Julian Lennon

By Sean Plottner
September 4, 1989 "US" Magazine

Page 1 of 4

The famous son rises - again. After a dismal second album that led to depression, drugs and a three-year musical hiatus, Julian Lennon has emerged with a new album and a new attitude. The LP, Mr. Jordan, is his hardest-rocking, boldest to date. And the attitude? Well, like the music, it's no more Mr. Nice Guy. This means that instead of allowing himself to be packaged, he is "putting his brain into action" and taking control of his career. The change has been a long time in coming. Despite three albums and a Grammy nomination, the world still knows the popstar best as John Lennon's son.

At 26, though, Julian has already traveled a long and winding road of his own. He was born to John and Cynthia Lennon in 1963. When the couple divorced, Julian lived with his mother, who remarried twice. He endured a tepid relationship with both stepfathers and barely knew his real dad, who had another son, Sean, by Yoko Ono in 1975. During one phase in the Seventies, John and Julian went for five years without speaking. Finally, during the late Seventies, the two opened an intercontinental dialogue and occasionally visited. But in 1980 the budding relationship was shattered by the gunshots of Mark David Chapman.

As a teenager, Lennon admits he took advantage of the Lennon fame to gain friends and influence club owners in London's West End, where he also became known as a boozer and womanizer. He formed a rock group, playing drums with his friend and guitarist Justin Clayton.

Then, in 1982, Lennon's musical ambitions turned serious. He moved to New York City, where his last name no doubt helped him land a record deal. But within two years he exploded onto the pop scene with Valotte, which produced two Top 10 hits ("Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes") and earned him a Grammy nomination for best new artist. Although it was hardly the next invasion, the talented owner of a voice hauntingly similar to his father's seemed well on his way.

Then came album Number Two. "A disaster," declared Lennon in his thick English accent. Indeed, the spotlight faded fast upon the 1986 release of The Secret Value of Daydreaming. Critics dubbed it a nightmare; Lennon claims the flop resulted from pressures he felt to produce another smash quickly.

Confused and depressed, Lennon went to Switzerland, where he got off drugs and pulled himself together. If he still smarts from the past, at least he seems to have learned from it. Clad entirely in black-including a half-dozen rubber bracelets-he melts into a white couch with a pack of cigarettes close by and begins to speak freely about his wonder years with the Beatles, his mistakes and his new, surer sense of direction.

Next Page