Julian Lennon

John Charles Julian Lennon (born 8 April 1963) is an English singer, musician and photographer, who is mainly known as the son of The Beatles member John Lennon and his first wife Cynthia.

Julian Lennon
Lennon in 2018
Background information
Birth nameJohn Charles Julian Lennon
Also known asJules
Born (1963-04-08) 8 April 1963
Liverpool, England
GenresPop rock
  • Singer-songwriter
  • artist
  • photographer
Years active1984–present

He was the direct inspiration for three Beatles' songs: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (1967), "Hey Jude" (1968), and "Good Night" (1968). His parents divorced in 1968.

He is half-brother to Sean Lennon. He has produced a number of albums starting with Valotte (1984), as well as a documentary film WhaleDreamers on an environmental theme. Lennon has also held exhibitions of his photography.

Early life

Julian Lennon was born on 8 April 1963 in Liverpool. He was named after his paternal grandmother, Julia Lennon. The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, was his godfather.

Lennon inspired one of his father's most famous songs, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", whose lyrics describe a picture the boy had drawn, a watercolor painting of his friend, Lucy O'Donnell, from nursery school, surrounded by stars. Another composition of his father inspired by him was the lullaby "Good Night", the closing song of The Beatles (also known as The White Album). In 1967, he attended the set of the Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour.

When Julian was five years old in 1968, his parents divorced following his father's infidelity with Japanese multimedia artist Yoko Ono.[1][2][3] John Lennon married Ono on 20 March 1969, and Julian has a younger half-brother, Sean Lennon, and a stepsister, Kyoko Chan Cox.

Paul McCartney wrote "Hey Jude" to console him over the divorce; originally called "Hey Jules", McCartney changed the name because he thought that "Jude" was an easier name to sing.[4] After his parents' divorce, Julian had almost no contact with his father until the early 1970s when, at the request of his father's then short-term girlfriend, May Pang (Yoko Ono and Lennon had temporarily separated), he began to visit his father regularly. John Lennon bought him a Gibson Les Paul guitar and a drum machine for Christmas 1973, and encouraged his interest in music by showing him some chords.[5][6]

Relationship with his father

Following his father's murder on 8 December 1980, Julian Lennon voiced anger and resentment towards him, saying,

I've never really wanted to know the truth about how dad was with me. There was some very negative stuff talked about me ... like when he said I'd come out of a whisky bottle on a Saturday night. Stuff like that.[7] You think, where's the love in that? Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit ... more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad.

Lennon chafed at hearing his father's peace and love stance perpetually celebrated. He told the Daily Telegraph, "I have to say that, from my point of view, I felt he was a hypocrite", he said, "Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him: his wife and son. How can you talk about peace and love and have a family in bits and pieces—no communication, adultery, divorce? You can't do it, not if you're being true and honest with yourself."[8]

Lennon was excluded from his father's will. However, a trust of £100,000 was created by his father to be shared between Julian and his half brother Sean.[9][10] Julian sued his father's estate and in 1996 reached a settlement agreement reportedly worth £20 million.[9]

By 2009, Lennon's feelings toward his father had mellowed considerably. Recalling his renewed contact with his father in the mid-1970s, he said,

Dad and I got on a great deal better then. We had a lot of fun, laughed a lot and had a great time in general when he was with May Pang. My memories of that time with Dad and May are very clear — they were the happiest time I can remember with him.[11]


Lennon was educated at Ruthin School, a boarding independent school in the town of Ruthin in Denbighshire in North Wales.[12]


Music career

Lennon made his musical debut at age 11 on his father's album Walls and Bridges playing drums on "Ya-Ya", later saying, "Dad, had I known you were going to put it on the album, I would've played much better!"[13] In the 1980s, according to AllMusic, he "parlayed a remarkable vocal similarity to his father into a successful singing career".[14]

Lennon enjoyed immediate success with his debut album, Valotte, released in 1984. Produced by Phil Ramone, it spawned two top 10 hits, the title track and "Too Late for Goodbyes", and earned Lennon a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1985. Music videos for the two hits were made by film director Sam Peckinpah and producer Martin Lewis. After the album's release, Paul McCartney sent Lennon a telegram wishing him good luck.[15]

His second album, 1986's The Secret Value of Daydreaming, was panned by critics. However, it reached number 32 on the Billboard 200 chart, and produced the single "Stick Around", which was Lennon's first number 1 single on the US Album Rock Tracks chart. He recorded the song "Because", previously recorded by The Dave Clark Five, in the UK for Clark's 1986 musical Time.

On 1 April 1987, Julian Lennon appeared as the Baker in Mike Batt's musical The Hunting of the Snark (based on Lewis Carroll's poem).[16] The all-star lineup included Roger Daltrey, Justin Hayward and Billy Connolly, with John Hurt as the narrator. The performance, a musical benefit at London's Royal Albert Hall in aid of the deaf, was attended by the Duchess of York.[17] Although Lennon never achieved the same level of success in the US as he had enjoyed with Valotte, his 1989 single "Now You're in Heaven" peaked at number 5 in Australia and gave him his second number 1 hit on the Album Rock Tracks chart in the US.

