couple had met in London in 1966 at one of Ono's avant garde art shows, and became romantically linked sometime between mid-1967 and mid-1968. By the spring of 1968, the pair, whom Lennon took to calling "Johnandyoko," began a long-standing artistic partnership with the recording of their debut album, called Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins. The album included experimental sounds recorded in Lennon's home studio, and featured an album cover showing them nude.

Yoko says that throughout the years, Lennon was always easy to work with: "When I was an avant garde artist, already I was a control freak, okay? And John understood it. John was a very good person to work with, a good husband as well, y'know, in that sense. A good partner, that he would allow me to be myself kind of thing."

George Harrison's first wife Pattie Boyd says that the days of all the Beatle wives being a close-knit group pretty much ended with Yoko entering the inner circle: "John fell in love with Yoko and that was that. She was more a man's woman than a woman's woman. She would never have girlfriends, I don't think, anyway. Y'know that was fine, so I knew I'd never get close to her. She was quite friendly toward me. I mean, she and John once stayed in our house and she was just so intent on John all the time. John was her only focus, really and truly."

Although Paul McCartney has never blamed Yoko for the Beatles' split, he explained that Lennon ultimately chose his work with her to be the outlet needed to fully liberate his creativity: "It was very difficult for me. Yeah, it was my whole life, I think the others in their minds. . . I think John was lucky 'cause he got this new direction now with Yoko. I think John, all his life had wanted to cut loose. He'd been an art student, he sort of buckled down for the Beatles -- 'cause it was democratic, (and) I think he wanted to cut loose, he wanted to do all these things he'd read about artists in books doing and I think Yoko gave him that opportunity. And a lot of what they did together was very fine stuff, but I think when it came to the Beatles, it meant that he kinda had to leave the group. He couldn't do it within the group."

John and Yoko shared an intense and symbiotic relationship, and after five years of non-stop time together in which they recorded, performed, and worked together on various political and creative pursuits, they separated for 14 months.

Upon reconciling in January 1975, Ono became pregnant, and on October 9th, 1975, which was Lennon's 35th birthday, she gave birth to the couple's only child, Sean Taro Ono Lennon.

After Lennon's murder on December 8th, 1980, Ono inherited complete control of the Lennon estate and has commemorated most of his posthumous birthdays with numerous projects, including previously unreleased music, a radio show, an album of interviews, and a clothing and housewares line, to a mixed response from fans.

Check it out: Footage from John & Yoko's first "Bed-In" at the Amsterdam Hilton in March 1969:


Yoko Ono and John Lennon staged their non-violent protest against wars by having a week-long 'bed-in' at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. They held open hours for the press to visit them and talked about peace and love. The 'bed-in' was staged during Ono & Lennon's honeymoon.
Reuters S22120001

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