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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Cynthia Lennon: interview (& John's response).

An interview from the mid-1970s (click on it for a readable view), covering the Kenwood years. What's of most interest, however, is that not only did John happen to read this article, but he also wrote a riposte to Cynthia (which can be found in Keith Badman's book, Beatles After The Breakup):
"Dear Cynthia,
As you and I well know, our marriage was long over before the advent of LSD or Yoko Ono, and that's the reality! Your memory is impaired, to say the least. Your version of our first LSD trip is rather vague. And you seem to have forgotten subsequent trips altogether. You also seem to have forgotten that, only two years ago, while I was separated from Yoko Ono, you suddenly brought Julian to see me after three years of silence. During this visit, you didn't allow me to be alone with him for one moment. You even asked me to remarry you and or give you another child for Julian's sake. I politely told you no, and that anyway I was still in love with Yoko (which I thought was very down to earth). There were no detectives sent to Italy. Our mutual friend Alex Mardas went to Bassanini's hotel to see how you were, as you said you were too ill to come home. Finally, I don't blame you for wanting to get away from your Beatles past, but if you are serious about it, you should try to avoid talking to and posing for magazines and newspapers. We did have some good years, so dwell on them for a change, and as Dylan says, it was "a simple twist of fate."
Love and good luck to you from the three of us,
Of course, it's impossible not to feel some sympathy for Cynthia. But it's also interesting to see John get a right of reply, and challenge one or two of her oft-repeated gripes. Quite a good little pun there at the end, too.


  1. I agree. Keith Badman's book is really good. If you need to know every activity each Beatle has participated in from the minute Paul announced he was leaving the group, until the present time, this is the book for you. It's a diary, plain and simple, which lists day by day appearances, meetings, concerts, interviews, record releases, etc., many of which were obscure until now. If you're looking for narrative prose about the solo Beatles, look elsewhere. This book definitely has the most detailed account of John's final day, and the other Beatles' reactions. It has a few rare photos; a must have for true Beatlemaniacs. I think Cynthia definately had and still has sympathy; and it's refreshing and tends to create more of an equilibrium for the sake of anyone interested in the John/Cyn marriage breakdown. Good research on behalf of Badman to have printed the response to Cynthia's article above... prehaps a A Twist of Lennon!?

  2. Wow, good one, very interesting .. don't recall Cyn ever refuting John's claim about remarrying and having another baby .. ahhhhhh, The Beatles, never a dull moment :-)

  3. Hi, just a little word of caution, tho i loves Keiths books that gather all the solo interviews, his day by day book is often wildly inacurate, far too many instances to list here, but just one springs to mind and that's the listed meeting of John and George in November 1980 in LA for a Python gig.

  4. I'd recommend Keith's book Beatles Off The Record too...a great piece of work on his part.

  5. Yes, the book (Beatles Off The Record) trawls through newspaper archives and radio interviews, to recreate the group's response to events as they happened. The results are probably nearer the truth. Most telling are the press conference extracts, which capture the Fab's growing impatience with Beatlemania and how contemporary interviews show group unity dissapating after 66.' Super bookm from Badman!

  6. very interesting, especially the letter from john. i had never known about cyn asking him to get back with her and/or give him a child. you're so right, tammy, the beatles, never a dull moment!

  7. Hi, that is a good clipping. Cynthia Lennon talked about a night when John and her went for dinner at a friend of George's and there being a row of sugar cubes. The man put LSD onto them! Crazy. That sounds really far out. What happened that night? Are there any accounts of John from that night?

  8. I found this link on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IaPtrmGCHA

    John describes his first LSD experience. The first of many...

  9. I believe the part about Cynthia wanting another child with John was in May Pang's first book, "Loving John"; however Cynthia never accounted about it in her second book, "John" and she's friends with May so would think she would've put that in or something. I wonder why Cynthia never mentioned about it? Too embarrassed?

    Least John did admit that he and Cynthia did share some good years together and he did say "Love and good luck to you"...however I have to say that it was John's (and Yoko's) fault for not seeing Julian for the three years, not Cynthia's.

  10. Thanks for sharing the article; I've never seen it before.
    Something about John's response doesn't sit well with me, though. It doesn't seem like he actually wrote it. It's not in John's style at all. For one thing, I doubt he would have written "Dear Cynthia"; as far as I know he always, always called her Cyn. And honestly, the stuff in John's reply doesn't seem like it would have acutally happened.

    I don't know. I just can't shake the feeling.

  11. wow, this is a great find. :O

    Do you know the exact date for Cynthia's article?

    The thing I'm wary about, is that it's "two years" after the Lost Weekend, so John was back with Yoko while writing this... and the writing is kind of... not like John's. It's so curt and, and that bit about "you suddenly brought Julian to see me" is out of line with May's version of events. Didn't they all plan it out together??

  12. John always referred Cynthia as "Cyn" from the moment they started to date from the time he died. Even the 1974 letter he wrote about Julian's upcoming visit John used "Cyn" and in the 1980 Playboy interview it was "Cyn".

    I believe it was Yoko who wrote the letter. I smell her stench, especially the praise about her.

