The Lennon File
Born: April 8, 1963, in Liverpool, England, to John and
Cynthia Lennon. Named John Charles Julian - Charles for Cynthia's
father, Julian for Julia, John's mother.
Lives: In an L.A. house, once an early-warning bomb station,
with 15-inch-thick walls. "I can't afford to fix it up. I
can sell it for twice what I paid, though, so I think I will."
Finances: A trust fund of reportedly $250,000 that he
refuses to touch.
Listens to: David Bowie, Keith Jarrett, Edic Brickell
and the New Bohemians.
Hobbies: Riding dirt bikes along the California coast.
He cooks a terrific: pasta with meat sauce.
Photo by Timothy White
Julian Lennon's luggage is lost, so he doesn't have his
favorite '50s leatherjacket. He doesn't have his contact lens solution,
so he's squinting. He's also rasping, due to a long night at New York's
After a cup of wake-up tea and a couple of Winstons, though,
he begins to come to life. As he does, the voice is eerily familiar
- he sounds just like his father, John Lennon. Even when he sings, he
sounds like his father. And as anyone can see, he looks like him, too.
Such similarities have made it even tougher for Julian
Lennon, 26, than for the average Famous Person's child to carve out
his own career without being compared. But he's determined.
His first album, Valotte, released in 1985, sold
well and got good reviews. But 1986's The Secret Value of Daydreaming
flopped. Now, he hopes to prove he's not just a flash in the pan with
his third album, Mr. Jordan.
One memorable scene on his recent tour took place in New
York, where the girls screamed as they once did for the Liverpool lads.
Positively beaming, Julian played to them, seductively lying down on
stage to sing a ballad.
The biggest screams, though, were for a surprise performer
- his half-brother, Sean, John and Yoko Ono's son. Wearing ripped jeans,
Sean, 13, gamely played guitar and sang a few lines of Stand By Me.
All the while, Julian hugged him as if he'd never let go.
You obviously did not have a normal childhood. When
did you first realize that your father was a little different?
When I was about 3, 1 think. I used to
toddle back from school and find 100 people standing in front of the
house. So it dawned on me that we were different. But it became normal
Your father's life must have been difficult for you,
though. He left your mother when you were 5, married Yoko Ono, moved
here from England.
Well, yes, it was difficult. He wasn't
around very much. And being at school was rough. It was tough making
People knew that you and he were finally becoming close
when he was killed. That must have made his death even more painful.
Did you go for help to get over it?
No, no, no.... It's a question of sitting
down and working it out in your head. You have to face facts and get
on with your life. And I don't think about it much these days. I really
don't. Only because it hurts to. But I get a constant reminder from
They can't help it. Besides the obvious, do you take
In many ways. I'm very short-tempered
and cynical, as he was. I have the same wit, the same sense of humor.
And I'm very aggressive and opinionated, I have very strong beliefs,
as he did.
You seem to be very quiet and polite.
One side is. But I'm like a bull in a
china shop in my head. This world is frustrating - the ways people
act toward each other, toward the environment, the way governments
behave. At some time and place I'll shout my head off about it. But
the time isn't right now. It will be soon.
Do you discuss these events with Yoko? She's concerned
with world issues.
No, we stick to day-to-day things, nothing
too intense. Actually, we don't get to see a lot of each other. When
I'm in New York I'll go over for a cup of tea.
So you don't get to see Sean much.
Yeah, and I miss him a lot. But he knows
that I'll always be there. I see him growing up in the same position
that I did, without a father and dealing with the public, and I want
to be his big brother. I'm waiting until he's a little older so we
can spend more time together.
Doesn't Yoko want you to see him?
She's very protective of him and she
still thinks I'm, well, one of the lads who gets around and out on
the town. I am. But, obviously, if it involved Sean, I wouldn't keep
him out all night. He's only 13 years old. But Yoko hasn't seen the
responsible side of me yet.
You're pretty responsible when it comes to your music.
Is that what you've always wanted to do?
No, I thought about going into music,
indirectly, maybe as an engineer. And I loved acting and painting
and design. I also love to cook so I thought I might become a gourmet
When did you decide on performing?
When I realized I could compose songs.
I've been fiddling around since I was 12. At 16, 1 started putting
decent songs together. People liked them.
Some think that it was easier for you to get a recording
deal because of your name, but that doesn't always sell records. Your
last album, for example, flopped. is that why you took more time with
I wanted to be in charge, so I've been
learning about the business. I didn't even know what my manager was
doing in the beginning - and that cost me. He spent all of my money,
which I found out when I called my lawyer to get a plane ticket and
was told that I didn't have a cent.
This album is pretty important for you.
Every album is important and the second
album is really important - it shows whether you're a one-shot or
a serious musician. Not getting the chance to prove myself on the
second one really knocked me for seven. So I feel that I have to prove
myself all over again. But this album turned out exactly the way I
wanted. This is how I sound.
© 1989 USA Weekend