Skip to main content

Yoko Ono and John Lennon, early 1970s

by Herb Schmitz

Bromide fibre print, 143 x 131 mm.

National Portrait Gallery, London. Given by Herb Schmitz, 1994 (NPG x68800).
© Herb Schmitz


John Lennon and the artist Yoko Ono began a whirlwind romance in 1966 and married in 1969, shortly before The Beatles broke up.  This led to speculation about Ono’s role in the band’s demise, and their relationship has been viewed as controversial by many fans.

Post Beatles, the pair formed the Plastic Ono Band; they collaborated with musicians on experimental releases, and John adopted a more confessional approach in his song writing. ‘God’ (1970) featured the lyrics: ‘I don’t believe in Beatles / I just believe in me / Yoko and me / And that’s reality.’ Ono helped Lennon realise happiness outside of the Beatles, and the couple’s closeness is recorded in photographs such as this one by Herb Schmitz. Ono spoke of a telepathy that inspired their creativity and collaboration, and Lennon was influenced by Yoko’s artistic sensibility; in a 1980 interview he stated, ‘there’s only two artists I’ve ever worked with for more than one night’s stand, as it were. That’s Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. I think that’s a pretty damned good choice.’

© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.