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30 years ago, John Lennon’s sons help induct Elvis Presley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

This month marks several Beatle-related anniversaries with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the RRHOF Induction ceremony used to be held in January. In later years, the ceremony was moved to the Spring.

On January 20, 1988, The Beatles were inducted at the 3rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony by Mick Jagger.

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On January 19, 1994, John Lennon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Paul McCartney. He was the first member of the Beatles to be inducted on his own.

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But on January 23, 1986, it was Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon who took part in the first annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. On behalf of their father, John Lennon, they helped induct Elvis Presley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with Jack Soden, President and Executive Director of Graceland, and Memphis DJ and close Elvis friend, George Klein.

 

Julian Lennon, aged 22, appeared in all black, while 10-year-old Sean Lennon was dressed in a handsome white tuxedo. Julian, with Sean standing at his side, was the first speaker in the presentation of Elvis Presley’s award, followed by Jack Soden. The award was then accepted on Elvis’ behalf by his close friend, George Klein.

John Lennon’s admiration for The King of Rock and Roll is now common knowledge among music fans. Lennon said his love for rock and roll was inspired first and foremost by Presley. He credits his motivation to form his first band, which evolved into The Beatles, as a result of wanting to be just like Elvis. Even after the group took shape, their goal of being “bigger than Elvis” helped them achieve worldwide success.

That night at the induction ceremony, Julian Lennon started out with a brief introduction: “Our father was a big fan of Elvis’s and, of course, Elvis was loved all over the world, and we are all influenced [by] him,” Julian said. “I think a lot of people in the world get a lot of pleasure from listening to him and love him greatly.”

Then he read a direct quote from John Lennon, which spoke volumes: “Elvis was the thing, whatever people say, he was it. I was not competing against Elvis, rock happened to be the media I was born into – it was the one, that’s all. Those people who picked up paintbrushes, like Van Gogh, probably wanted to be Renoir or whomever went before him. I wanted to be Elvis.”

Then, Jack Soden read a brief statement from Lisa Marie Presley. He then introduced George Klein, who gave a dramatic and celebratory speech about his friend and best man at his wedding, Elvis Presley. Here is just a brief part of the speech:

“On January 8, 1935, a star was born. You see a star is not made, a star is born… The real honest to goodness rags to riches rise of the most inspiring version of the American Dream to ever happen. In doing so, Elvis fulfilled the hopes and dreams of an entire generation. The world was never to be the same again. You see Elvis Presley wasn’t a star, he was a damn galaxy!”

Other inductees that night at the induction ceremony in New York City included Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Sam Phillips. Notably, Elvis Presley holds the record for being inducted into the greatest number of Music Hall of Fames – 16 to be exact.
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If you enjoyed this article, more fascinating stories about Elvis Presley and The Beatles can be found in the new book, ELVIS: Behind The Legend: Startling Truths About The King of Rock and Roll’s Life, Loves, Films and Music

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In Memoriam: Cynthia Lennon dies from cancer at age 75

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.

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Julian and Cynthia Lennon at Beatles LOVE show premiere in Las Vegas in 2006. Photo by Shelley Germeaux for Daytrippin'

Julian and Cynthia Lennon at Beatles LOVE show premiere in Las Vegas in 2006. Photo by Shelley Germeaux for Daytrippin’

Cynthia met John Lennon at the Liverpool College of Art in 1958 and they soon began dating. She wrote about their relationship in her book, A Twist of Lennon (1978). She shared intimate details of their time together:
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“John and I in those early days would just sit opposite each other, hold each other’s hands under the formica table and gaze avidly into each other’s moon-struck eyes,” Cynthia said.
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A love letter from John to Cynthia was published in the recent book, The John Lennon Letters. John wrote an 8-page letter to Cynthia at Christmastime in 1958. He was 18 years old and gushing over and over of how much he loved her:
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“You are wonderful, I adore you, I want you, I love you, I need you, Don’t go, I love you, Happy Xmas, Merry Chrimbo, I love you, I love you, I love you, Cynthia… All I Want For Christmas Is You, Cyn”.
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A few years later as John was concentrating on his career as a Beatle, he and Cynthia decided to get married when they learned she was pregnant in 1962.
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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.

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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.

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Cynthia Lennon at a book signing for "John" in New York, October 2005.

Cynthia Lennon at a book signing for “John” in New York, October 2005. Photo by Trina Yannicos.

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In 2005, Cynthia published another book about Lennon called John.
She talked about her marriage to Lennon in this interview promoting the book:

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Over the years, Cynthia appeared several times in public to support her son Julian at various Beatle-related events.

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In 2006, Cynthia and Julian attend the Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil premiere in Las Vegas.

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In 2010, Julian and Cynthia appear at the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument in Liverpool.

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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:

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“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

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White Feather: The Spirit of Lennon exhibit launched by Julian and Cynthia Lennon

(from Press Release)
WF-JulianLennonOpening 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.

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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.”

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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.

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John Lennon’s Afghan coat
(Courtesy of Julian Lennon Collection)

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Electric guitar with inscribed plaque reading
‘To Julian from Daddy Christmas 1973’
(Courtesy of Julian Lennon Collection)

Items include:

• 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
http://www.whitefeatherexhibition.com/