The Plastic Ono Band is formed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1969 before the dissolution of the Beatles. Among the various other members of the band were Eric Clapton, two more Beatles (George Harrison and Ringo Starr), artist Klaus Voormann, future Yes drummer Alan White, members of Delaney and Bonnie, the Who's drummer Keith Moon, New York band Elephant's Memory, Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, Phil Spector, drummer Jim Keltner, and, in a 2009 revival, Sean Lennon. The band was also joined by all The Beatles except for Paul McCartney.
In 2010, Yoko Ono discussed the origin of the Plastic Ono Band name: "As I was asked to do a show in Berlin before John and I got together, I wanted to use four plastic stands with tape recorders in each one of them, as my band. I told that story to John, and he immediately coined the phrase PLASTIC ONO BAND."
In 1968, John Lennon began his personal and artistic relationship with Yoko Ono by collaborating on the experimental album Two Virgins. After a second volume, Unfinished Music No.2: Life With The Lions appeared in the spring of 1969, Lennon and Ono decided that all of their future endeavours would be credited to the Plastic Ono Band. Its credo, "YOU are the Plastic Ono Band", implied that everyone was part of the group. In fact, the Plastic Ono Band was an identity to describe works by Lennon and Ono and whoever happened to be performing with them. Lennon and Ono would both use the name for years on their future solo albums. The single release of "Give Peace a Chance" in July 1969, recorded in a hotel room in Montreal, Quebec with many participants, was the first release to bear the credit of Plastic Ono Band.
The only album solely credited to the Plastic Ono Band, Live Peace in Toronto 1969, was recorded during the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival on September 13 that year and featured Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Klaus Voorman on bass (an old friend of Lennon's from Germany, who was famous for the cover art of the Beatles' Revolver album), and Alan White (later of Yes) on drums. Fronting the group, naturally, were Lennon and Ono. Lennon's performance has been cited as giving him the confidence to tell the other Beatles a few days later that he was leaving the band.
Just after its recording, "Cold Turkey", Lennon's tale of breaking his brief heroin addiction, was released as a single under the banner of the Plastic Ono Band, again featuring the Live Peace In Toronto 1969 line-up. By early 1970, Lennon and Ono had begun adding their names to their releases ("Instant Karma!" coming out as "John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band", and their two proper solo debut albums as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band). By 1971 the name was being used as a secondary credit, with Lennon's and Ono's names more prominent on their solo ventures, and with occasional variances (e.g., "the Plastic Ono Nuclear Band", "the Plastic U.F.Ono Band," or, when they performed with Frank Zappa, "the Plastic Ono Mothers").
The 2009 album Between My Head and the Sky is credited to Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band. It is the first use of the Plastic Ono Band name since the 1975 compilation Shaved Fish. The all-new line-up includes Sean Lennon, Cornelius and Yuka Honda, among others. Production credits are shared by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, with remixes produced by Bill Kates, Billy Martin, Damien Price, DJ Chernobyl, Jorge Artajo, King Louis & Mighty Jay, Konrad Behr, Mabarak, Madeon, Nick Vernier Band, Pedro Vainer, Posterboys, Rondo Brothers, Rumours of Whores, Ugh/Satanicpornocultshop, Shuji Nabara, Technobears, Tiger et Ghost, Vivada, and Whiton. Between My Head and the Sky was released on 29 September 2009 and garnered impressive critical acclaim, including four- and five-star reviews from Rolling Stone, Mojo, Spin, Uncut, Q, NME, Nylon, Pitchfork, and others. In early 2010, the new Plastic Ono Band reunited in concert with original members Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, and Jim Keltner, along with special guests including Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Bette Midler, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Scissor Sisters, Harper Simon, Paul Simon, and Gene Ween. On October 2, 2010 the Plastic Ono Band performed live in Los Angeles with special guests Lady Gaga, Iggy Pop, Mike Watt, Kim Gordon, Perry Farrell, Carrie Fisher, RZA, Shavo Odadjian, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and others.
Shout! Factory released the only recorded concert, Live in Toronto ’69, on DVD in June 2009. This set included the live release of Abbey Road, in addition to famous Beatles covers. Also included on the disc was an interview with Yoko Ono from 1988.