There’s no doubt that becoming a musician when your father was the legend, John Lennon, cannot be easy. Those are some huge shoes to fill, and there will always be critics analysing your performance and seeing if you measure up. Perhaps that’s why Julian Lennon has always been reluctant to perform his father’s hits, and in particular, Imagine.
Julian said that for him to perform Imagine, it would have to be the end of the world. It seems that the tragic situation in Ukraine since their invasion by Russia fulfills this requirement. To convey a feeling of hope for the future, he recorded an acoustic version of the song in a room filled with candles.
He said, “The song reflects the light at the end of the tunnel, that we are all hoping for.” He is far from the only musician to make music to inspire and raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine but this performance must surely be one of the most poignant.
Julian was born on the 8th of April 1963, and his full name is John Charles Julian Lennon. His father was, of course, legendary Beatles member John Lennon and his mother is Cynthia Lennon, John’s first wife. The pair chose Julian after John’s mum, Julia. Julian’s parents divorced when Julian was only five years old because of John’s growing relationship with Yoko Ono. Because of the divorce, Julian had no contact with his father for years.
Even though their relationship was strained, it did not stop Julian from following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a musician. He can play drums, guitar and keyboard and made his debut when he was just eleven. He played the drums on Ya Ya on his dad’s album Walls and Bridges
In 1984 he released his debut album, Valotte. It was an immediate success and was even nominated for a Grammy award. His second album was less successful and received harsh reviews from music critics. However, The Secret Value Of Daydreaming still reached number 32 on the Billboard 200 chart, and the single Stick Around became Julian’s first number one.
In 1987 he performed in Mike Batt’s musical, The Hunting Of The Snark. It was a musical benefit at the Royal Albert Hall to raise money for the deaf. The Duchess of York was the guest of honour, and it was an all-star cast, including Billy Connolly, John Hurt and Roger Daltrey. He released his third album, Help Yourself, in 1991 and one of the tracks, Saltwater, even featured former Beatles member George Harrison.
Julian took some time away from music in the 1990s to focus on philanthropy. His change of path has an intriguing beginning. He explains, “Dad once said to me that should he pass away, if there was some way of letting me know he was going to be OK – that we were all going to be OK – the message would come to me in the form of a white feather.” While touring Australia, Julian met two members of the indigenous Mirning Tribe. They gave him a white feather and asked for his help to give them a voice. His response was to produce a documentary about the tribe, and in 2007, he set up the White Feather Foundation to address environmental and humanitarian issues.
Julian has released two further albums in the years since, Photograph Smile and Everything Changes. He is also a keen photographer and has given several exhibitions of his work. Perhaps his diverse talents explain why he has an estimated net worth of around £38,000,000. Julian is not married and has never had children.
He attributes this to his strained relationship with his father. He said, “He was young and didn’t know what the hell he was doing. That’s the reason I haven’t had children yet. I didn’t want to do the same thing. No, I’m not ready. I want to know who I am first.” Until he is ready, his music, photography and philanthropy will be his wonderful legacy to the world.