Yoko Ono welcomed her kids with Anthony Cox and John Lennon
The activist and musician has been married to three different men, two of whom she shares children with. She became a first-time parent during her second marriage to filmmaker Anthony Cox in 1963.
Together, they welcomed daughter Kyoko, who spent the majority of her upbringing living with her father as a result of her parents’ divorce and a lengthy custody battle.
Consequently, Ono didn’t have much of a relationship with her daughter until 1998. Ono’s 1971 hit “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)” is said to be a love song to her only daughter.
"Losing my daughter was a very serious pain," Ono told PEOPLE. "There was always some empty space in my heart."
Sean has followed in his parents' musical footsteps. The “One Night” singer told The Guardian in 2015, his devotion to music stems from his admiration for Ono and Lennon’s discographies.
“The only reason I’m interested in art and music at all is because of my parents," he told the outlet. "Respect for them is at the heart of everything I do. It defines me. ... I sort of hero-worshipped them as a child, then went to work making music on my own.”
Here's everything to know about Yoko Ono’s children, Kyoko Chan Cox and Sean Taro Ono Lennon, and their relationship with the artist and musician.
Kyoko Chan Cox, 60
Kyoko Chan Cox was born in August 1963, two months after her parents’ second wedding.
Ono and Cox first married in November 1962, but were forced to get an annulment after she failed to finalize her divorce from her previous husband, Toshi Ichiyanagi. Once legally divorced, they wed again in June 1963. They welcomed their daughter by the end of that summer.
When Kyoko was 5 years old, her parents divorced. A few months after their separation was finalized in 1969, Ono married Lennon, and a contentious custody battle over Kyoko ensued. In the end, Cox moved to Denmark and took Kyoko with him.
She didn’t see her mother again until New Years in 1970, when Ono and Lennon traveled to Denmark in hopes of smoothing things over with Cox. Despite a successful start to their visit — the couple even stayed at Cox’s farmhouse with his new wife — any progress made eventually worsened. In 1971, Cox was given full custody of Kyoko, and the pair vanished.
Kyoko didn’t come into contact with Ono again until she became a mother herself in 1994.
"When Kyoko appeared finally, I was totally in shock," Ono previously told PEOPLE. "It felt like the part of me that was missing came back."
Though Kyoko has made a few public appearances with her mom over the years, she leads a largely private life.
Reflecting on her childhood, Kyoko told PEOPLE in 2003 that Lennon was always “nice to me,” but their relationship was complicated. Kyoko said the singer was “this consuming force” and she was often left competing for her mother’s time and attention.
“He wanted all of my mom, and there wasn’t a lot of her for me,” she said.
Sean Taro Ono Lennon, 48
Ono was 42 years old when she welcomed her son Sean with Lennon on Oct. 9, 1975 — the day of The Beatles member's 35th birthday.
Sean’s childhood home was the infamous Dakota building located on New York City’s Upper West Side, across the street from Central Park, which also happened to be where his father was shot and killed in December 1980.
Lennon’s untimely death aside, Sean has several fond memories from going up in one of Manhattan’s most prestigious residences. He became lifelong friends with their neighbor, Grammy-winning singer Roberta Flack, whom Sean often referred to as his “Aunt Roberta.”
"At first, I didn't even think of Roberta as this incredible artist and musician, she was just this really cool neighbor. We used to call her Aunt Roberta, and we were very close,” he recalled in Roberta, a 2022 documentary chronicling Flack’s life.
Sean added that Flack was also a pillar of support for his widowed mother. He remembered Ono producing Lennon's records in the studio — work that others wouldn't think she'd do because they didn't know her.
"They imagine this sort of quiet girlfriend, but my mom is often a dominating force in the room and I think Roberta was just like that," he said. "They both dealt with that kind of sexism, but it's something that they overcame, and they were tough."
While a talented musician in his own right, Sean’s celebrity came at a young age. In a 1998 interview with The Rolling Stone, he revealed what it was like growing up with a last name like Lennon and how his father’s death thrust him into the spotlight at 5 years old.
“When you’ve never experienced anything else, it’s not weird — it’s simply your life,” Sean said of his fame inheritance. “I never knew that doing interviews and having press was weird. You take it as it comes. You don’t choose your name, you don’t choose your parents. You’re hurled into this earth, and life hits you."
Decades later, Sean said his dad’s presence still follows him everywhere. “People ask me, ‘Do you feel like he’s still around?’ And he is, man,” Sean told the outlet. "He’s alive in his music, in my life. Sometimes I walk into a store and hear him singing — 'Instant Karma' is playing — and I feel like that’s him talking to me.”
Sean has carved a name for himself in the music world. He’s released three solo albums, including his 1998 debut, Into the Sun. He and his mother, Ono, have collaborated on a handful of projects, and he’s released three albums with the psychedelic rock band The Claypool Lennon Delirium.
His work has been described by Billboard as “futuristic, outside-the-box music,” which Sean credits to his musical upbringing — specifically, his mother’s ear for sound.
“I come from a musical background that includes my mother as well as my father, so I’ve always had a natural affinity toward non-tonal instruments, including soundscapes and sound design," he said. "I was raised in an environment in which music was inherently experimental.”
In addition to his sister, Sean has a brother, Julian Charles John Lennon, from Lennon’s first marriage to Cynthia Lennon. The pair are close and continue to honor their father’s legacy to this day. They celebrated what would have been their father’s 80th birthday in 2020 with a special BBC Radio show.
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