Jody Denberg, on-air host at KUTX-FM in Austin, Texas, and photographer Bob Gruen have co-authored the brand new “See Hear Yoko,” a beautiful coffee table book tribute to Yoko Ono’s life before, with and after John Lennon, plus her art and music, he told Beatles Examiner. The book was originally made as a present for Yoko’s 80th birthday in 2013, but she has OK’d the book to be available for sale. She turned 82 on Feb. 18, 2015.
“Bob and I first spoke about the idea for the book, which was to make a special present to give to Yoko for her 80th birthday in Austin during SXSW 2012,” he told Beatles Examiner. “I live here, and Bob was here to attend the premiere of the documentary about his life and career. The idea was to combine his Yoko photographs matched with quotes from my Yoko interviews. He sent me files of about 200 photos and I transcribed all my interviews shortly thereafter. I matched some of my Yoko quotes to his pictures and sent them to him and his staff. The book was ready for Yoko’s birthday so it took less than a year to assemble. We gave it to her at the Dakota in May of 2013.”
The book is a wonderful tribute to Ono with many of Gruen’s vintage iconic photos of her and Lennon and Denberg’s words. There is much Lennon content in the book, but her career as a performer and an artist is also covered.
Denberg has interviewed Ono on several occasions. How would he describe her? “I have been blessed to interview Yoko a dozen times between 1984-2010,” he said. “To me Yoko has always been genuine, committed to the process of in-depth interviews, friendly, helpful and magical.
When interviewing Yoko, one gets the sense that one of the reasons she and John were so attracted to each other was that she and John saw themselves as equals and it was something they both cherished. Do he see her this way? “Yes I certainly see Yoko and John as equals, but it is like comparing apples and grapefruits,” he said.
How does he explain her philosophy of art? “I think two of her main tenets are that everything we do in our lives can be art, and that a dream we dream together is reality.”
What’s his favorite Yoko moment? “I have so many wonderful memories of being with Yoko,” he said. One was at her home in the Dakota several years ago. “After a 1997 interview which we did in her Dakota ground floor Studio One offices (an exhaustive conversation that went over all of her albums to fate which were about to come out on CD for the first time on Rykodisc) I asked if could go upstairs to see her 7th floor apartment. She invited me up and gave me a tour of the home she and John lived in, and allowed me to take photographs for my own collection because she trusted me not to share them.”
He also mentioned the day he and Gruen brought her the finished book. “Bringing her the ‘See Hear Yoko’ book with Bob in 2013, Yoko spent nearly two hours with us, looking through the book and commenting on the memories the photos, as well as playing us a couple of newly discovered unreleased demos of John’s and her just completed album ‘Take Me To The Land Of Hell.’”
And his favorite Yoko Ono album? “I can’t narrow it down to on,” he said “I love ‘Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band,’ ‘Approximately Infinite Universe,’ ‘Season of Glass’ and ‘Between My Head And The Sky’ to name a few.” (In a later email, he later added “Rising” to the list.)