A Day In the Life of Mr. Julian
By Marc Andrews
on earth is Julian Lennon doing draipsed all over a Harley Davidson
motorbike? And what on earth is he doing conducting an interview with
Marc Andrews in the back of a "swank" hired vehicle? Well,
it's just a fairly average day in the life of this "heavenly"
pop creation, actually..
It seemed like a good idea at the time! Smash Hits would arrange to have present a pretty hot-roddin'-type motorcycle, of the Harley Davidson sort, for none other than Julian Lennon to swan around on while our merry little photographer snatched a few snaps of him! Julian being a self-confessed "biker" from way back 'n' all!) This was to take place with the sumptuous setting of Sydney Harbour acting as a very obvious and pretty backdrop! As if on cue, out came that infamous Sydney weather! The rain! The rain! And more rain!!!
But all of a sudden from out of the morning drizzle appears a very swish-looking white hire car, containing Julian Lennon, his "personal assistant" Cheryl and a "representative" of his Australian record company. And, suddenly, the rain stops!!! Cosmic!
Out pops Julian, not looking as fresh as he possibly could (something to do with having a bit of a "heavy" night, apparently!) but certainly looking every centimetre the popster that he is. Dressed in standard jeans black t-shirt, studded boots and leather jacket he certainly doesn't scrub up too badly, and he's going to look even better when our make-up artist Gay has finished with him. A few dabs of her wonder powder and a quick spray with some magic concoctions and Julian is indeed a picture of perfectness! As he wanders over to where the motorbike is situated, Gay burbles that "He's got so much character! As men get older the' get more character but as women get older they just get wrinkles!" Gulp!
Fairly soon, Julian is striking all sorts of manly poses on the "mean machine" when a group of Japanese tourists, who are milling , around and giving their instamatics a good run for their money, spot our lad. Over they all race and immediately commence snapping away as Julian gets ever-friendly with the bike. Never mind that they don't quite seem to realise that Julian isn't in The Beatles (it was his father, John, who was!), they get him to sign various pieces of paper and clothing.
Finally our photographer has used up all of his expensive film and Julian is free to be interviewed. Almost!
A carload of police persons has been viewing the proceedings and decides that now is as good a time as any to ask for an interview...and arrest him at the same time! Actually, that's a complete lie, but it does go to show you that people know that Jules is quite famous - even if they don't, as yet, know his own music - and only know that's he's the son of a Beatle!
Autographs over, Julian suddenly gets the urge to take the "cruise craft" on a "spin" around the park. On he hops and Cheryl, his "p.a." hops aboard as well. After a few minutes they whizz back to base and finally Julian is ready to accede to that most dreaded of tasks - the Smash Hits interview!
And where better to conduct an interview on a cold, miserable May day...but in the backseat of his "motor"!?!!
So, Julian, here we are then! Erm, well, what's the one question you always get asked? (Just so as we make sure we don't ask that very same one!!!)
"Um, probably the comparison question," he parps jovially. "They always ask if I'm in the shadow of my father." Oh!
Julian, readers, does indeed seem quite relieved that this question has not been raised. No, we have much more interesting topics to cover -like how he met Madonna and her big foam carrot!!!
"I bumped into her backstage at a play that Sean was doing -they were still married then - and um... she's interesting in a strange way," wists Jules, carefully chosing his words. "I mean, I get on very well with Sean, I've met him a few times and hung out with him. And, anyway, Madonna was just standing there holding this big cuddly foam carrot. She said, 'Hello, I've just won this!' and I thought that was very odd!"
Hmmmm, tenuous as it may seem though, the link between Madonna and Julian Lennon is actually quite strong, Julian utilizing Madonna's producer, Pat Leonard, on his latest release "Mr. Jordan".
"Pat agreed with everything I wanted to do on the album," Julian explains as the reason he selected Mr. Leonard for duties on his long- player. "All the other producers had their own perceptions, but with Pat I think I've made the right album. I feel in a way that this is my first album -it's like a new beginning. It's a new direction for me. I now have kids coming up and complementing me...and then they start to say, 'Hey, wasn't your dad in The Beatles or something? 'I think with this album I'm finally in control of everything."
When Julian talks of being "finally in control", he is referring to that time of his second album, the much-maligned "The Secret Value Of Daydreaming", which was a bit of a stinker sales-wise and failed to rouse the critics much. This came after his hugely successful debut album, "Valotte" which included a number of big hits (e.g. "Too Late For Goodbyes" -a classic!). Julian found himself' running around" with the "wrong" crowd and not taking enough control of his very existence. Result: -a not very happy Julian, a not-very-good record...and a nasty drug and alcohol reliance problem.
"After that album, I went to Switzerland for eight months to clear out my head and get a fresh start. It felt good that nobody recognized me there. No one! It was pretty strange. I've made quite a few changes recently. I'm getting involved in the business side of things more now. I'm not just a yes/no kind of guy. There were people who were making decisions for me which weren't the right decisions. If something goes wrong now, there's only one person I can blame - Me!"
So much a new man does Jules believe himself to be now, that the title of his album, "Mr. Jordan" is actually a reference to his new- found "serenity".
"This is an album about love, life, dreams, hopes and beliefs," he splutters. "'Mr. Jordan' is a guy in a film who gets a second chance. This is my second chance. I'm a very patient person now. I like keeping in good spirits. I want to go through my life being nice to people. Like, I'll always sign autographs, right till the last one because I think it's worth it."
What a champion chap! Conversation then turns to another of the Lennon clan -young Sean, who you may remember from his stint in Michael Jackson's Moonwalker flick. It transpires that Sean and Julian are quite close. In fact, Julian notices that Sean is having to cope with many of things he had to when a child -all because of their famous father (who was murdered in 1980 by a crazed gunman on the streets of New York!).
"I get on well with Sean, but I don't see him often enough. I only got to see the end of Moonwalker actually! I'd really like to be able to take him out and show him the world. Hahahaha! He's a smart kid and he's going through all the things that I did. Like with privacy, I would like not to be famous, but I've grown-up with it all my life. I don't know what it's like not to be famous."
As if to prove the point, Julian is suddenly noticed by a large group of schoolgirls who are slinking around the car, trying to make sure that it is actually Julian Lennon inside. Jules, himself, slumps visibly in his seat, trying very hard to make himself invisible. As his "audience" file past, they have a quick "gander" at him, and your obscure Smash Hits reporter comes to realise that this is something Julian Lennon has to put up with every day of his life!!! It's all to his credit then, that he seems quite unaffected by it all and very friendly and approachable!
So, then, Sir Lennon, before you whirl off on your way, do please tell let us in on what the Julian Lennon, circa 1989, is really like!
"Well," he begins, "I do tend to brood a lot. I go quiet and sullen and stomp around the house -that's my worst feature. Hahahaha! But basically I'd describe myself as happy, energetic and pensive."
In that order?
"In that order!"
And with that, your Smash Hits nobody slips out (unnoticed) from the vehicle, Julian's "crew" clamber in, goodbyes are said and off into the distance the car speeds.
Then, quite strangely, out of the blue, it began to rain again! Double cosmic!!!
© 1989 Smash Hits. Photos: Tony Lyon
Background artwork by Mark English
'Hey Jules' © 1998 - 2002 CJ Burianek