John and Yoko – When Two Clouds Meet

John and Yoko: When Two Clouds Meet

by Madeline Bocaro 

TwoVirginsFilm-Kenwood – Version 2

© Madeline Bocaro, 2019. No part of this site may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner.

This is an excerpt from my Yoko Ono biography…

An all-embracing look at Yoko Ono’s life and work, in stunning detail.

A complete look at Yoko Ono’s life, art, films and music in astounding detail. 

Includes the love story of John and Yoko, and all the work they did together.

Visit the website for reviews and more info:


I finally met Yoko and the dream became a reality.”

– John Lennon, The Ballad of John and Yoko


On the evening that changed his life forever (November 7, 1966) John Lennon visited Yoko Ono’s Unfinished Paintings and Objects exhibition the night before its opening at London’s Indica Gallery. John’s bite of Yoko’s apple – a modern tale of Adam and Eve / East meets West – began the ballad of John and Yoko. It started off many turbulent, yet exciting years for the infamous couple who would dedicate their eternal union to promoting peace.

Japanese artist Yoko Ono, who had just moved to London from New York City described the scene there in late 1966.

“The whole scene was, from the point of view of an American, very underground, very intimate. Very high quality. There was a strange kind of shimmer in the London air, and it was beautiful. Once I breathed that, i felt ‘OK, I’m here’ and never looked back.”

–  Yoko To Paul Trynka, The Mojo Interview, May 2003 


John Dunbar named his London art gallery after Cannabis Indica – an intoxicating species of cannabis which produces high levels of THC resulting in highly euphoric effects. Dunbar mentioned to Lennon that ‘an avant-garde Japanese artist from New York’ would be staging a ‘happening’ in a black bag.

“It was John Dunbar, my partner there. He was the art part of the trio of myself, him, and Barry Miles. It was us going to her. John had read about her and I think he got in touch with (Yoko) and her then-husband Tony Cox and found her very interesting. Maybe John had read a review of a previous exhibition. I don’t know. But it definitely led to a change in musical history.”  – Peter Asher

John Lennon later told Playboy magazine’s David Sheff that he immediately thought, “Artsy-fartsy orgies. Great!” However, John saw something that he was not expecting at all. The petite artist shrouded in long black hair was quietly arranging the objects in her exhibition for the opening the next day; an apple on a Plexiglas stand, priced at £200 ($480) and a bag of nails for £100 ($240)!

Dunbar privately invited John to see the exhibit on the night before the opening.

 “I was a little bit furious because, I didn’t understand why. I told John Dunbar never to bring anybody until it’s all ready. I said, “Okay. Maybe he’s a very close friend or something, so I shouldn’t say anything.” So I thought: “Well, maybe I should follow them and see what they’re doing.”

– Yoko


John recalled to the BBC’s Andy Peebles, “I thought this is a con… I’m expecting an orgy, you know … and it’s all quiet.” After being introduced to the millionaire Beatle who asked her “What is the event?” Yoko handed him a small card that said, “Breathe.” John responded with a quick pant.


Then Lennon noticed what would be his stairway to heaven –

a ladder leading up to a canvas hung on the ceiling, with a magnifying glass hanging down on the end of a chain.

When John reached the top of the ladder, he looked through the spyglass

and read a word written in tiny letters.

This simple word, ‘Yes’ became his koan, his mantra and his path to freedom.

“You’re on this ladder – you feel like a fool, you could fall any minute – and you look through it and it just says ‘YES,'” John told David Sheff in 1980. “Well, all the so-called avant-garde art at the time, and everything that was supposedly interesting was all negative; this smash-the-piano-with-a-hammer, break-the-sculpture, boring, negative crap. It was all anti-, anti-, anti-. Anti-art, anti-establishment. And just that ‘YES’ made me stay in a gallery full of apples and nails, instead of just walking out saying, ‘I’m not gonna buy any of this crap.'” – John

“(When I made the Yes painting in 1966) I was in a totally difficult situation in my life and I thought, what I need is a Yes, and so I put the word on the ceiling. I never thought it was about to change my whole life by 180 degrees.

It was that Yes painting that brought John into the gallery. He saw it and said great. Because the thing is that, unbeknown to everyone, John was going through some hard times too and feeling alone. I was feeling totally alone too.”

– Yoko Ono, Twitter


Hammer a Nail

The humor in Yoko’s work appealed to John’s sense of the absurd. Nearby was an object called Hammer a Nail – a board with a chain and hammer hanging from it, with a container of nails beneath. Although the piece invited people to hammer a nail, there was a small monetary charge. The Beatle was not carrying any cash. John asked if he could he hammer a nail “No.” was Yoko’s initial reply. Dunbar whispered to her that this was no way to treat a Beatle – a potential buyer of her art.

John told Sheff in 1980, “So there was this little conference and she finally said, ‘Okay, you can hammer a nail in for five shillings [60 cents].’ So smart-ass here says, ‘Well, I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.’ And that’s when we really met.”

