Belfast Telegraph

Monday 5 October 2015

Yoko Ono’s surprise letter to Northern Irish singer

By Maureen Coleman

Published 26/07/2008

A Belfast musician who is organising a ‘Festival of Peace and Love’ in the city next month last night spoke of his shock after receiving a message of support from John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono.

Paul Doherty, lead singer of the Vals and “Lennon’s biggest fan” couldn’t believe his eyes when peace campaigner Yoko contacted him to wish him luck for the one day even

A number of local artists and bands will be taking part in Valfest at McCory Park in west Belfast on Friday, August 8 and according to Paul, it is hoped the concert will allow “local talent of all musical genres and backgrounds to showcase their talent”.

Paul explained how the message from Yoko came about.

“Yoko Ono is one of our friends on The Vals MySpace page,” he said.

“Basically I was blogging about Valfest when, out-of-the-blue, I got this message from Yoko asking me if I had a private email address.

“I was so shocked, I nearly fell of my seat. I wrote back and gave her the address and she sent me a message, telling me she had been to Belfast before and wishing us luck for the Festival.”

The message from Yoko read: “Hi Paul Docherty! I was in Belfast. Yes I was. I was invited by the museum there to do a show and I did.

“I loved the cloudy, wet and windy city. I’m sure when you live there all year round, you won’t be too happy. Or maybe you would be.

“You will know, now that you are doing the Peace and Love Festival, you are connected to all of us, the family of peace of the world. Good for you.”

The message was signed off, “lots of love, Yoko”.

Paul said: “The Vals are influenced by the Beatles, we are huge huge Beatles fans and I am John Lennon’s biggest fan, so to get this from his widow is unbelievable.

“I told the rest of the lads and they’re thrilled too. I don’t even mind that she spelt my surname wrong, it’s Yoko Ono!”

The 29-year-old — who plays with John Rossi, Owen Duffy and Marty Malone in The Vals, said he had emailed her back and invited her to Valfest.

“She hasn’t replied yet, but who knows, she might. I don’t want to push it though, I don’t think I’ll be inviting her down to our next gig at the Spring and Airbrake,” he said.

“Yoko is a great icon of peace in our time and it’s brilliant that she’s supporting our Festival.”

Yoko visited Belfast in 1998 with her Have You Seen The Horizon Lately? touring art exhibition.

The backing of the world-famous famous widow isn’t the only link to the Beatles for Valfest. One of the musicians on the bill is former Wings’ man Henry McCullough, who is set to headline the event.

McCullough played with Sir Paul McCartney and also performed at the original Peace and Love Festival, Woodstock.

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