Yoko Ono thanks Bermuda for tribute to John Lennon
By Scott Neil
Published Jun 22, 2012
John Lennon “loved and was immensely inspired by Bermuda”, and the Island paid tribute to the musician by unveiling a six-foot tall sculpture in the Botanical Gardens yesterday evening.
It commemorates Mr Lennon’s two-month vacation on the Island in the summer of 1980, when he wrote his last songs.
At the unveiling of the sculpture outside the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, a video message was played from Mr Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono.
“I’m pleased that John is being honoured in the Bermuda Botanical Gardens. It is where he discovered the Double Fantasy freesia flower, which became the title of his last album. Know that he loved and was immensely inspired by Bermuda,” she said.
Ms Ono, who was in London this week to open a retrospective art show, continued: “His spirit is now a part of the beautiful Bermuda Botanical Gardens where I hope peace and love will grow. I love you.”
Lynne Clifford represented Ms Ono at the unveiling. She said Ms Ono was pleased to support the tribute as Mr Lennon’s time in Bermuda “was magical”. She said: “John fell in love with the Island”.
She said the musician’s music and art promoted love, and she felt the new sculpture was a way for keeping that message alive.
Mr Lennon sailed to Bermuda in early June 1980 and stayed on the Island until the end of July that year.
During that time he wrote and refined songs that would appear on his comeback album ‘Double Fantasy’, a collaboration with his wife.
The album was released in November 1980, just three weeks before he was shot dead outside his Manhattan apartment on December 8.
During the 1960s Mr Lennon rose to worldwide fame with pop group The Beatles.
He went on to campaign for peace as a solo artist, releasing songs such as ‘Give Peace A Chance’ and ‘Imagine’. He stepped away from music-making in 1975 to concentrate on helping to bring up his son Sean who had been born that year.
In 1980 he decided to take a sailing trip to Bermuda. Afterwards, when he returned to his home in New York, he began recording songs again, many of which he’d worked on during his Island vacation.
The new circular, six-foot diameter sculpture was designed by Bermuda artist Graham Foster. It is made from durable cortens steel and features images of Mr Lennon, a guitar, flowers and doves.
Mr Foster, who joined Premier Paula Cox in unveiling the sculpture, said he felt “fantastic” at the way it had turned out and the response from the public to the new art work.
The sculpture is part of a series of events taking place this summer in recognition of Mr Lennon’s link to Bermuda.
A two-week exhibition of handwritten lyrics and lithographs by the musician opened yesterday evening at Masterworks.
Work is also underway to create a labyrinth of freesias on one of the lawns in the Botanical Gardens.
The labyrinth is the idea of park curator Neville Richardson using freesia bulbs from Japan which closely resemble the original — but no longer available — Fantasy freesia.
Tony Brannon and Michael Friesenbruch are the executive directors of the Double Fantasy Bermuda tribute events.
Mr Brannon thanked the many people who have been involved in the various tribute events to Mr Lennon, including the Masterworks team headed up by Tom Butterfield.
“Today is about thanks, and most of all thanks to John Lennon for the music that he gave the planet,” he said.
On September 21 there will be a concert in the Botanical Gardens to coincide with the release of a double CD featuring local and international artists, including Maxi Priest, Heather Nova and Biggie Irie performing some of Mr Lennon’s most well known songs.
The concert will feature many of the performers from the CD. A book entitled ‘Bermuda Fantasy: John Lennon’s Island Journey’, chronically Mr Lennon’s time in Bermuda, will also be published.
Mr Brannon said he hoped it may be possible to create an annual musical event in Mr Lennon’s honour.
Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert attended the unveiling and is also a featured singer on a locally recorded version of The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love”, which will appear on the upcoming tribute double CD.
Mr Furbert said it was a great idea to honour a man of Mr Lennon’s stature and he hoped it would also attract tourists wanting to know more about the musician and his time in Bermuda.