  13. I have no idea if it's real or not..I assumed it was, but who knows? Please let's have no Yoko-bashing here, though.

  14. The "Dear Cynthia" tag is because the above note was an "Open Letter" (i.e. public) If my memory serves me right, the letter was sent as a response to the News Of The World feature, not as a personal message to Cynthia which she then published. I imagine it was sent to the NOTW which then (probably quite happily) published as a response! Again, I recall a quote from Lennon's PA at the time which roughly said that she had tried to stop him sending it, but it is a measure of his anger. Someone please confirm this!

  15. So what does she say in this interview? That they did acid, and George Harrison tells the same story in Beatles Anthology and John tells it in Playboy or Rolling Stone, can't remember which. She says she was superfluous and an unnecessary older sister, that John was overly strict at the dinner table. Nothing terribly insulting or earth shattering. Then he replies that out of their 10 or so years together, they had only 3 happy ones and she was too stupid to know it. Then he humiliates her by telling a story which portrays her to be needy and ridiculous, which may be true and if it is I am sorry for her, not him. It's also probably true that there was a time when it served his purposes for her to be so until it became inconvenient, at which time he left the marriage.

    Then he seems to tell her that if she wasn't happy during this time period she should just shut up and go away, but not before he blames the all powerful Cynthia for keeping him from his son for a decade. Wow, talking about killing an ant with a sledge hammer.

  16. Incoming rant. Sorry.

    For behaviour like this I hate the guts of John Lennon. I think he's one of the most hypocritical dudes to disgrace the face of the Earth (well, counting out of politicians, I guess... but, you know, you expect politicians to be liars, Lennon sold himself as an artist in search for the truth). He was a smart one, though. He sold millions of albums preaching peace and love, and what did he do in his private life? A good deal of violence and hatred.

    His answer is a long list of insults... First he implies that it was Cynthia's fault that he didn't contact Julian in three years, when it was the other way around (not only Cyn's version, also Pang's and Julian's). According to both Pang and Julian, he did have time alone with his son during that meeting (in fact, he almost refused to talk to Cyn), so up to that point he's lying to humiliate her and to hide the fact that he was an awful father.

    I cannot know if the part about her asking him to get back together is right (up to this point he's lying), but even if it were right, then what? He's the one who's looking bad here. Because if you notice, the greatest insult he's using, is: "you still love me and I don't love you, nyah, nyah!". This from the guy who preached peace and love? Peace and love my ass. The dude used "you love me" as a f***in' insult!

    For someone who preached about peace and love, the cynicism of this letter makes me want to puke. First time I heard "Imagine", I wondered why it sounded so goddamned cheesy. Now I know it is the most hypocritical song ever written.

    If with his answer he was trying to make Cynthia look bad... well, I admit she looks like a poor clingy weakling still in love with an ass. I would think very poorly of her if she was my age, but she was born in 1939 and raised as a woman of her time. I can only sympathise with her. Cyn is a cautionary tale about why feminism was needed, and why loving bad boys is an awful idea. But John is a cautionary tale against the hypocrisy of people in the media. I cannot believe he was almost sanctified after his death. Death doesn't make a bastard any less of a bastard (he's no less of a genius, either).

    By the way, I do not blame Yoko for John being a bastard and I refuse to bash her, or to think she might have written this. I think the lady is an egotist attention-digger of little to no talent (that doesn't make her different from many other self-called-artists), but I do not believe for a moment he became more of a bastard because of her. I think he chose to become more of an egotist attention-digger (and to do lots of drugs) and then went to his soulmate. People who hate Yoko simply don't have the guts to hate John.

    Sorry for the rant, but I had to. I curse the day I was let a biography of Paul McCartney. Paul resisted the reading, but I cannot stand John since. I will never ever read a biography of an artist whose work I admire again unless I get paid. I cannot listen to anything Lennon wrote after 1968, except for "Dream" and "Cold Turkey". I wonder if I'm the only one who suffers from "I should never have read that biography" syndrome.

    1. Pretty much spot on, except I don't for a minute believe the screamer didn't have the biggest hand in writing this letter. It doesn't sound like John speaking, only the screamer.

  17. Ah, what a beautiful last part:
    Finally, I don't blame you for wanting to get away from your Beatles past, but if you are serious about it, you should try to avoid talking to and posing for magazines and newspapers.

    "Because I can leave and make a show of my new marriage, appear constantly in TVs and press conferences, ignore our son, proclaim my new love, and even claim to the world that I only married you because you were pregnant, causing Julian to need to fight the classmates who called you a floozy. But now I'm fed up with the show and I want peace and quiet, so don't you dare remind the world of your existence. I'm trying to "vaporize" you, so shut the f*** up."

    Seriously, I don't get why people hate Yoko. She knew when to shut up.

    1. Isa, I completely agree with you. You nicely articulated my opinion about John's cynical response to Cynthia, and about his overall person. As a musician, he has my sympathy but certainly not as a person. I also think that Cyn is a cautionary tale about why feminism was and is still needed. On the other hand, John is also a cautionary tale about the way the media glorifies people that don't deserve it. Finally, I also suffer from the "I should have never read that biography" symptom; believe me, I've been disillusioned more than once...

