Julian Lennon: John Lennon’s son remembers final conversation ‘He was so happy’
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Julian Lennon was born on April 8, 1963. His father was one of the most famous men in the world but left his mother, Cynthia Lennon when he was just five years old. Paul McCartney wrote the song Dear Jude (originally Dear Jules) to comfort the heartbroken little boy. 12 years later, just when father and son were starting to build a new relationship. John Lennon was murdered outside his New York home. But Julian still remembers the last time they spoke and how “extremely happy” the Beatles star was in his personal and professional lives.
Growing up, Julian saw relatively little of his father. John built a new separate life with Yoko Ono Over and they eventually had a son together, Sean, in 1975.
Over the years, John had been a little unkind speaking about his first family and famously saying Sean had been planned whereas Julian was the result of drinking too much.
But John and Yoko had separated for 18 months in 1973 and the Beatles star’s new girlfriend May Pang encouraged him to spend time with Julian. Even so, John was based in America, focusing on his own music and then he reunited with Yoko and started a new family.
For many years after John’s death, Julian spoke angrily about how he and his mother had been treated.
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Julian said: “I felt he was a hypocrite. 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?”
He sued John’s estate and was reported to have received a $20million settlement in 1996, authorised by Yoko.
But in later years, Julian has publicly made his peace with his memories of his father and his childhood, even appearing at various memorial events dedicated to John, always with his mother Cynthia by his side.
And last year, he teamed up with Sean to mark the 40th anniversary of John’s death with a special joint interview on BBC Radio.
Julian was just 17 when his father was murdered outside his New York home on December 8, 1980.
The former Beatle had been working on a new solo album, Double Fantasy, during an intense burst of creativity in the final months of his life as he prepared to relaunch his musiccareer. The album was preceded by the single (Just Like) Starting Over.
Julian remembers their final conversations: “Dad and I had been getting on and speaking a lot more on the phone, you know, when I was sort of 15, 16 and 17.
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Julian said: “I just remember I was living in North Wales at the time and I’d spent six months or a year in boarding as well and I’d finally come home. And I was living at mum’s house and I was finishing up at school and I remember him playing Starting Over over the phone, he just mixed it.
“He played it over the phone and I was living in the attic in the house in this street called Castle Street in a town called Ruthin, and I remember hearing it and saying I loved it, I absolutely loved it.”
Julian added: “”I didn’t know what to expect from this new album of his… Double Fantasy. And I’d heard that and I told him how much I loved it and then obviously, what happened, happened.”
It is poignant that Julian still refers to the terrible way he lost his father in such an oblique way but he went on to share how he takes comfort from how happy his father was in his final days.
Julian says: “I just remember that as being the last kind of moments, listening to him being extremely happy in a happy place, and doing what he loved, and the music that he played me at that particular point, Starting Over, and some of the other album tracks.
“I was very happy for him and looking forward to seeing him again. Anyway, in another dimension…”
Sean added: “Yeah. Well, the sort of stark contrast between how optimistic and positive that record is musically and how happy he is, and then the sort of context in which it came out is just, you know, there’s no other way to put it, but it’s tragic, but it’s incredible.”
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