The video in question comes from 1972, after the Beatles broke up. So they aren’t part of this story.
But, Lennon knew nothing of Ono’s work before they met, according to both of them. Conversely, Ono had not heard of the Beatles. She was known as an avant-garde artist in London and New York, and her show in Mayfair was part of the scene there. McCartney dragged Lennon to it, because McCartney had a history of supporting the venue where the show was held. They met there, and discovered each others’ work.
By 1972 Ono was famous, in no small part because of her connection to Lennon, but she was also independently well-known for her own work as an artist who used various media. Part of that was her vocalization. Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band (1970) opens with a song, “Why,” that includes her vocalizations.
To go back to my original point about Chuck Berry:
Anyone who was surprised didn’t know her work, and hadn’t been paying attention to the New York and London avant-garde scenes. It was intentional, and meant to attack conventional music structure.
If Chuck Berry saw Ono with a microphone and didn’t think she was going to produce her own art–art that she was well-known for producing–he was an idiot.
Thanks for the clarification. But I suspect it is far more likely that Chuck Berry may not have really known what she did (or was likely to do). Categorising him as an idiot for that seems a tad harsh.
Maybe so. I think he knew her style pretty well. His facial expression may have been playing to the camera. She was putting up with a lot of public shit at the time, and piling on Yoko Ono was an easy way to score a laugh.
ETA: Fun fact. The gallery where Yoko Ono’s work was being shown was owned by John Dunbar, Peter Asher, and Barry Miles. Dunbar was at the time married to Marianne Faithful, and Peter Asher was the brother of Jane Asher, famous actor and McCartney’s girlfriend. Barry Miles would go on to write a bunch of books about the Beatles. Small world.
His facial expression was so brief, it seemed to me that it was genuine. If he was playing to the camera I think he’d have been much more exaggerated and overt - he was known for that to some extent, after all.
ETA all of which presumes there was no rehearsal (very unlikely) or Yoko was not at the rehearsal. If she was at the rehearsal and did the same thing, then yeah - he was playing to the camera.