Certainly, there’s been resentment in the case of some of the Beatles’ wives, but not all of them. Ringo Starr’s wife, Barbara Bach (the main Bond girl in The Spy Who Loved Me), and George Harrison’s first spouse, the model Patti Boyd, let their beauty do the talking – after all, finding a good looking partner is what we expect of the rich and famous, bar maybe Liza Minnelli.
Linda McCartney and Yoko Ono − the widow of John Lennon whose new show opened at Louisiana last week − on the other hand weren’t conventionally good looking. Women saw them cuddling up to the fab duo and genuinely thought they would have stood a chance. And even worse, the wives chose to stick their heads above the parapet.
We remember McCartney fondly now because she died quite young – people are hypocrites like that – but there was a time when her lack of musical ability was reviled. How many career musicians scoffed when they discovered she didn’t even know how to play the keyboards before hubby taught her? And yet within a few years she had shared an Oscar with him for best song for Live and Let Die. And she couldn’t sing in tune – she admitted to this herself, although the jury’s out on whether that infamous tape of her isolated microphone at a concert is actually genuine.
But at least she didn’t have to put up with the accusation that she’d split up the world’s biggest ever group. Ono, an artist in her own right before she met Lennon, endured attacks in the media unparalled in modern times – and that was without the internet. But despite it all, there she was last week at Louisiana, now an octogenarian, standing tall, still experimental.
You can say what you like about her art − she’d be the first to say it’s not for everyone. But there’s no denying that sometimes she was right on the money. A seminal figure in performance art, her music, dismissed as screaming by many, was a forerunner of punk and new wave, or at least the arty versions.
Talking of performance art, it’s a good week to visit Louisiana, which is putting on a performance in its sculpture park, and if it’s a nice day, maybe you’ll be tempted by a quality ice cream.
Aha, ice cream; now that’s when the resentment is fully warranted.