Wonderful Photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in December 1968

Susan Wood’s work represents a number of milestones in American photography over a period of more than 30 years. Although her most famous magazine cover is an epochal photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for Look magazine, Susan is also noted for her movie stills. Wood has been represented by Getty Images since 2004 and her editorial work continues to be published around the world in titles such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, Vogue, The London Times, and Newsweek.

Wood also excelled in developing relationships with other stars, knowing when to push and knowing when to pull back, which resulted in some of the most famous photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

“If they feel that you are pushing too hard, it’s not so good,” she said. “I can only give you the example of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The story was a major magazine, and they wanted to kind of present themselves to the world, but yet when I first met them they seemed to be backing away. The writer was there from the United States. So I said, ‘John, I think you and Yoko may just find this too intense. And Betty is here from the U.S and I promised to take her shopping.’ I had been working for Vogue, so I knew all the shops on the King’s Road. ‘Why don’t we just break today and we’ll pick up again tomorrow. You and Yoko can relax.’ He said ‘just a second’, and then went over to Yoko and whispered to her, and then he came back and said, ‘Can we come too?’ So the ice was broken.”

John Winston Ono Lennon (born John Winston Lennon; 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist who achieved worldwide fame as the founder, co-songwriter, co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles. Lennon was characterised by the rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing and drawings, on film, and in interviews. His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in history.

Born in Liverpool, Lennon became involved in the skiffle craze as a teenager. In 1956, he formed the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Sometimes called “the smart Beatle”, he was initially the group’s de facto leader, a role gradually ceded to McCartney. In the mid-1960s, Lennon authored In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, two collections of nonsense writings and line drawings. Starting with “All You Need Is Love”, his songs were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the larger counterculture. In 1969, he started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, the multimedia artist Yoko Ono, held the two-week-long anti-war demonstration Bed-Ins for Peace, and quit the Beatles to embark on a solo career.

Between 1968 and 1972, Lennon and Ono collaborated on many records, including a trilogy of avant-garde albums, his solo debut John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and the international top 10 singles “Give Peace a Chance”, “Instant Karma!”, “Imagine” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”. Moving to New York City in 1971, his criticism of the Vietnam War resulted in a three-year attempt by the Richard Nixon administration to deport him. Lennon and Ono separated from 1973 to 1975, a period that included chart-topping collaborations with Elton John (“Whatever Gets You thru the Night”) and David Bowie (“Fame”). Following a five-year hiatus, Lennon returned to music in 1980 with the Ono collaboration Double Fantasy. He was shot and killed by a Beatles fan, Mark David Chapman, three weeks after the album’s release.

As a performer, writer or co-writer, Lennon had 25 number-one singles in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Double Fantasy, his best-selling album, won the 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. In 1982, Lennon won the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2002, Lennon was voted eighth in a BBC history poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. Rolling Stone ranked him the fifth-greatest singer and thirty-eighth greatest artist of all time. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (in 1997) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (twice, as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1994). (Wikipedia)

Yoko Ono (born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese multimedia artist, singer, songwriter and peace activist. Her work also encompasses performance art, which she performs in both English and Japanese, and filmmaking.

Ono grew up in Tokyo and moved to New York in 1953 with her family. She became involved in New York City’s downtown artists scene, which included the Fluxus group. She became well known in 1969 when she married English singer John Lennon of the Beatles, with the couple using their honeymoon as a stage for public protests against the Vietnam War. She and Lennon remained married until he was murdered in front of the couple’s apartment building in December 1980. Together they had one son, Sean, who later also became a musician.

Ono began a career in popular music in 1969, forming the Plastic Ono Band with Lennon and producing a number of avant-garde music albums in the 1970s. She achieved commercial and critical acclaim in 1980 with the chart-topping album Double Fantasy, a collaboration with Lennon that was released three weeks before his murder, winning the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. To date, she has had twelve number one singles on the US Dance charts, and in 2016 was named the 11th most successful dance club artist of all time by Billboard magazine. Many musicians have paid tribute to Ono as an artist in her own right and as a muse and icon, including Elvis Costello, the B-52’s, Sonic Youth and Meredith Monk.

As Lennon’s widow, Ono works to preserve his legacy. She funded the Strawberry Fields memorial in Manhattan’s Central Park, the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, and the John Lennon Museum in Saitama, Japan (which closed in 2010). She has made significant philanthropic contributions to the arts, peace, disaster relief in Japan and the Philippines, and other causes. In 2002, she inaugurated a biennial $50,000 LennonOno Grant for Peace. In 2012 she received the Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt Human Rights Award and co-founded the group Artists Against Fracking. (Wikipedia)

(Photos by Susan Wood)

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