It was announced on Wednesday April 1 that John Lennon’s first wife, Cynthia Lennon, passed away in Mallorca, Spain after a short battle with cancer.
Julian Lennon was born on April 8, 1963. The demands of touring during Beatlemania and the temptations from other women resulted in their marriage becoming strained.
In 1968, Cynthia caught John and Yoko together at the house she shared with John. The subsequent split took a toll on the Beatle family with Paul McCartney writing a song of support and encouragement for Julian called “Hey Jude.” John and Cynthia’s divorce became final in November 1968.
Over the years, Cynthia appeared several times in public to support her son Julian at various Beatle-related events.
In 2006, Cynthia and Julian attend the Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil premiere in Las Vegas.
In 2010, Julian and Cynthia appear at the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument in Liverpool.
Cynthia Lennon was 75 years old. Julian Lennon has set up a memorial page for his mum at cynthialennon.memorial. He also posted a touching tribute for his mother on YouTube:
“The news of Cynthia’s passing is very sad. She was a lovely lady who I’ve known since our early days together in Liverpool. She was a good mother to Julian and will be missed by us all, but I will always have great memories of our times together.”
– Paul McCartney
The John Lennon Letters is a fascinating document to Beatles history. Not only does it provide entertainment for Beatles/Lennon fans, it also offers a rare insight into the mind of John Lennon unlike any biography has been able to offer. In addition, the book provides a historical account of actual letters in existence, which is valuable information for Beatles memorabilia collectors.
The John Lennon Letters, compiled and edited by Beatles biographer Hunter Davies, includes letters that Lennon wrote throughout his lifetime, spanning from his childhood years all the way up until the last years of his life. Some letters are surprising in their sentimentality like the 8-page love letter Lennon wrote to his then girlfriend, Cynthia Powell, while they were attending art school together. Not so surprising may be some sarcastic, biting letters like the typewritten letter to Todd Rundgren in 1974 or the “John rant” that was addressed to Paul and Linda McCartney in 1971.
All in all, the collection of almost 300 letters, notes and doodles compiled together in book form is a feat in itself. Davies, with permission from Yoko Ono, contacted all the people he knew of (friends of The Beatles and collectors) who had a letter from John Lennon in their possession. Each letter is reprinted in its physical form, with Lennon’s handwriting then reprinted in text format. Davies also offers historical context surrounding each of the letters in this almost 400-page volume.
While some may believe owning entertainment memorabilia is more for investment purposes, the importance of collecting and preserving personal items of famous musicians and actors adds a lot to learning the history of the performer. The downside is that these documents or artifacts are often kept hidden in private collections and are never seen by the general public. Surely many Beatles and Lennon biographers would have loved to have had access to all of these letters while they were writing their books.
In recent years, artifacts once owned by The Beatles have often been uncovered for the first time revealing new facts regarding Beatles history. That’s why The John Lennon Letters, and books like Ringo Starr’s 2004 book, Postcards from the Boys, are such a gift to Beatles historians and collectors. Davies said in a recent interview that his next book will be a compilation of original handwritten Beatles lyrics. No doubt that forthcoming book will also add to the scholarship of the Beatles legacy just like The John Lennon Letters does.
(from Press Release)
Opening on June 17, 2009 in Liverpool, the world famous Beatles Story gives visitors the opportunity to experience a unique personal narration of life with John Lennon – by his son Julian, and Julian’s mother, Cynthia, with the opening of “White Feather: The Spirit of Lennon.”
(Photo © Mark McNulty)
Beginning in Merseyside with the meeting at art college of John and Cynthia, it follows the journey from their clandestine marriage and the birth of Julian, both of which coincide with the sharply increasing trajectory of the band’s fame and fortune. The exhibition culminates in the story of Cynthia and John’s separation and divorce, giving visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the personal journey of a normal family’s struggle to cope with the effects of fame thrown upon them; particularly relevant in today’s celebrity conscious society.
John Lennon’s Help! cape
(Courtesy of Julian Lennon Collection)
Nothing demonstrates this more acutely than the title of the exhibition, ”White Feather”. During a tender moment when Julian was a child, John first spoke to him about the white feather.
As Julian explains: ”The white feather is so prevalent in my life. One thing for sure is that it’s always represented peace to me. And one of the things my father said to me was that should he pass away, if there was some way of letting me know he was going to be ok, or that we were all going to be ok, it was by in some way, shape or form presenting me with a white feather.”
Then, around ten years ago while Julian was on tour in Australia, a group of Aborigines presented him with a white feather, asking him to be the voice for their plight. It was a breathtaking and inspirational moment for Julian. This episode motivated Julian to set up The White Feather Foundation, a charity that embraces environmental and humanitarian issues and helps to raise funds to improve the life of others.
Julian Lennon says: ”John Lennon is an idol to millions of people who grew up loving his music and ideals, but to me he is the father I loved and lost. I hope this exhibition lets people see another aspect of his life and our time together as a family. This collection represents something of great importance to us as it is part of our history.”
Postcard from Julian to John
(Courtesy of Cynthia Lennon Collection)
“Rather than have everything locked up in storage in a safe packed away for no one to see I felt it would be better to be outside, especially in this city, the city of Liverpool for the fans to see,” Julian said.
He also spoke emotionally about how the personal possessions have been brought back into family ownership: “Slowly but surely I have been gathering things. Nothing was passed down to me after Dad passed. The only way I could actually regain any of my dad’s belongings, or the Beatles work, was to go out and buy them myself. I felt that not only for my sake but also if I have a family of my own, whether it’s in their personal possession or at an exhibition like this, they have a chance to see their family history”.
“White Feather: The Spirit of Lennon”, takes place at the recently expanded world famous Beatles Story within the new Mersey Ferries terminal building on Liverpool’s renowned waterfront before touring worldwide.
John Lennon’s Afghan coat
(Courtesy of Julian Lennon Collection)
Electric guitar with inscribed plaque reading
‘To Julian from Daddy Christmas 1973’
(Courtesy of Julian Lennon Collection)
• John Lennon’s Afghan coat
• John Lennon’s Help! cape
• *Paul McCartney’s recording notes for Hey Jude
• John Lennon’s Honda ‘monkey bike’ motorbike
• Electric guitar with inscribed plaque reading ‘To Julian from Daddy Christmas 1973’
Neil Scales, Chief Executive and Director General of Merseytravel, which owns the Beatles Story, says: “This is a story about a family; but it is also a story of global significance and one that opens up the lives of John, Cynthia and Julian in a way never seen before. We are in the business of creating the world’s number one Beatles experience at the Beatles Story and to have this exclusive on our doorstep – John’s home town – is a privilege.”
White Feather: The Spirit of Lennon is presented by The White Feather Foundation charity. The White Feather Foundation is currently being set up by Julian Lennon.
The White Feather exhibit runs from June 17 to December 31, 2009