Lennon in 2018
|Birth name||John Charles Julian Lennon|
|Also known as||Jules, Jude|
|Born||8 April 1963|
John Charles Julian Lennon (born 8 April 1963) is an English singer, musician, photographer and philanthropist. He is the founder of the White Feather Foundation.
He is the son of the Beatles member John Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia, and 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 has produced a number of albums, beginning with Valotte (1984). He has also held exhibitions of his photography.
In 2006, Lennon produced the environmental documentary film WhaleDreamers, and in 2020, Lennon also worked on the documentary film Women of the White Buffalo, as one of the executive producers.
Julian Lennon was born on 8 April 1963 at Sefton General Hospital in Liverpool to John Lennon and Cynthia Powell. He was named after his paternal grandmother, Julia Lennon, who died five years before his birth. The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, was his godfather. Lennon was educated at Ruthin School, a boarding independent school in the town of Ruthin in Denbighshire in North Wales.
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, at the age of four, 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. John Lennon married Ono on 20 March 1969, and Julian has a younger half-brother, Sean Lennon.
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. 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-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.
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 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.
Julian 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."
Julian 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. Julian sued his father's estate and in 1996 reached a settlement agreement reportedly worth £20 million.
Recalling his renewed contact with his father in the mid-1970s, he said in 2009,
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.
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!" In the 1980s, according to AllMusic, he "parlayed a remarkable vocal similarity to his father into a successful singing career".
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.
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). 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. 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". 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. 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.
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.
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 (1993). 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 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 and was shown at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
In 2020, Lennon worked on the documentary film, Women of the White Buffalo as an executive producer. The documentary film focused on the Lakota women living Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, how they are used and how they preserve and protect their ancestral values and wisdom.
On 17 September 2010, 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, the Morrison Hotel Gallery extended it a week to end 17 October. The photographs include shots of his brother Sean and U2 frontman Bono.
Lennon's "Horizons" series was featured at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery, NYC, 12 March – 2 May 2015.
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.
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" inspired him greatly. Then Lennon, while on a tour in Australia, received a white feather gift from an indigenous elderly member of the Mirning tribe in Australia, which also turned out to be an inspirational message to him. In 2007, he founded The White Feather Foundation (TWFF). 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 honor those who have truly made a difference."
TWFF partners with philanthropists and charities around the world to raise funds for various environmental and humanitarian projects such as clean water, indigenous cultures, education and health. In 2008, the Prince of Monaco Albert II presented TWFF with the Better World Environmental Award.
Cynthia visited Kenya and Ethiopia in 2014 to witness the education and environmental initiatives by TWFF. After her death, Lennon announced that he would be naming TWFF's scholarship program to Kenyan girls after his mother: "The Cynthia Lennon Scholarship for Girls".
In 2019, Julian contributed his voice and music to the soundtrack of narrative feature film “One Little Finger“, which has the initiative to spread awareness about ‘ability in disability’. It shows how important and powerful music is to support societal and cognitive development of people with disabilities.
Lennon has been quoted as having a reasonably "cordial" relationship with Ono, while getting along very well with her son, Julian's 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.
Lennon has never married or had children, 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," Lennon 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."
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.
- Dave Clark's Time: Original Soundtrack (1986)
- Mike Batt's The Hunting of the Snark (1986); vocals on song "Midnight Smoke"
- Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987); vocals on song "Johnny B. Goode"
- The Wonder Years: Music From the Emmy Award-Winning Show & Its Era (1989); vocals on song "Ruby Tuesday"
- Toy Matinee (1989); vocals on songs "Turn It On Salvador" and "Things She Said"
- Mr. Holland's Opus – Soundtrack (1996); co-wrote and vocals on "Cole's Song"
- Lennon... and Proud of It – A Conversation with Julian Lennon (1999)
- Hisss (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (2010) - co-wrote and vocals on song "Sway"
- Shine On! Songs Volume One (2011); song "Children Of The World"
- Tony Mortimer - Songs From The Suitcase album (2013); vocals on song "Rain In England"
- Summertime with Meninos do Morumbi (2014)
- Glass Tiger - 31 album (2018); vocals on song "Thin Red Line"
- Dennis DeYoung - 26 East, Volume 1 album (2020); vocals on song "To the Good Old Days"
- WhaleDreamers (2008)
- Women of the White Buffalo (2020)
- Top of the Pops (18 October 1984)
- American Bandstand (29 December 1984)
- Solid Gold (TV series) (2 February 1985)
- Live at Five (WNBC TV series) (18 February 1985)
- Late Night with David Letterman (10 April 1985)
- The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (12 June 1985)
- American Bandstand (26 April 1986)
- Top 20 Countdown (3 May 1986)
- Solid Gold (13 September 1986)
- The Arsenio Hall Show (15 June 1989)
- Today (American TV program) (19 June 1989)
- Late Night with David Letterman (28 July 1989)
- The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (16 August 1989)
- Top of the Pops (3 October 1991)
- Late Night with David Letterman (18 October 1991)
- Late Show with David Letterman (17 February 1999)
- The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (9 March 1999)
- The Howard Stern Show (1 May 1999)
- The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (11 August 1999)
- Daybreak (19 September 2011)
- Larry King Now (16 July 2013)
- Chelsea Lately (28 October 2013)
- The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (21 November 2013)
- The View (19 April 2017)
- Home and Family (16 April 2018)
- The View (talk show) (24 April 2019)
- Home and Family (30 April 2019)
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- Julian Lennon's official website
- Julian Lennon Photography
- White Feather Foundation website
- Julian Lennon on IMDb
- Timeless: Julian Lennon photo exhibition at the Morrison Gallery Hotel (17 September – 17 October 2010)