In 1991, George Harrison played guitar on Lennon's album Help Yourself, which included the single "Saltwater" although he was not directly credited. The single "Saltwater" reached number 6 in the UK and topped the Australian singles charts for four weeks. During this time, Lennon contributed a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" to the soundtrack of the television series The Wonder Years.

Lennon left the music business for several years in the 1990s. He followed his interests in cooking, sailing and sculpting. After he began his performing career, there was occasionally unfounded media speculation that Lennon would undertake performances with McCartney, Harrison and Ringo Starr. In the Beatles Anthology series in 1995, the three surviving Beatles confirmed there was never an idea of having Julian sit in for his father as part of a Beatles reunion, with McCartney saying, "Why would we want to subject him to all of this?"

In May 1998, Lennon released the album Photograph Smile to little commercial success. Music critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine praised the album as "well-crafted and melodic", and concluded by saying that it was "the kind of music that would receive greater praise if it weren't made by the son of a Beatle".[18] In 2002, he recorded a version of "When I'm Sixty-Four", from the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, for an Allstate Insurance commercial.

In 2006 he ventured into Internet businesses, including MyStore.com with Todd Meagher and Bebo founder Michael Birch.[19] In 2009 Lennon created a new partnership with Meagher and Birch called theRevolution, LLC. Through this company, Lennon released a tribute song and EP, "Lucy", honouring the memory of Lucy Vodden (née O'Donnell), the little girl who inspired the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to fund Lupus research.[20][21][22][23][24]

In October 2011, Lennon released the album Everything Changes. In 2012 he worked with music film director Dick Carruthers on the feature-length video documentary Through the Picture Window, which followed Lennon's journey in the making of Everything Changes and includes interviews with Steven Tyler, Bono, and Paul Buchanan from The Blue Nile. Through the Picture Window was also released as an app in all formats with bespoke videos for all 14 tracks from the album.[25][26][27]


Lennon's first-ever tour in early 1985 was documented as part of the film Stand By Me: A Portrait Of Julian Lennon — a film profile started by Sam Peckinpah, but completed by Martin Lewis after Peckinpah's death. Lennon has appeared in several other films including The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (1996, but shot in 1968), Cannes Man (1996), Imagine: John Lennon (1988), Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987), and a cameo in Leaving Las Vegas (1995) as a bartender. Julian provided the voice for the title role in the animated film David Copperfield.[28] He was also the voice of the main character Toby the Teapot in the animated special The Real Story of I'm a Little Teapot (1990).

Lennon is also the producer of the documentary called WhaleDreamers[29] about an aboriginal tribe in Australia and its special relationship to whales. It also touches on many environmental issues. This film has received many awards[30] and was shown at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.


After photographing his half-brother Sean's music tour in 2007, Lennon took up a serious interest in photography.[31]

On 17 September 2010,[32] Lennon opened an exhibition of 35 photographs called "Timeless: The Photography of Julian Lennon" with help from long-time friend and fellow photographer Timothy White. Originally scheduled to run from 17 September to 10 October,[33] the Morrison Hotel Gallery extended it a week to end 17 October.[34] The photographs include shots of his brother Sean and U2 frontman Bono.[31]

Lennon's "Horizons" series was featured at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery, NYC, 12 March – 2 May 2015.[35]


Shortly after the death of his father, Lennon began collecting Beatles memorabilia. In 2010, he published a book describing his collection, entitled: Beatles Memorabilia: The Julian Lennon Collection.[36][37]

Charity work

Lennon founded The White Feather Foundation in 2009. Its mission "embraces environmental and humanitarian issues and in conjunction with partners from around the world helps to raise funds for the betterment of all life, and to honour those who have truly made a difference."[38] Its name came from a conversation Lennon once had with his father. "Dad once said to me that should he pass away, if there was some way of letting me know he was going to be OK – that we were all going to be OK – the message would come to me in the form of a white feather. ... the white feather has always represented peace to me."[39][40]

Personal life

Lennon has been quoted as having a reasonably "cordial" relationship with Ono, while getting along very well with her son, his half-brother Sean. Julian saw Sean perform live for the first time in Paris, on 12 November 2006 at La Boule Noire and he and Sean spent time together on Sean's tour in 2007.[41]

Julian has never married nor has children of his own, revealing that his difficult relationship with his famous father had discouraged him from doing so. He said that, unlike his father, he wanted to be mature enough to cope with fatherhood. “He was young and didn’t know what the hell he was doing," Julian said. "That's the reason I haven’t had children yet. I didn’t want to do the same thing. No, I’m not ready. I want to know who I am first.”[42]

