John Charles Julian Lennon (born 8 April 1963), known usually as Julian Lennon, is the first son of Beatle John Lennon and is a singer, songwriter and musician. He is the only child of Lennon's first marriage to Cynthia Powell, and his godfather was Beatles' manager Brian Epstein. He was named after John Lennon's late mother, Julia.
Cynthia Lennon and Julian Lennon at Kenwood in 1968, after John Lennon had left.
Julian was born in Liverpool, UK. For a brief time John Lennon concealed the fact that he was married and had a child, in keeping with the conventional wisdom of the era that female teenage fans would not be as enamoured of married male pop stars. However, when the British media discovered that Lennon was a married father, it did not affect his popularity with fans.
Julian attended the set of The Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour, and made his musical debut at age 11 on his father's album Walls and Bridges playing drums on "Ya-Ya."
Julian's parents divorced when he was five after John Lennon's infidelity with Yoko Ono. He had almost no contact with his father after the divorce, and only began to rebuild a relationship with him in the late 1970s, at the instigation of Lennon's then girlfriend May Pang. His father's murder in 1980 (when Julian was 17) came just when the two were beginning to grow closer. He and his half-brother Sean Lennon (John's child with Yoko Ono) have a renewed relationship, spending time together on Sean's tour in 2007.
As a child, Julian directly inspired the title of one of his father's most famous songs, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", whose lyrics describe a picture Julian drew, a watercolour painting of a girl (a classmate named Lucy O'Donnell ) surrounded by stars. Later, Paul McCartney wrote "Hey Jude" as a way of consoling him because of his parents' divorce. "Hey Jude" was meant to be "Hey Jules", but McCartney changed the name because he thought "Jude" was an easier name to sing.
Julian said of his father, "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 whiskey bottle on a Saturday night. Stuff like that. 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."
When his father was murdered, Julian was not included in the will drawn up by Yoko Ono, leading to harsh feelings. An economic settlement was reached a few years ago wherein Julian Lennon was given "a large but undisclosed sum". By 2009 Lennon's feelings toward his father had mellowed and he has been quoted as having a "cordial" relationship with Ono while getting along very well with her son, his half-brother Sean.
Julian Lennon has had an inconsistent career as a musical artist. He enjoyed immediate success with his debut 1984 album Valotte with two top-10 singles in "Too Late for Goodbyes" and "Valotte." His second album, 1986's The Secret Value of Daydreaming was panned by critics, but reached number 32 on the Billboard Magazine's album chart, and produced the single "Stick Around", which was his first #1 single on the U.S. Album Rock Tracks chart. Lennon never reached the same level of success in the U.S. post-Valotte, but he hit number five in Australia with the 1989 single "Now You're In Heaven", which also gave him his second #1 hit on the Album Rock Tracks chart in the USA. Two years later, "Saltwater" reached number six in the UK and topped the Australian singles charts for four weeks. After 1991, Lennon left the music business for several years. He followed his interests in cooking, sailing, and sculpting during his leave from the music industry.
Julian's debut album Valotte was produced by Phil Ramone, who also produced albums for artist Billy Joel. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1985, and produced two top ten hits, the title track "Valotte", and "Too Late For Goodbyes". Lennon promoted Valotte with music videos for the two hits made by legendary movie director Sam Peckinpah and producer Martin Lewis. The song "Valotte" has remained a staple on adult contemporary radio stations since its release.
McCartney and his late wife Linda visited him in 1974 to take photographs of him for John Lennon. When Julian released Valotte, Paul sent him a telegram wishing him good luck. In 1984, the two met up backstage at the New York studios of the TV show Friday Night Videos. In 1991, George Harrison played on Lennon's album Help Yourself but was not directly credited. He recorded the song "Because", which was made famous by The Dave Clark Five, in the UK for Clark's 1986 musical, Time (The single is out of print), and also contributed a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" to the soundtrack of the television series The Wonder Years.
After he began his performing career there was occasionally unfounded media speculation that Julian would undertake performances with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. However, in the Beatles Anthology series in 1996, the three surviving Beatles confirmed that 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 2002, Julian recorded a version of the Beatles' classic "When I'm Sixty-Four", a song from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band primarily written and sung by McCartney (although as was customary on all Beatles compositions of either author, John Lennon was credited as co-writer), for an Allstate Insurance commercial. Lennon's performance of the song was reminiscent of McCartney's vaudevillian delivery on the original.
He has also ventured into Internet businesses including MyStore.com with Bebo founder Michael Birch.
Upon hearing of the death of his childhood friend Lucy Vodden, he releasd a tribute song, a duet with James Scott Cook with 50% of the proceeds going to fund Lupus research. The track can be purchased at www.therevolution.com.
His sixth album, Everything Changes, is complete and will be released in early 2010.
Lennon's first-ever tour in the spring of 1985 was documented as part of the film Stand By Me: A Portrait Of Julian Lennon ??? a film profile started by Sam Peckinpah, but directed by producer Martin Lewis after Peckinpah's death.
Lennon has been seen in several 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 had a cameo in Leaving Las Vegas (1995) as a bartender. Julian provided the voice for the title role in the animated David Copperfield (1993).
Julian Lennon is also the producer of the documentary called WhaleDreamers about an aboriginal tribe and its special relationship to the whales. It also touches on many environmental issues. This film has received many awards and was shown at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.