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Frustration Over Lennon's Choice of "Princess" Ono

Observers found reason to criticize John Lennon and Yoko Ono's relationship from the couple's very first encounter.

The two met at one of Ono's avant-garde exhibits in 1966. As the story of their meeting has been told many a time, the show featured a sign that said "Hammer a Nail In." Lennon asked his future wife if he could follow the instructions, but she said "no," because the show wasn't officially opening until the next day. The owner of the museum was not having it. He told Ono, "Let him hammer a nail in, he's a millionaire."

From the get-go, the pair had an unusual way of interacting. They were people of extremes, and falling in love meant being together — constantly — often to the dismay of the fans and band mates who wanted Lennon to themselves. At one point, Lennon had a bed installed for Ono in the Beatle's recording studio, so they would not miss a moment.

Ono was not the princess that many fans envisioned for Lennon. Media accounts were full of derogatory, sometimes even racist descriptions of the quirky Japanese-American artist. Some charged that she had cast a spell on their hero.

"It's not like I'm some wondrous, mystic prince from the rock-'n'-roll world, dabbling in strange music with this exotic, Oriental dragon lady," Lennon told Playboy in 1980, in one of his most extensive interviews. That, however, is what some believed, blaming Ono for breaking up the Beatles and turning one of the world's greatest musicians into a reclusive house-husband interested only in baking bread.

Others saw it differently, though, crediting Ono for Lennon's great music and happiness.

"It is a teacher-pupil relationship. That's what people don't understand ... she's taught me everything I f***ing know," Lennon told Playboy in the interview.

Likening Ono to Don Juan, the Yaqui Indian teacher who inspired Carlos Castaneda's series of books on shamanism, Lennon told Playboy, "Don Juan doesn't have to laugh; Don Juan doesn't have to be charming; Don Juan just is."

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Heather Murphy