When photographer Bob Gruen and radio host Jody Denberg cast about for a unique gift for Yoko Ono’s 80th birthday, they hit upon a tried-and-true DIY solution: a scrapbook. Happily, Ono reacted predictably and insisted that the gift be shared with the public. Some 300 of Gruen’s intimate photographs and 25 years of Denberg’s one-on-one chats grace this lovely and reasonably-priced collection. With the addition of introductions by Gruen and Denberg, a reproduction of the handwritten thank-you note from Ono and a dust jacket the book appears exactly as Ono received it.
Roughly the first 75 pages cover Ono’s life with John Lennon—in the studio, on tour and at home with Ono and their son Sean; the remaining pages document Ono’s journey to 80 years young. Since she met Lennon nearly 50 years ago, this high-profile and uncompromising woman has been criticized in her roles as a musician, peace activist, mother and avant-garde artist, but these photographs and texts, culled from thousands of images and hours of conversations, reveal truth and humanity in this controversial figure.
And yes, Ono does wear those huge sunglasses at home.
– Suzanne Cadgène