You are on page 1of 7


By Alan L. Chrisman
Cynthia Lennon, Johns 1st. wife, passed away April 1, 2015 at the
age of 75 after a battle with cancer. Id always wanted to meet
her and in 1994, I got my wish. Someone had told me of a
Beatles Convention in Stamford , Connecticut and she was one of
the main guests.
I had never been to a Beatles Convention before, but my fellow
student and friend, Al Whyte, and I had just completed a course
about putting on events and our twos school project (only a
fantasy) had been to do a Beatles Convention. So we had a
chance to actually go to one and also meet, as I say, John
Lennons wife. I had read her book, Twist of Lennon, and could
picture what it must have been like before they were very wellknown in those early Beatles days in Liverpool.

Cynthia Lennons 1st book, 1978.

Al and I met her briefly and she was even nicer and lovely than I
had hoped. She signed my copy of her book and I nervously asked
her some questions. Id always wanted to see if I could try and
see what John had been like past the pop star and media images.
We also ran into her later coming down in the elevator of the
hotel where the Convention was being held. She had long blonde
hair and wore wire-rimmed glasses like John.
I had read the romantic story in her book about how John had met
her at their Liverpool art school in 1958. But they were complete
opposites. John was the angry, chip-on his shoulder rebel,
especially because his mother had been killed by a drunken driver
when John was still a teenager. Cynthia Powell was the more
middle-class nice girl. But what they had in common was both
of them being near-sighted and their love of art. But she was
able to detect underneath the Lennon sneer, a softer side too.
They would sneak over to Johns aspiring-painter friend, Stu
Sutcliffes room to make love.

Cynthia was very supportive of John and his early budding

Beatles band. And when Paul, George, Pete Best, and Stu
Sutcliffe were sent to Hamburg, John would write back regular
funny postcards and letters to her (even though they were playing
in some of most decadent bars and temptations in Europe). When
they returned from Germany and first played the Cavern, she was
there too. But Cynthia didnt have it easy. She was renting a room
from Johns sometimes stern Aunt Mimi, while working at
Woolworths and the two women didnt get along. She then
moved to a small bedsitter room.

Johns early letter

and drawings to Cynthia.
When Cynthia became pregnant with their son, Julian, they got
married in 1962. (John said later, it had been the thing to do).
Even as The Beatles were becoming more and more popular,
Cynthia was still stuck alone while The Beatles were on tour,
having to put up with her husband being away a lot of the time,
and with all the girls throwing themselves at the young men. And
Lennon would sometimes take his frustrations out on her,
violently even. Theres a scene in The film, Backbeat about the
Hamburg days, where Astrid Kirchherr, the German art student
who basically created the whole Beatles look says to Cynthias
character, but John wants the world.

At their height, as The Beatles were experimenting with drugs,

Cynthia never really felt comfortable with their excesses. Beatle
wives were rarely allowed to be in the studio when their husbands
were at work. When their manager, Brian Epstein died, they all
went to India to see the Maharishi, but John was secretly writing
to this new artist, Yoko Ono. On the plane home, he admitted to
his wife the many affairs hed had. John advised her to go to
Greece for a vacation, the day she returned, she discovered Yoko
had spent the night with him at her home. Lennon and Cynthia
soon divorced in 1968.
John had remarried Yoko but Julian had been pretty well ignored
by his father ( much as John himself has been deserted by his
father). It wasnt until Yoko and John had separated for several
months in 1973 and John was with May Pang in L.A. that May
encouraged John to re-connect with Julian. Interestingly, I also
met May Pang at that same Conn. Convention. I was
surprised she was there; she wasnt a scheduled guest. But I
soon learned she was good friends with Cynthia and had come in
to see her. I was able to meet May Pang too and get her to sign
my copy of Lennons Walls and Bridges album and get photos of

her too.

Cyn. Lennon, May Pang with Al

Chrisman & Al Whyte, 1994.

Al and I were so inspired by meeting Cynthia and May Pang and

others at that Conn. Convention that we decided to actually put
on our own Beatles Conventions. Also, soon after I got back
home, Stu Sutcliffes sister, Pauline called me from
England (I think Cynthia must have given Pauline my
number). We had presented Cynthia with our fantasy. She
seemed interested in our more artistic convention than they
usually were. Cynthia was an artist in her own right and she
would later have exhibitions of some of her art.

CynthiaLoeswrkfTv. Cynthias own

drawing of The Cavern.

We even thought of having her son, Julian, whom had had a
successful album, Valotte, as a guest too (which she liked).
Unfortunately, she couldnt make it, but we did end up doing our
Ottawa Conventions in 95 and 96, with Pete Best and Louise
Harrison as main guests, respectively. Cynthia Lennon would later
write a second book simply called John in 2005. She was a lot
more critical of John in that book than her first and even said she
wished in some ways, she had never met him. Cynthia would, for
years, have trouble getting much money and ran a couple failed
restaurants and two of her marriages had ended in divorce before
her final third husband died in 2013. When Yoko inherited Johns
estate when John was killed in 1980, it still took years until Julian
finally got a settlement which he shared with his mother. Julian
has been bitter the way he felt he had been treated, but over
time, all the Beatles wives and children finally did appear
together at certain functions such as the premiere of Cirque de
Soleils Beatles Love show.

Cynthia, despite having been married to one of the most famous

people in the world, as I said, didnt have it easy. But I was
honored to meet her. I have no doubt that if Al and I hadnt met
Cynthia, we would never have actually done our own Beatles
Conventions and gone on to meet several who knew The Beatles.
Thats how much this lovely lady, Cynthia Lennon, had inspired

Tribute to Cynthia Lennon with son Julians song: