YOKO Ono, the slight 76-year-old widow of, speaks with hesitation, guarding her words in the same way she has protected Lennon’s worldly possessions and legacy since his murder on the doorsteps of their New York City home in 1980.
Speaking to The Post from her home in the Dakota off of Central Park, Ono reveals “this was a very hard exhibit to put together.”
She wasn’t speaking about the physical objects she loaned the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum’s annex in SoHo, but rather reliving the memories those objects conjured.
“I’m so used to being around John’s work – his drawings, his lyrics, his things – on a daily basis. I live with them,” Ono says. Yet when the items were gathered in the one-room exhibit, telling the story of Lennon’s last decade of life in New York City, Ono became very emotional. “It shouldn’t have upset me, but it did.”
The original lyrics to ‘Imagine’, written perhaps ironically on headed paper from the Hilton
In fact, Yoko isn’t alone. At a preview of the exhibit, which opens today, a middle-age woman who had just completed viewing the final showcase was so moved that she wept openly.
Tears aren’t the point of this show, although they are part of it. Says Ono: “I hope when people leave this exhibit that they see that the John they love, and the John they believed in, was actually here in New York, walking around being himself. He didn’t separate himself from New York or the people.”
Of the hundreds of items on display, here are some highlights that show the man behind the legend:
- You might walk by them because they are on display outside the main room, but there is a pair of Lennon’s classic round-lens eyeglasses from 1971 – the year he and Ono moved to NYC. The silver frame is perfect; there are no scratches in the glass. It’s a subtle reminder to the viewer that they are about to see the world through John’s eyes. It’s a theme carried to the last photograph on view when exiting – a photo of the blood-smeared specs Lennon wore when he was gunned down.
- There are a couple of pianos in the exhibit, but it’s the trio of guitars – an antique 1930 resonator, an electric Gibson hollow-bodied six-string, and a Fender Telecaster – that command attention. The black Fender- with sweat stains still visible on its blond neck – was the guitar Lennon played during his final concert at Madison Square Garden.