Julian Lennon: The Forgotten Son
Background for This Article
I watched the Grammy Celebration of the Beatles coming to America twice. The first airing was on February 9, 2014, the 50th anniversary of their American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. The second airing was on Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th.
I grew up with the Beatles. I was such a dramatic little fan at the ripe old age of 6. I had a Beatles poster in my room and favored Ringo because I felt sorry for him; he wasn’t as handsome as the other three (in my eyes). I’ve always favored the underdog; perhaps because my own childhood had me moving from state to state, never really having any friends to speak of. I was the underdog and related to my child’s impression of Ringo as being the same.
As I grew older, I gravitated towards John Lennon and his message. He was a rebel, had an idealistic view of life and I related completely. I, too, had become a rebel. Perhaps I always had been.
I remember hearing stories or reading stories about John’s first born son, Julian. They were sad stories in this little girl’s mind. He was withheld from the public eye, as was his mom, Cynthia. This maddened me, especially after Sean was born. Sean was a public figure. It seemed as though Julian never existed. Again, my heart reached out to the underdog.
I discovered Julian Lennon’s music in the 1980’s via his first album, Valotte. His songs touched my heart. His words spoke of regret, longing and time gone by that couldn’t be recaptured.
From the Valotte album
After viewing the anniversary celebration, my first thought was: I need to write an article about Julian Lennon. I will entitle it, “Julian Lennon: the Forgotten Son”.
The next day was Monday and I spent the morning researching information for my forthcoming article. The morning morphed into the afternoon and I became not only educated, but enlightened by the man, Julian Lennon. I became enamored all over again.
Julian has had a voice and a presence despite of - and perhaps because of - his genes.
His father was an icon.
His mother was a strong woman who raised her only child outside the infamy and frantic lifestyle of The Beatles.
She had no choice in the matter but was more than happy to raise Julian under the radar, so to speak.
A Bit of History
John Lennon met Cynthia Powell in 1957 while attending art school in Liverpool. They had a calligraphy class together and soon discovered they had much in common. A romance ensued over the course of several years. When Cynthia discovered she was pregnant, the couple married on August 23, 1962.
At the time, John was the only Beatle who was married. To maintain the Beatles image as heartthrobs, their manager, Brian Epstein felt it best to keep John and Cynthia’s marriage out of the public eye; in fact he insisted it be kept a secret. Even more so once Julian was born less than a year later on April 8, 1963.
Cynthia accompanied John on the Beatles 1964 American tour for a brief period. Epstein was furious. This would be the last tour for Cynthia. She and Julian stayed behind in their 22-room English Tudor home, named Kenwood in Weybridge, Surrey until the marriage dissolved in 1968.
Although Julian and John spent very little time together, two of the hits written by John were inspired by Julian. “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” was inspired by a painting Julian had made of a nursery school friend, Lucy. “Good Night” from The White Album was written as a lullaby for John Lennon’s first born son.
Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” for Julian to console him after John and Cynthia’s divorce. It was originally entitled, “Hey Jules” but was changed to “Hey Jude” because “Jude” was easier to sing.
Then tragedy struck. John Lennon was killed in 1980 and the world mourned.
Although John and Cynthia were no longer married, a commonality they shared was now one Julian did as well. John lost his mother, Julia, when he was 17 years old. Cynthia lost her father, Charles, when she was 17. Julian Lennon was 17 years old when his father was brutally murdered.
Julian’s birth name is John Charles Julian Lennon.
Cynthia Lennon Talks About Life With John
Julian Lennon's Career
Julian’s musical career began at the age of 11 when he sat in on his dad’s album Walls and Bridges as drummer. Then, in 1984 Julian made his first full length album, Valotte. It was a huge success, garnering two top 10 hits, “Valotte” and “Too Late for Goodbyes”. Julian took a break from recording during the years 1991 - 1998 to pursue other interests. His latest CD, Everything Changes was produced by Music From Another Room, Ltd. in 2011.
Julian is not only a talented, singer/songwriter/musician, but a creative photographer as well. He first discovered his love for photography in 2007 when he photographed Sean’s music tour. His work has since been exhibited at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in SoHo, New York and in Miami, Venice, California and various places around the world.
He has also appeared in several documentaries, films, and has provided voice overs for the animated films, David Copperfield and The Real Story of I’m a Little Teapot. WhaleDreamers, a documentary about an aboriginal tribe in Australia, was produced by Lennon and shown at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
Julian Lennon has been an advocate for environmental and humanitarian issues for much of his life. In 2009 he founded The White Feather Foundation and is making a difference globally. The crux of the foundation is to raise funds for the betterment of life and to honor those who have made a true difference in this world. He’s passionate about providing clean water worldwide.
In an interview with David S. Levine (10/2/2013), Julian was quoted as saying:
“We all seem to forget that if we don’t take care of the world, we’re out of here. We’re done. The world is not an endless source of goodness and badness for us to screw around with. It’s far more complex than that.”
Julian Lennon's Documentary
A Portion of the Royalties Benefit The White Feather Foundation
The White Feather Foundation
The story behind its name and the birth of Julian’s charity is one that will give you goose bumps.
Sometime during Julian’s childhood (I haven’t been able to pinpoint dates), John told him that if anything ever happened to him, he would let Julian know that he was okay by sending him a white feather.
When Julian was on tour promoting Photograph Smile in 1999, he received a call from the desk clerk at the hotel where he was staying in Australia. Julian was informed there was a group of people asking for him in the lobby. When he went downstairs, a tribe of aboriginal elders was there waiting for him. One stepped forward and presented him with a white feather. She asked him to help them because he has a voice. Julian saw this as a sign of his destiny and agreed to help.
His documentary WhaleDreamers, which is about a near-extinct aboriginal tribe, was released in 2006 and The White Feather Foundation was subsequently formed in 2009.
Since its inception, The White Feather Foundation has teamed with other organizations to provide clean water and sanitation to many areas of the world. But they can’t do it without your help. Check out the official website to see how you can contribute to his efforts.
You can also check out Julian’s personal website for other options. According to the insert on his Everything Changes CD, a portion of the royalties earned will go to The White Feather Foundation. I honestly don’t know if that’s true for his other products, but I would venture to say there’s a pretty good possibility.
You'll Enjoy This Very Candid Interview
Despite growing up without his dad for pretty much of his life, and today having to live in the shadow of his famous father's legacy, Julian Lennon has found his way. His heart grieves for the world and he’s doing his part to bring awareness and healing.
Julian Lennon is a man of character and conviction. He is a man with a tender heart and a giving soul. He is a man with a sense of humor and is a lover of life.
He is a man I am proud to follow and support.
Is he the forgotten child? Not in my eyes nor the eyes of those whose lives he touches.
Mother Nature has opened her arms and called him to her bosom. He embraces his destiny and reaches out to those who are at the mercy of poor living conditions. He’s doing what he can to save lives.
He’s doing what he can to save the Earth.
Julian Lennon is larger than life. Imagine that!
Shauna L Bowling
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