That’s when we locked eyes, and she got it and I got it, and that was it.”

– John

 Do you still have the imaginary five shillings that John gave you to hammer the nail in?

Yoko: Yes it’s still sitting in my mind, without having ever been used.

 – Y.O. – Twitter Q&A, February 2014

The first impression I had of him, looking at the hammer and nail painting like as if it’s Mona Lisa, was that he looked very beautiful, a very elegant kind of guy. That nice feeling about it. It would be nice to have an affair or something with somebody like this. Then I thought, ‘I’m too busy now.’ When he did (bit) the apple – ‘Oh, well, forget it.”

– Yoko to Carol Clerk, Uncut The Ultimate Music Guide

 (Hammer a Nail is a distant cousin of Yoko’s now popular piece, Wish Tree. As a child, Yoko visited Japanese shrines where it is an old custom for people to purchase and tie pre-printed tags with simple messages onto trees. The multitude of white papers tied to the trees resembled blooming white flowers. Yoko decided that this time people should write their own wishes. Yoko’s 1961 instructional version of Hammer A Nail in her book Grapefruit, asked us to tie a piece of our hair on the nails.)

“It was a miracle if we sold anything. The gallery was all about having a good time, changing the world… We were young. John was 27 and even then, much older than me.” John wasn’t collecting art then; that came later. We didn’t think about collecting or the money. The art scene today is much more precious and more financially aware than it was in 1967, 1968. I mean, the reason Yoko had come to London was for a symposium at the Roundhouse on auto-destructive art. You could hardly collect art that destroyed itself, could you? Yoko was into what she called optimum conceptualism. Her work was about the imagination, about what could be.”

– John Dunbar to Jonathan Glancey, The Guardian January 24, 1996

Yoko was seven years older than John. She was in her second marriage (to collaborator Tony Cox) and had a daughter with him. After years as a struggling artist in Tokyo, she now attracted the interest of the New York avant-garde. In London, Yoko had wrapped one of the lion statues in Trafalgar Square with drop-cloths (Wrapping Event) documenting it on film. She also made the notorious Film No. 4 (a.k.a. Bottoms) consisting of naked behinds in motion.


John did not leave Indica gallery before taking a bite out of Yoko’s apple! He thought that the bright green Granny Smith apple on a Plexiglas pedestal with its asking price of £200 was “pretty funny” and proceeded to take a bite prior to the show’s opening the next day.

I was thinking the sculpture would organically change and gradually deteriorate. Then somebody came and took a bite and I was very upset. John could see it on my face and he put the apple back on the stand.

– Yoko 2006

Also see: APPLE – YOKO ONO by Madeline Bocaro ©

“I’m starting to think that maybe I can live. Before it seemed impossible. I was just about at the vanishing point, and all my things were too conceptual. But John came in and said, ‘All right, I understand you.’ And just by saying that all those things which were supposed to vanish stayed.”

– Yoko – To Jonathan Cott, Yoko Ono and Her Sixteen-Track Voice
Rolling Stone March 18, 1971

“It crossed Yoko’s mind that if she wasn’t so preoccupied with her exhibition she would have an affair with him. But she put the idea out of her mind.

“I was getting cynical and weary of affairs and getting scared thinking that men were evil, but a necessary evil. And then again, somehow I didn’t find Englishmen attractive. I’m sorry to say that, but somehow they weren’t sexy. I wasn’t attracted to the ritual of being proper. The thing I objected to most in the Japanese men whom my mother introduced me to was the thought that if they knew what I was like they’d never like me. I got that feeling about it all in England, too. I felt that they naturally assumed I was a nice quiet Japanese girl.” – Yoko

Yoko felt that many people in the West were intrigued by “Eastern Culture” and that men wanted to have an affair with a “Cultured Japanese girl” to make life easy. Here was a real geisha girl!

“I felt it was almost the same as the myth of white men with black girls – which is supposed to be very potent. And it gave me goose pimples. By the time I met John in Indica I was telling myself I was too busy to think about men. I was so cynical that when I saw John and noticed how nice he looked, I thought, ‘Oh, there it is.’ But I wasn’t going to pursue it… We hit it off in a strange sort of way, and I forgot everything. I forgot everything. Probably I was too lonely for words and too grateful to meet somebody who I didn’t have to feel lonely with.”

“There are moments when I regret it and think, why did I forget? Why did I forget the rules? All the shit I’m taking now, I just know it is the result of forgetting them! It’s like one of those things… say you’re crazy about someone and you get married and suddenly you realize that the mother-in-law is sitting there all the time, and you had forgotten that there was a mother-in-law. In my case, when I woke up I found the whole world was one big mother-in-law!”

–  Excerpt from Yoko Ono: The Whole World Is My Mother-In-Law, 1974

(Unpublished) © Caroline Coon, 1974

The mutual attraction was too strong to deny. John was irresistible at age twenty-six. He was tanned with wavy auburn hair and had just begun wearing the round National Health eyeglasses which would become his trademark. The positivity and humor in Yoko’s work was irresistible to John.

