ENTERTAINMENT

Yoko Ono Birthday: Artist Turns 80, Releases 'Hold Me,' And Shares Her Birthday Wish (AUDIO)

02/18/2013 08:33 am 08:33:31 | Updated Feb 19, 2013

Yoko Ono is 80 today, which means she is the same age as the Golden Gate Bridge. To mark the milestone, the Huffington Post asked Ono to share her birthday wish with readers by email. Here it is, undedited:

"To stay alive, healthy and wise, and dance together in peace and love. yoko."

To meet today's celebratory dancing needs, we recommend "Hold Me," the clubby track Ono released earlier this month with producer Dave Audé.

While you bop, a little background on our birthday girl: She was born in Tokyo on February 18, 1933, and went on to make history as the first female philosophy student at Japan's distinguished Gakushūin University. After that, we first knew her as John Lennon's wife, and, later -- when the Beatles broke up supposedly (but probably not) due to her influence -- as one of the most divisive figures in pop music history.

Along the way, she built a viable career for herself as an avant garde performance artist. "The world's most famous unknown artist," as Lennon once called her, has authored enough "known" work in the decades since to fill out several sweeping retrospectives, including the latest -- a 200-piece birthday exhibit currently on at the Schirn Kunsthalle museum in Frankfurt.

Even in the '90s, Ono had a sense for social networking: her still-popular 1996 project, Wish Tree, mimics the structure of an email chain by asking viewers to tie a message to a tree and to get their friends to do the same. Today, her work mostly originates online, from her public Instagram account (which, full disclosure, we are obsessed with), to #smilesfilm, her attempt to edit grins from all over the globe into one massive smile supercut.

Today she is asking fans to take photos of themselves captioned with their birthday message and the tag #smilesfilm on Instagram. She explains it all in this YouTube video. Ladies and gentlemen, Yoko Ono:

CORRECTION: Of a sort. A reader took issue with us equating Yoko Ono's age to that of the Golden Gate Bridge, as the San Francisco landmark wasn't completed until 1937. However, construction on the bridge began in 1933, the year Ono was born. For now, a compromise: the line stands, as does this correction notice. Thanks for the heads up, meticulous HuffPost reader.

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