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Another Lennon

By William Ireland
US Magazine April 14, 1981
Page 3 of 3

 

Further impediments arose in 1974, when he and Ono separated. Lennon went off with his secretary, Mary Pang, taking refuge in California, where he built a reputation for heavy drinking, self-destruction, brawling with photographers and, in one notable incident, wearing a sanitary napkin on his head. His relations with Julian during this bacchanalian period were intermittent at best. (Actually it was during this time that John and Julian actually got back together due to the encouragement of May Pang. It was also during this time that the Walls and Bridges album was recorded. - CJ)

Meanwhile, Julian was growing into a remarkable replica of his father. "He was assuming the same looks," says his mother, "the same personality and the same sloppy manner of dress that John fancied at that age." Like his father, he was also showing an interest in music, particularly in the drums. On one of his few visits to America, Julian provided the percussion for Lennon's version of the old Lee Dorsey song "Ya Ya." The cut was included on Walls and Bridges, released in 1974.

By 1976, both of Julian's parents had put harmony back into' their lives. Returning to Ono, Lennon fathered a second son, Sean, and settled into the long gestation of seclusion and reflection that culminated last year in the album Double Fantasy. That year, Powell met and married an English engineer, John Twist,- her present husband. With Julian, the couple moved to Ruthin, North Wales, where Powell runs a restaurant.

Communications, conducted mostly by phone, improved over the next few years. Just before his death, Lennon spoke of the shock he experienced in rediscovering his son, the surprise of "picking up the phone and hearing a man on the other end talking about motorbikes."

As Lennon told Playboy: "At least there's an open line still going. It's not the best relationship between father and son, but it is there. We will have a relationship in the future."

For the son, the renewed relationship had already begun. "I was getting to know him better as I got older," Julian says. "He was always joking around, always sounded happy, which made me think more of him as a friend than a dad. The last time we spoke was about two weeks before he died. We were talking about me coming over for a visit."

The end of the long rupture between father and son never came. John Lennon, a man who had barely known his own father, was gunned down by Mark Chapman, a man estranged from his father.

Two days after the shooting, Julian arrived at the Dakota to comfort Ono and his 5-year-old half-brother. "Naturally, Yoko was extremely upset," Julian relates. "The slightest memory of Dad - the clothes he wore, TV shows they watched together - would set her off. It's not something I'm used to, but I had to be the strong one."

Another effect of his father's death, he says, was to strengthen his commitment to music. Julian had been planning to study at the Chester College of Art. Now, however, he is dedicated to a career in the rock field that Lennon revolutionized.

Although Julian returned to Wales in January, he is planning to move to New York. There, Yoko Ono will be able to give him contacts and access needed to become a working musician.

If he decides to live in New York, he may be involved in finishing the album his father had started. (Lennon, in fact, was carrying a cassette of the music when he was killed.) Reportedly titled Tribute, the LP is scheduled for release later this year.

But a move to America might create some conflicts for Julian. He would have to leave his band, which he and a friend, Justin Clayton, recently formed. In addition, Julian has been going out with Sally Hodson, 17, an unemployed office worker, since August - though part of his tentative plans include bringing her with him to New York.

One irresolvable conflict will be leaving his mother. Always close to her son, Powell was jarred by his desire to emigrate. Julian often speaks of the bond that's evolved between Ono and himself, describing her as "a very powerful, perceptive woman." In Powell's eyes, she may be losing another Lennon to Yoko Ono.

In any case, John Lennon's death has finally healed the rift between father and son. "I'm sorry we couldn't have known each other better," Julian concludes, "but I feel no anger or resentment. I know he believed in and worked hard for peace. I just hope he's peaceful now."