04/21/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono said she still felt misunderstood by Beatles fans who blame her for the breakup of the group and for Lennon's search for seclusion in his last years. She also felt hurt and isolated after not being invited to a memorial service for fellow Beatle spouse Linda McCartney seven months ago, she said in an interview with Britain's Express on Tuesday. "I was hurt, yes, but I understand it," she said in the article, published on the 18th anniversary of Lennon's shooting by deranged fan Mark Chapman outside his and Ono's luxury New York apartment. Ono, 65, who was widely accused of causing the Beatles' 1970 split, said Paul's decision not to invite her was not surprising. "I'm still here, but Linda and John are not," she said. "That must hurt very much."The Japanese-born artist said a racist Western world saw her for years as the "dragon lady," blaming her for stealing Lennon from his first wife, splitting up the Beatles, and even indirectly for the star's death. "If I was blonde with blue eyes, a beautiful, tall, skinny woman I'm sure there would not have been a problem. But for people to see their Western hero getting together with an Oriental woman -- well, that was too much," she said.