John Lennon Said He ‘Learned Everything’ From Yoko Ono: ‘She’s My Teacher’

John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married for over a decade, and the former Beatle said he learned everything from her. He explained that they had a teacher and student relationship, a dynamic he said most people didn’t understand. While Lennon designated the roles, Ono noted that they both learned from each other. They both gave insight into their relationship and what they learned from it.

A black and white picture of Yoko Ono and John Lennon outside near a stream.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon | Susan Wood/Getty Images

How did John Lennon and Yoko Ono meet?

Lennon and Ono met in 1966, when he was still married to his first wife, Cynthia. She had an art installation at a gallery that he went to see.

“There was a sign that said, Hammer a nail in, so I said, ‘Can I hammer a nail in?’ But Yoko said no, because the show wasn’t opening until the next day,” Lennon told Playboy in 1980. “But the owner came up and whispered to her, ‘Let him hammer a nail in. You know, he’s a millionaire. He might buy it.’ And so there was this little conference, and finally she said, ‘Okay, you can hammer a nail in for five shillings.’”

He explained that his response to the offer sparked something between them.

“So smarta** says, ‘Well, I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.’ And that’s when we really met,” he said. “That’s when we locked eyes and she got it and I got it and, as they say in all the interviews we do, the rest is history.”

The two artists said they had a ‘teacher-pupil’ relationship 

Lennon and Ono married in 1969. He said that the relationship taught him everything he knew and allowed him to let go of baggage from his years with The Beatles.

“It takes time to get rid of all this garbage that I’ve been carrying around that was influencing the way I thought and the way I lived,” he said. “It had a lot to do with Yoko, showing me that I was still possessed. I left physically when I fell in love with Yoko, but mentally it took the last 10 years of struggling. I learned everything from her.”

He thought of her as his teacher.

“It is a teacher-pupil relationship. That’s what people don’t understand,” he said. “She’s the teacher and I’m the pupil. I’m the famous one, the one who’s supposed to know everything, but she’s my teacher. She’s taught me everything I f***ing know. She was there when I was nowhere, when I was the nowhere man.”

Yoko Ono said she also learned from John Lennon

While Lennon said he learned everything he knew from Ono, she said they both taught each other.

“Well, he had a lot of experience before he met me, the kind of experience I never had,” she said. “So I learned a lot from him, too. It’s both ways.”

She believed that her femininity played a part in her role as a teacher.

“Maybe it’s that I have strength, a feminine strength,” she said. “Because women develop it — in a relationship, I think women really have the inner wisdom and they’re carrying that while men have sort of the wisdom to cope with society, since they created it. Men never developed the inner wisdom; they didn’t have time. So most men do rely on women’s inner wisdom, whether they express that or not.”

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