Tag Archives: Yoko Ono

John Yoko Two Virgins

John Yoko Two Virgins

Released November 11, 1968

John Yoko Two Virgins

Two Virgins

Whenever musicians release a record album, whatever the format, it is the album’s content that critics use to determine their review. Vinyl record collectors bemoan the passing of the Vinyl Age both because they feel the sound quality digital formats fall below that of vinyl and album art needs more than the 5″ x 5″ that a CD allows or no album art at all when streaming.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Not the Beatles

John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Two Virgins album  was the exception. Most fans found the recording unlistenable, but had even more to say about the cover art: a black and white photo of John and Yoko standing casually naked against a plain white background.

John Yoko Two Virgins

John and Yoko had recorded the album on May 19, 1968 at Kenwood, Lennon’s former home in Weybridge. It featured the following tracks: Two Virgins No. 1; Together; Two Virgins (numbers 2-6); Two Virgins; Hushabye Hushabye; Two Virgins (numbers 7-10).

John Yoko Two Virgins

Album cover controversy

Capitol Records refused to release it not because of the avant garde sound, but the company feared negative reaction to the cover.

Tetragrammaton released Two Virgins in a brown paper sleeve on November 11, 1968.  The sleeve had a small opening through which Lennon and Ono’s faces peeked.

Quantities of the album were seized in several US jurisdictions, including 30,000 copies in New Jersey. Nonetheless, it managed to reach number 124 on the US charts.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Lennon’s views

Lennon described the picture of Ono and him as “two slightly overweight ex-junkies.” He spoke of the album’s recording in Jann S Wenner’s Rolling Stone magazine 1970 interview, Lennon Remembers:

When we got back from India, we were talking to each other on the phone. I called her [Ono] over, it was the middle of the night and Cyn  [Cynthia Lennon} was away, and I thought, ‘Well, now’s the time if I’m going to get to know her any more.’ She came to the house and I didn’t know what to do; so we went upstairs to my studio and I played her all the tapes that I’d made, all this far-out stuff, some comedy stuff, and some electronic music. There were very few people I could play those tapes to. She was suitably impressed, and then she said, ‘Well, let’s make one ourselves,’ so we made Two Virgins. It was midnight when we finished, and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful.

They took the self-portrait later in the year at Ringo Starr’s basement apartment in London, where Lennon and Ono were temporarily living. In the notes that came with the Anthology collection, Lennon said:

We were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed-action shutter. The picture was to prove that we are not a couple of demented freaks, that we are not deformed in any way and that our minds are healthy. If we can make society accept these kind of things without offence, without sniggering, then we shall be achieving our purpose.

What we did purposely is not have a pretty photograph; not have it lighted so as we looked sexy or good. There were a couple of other takes from that session where we looked rather nice, hid the little bits that aren’t that beautiful; we looked good. We used the straightest, most unflattering picture just to show that we were human.

John Yoko Two Virgins

Yoko vs Beatle fans

It is a shibboleth among many Beatle fans to excoriate Yoko Ono as the cause of the Beatles demise. In my view, John was a powder keg looking for a liaght. Yoko was that spark.

If it wasn’t Yoko, it would have been someone else. Yoko brought forth even more artistic freedom than Bob Dylan had three years earlier.

Here is side one of Two Virgins. I suppose many of you are familiar with the first minute because that’s all you could get through the first (and last) time you listened.

It certainly is a long way from “Love Me Do” to “Two Virgins.” Those of us who stuck it out for at least the first side may have kept waiting for the song to start. Compared to side 1, the white album’s “Number 9” seems pop.

And perhaps that’s what it’s all about. Stretch the boundaries of familiarity so that what is unapproachable today becomes familiar tomorrow…or next year.

John Yoko Two Virgins
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John Yoko Tittenhurst Park

John Yoko Tittenhurst ParkJohn Yoko Tittenhurst Park

Peter Cadbury

On May 4, 1969 John and Yoko closed on the purchase of Tittenhurst Park. The cost was for £145,000. They did not move in until August because of renovations that included a lake. The renovations reported were twice the price paid for the 72-acre estate.

John and Yoko bought it from Peter Cadbury, the same Cadbury family famous for Cadbury chocolates, though Peter was not involved in the business.

By late 1969, the Beatles were a band nearly in name only. On the cusp of a final break-up, what turned out to be the last pictures taken of the four together were taken at Tittenhurst Park on on 22 August 1969. The photos, by Ethan Russell and Monte Fresco, were used for the front and back covers of their Hey Jude album.

