Yoko Ono's Surprise Rebirth as a Dance Music Icon

The 78-year-old artist has had six consecutive Number One dance hits

March 8, 2011 3:32 PM ET
Yoko Ono's Surprise Rebirth as a Dance Music Icon

A quick glance at Billboard's Dance/Club Play Songs chart shows many unsurprising names: Britney Spears, Rihanna, Taio Cruz, Kylie Minogue and Florence + The Machine. Up above all of them, at the Number One spot, is Yoko Ono with a dance remix of her super obscure 1972 album track "Move On Fast." It's her sixth consecutive Number One dance hit. "Those are all incredibly creative people on the chart with me," Ono tells Rolling Stone. "I respect Lady Gaga very much. I feel a touch guilty that I'm up there. But it's all right, that happens."

Photo Gallery: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Final Years Together

Producers have been remixing tracks from Ono's deep catalog of avant-garde music for the past decade. "At first I was prejudiced against the idea," she says. "I had the pride of a rocker. People can get very elitist very quickly, and that's how I was." When she was first approached about remixing "Walking On Thin Ice" she was especially resistant because that was the song John Lennon was working on when he died. "I was like, 'No, never! Don't change anything!'" she says. "It was a very sensitive subject for me."

Photo Gallery: Yoko Ono's Plastic Ono Band Concert With Lady Gaga, Iggy Pop and More

About 10 years ago she relented and allowed a variety of artists – from Pet Shop Boys to Basement Jaxx to Felix Da Housecat – to create dance remixes of her work for the albums Open Your Box and Yes, I'm A Witch. "When I first heard the songs I cried they was so beautiful," she says. "I was so dumb to be against it. Musically, it was as very, very rich experience for me to hear it."

The album was a critical and commercial success, leading to the release of Move On Fast (The Remixes), which hits shelves on March 12th. The set features remixes of her catalog by Richard Morel, Digital Dog, Wawa, Chris The Greek and many more. "I never thought I would go into the dance charts," says Yoko. "I respect these producers so much now. I think one day the dance field is going to be very important musically. I mean, it's a high art now...I just feel great that people are dancing. I great and I feel it."

Ono rarely steps foot into a dance club, even though many of them now regularly play her music. "I did go to a few clubs just so people can be like, 'Yes, Yoko was there!" she says. "But it does get a bit nerve wracking to go to those places. I would love to be dancing every night until dawn, but somehow it's not conducive for my life right now."

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

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »