Skip to main content

When John Lennon met Yoko Ono, he felt a new world had opened up to him. He had been with Cynthia Lennon for years at that point, but he felt more strongly about Ono than he had anyone else. Before long, he had gotten a divorce and married Ono. While the couple felt deeply in love, problems began to surface in their relationship. Lennon said that if they continued down the path they’d been on in their early years together, their marriage would have ended in divorce.

John Lennon said he and Yoko Ono were headed toward ruin as a couple

Lennon and Ono married in 1969 and, by the early 1970s, began to feel significant strain on their relationship. Some of this had to do with external factors: Lennon faced deportation and Ono struggled to gain custody over her daughter from a previous marriage. Their relationship also began to crack under the amount of time they spent together. 

A black and white picture of Yoko Ono and John Lennon looking sideways at each other. He wears glasses.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon | Susan Wood/Getty Images

Lennon and Ono began to have violent arguments, making both of them miserable. Lennon worried their marriage was following the same path as Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s. The couple’s tumultuous love affair had been colored by vicious, alcohol-fueled fights. 

“We’d been together twenty-four hours a day,” Lennon said in the book The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of The Beatles by Peter Brown and Steven Gaines. “That was our love, to protect our love — we were really beginning to choke each other … We were in danger of being, I don’t know, Zelda and Scott … We would have blown up in a few years, couldn’t have kept up the pace we were going at.”

Yoko Ono suggested that she and John Lennon take some time apart

In 1973, the couple reached a breaking point. They fought constantly, and Lennon complained to his wife about how miserable he felt. She suggested a temporary separation.

“One night John and I were lying in bed in the Dakota, and John kept saying how miserable he was, how he needed to get away,” Ono recalled. “I said that we had been together twenty-four hours a day for five years and that I needed some time apart for myself. I told him, ‘Why don’t you go to Los Angeles?’”

At first, Lennon seemed hesitant. He didn’t want to go alone and couldn’t think of who would join him in California. So, Ono suggested he bring the couple’s assistant, May Pang. Ono gave him her blessing to begin a relationship with Pang while they were apart. 

They reunited after his ‘lost weekend’ phase

Lennon took Ono’s advice and spent the next year and a half drinking, fighting, and making music. By 1975, though, he returned to New York and his marriage.

“We ended up together again because it was diplomatically viable . . . come on,” Lennon told Rolling Stone. “We got back together because we love each other.”

Yoko Ono and John Lennon stand together and wear sunglasses.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon | Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

John Lennon on the Type of Fan Who’s a ‘Fool Nobody Needs’ at a Concert 

He said he had felt lost in his time away from Ono and was happy to return to their life together.

“[The separation] didn’t work out. And the reaction to the breakup was all that madness,” he said. “I was like a chicken without a head.”