Retro Heaven

The First Lady of The Beatles

Death of Cynthia Lennon…

cynthia-lennonEven the most ardent John Lennon fan must surely feel some sympathy for Cynthia Lennon who died this week from cancer at the age of seventy five. The first ‘Beatles Wife,’ she endured an often difficult marriage with Lennon whose rise in fame and subsequent LSD fuelled trips into Indian mysticism often found her ‘left alone and holding the baby’.

It is near impossible to imagine what her life must have been like in those early days when Beatles mania was in full force. Any excitement felt at being Lennon’s partner must have been more than tempered by the hostility his female fans would have felt and often aired towards her and whilst it is easy to be dismissive of her compared to Yoko Ono it is worth remembering that Lennon spent ten years of his life with ‘Cyn’.

She met Lennon at Liverpool College of Art in 1958, he teased her about her better standard of upbringing and reacted badly when she hesitated after he asked her for a date. Hesitations aside, they went out and she endured an often hostile relationship with Lennon who began drinking and partying heavily to such detriment to his college work that he was thrown out before his final year. The then Cynthia Powell passed her exams and continued studying to be an art teacher until 1962 when she fell pregnant with her son, Julian.

Despite Lennon’s physical violence towards her, several affairs and the band’s insistence that she remained out of the way for the sake of the fans, she remained loyal throughout their relationship. She never embraced the hippy culture and stayed at home with Julian whilst Lennon toured and recorded.

By 1968 the marriage was over, returning from a holiday with girlfriends at the recommendation of Lennon she found him with Yoko Ono. It was the final straw and the marriage ended with a £100,000 payout and the family home in Surrey which Lennon told her she should be grateful for as she was ‘not worth anymore’. In reality it was fortunate for Lennon that the divorce was settled out of court, lawyers for Cynthia possessed potentially damaging statements from employees who told of his increasing drug use, violence towards Cynthia and bad temper towards Julian.

Following the divorce she married a further three times, the first to an Italian hotelier, followed by an engineer and finally a night club owner. She spent the last fifteen years of her life in Marbella, periodically selling off items of memorabilia and attending Lennon related events, at times alongside Ono.

McCartney penned the song ‘Hey Jude’ for Lennon’s son who was struggling to come to terms with their separation, the son who Lennon described as ‘a Saturday night special, the way that most people get here’. She was never received or remembered in the same regard as the other Beatles women which is a shame, whatever she may or may not have achieved in life she remained quiet about her husband whose treatment of her few knew about until after his death.

2 replies »

  1. Fantastic website – came across it having recently read James Cameron’s ‘Point of Departure’ and found your reviews of all his other works extremely informative (and have consequently ordered more of his books today). However, I must point out in relation to this post that is was Paul, not John, who wrote ‘Hey Jude’ about Julian.

    You may find this seemingly impromptu interview – judging by it’s incongruous setting – with a candid Julian talking about his father of interest.


  2. Ian,
    Welcome to the site and thank you for your kind words, any fan of James Cameron is very welcome here. Thank you for that, I am annoyed at that error and will watch this with gratitude. I hope you enjoy your books, he was a remarkable journalist.


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