Monday, January 9, 2012


October-1971. Everson Museum curator James Harithas offers Yoko Ono the entire Everson Museum to conduct her own art exhibition called "This Is Not Here". The show of Unfinished Paintings and Sculptures by Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Guest Artists.

October 5, 1971- WOLF's Howie Castle and I arrived at Syracuse's Hancock International awaiting the arrival of John Lennon & Yoko Ono's flight from New York City. We had official press passes and were allowed to stand directly below the stairs leading from the plane to take photos. Upon their arrival they were escorted into the terminal wing for a short press conference. We taped the event in its entirety. More photo's were taken that later appeared on the History of Syracuse Music Album series.

Yoko's Art Exhibition opened at the Everson Museum of Art (October 9-27, 1971), David Ross was the coordinator of the event. Eight thousand people camped in a cold late October rain outside the museum the evening before hoping to catch a glimpse of Yoko and John.

A day prior to the show opening (October 8)  a so-called "Press Conference" and show tour was held for the media. The first two that entered were Howie Castle and myself (Ron Wray) representing Syracuse Radio Station WOLF 1490 AM. We were seated in the front row of the museum auditorium, with only a few television cameras between us and the stage. Many jammed the museum that day and sadly items were stolen or damage. Howie & I recorded the entire media event and it is included on the album "The History of Syracuse Music- Volume 12-13 (out of print).

When Yoko's Art Exhibition opened to the public, it was a free-for-all with very long lines. The Museum was fully packed with people all trying to see Yoko's conceptual works. I was a big stretch for many, but surprising large number understood and enjoyed the poetic simplicity of the work.

WOLF Radio sent a telegram to John & Yoko offering them  one free hour of airtime to speak about the art exhibition or any other matter they wished. It was signed by Howie Castle who had spent a great deal of time in the United Kingdom. He worked for Radio Carolina transmitting from a ship in the English Channel who programed Rock & Roll to European Countries... But they never responded.

The first day the exhibit opened to the public 4,000 people turned up at the Everson including Sue Clark (MacKay) & myself. We traveled through the museum viewing art, paintings, displays, listening to music and watching films. There was a room for Yoko's work called 'Water Event Artists" water related items sent by friends to Yoko . Andy Warhol sent his first video work, a tape of the waterworks in the factory. Dick Cavett sent a hat, Bob Dylan a record, Ringo Starr a ring, Phil Spector a Beatles plastic cup with an X marked over Paul McCartney's face.

Films presented by Yoko Ono- John Lennon are as follows- Admission $1.00 each performance. They were shown at the times listed below at the Everson Museum of Art- 401 Harrsion Street.

Friday -Oct 15
7:30 pm- Two Virgins, Erection, Fly, Give Peace A Chance (short) 90 minutes
9:30 pm- Apotheosis, Rape, Freedom Film # 1, John, Freedom Film # 2 Yoko

Saturday October 16
7:30 pm -Give Peace  A Chance (feature), Instant Karma, Ballad of John and Yoko
9:30 pm- Fly, Erection, Up Your Legs Forever (117 minutes)

Sunday - October 17
7:30 pm- Two Virgins, Erection, Fly, Give Peace A Chance (short) - 90 minutes
9:30 pm- Fly, Erection, Smile, Cold Turkey (96 minutes)

Tuesday -October 19
12:00 pm - Apotheosis, Rape, Freedom Film #1 John, Freedom Film #2 Yoko
 2:00 pm - Give Peace A Chance (feature), Instant Karma, Ballad of John and Yoko

Wednesday - October 20
12:00 pm - Fly, Erection, Up Your Legs Forever (117 minutes)
 2:00 pm -  Two Virgins, Erection, Fly, Give Peace A Chance (short) 90 minutes

Thursday- - October 21
12:00 pm - Fly, Erection, Smile, Cold Turkey (96 minutes)
  2:00 pm - Give Peace A Chance (feature), Instant Karma, Ballad of John and Yoko

Friday - October 22
12:00 pm - Apotheosis, Rape Freedom Films No 1 John, Freedom Films #2 Yoko
 2:00 pm  - Fly, Erection, Up Your Legs Forever (117 minutes)
During this Art Exhibition John Lennon & Yoko One stayed at the Hotel Syracuse where John celebrated his 31st birthday (October 9, 1971). It was back to the airport in the late morning as Howie & I snapped photos of Ringo & Maureen Starr, Phil Spector & Klaus Voorman exiting the plane thought the rain drops to their awaiting limo for the shot trip to the Hotel Syracuse. Many friends and musical guest arrived to honor John. They included Allen Ginsberg, Klaus Voorman, Phil Spector, Pete Bennett (Apple Records), Ringo & Maureen Starr, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinal, Jim Keltner, Nicky Hopkins and Yoko. It was rumored that Eric Clapton was going to be there but we never saw him.

A birthday jam session was held in John's hotel room that included all or parts of the following songs- What I Say, Yellow Submarine, Goodnight Irene, He's Got The Whole World in his Hands, Like A Rolling Stone, Twist & Shout-Louis Louis - LaBamba, Bring It On Home To Me, Yesterday, Tandoori Chicken, Power To The People, Maybe Baby, Peggy Sue, Since My Baby Left Me, Blue Suede Shoes, Give Peace A Chance, Cripple Inside. Uncle Albert, Happy Birthday to John, My Sweet Lord, Imagine, Oh Yoko

As the event ended and special guests departed. Howie, Sue and I rushed back to Hancock Airport. It was after 11 PM and the airport lobby was almost completely empty. A limo pulled up and in walked Pete Bennett of Apple Records and legendary producer Phil Spector. Phil was very pleased to speak to us in length till his flight departed, but wouldn't allow any photo's to be taken. This was the same evening that Spector wanted to stop their plane before takeoff thinking it was going to crash. In all these years I think I've only read about this event happening once. Howie, Sue and I were the only ones there to witness this historic Syracuse event.

Some 45-years later people are still talking about John & Yoko's time in Syracuse.- Ron Wray

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