    2. Please, for the love of whatever, don't believe everything you read. Authors have an agenda, and that agenda generally has to do with selling books. See my detailed response to the various negative comments here further down this thread. I'm also quite amazed at the number of morally spotless people who feel the need to castigate the failings of others "btl". We live in an age of Saints! And when two great ones meet, you get a shitstorm "btl".
      I almost feel inspired to post something new.

    3. By "my" I mean Kenwoodlennon's. Tempted as I am to enter into a ludicrous "btl" debate with myself on this point, it's 2 names for the same person, as ye are probably aware.

  18. Hmmm. I'm afraid I'm going to stick up for John a bit, so you may want to have your blood pressure pills to hand.

    1. There's no denying John was a thug in his younger years, and married too young because of an unplanned pregnancy. I wouldn't make any excuses for it, but I would point out that he was as much a product of his times and circumstances as Cynthia. However, the interesting thing is that you could quite rightly paint him as a "male chauvinist pig" in his youth (even though the concept of chauvinist piggery didn't exist back then), but you would be entirely wrong to do so in, say, the period before he was murdered in front of his wife. John, for all his manifold flaws, did at least try to improve and avoid the mistakes of his earlier life, with some degree of success. If you read the lengthy PlayBoy interview conducted in 1980, he was very honest about his struggles and regrets in this regard.

    2. This argument about him being a hypocrite for doing the Bed-Ins whilst getting divorced is completely silly. The Bed-Ins were part of a contemporary movement which attempted to stop the Vietnam War, amongst other things. It wasn't about not getting a divorce (in fact quite the opposite - a large part of so called radical politics was precisely to do with personal freedom); it was about not dropping napalm on children. What does that have to do with John's private life? Trying to conflate the two things is ludicrous.

    3. And while I'm getting mildly irritated, this guff about Imagine and John's "sainthood" never fails to cause my lips to purse, as if sucking on a particularly sharp lemon. I've said this before, but there has never been a song as wilfully misunderstood as Imagine. It's not called "Thou Shalt Have No Possessions". People who think they've caught John out because he had possessions when he wrote the song need to buy a dictionary and look up the titular word. The song is asking the listener to "imagine" a radically different world. It's hardly John's fault that that world doesn't exist. If he'd sung "Imagine I have tits", you'd be calling him a hypocrite because he didn't actually have tits! I hesitate to tell you this, because you will probably explode with anger at another example of John's hypocrisy, but he also wasn't even a walrus, let alone the walrus. Hypocrite! And please do provide the title of one book about John that seriously argues that he was a saint, or the name of one sane person who genuinely believes he was a saint, because I've never read that book nor met that person. Anyone who knows anything about John would never in a million years argue that he was a candidate for sainthood.

    4. I don't know which book has inspired your ire, but if you only want art made by morally spotless people, you're going to have to throw out every book, record and film you own. You may also want to throw out all your other possessions (oh the irony) while you are about it, as they were almost certainly made by people who have occasionally committed some sin or other.

    5. Don't believe everything you read.

    6. You'd need a heart of stone not to feel sympathy for Julian, in particular, and Cynthia (though Cynthia has expertly made money out of her association with John ever since, including changing her name by deed poll back to Lennon several years after the divorce for that very reason; not that there's anything wrong with that). They were victims of John's fame, as much as anything, but the biggest victim of that fame was John himself. Lest ye forget, he was mown down in cold blood in front of Yoko by a lunatic whose motive appears to have been both a pathetic desire for fame, and a rage at John's "hypocrisy". It's all so bloody stupid it beggars belief, it really does.

    7. I'm off to have a beer, and gnash my teeth in the dark.

  19. he was a coward and a hypocrite, a very weak human but he was human. my point being is we have high expectations of each other and we have faults. both of them sung of peace and love, high ideals indeed. between them they could of done so much with their combined fortune, high ideals indeed. r.i.p john . the reality was he and paul wrote some great music

  20. John Lennon was a gifted musician widely believed as the cool, hip, tough leader of The
    Beatles. Avant garde bohemian, loaded with acerbic wit, take down artist extraordinaire.
    Excessive drug use peeled away the smooth facade revealing a needy soul that depended on a strong buffer between his insecurities and the sophisticated circles he traveled in.
    Best mate, songwriting partner, trusted confidente Paul McCartney provided that support for years, until he was brushed aside and replaced with mother figure, coddling enabler Yoko Ono, an extremely intelligent woman, with superb abilities in preventing Lennon from exercising free will by keeping him on a short leash but occasionally allowing him to stray and debauch. This worked for Lennon for he constantly praised her to the skies and worshipped the ground she walked on. Many saw his cruel
    treatment of his first wife and heartless abandonment then neglect of his firstborn son to be evidence that John Lennon was made of stone and deserved the ridicule and mocking snickers he received when creating musical drek with Ono's goat bleeting noises being passed of as edgy.
    A flawed man who should have done better by his son Julian. A gifted musician taken from us too soon. RIP John Lennon.


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