John and Yoko didn’t actually begin their relationship until eighteen months after their meeting at Indica gallery. It was at dawn after their first night together recording their first album together, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins at John’s home, Kenwood in May 1968.

Paul McCartney:

“I introduced Yoko to John through my own interest in the avant-garde. John wasn’t avant-garde till later. Then John became wildly avant-garde because he was so fucking constricted living out in Weybridge. He’d come into London and say, ‘What’ve you been doing, man?’ and I’d say, ‘What’ve you been doing?’ ‘Well, watching telly, smoking pot.’ ‘I went out last night and saw Luciano Berio at the Italian Embassy, that was quite cool. I’ve got this new Stockhausen record, check this out. We went down Robert [Fraser]’s, got this sculpture, it was great, dig this. Wow, Paolozzi, great …’ I think John actually said, ‘I’m fucking jealous of you, man’ – he just needed to get out of Weybridge. It wasn’t his wife’s fault, she just didn’t understand how free he needed to be.

Yoko showed up at my house and said, ‘Have you got any original manuscripts?’ She was doing a thing for John Cage in New York. So I was interested. I knew of him through [Barry] Miles and various other people like [John] Dunbar. I didn’t want to give her one, because I keep them, and in the end I wasn’t really too forthcoming – I just didn’t want to give her one, quite simple. So I said, ‘I’ve got this friend, who might be able to interest you.’ Maybe if I hadn’t done that there might not have been this sort of huge period for them… who knows? So then she went round to John. I think that was before the meeting in Indica which is the great story. I’m not sure, it might have been there she said, ‘You’re the guy Paul told me to come and see …’ I’m not sure. I certainly do know that I met her before John as part of my interests.”

— Paul McCartney to Jonathon Green, Days in the Life (1988)

(Peter Asher quote from Bridgewater West)


Indica Gallery was re- created in November 2006 in London and in 2007 (NY) as an art project by Riflemaker. Yoko was involved in the project. 
(I love that Marianne Faithfull sat in the back embarrassed and bored!)
New York 2007


John had recently returned from filming How I Won the War in Almeria, a city in Andalusia in Southeast Spain by the Mediterranean sea. The Beatle’s mop-top hair was cut short for the filming. He started to wear round ‘granny’ eyeglasses, which became his signature look.

During his time in Almeria (September 1966) a villa that John rented had wrought-iron gates resembling those of his childhood neighborhood’s Strawberry Field.  This inspired him to write the song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.  His original handwritten lyrics bear these lines (later replaced with ‘No one I think is in my tree’).

“There’s no one on my wavelength

I mean, it’s either too high or too low

That is you can’t you know tune in…”

In a mere few weeks (one month after his 26th birthday) John would find someone completely in tune with his wavelength – Yoko! John returned to London from Spain after filming on November 3, 1966 and met Yoko four days later.

John and Yoko didn’t actually begin their relationship until eighteen months after their meeting at Indica gallery. It was at dawn after their first night together recording their first album together, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins  at John’s home, Kenwood in May 1968.

This story is an excerpt from my Yoko Ono biography

In Your Mind – The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono

A complete look at Yoko Ono’s life, art, films and music in astounding detail. 

Includes the love story of John and Yoko, and all the work they did together.

558 pages

Visit the website for reviews and more info:

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Oh, East is East, and West is West,
And never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently
At God’s great Judgement Seat;

But there is neither East nor West
Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
Tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

-Rudyard Kipling



From Liverpool to Tokyo
It’s a way to go
From distant lands
One woman one man
Let the four winds blow

Three thousand miles over the ocean
Three thousand light years
From the land of the rising sun

Love has opened up my eyes
Love has blown right through
Wherever you are, you are here
Wherever you are, you are here

Three thousand miles over the ocean
Three thousand light years
From the land of surprising sun

Well now, East is East
And West is West
The twain shall meet
East is West
And West is East
Let it be complete

Three thousand miles over the ocean
Three thousand light years
From the land of the morning star

– John Lennon, Mind Games 1973



Imagine lettting a goldfish swim across
the sky.
Let it swim from the West to the East.
Drink a liter of water.
Imagine letting a goldfish swim across
the sky.
Let it swim from the East to the West.

1963 Spring

– Yoko Ono, Grapefruit


A great mash-up: Ceiling Painting vs. Give Peace a Chance!


Indica logo / Jane and Peter Asher at Indica book shop 1966.

Yoko & Tony Cox @ Indica with Play It By Trust, Apple

and Ceiling painting




Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 9.16.56 PM


Indica catalogue signed @ Knokke Belgium 1967

Collection of Madeline Bocaro

© Madeline Bocaro 2019. No part of these written materials may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without written permission All text on this site written by Madeline Bocaro is protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without prior written permission of the author. is a non-profit blog created for educational and research purposes.

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