‘The set had been made to look like their bedroom. When they took their clothes off, many of the crew were asked to leave. But I remained, taking photographs discreetly’
Ifirst met John Lennon in 1975, backstage at a televised event in New York when I was staff photographer for the SoHo Weekly News. Years later, while I was still at the paper, we decided to run an interview with Yoko Ono ahead of the release of the couple’s new album, Double Fantasy. They had spent the previous five years as recluses, during which time they had their son, Sean. I didn’t know Yoko personally but I’d always had a lot of respect for her as an artist, and of course I was a big fan of John’s. The idea was that we’d get access to the pair of them by approaching Yoko first.
On 20 November 1980, Yoko came to my Tribeca studio for the shoot. She was shy in front of the camera but eventually grew more comfortable, taking off her shades and leather jacket, finally striking a cute pose with her hand on her jeans zipper. We agreed to take more shots the next day at the apartment building where she and John lived, the Dakota. I had breakfast nearby and walked around, trying to find the right moment to ask Yoko whether we could take photos with John and Sean as well. “Not Sean,” she said. “But I’ll call John.” He was friendly and said he remembered me from the event in 1975, although maybe he was only being polite. The three of us walked around their favourite area of Central Park, later named Strawberry Fields in John’s memory.