In commemoration of John Lennon's 70th birthday and as a statement for peace, Lennon and his mother, Cynthia, unveiled the John Lennon Peace Monument in his home town of Liverpool, on 9 October 2010.[43]

Lennon remains friends with his father's former bandmate, Paul McCartney, though they experienced a public falling out in 2011 when Lennon was not invited to McCartney's wedding to Nancy Shevell.[44]


Other releases



  • WhaleDreamers (2008)

Television appearances


  1. "Tribute to Cynthia Lennon by Julian Lennon". Julian Lennon. 1 April 2015. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  2. Grow, Kory (1 April 2015). "John Lennon's Ex-Wife Cynthia Dead at 75". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  3. "Playboy Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono". Playboy Magazine, USA. 28 September 1980. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  4. Barry Miles (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 465. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
  5. "Memorabilia: The Julian Lennon Collection". Lennon.net. Archived from the original on 22 December 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2007.
  6. Lennon (2006) p345
  7. "'Playboy Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono: Published in January 1981 issue. Interviewed by David Sheff, September 1980'". Beatlesinterviews.org.
  8. Grice, Elizabeth (1 April 2015). "'Dad was a hypocrite. He could talk about peace and love to the world but he could never show it to his wife and son'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  9. "Celebrity Legacies". Trial and Heirs. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  10. "John Lennon: The Last Will And Testament: Rockmine On-Line". Rockmine.com. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  11. Brooks, Richard (13 June 2009). "Julian Lennon gives family peace a chance". The Times. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  12. Robert Dex (2 April 2015). "John Lennon's First Wife, Cynthia, Dies After Cancer Battle". Wales Online. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  13. Pang, Loving John, Warner, 1983
  14. "Julian Lennon | Music Biography, Streaming Radio and Discography". AllMusic. 8 April 1963. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  15. "Website for Julian Lennon". Julian Lennon. 26 April 2017. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  16. "Mike Batt feat. Julian Lennon – The Escapade (from The Hunting Of The Snark/ TV 1987)". YouTube. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  17. "Julian Lennon / Biography / 1987". Archived from the original on 26 March 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  18. Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Photograph Smile – Julian Lennon | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  19. "Imagine! Julian Lennon Invests In MyStore". Forbes.com. 4 December 2007.
  20. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds: woman who inspired Beatles song dies". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK. 28 September 2009. Retrieved 29 September 2009.
  21. "Julian Lennon Honors Lucy in the Sky". Prnewswire.com. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  22. "Lucy Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  23. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds LSD". Snopes.com. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  24. "VH1 Behind the Music: The Julian Lennon Collection: Julian Lennon: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  25. "'Through The Picture Window': A Second Glimpse into What Makes Julian Lennon through Director Dick Carruthers' Eyes | GALO Magazine". Galomagazine.com. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  26. Julian Lennon (12 November 2013). "Through The Picture Window Interview With Dick Carruthers". YouTube. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  27. "Julian Lennon gives fans a look "Through the Picture Window" with new documentary". Cbsnews.com. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  28. Dahl, Roald. "David Copperfield". Amazon.com. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  29. "at". Whaledreamers.com. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  30. "Whaledreamers News". Whaledreamers.com. Archived from the original on 15 September 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2009.
  31. Doyle, Patrick (17 September 2010). "Julian Lennon On His New Photos of U2, Kate Hudson". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  32. Cheney, Alexandra (17 September 2010). "Julian Lennon's Photo Exhibit: 'Dad Was Never a Photographer'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  33. "Julian Lennon Show at the Bowery". Morrison Hotel Gallery. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  34. "Julian Lennon Show at the Bowery". Morrison Hotel Gallery. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  35. "Exhibitions". Emmanuelfremingallery.com. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  36. Beatles Memorabilia: The Julian Lennon Collection. Amazon.com. Goodman. 6 September 2011. ISBN 1847960189.
  37. Beatles Memorabilia: The Julian Lennon Collection (9781847960184): Brian Southall, Julian Lennon: Books. Goodman. 6 September 2011. ISBN 1847960189.
  38. "The White Feather Foundation Mission". Whitefeatherfoundation.com. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  39. "The White Feather Foundation – How It All Started". Whitefeatherfoundation.com. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  40. "White Feather Foundation". White Feather Foundation. 26 April 2017. Archived from the original on 19 May 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  41. Hoyle, Ben (29 September 2009). "Real Life 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' Dies at 46". The Times, UK. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  42. Eden, Richard (4 December 2011). "Julian Lennon blames father John for his lack of children". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  43. "Monument to John Lennon Unveiled in Liverpool on the Anniversary of his 70th birthday". The Daily Telegraph. 9 October 2010.
  44. Willman, Chris (7 April 2013). "Julian Lennon At 50: It's Never 'Much Too Late' For Lennon Family Discord | Stop The Presses! (NEW)". Music.yahoo.com.
  45. "Collaborations". Store.julianlennon.com. Retrieved 8 April 2019.

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