John Yoko Tittenhurst Park

John Yoko Tittenhurst Park

Ascot Sound Studios

John and Yoko built a recording studio in Tittenhurst called Ascot Sound Studios. Lennon and Ono recorded their next several albums in it. The cover of Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band album was taken at Tittenhurst Park.

John Yoko Tittenhurst Park
photo by John Lennon and Yoko Ono

And the famous video recording of Lennon’s Imagine was done at Tittenhurst Park.

John Yoko Tittenhurst Park

Homeless intrusion

And it was on the 22 May 1971 that John and Yoko spoke to a homeless man who had been hiding on the estate. After speaking with him, they invited him in for something to eat.

John Yoko Tittenhurst Park

Left never to return

John and Yoko moved to New York City in  August 1971. Lennon never returned to England.

On 18 September 1973 John and Yoko sold Tittenhurst Park to Ringo , who renamed the recording facilities Startling Studios.

According to the  Beatles Bible site, “He [Ringo] made it [Startling Studios] available to other musicians, including T.Rex who filmed Born To Boogie there. Starr sold Tittenhurst in 1988…to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Tittenhurst Park may not be the best known words, even among Beatles fans, but one can see from the above that it played an important part in the Beatles’ final days as a group John Lennon’s final days in his native land, and Ringo recording life.

John Yoko Tittenhurst Park
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Tinker v Des Moines 1969

Tinker v Des Moines 1969

1969. It was a time of empowerment. Blacks. Women. College students. The disabled. LGBTQ. Migrant laborers.

And high school students.

Tinker v Des Moines

 

Tinker v Des Moines 1969

December 16, 1965

On December 11, 1965, high school student Christopher Eckhardt held a meeting with a group of students at his Des Moines, Iowa home. The group decided to wear black armbands in school on December 16 as both a Vietnam War protest and in support of Robert F Kennedy’s proposed extension of a truce the Viet Cong proposed truce on Christmas Eve. The student would keep wearing the bands until January 1, 1966.

Principals of the Des Moines schools learned of the plan and on December 14, 1965, adopted a policy that required any student wearing an armband in school to remove it. Any student who refused would be suspended until they agreed to comply.

On December 16, 1965, Chrisopher Eckhardt (16), Mary Beth Tinker (13) and her siblings, Hope (11) and Paul (8) wore black armbands. Christopher and Mary were suspended. The two younger students were not.  Mary Beth’s brother, John Tinker (15), was suspended for doing the same on the following day.

Tinker v DesMoines
Mary and John Tinker
Tinker v Des Moines 1969

Echhardt explains why

Christopher Eckhardt: I wore the black armband over a camel-colored jacket. The captain of the football team attempted to rip it off. I turned myself in to the principal’s office where the vice principal asked if ‘I wanted a busted nose.’ He said seniors wouldn’t like the armband. Tears welled up in my eyes because I was afraid of violence. He called my mom to get her to ask me to take the armband off. Then he called a school counselor in. The counselor asked if I wanted to go to college, and said that colleges didn’t accept protesters. She said I would probably need to look for a new high school if I didn’t take the armband off.

Tinker v Des Moines 1969

The beginning

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union approached the families and the ACLU agreed to help the family with a lawsuit. The Tinker and Eckhardts filed suit in U.S. District Court which upheld the board’s decision.

Tinker v Des Moines

Continues

A tie vote in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit meant that the U.S. District Court’s decision continued to stand.

Continues still…

The Tinkers and Eckhardts to appealed to the Supreme Court. The case was argued before the court on November 12, 1968.

Decided

On February 24, 1969 the US Supreme Court sided with the Tinkers in  Tinker v. Des Moines. Justice Abe Fortas delivered the opinion of the 7-2 majority. The Supreme Court held that the armbands represented pure speech that is entirely separate from the actions or conduct of those participating in it. The Court also held that the students did not lose their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they stepped onto school property. In order to justify the suppression of speech, the school officials must be able to prove that the conduct in question would “materially and substantially interfere” with the operation of the school. In this case, the school district’s actions evidently stemmed from a fear of possible disruption rather than any actual interference. (Tinker article) [Oyez article]

Tinker v Des Moines Independent Community School District
Mary Beth Tinker, and her brother, John Tinker, stand next to locker 319 in 2013 at Harding Elementary School in Des Moines
Tinker v Des Moines 1969

John & Yoko

Appropriately, on December 16, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono put up eleven billboards in major cities worldwide with the slogan: War Is Over!

Tinker v Des Moines 1969
John & Yoko’s billboard
Tinker v Des Moines 1969
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