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Friday, 8 December, 2000, 06:56 GMT
Living with Lennon's legacy
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John and Yoko in 1973
It was never going to be easy living up to your dad when the man in question is John Lennon.

Julian Lennon was born in Liverpool on 8 April 1963 and is the son of Cynthia Powell, John Lennon's first wife.

In a foretaste of what their later relationship would be like, John did not make it to Julian's christening.

Julian Lennon
Julian "never really knew" his father

Young Julian inspired several Beatles compositions as a child. He made a drawing of a classmate and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds evolved.

Then, during Cynthia and John's divorce, he became the subject of Paul McCartney's Hey Jude.

His relationship with John was never close and he saw little of him after his marriage to Yoko Ono.

Sean the beloved

After many miscarriages Yoko Ono gave birth to a son, Sean Ono Lennon, on 9 October 1975.

Sean Lennon
Sean performs with the New York band Cibo Matto

Legend always had it that John gave up music for four years to care for his newborn son Sean.

But a recent biography of Lennon, by Geoffrey Giuliano, claims the break was quite simply caused by unemployment, because John's record contract had expired.

Whatever the truth, Sean grew up with a present father and a strong mother in Yoko Ono.

Later life

Always musical, Julian began playing guitar and drums at age ten, adding piano as a teenager.

His singing career was moderately sucessful but the critics just could not forget who his father was, not helped by the fact that his voice is definitely similar to his father's.

Sean too took after his father and began recording music.

In the spring of 1998 Julian and Sean released albums almost at the same time.

Claims of a feud arose, but both insisted it was merely coincidence.

Julian Discography
1984: Valotte
1986: The Secret Value Of Daydreaming
1989: Mr Jordan
1991: Help Yourself
1998: Photograph Smile

Julian's album, the largely acoustic Photograph Smile, was accused of attempting to sound like John, but critics at least felt this was no bad thing.

Sean's eclectic and in parts jazzy first album Into The Sun received one out of ten in music weekly NME.

Sean now plays with his Japanese girlfriend Yuka Honda in a New York-based band, Cibo Matto, as well as collaborating on a dizzying array of other musical projects.

Sean Discography
1998: Into the Sun
1999: Stereotype A (with Cibo Matto)

To date neither son seems particularly enamoured of their famous father.

Sean once said: "I think of my dad as a huge asshole. The only thing that made it okay was that he could admit it."

Julian posted musings on his website about his father's inadequacies on his website.

But the brothers at least maintain solidarity with each other.

On his website Julian expressed his love for his brother Sean and said: "I hope that he's able to cope with his destiny."

Yoko's role

Yoko Ono was an artist and musician of repute long before she ever met John Lennon in London in 1966, although her art was more widely known for its notoriety.

Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono fought a protracted legal battle with Julian

These days she still works as an artist and exhibits occasionally.

Her work remains conceptual, in that the ideas that are behind the art are as important as the final product.

She still lives as quietly as is possible in the Dakota Building in New York, close to the spot where John died.

Julian was left nothing by his father and ended up fighting a protracted legal battle with his stepmother to get some of his father's estate, ending up with an estimated 20 million in 1998.

There is little love lost between the two with Julian claiming his father was a "manipulated soul" on his website.

But Yoko Ono's relationship with her son Sean remains warm.

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See also:

06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Julian Lennon reflects on John
06 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Yoko's anniversary peace call
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