Yoko Ono Recalls Own Struggles With Hunger in Japan

John Lennon's widow lends 'Imagine' to anti-hunger charity

December 5, 2013 6:05 PM ET
Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono at the Hard Rock Cafe Tokyo.
Hard Rock International/ Tsutomu Fujita AP Images for Invision

Yoko Ono has granted the use of her late husband John Lennon's song "Imagine" to WhyHunger's "Imagine There's No Hunger" campaign. At an event for the campaign in Tokyo, she also recalled her own struggles with hunger as a child growing up amidst the bombings of Japan during World War II.

"I remember being hungry and I know it's so difficult to just be hungry," Ono said, according to the Associated Press. "One day I didn't bring a lunchbox. The other kids asked, don't you want to eat? I just said, no, I'm not hungry." While Ono was born into a wealthy family, like many Japanese citizens, she went through a difficult period after fleeing Tokyo during bombing raids. She even recalled those she knew who had starved to death or others who had died after eating poisonous mushrooms.

Watch Yoko Ono and the Flaming Lips Send a Message on 'Letterman'

Ono added that she believed Lennon would approve of the use of "Imagine" in WhyHunger's campaign, which will benefit efforts geared towards child nutrition and sustainable farming in 22 countries. The event was capped off by a performance of "Imagine" from MayDay, a popular rock outfit from Taiwan.

"My husband and I really wanted to do something for the world, especially for the children," Ono said. "Children have pride, too, so they don't beg you, but they are in pain and they are starving."

In September, Ono released her new album, Take Me to the Land of Hell, her first full-length since 2009's Between My Head and the Sky. The record featured a slew of guest performers, including Questlove and tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus, as well as remixes from surviving Beastie Boys Ad-Rock and Mike D. You can watch the Beasties – along with Questlove, This American Life host Ira Glass, R&B singer Roberta Flack and others – bust a move alongside Ono in the charming clip for the Take Me cut "Bad Dancer."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »