Yoko pays tribute to Cynthia, the secret wife John Lennon treated so very cruelly: How the Beatles star's late wife watched in silence as he hid her from the world and had affairs on the road
· Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John Lennon, died yesterday aged 75 in Majorca following a battle with cancer
· Yoko Ono said she was 'very saddened' by news and praised Cynthia as a 'great person' with a 'strong zest for life'
· Cynthia, then 18, met John, then 17, at Liverpool Art College in their first term and later had one son together, Julian
· But, after the pair married, she was forced to live in silence through Beatlemania and had to deny being his wife
· After several affairs, he finally cheated on her with Yoko, prompting a swift divorce in which she received £100,000
· The musician later denied ever being in love with Cynthia - despite his love letters telling the exact opposite story
By COREY CHARLTON and STEPH COCKROFT and KEILIGH BAKER FOR MAILONLINE
2 April 2015
Yoko Ono has led the tributes to John Lennon's first wife Cynthia calling her a 'wonderful mother' with a 'strong zest for life' after she died at the age of 75 following a short battle with cancer.
The second wife of the Beatles singer said she was 'very saddened' by the news, adding that she was 'proud' how she and Cynthia had 'stood firm in the Beatles family'.
Cynthia, who married Lennon after meeting him in college, died yesterday at her home in Spain. A message on her son Julian's website said he was at her beside throughout, and the family 'are thankful for your prayers'.
The bad boy and the nice girl: Cynthia Lennon and John Lennon, who met at Liverpool Art College as teenagers, pictured in 1960
Domestic bliss: The couple on holiday in Dorset on one of their days out (up) and at home with Julian in Surrey in 1965 (down) before drugs began to have a destructive effect on the musician
In the statement, Yoko said: 'I'm very saddened by Cynthia's death. She was a great person and a wonderful mother to Julian.
'She had such a strong zest for life and I felt proud how we two women stood firm in the Beatles family. Please join me in sending love and support to Julian at this very sad time.'
Yoko also posted a picture which had been taken in 2010 of the two women with their sons, Julian and Sean.
She captioned the picture: 'When we were very happy together.'
Cynthia Lennon, nee Powell, married Lennon in 1962 and stayed with him as he rose to global stardom with The Beatles until the couple divorced in 1968.
But the pair divorced in 1968 after Cynthia discovered her husband's relationship with the Japanese artist.
Former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr added their condolences.
Writing on his website, McCartney, 72, said: 'She was a lovely lady who I've known since our early days together in Liverpool. She was a good mother to Julian and will be missed by us all, but I will always have great memories of our times together.'
Starr, 74, tweeted: 'Peace and love to Julian Lennon God bless Cynthia love Ringo and Barbara xx.'
John Lennon and Cynthia met at college and married just as Lennon's career with The Beatles propelled him to fame.
Cynthia (pictured left at Heathrow with John and right at Luton airport), watched from the sidelines as the boy some thought was a layabout became one of the most famous and artistically celebrated young men in the world
His wife, the mother of his son Julian, never complained - not publicly anyway - about having to hide the couple's marriage
Julian also tweeted a picture of his mother, who was 75, inside a heart with the message 'In Loving Memory'.
He also posted a moving video tribute to his late mother with a song he had written in her honor.
'You gave your life for me, you gave your life for love,' it begins, showing footage of him as a young boy with his parents. It also shows footage of Cynthia with John during the early days of Beatlemania.
'The love you left behind will carry on,' Julian sings in a style influenced by his late father. It concludes with the words: 'I know you're safe above.'
Cynthia met Lennon at art school in Liverpool in 1957 and the couple married just before Beatlemania transformed her husband from a jobbing musician into one of the most famous men in the world.
Man about town: John Lennon and Cynthia with Paul McCartney and his then girlfriend Jane Asher in 1968
Lennon and Cynthia in 1967. Cynthia was first a secret for Lennon - and she was then left behind, as Beatlemania continued to grip the world
At the height of the Beatles' early success, she was kept so far in the background that many of Lennon's female fans were not even aware of her existence, and she stayed at home bringing up Julian while the Fab Four toured the world and topped the charts.
Cynthia Lennon grew up in a middle-class community on the Wirral, met John Lennon while they were both students at the Liverpool College of Art.
The pair married in 1962, when Cynthia was just 22, after she became pregnant with their son Julian.
Beatles' members George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein - who was best man - all attended.
The Lennons bought Kenwood, then a 22-bedroom home, in Weybridge, Surrey, for £20,000 in 1964.
Kenwood became the place to visit for the other Beatles, various American musicians and total strangers that Lennon had met the previous night in London nightclubs.
Cynthia with Lennon and fellow Beatle George Harrison at a film premiere in 1965. The couple's divorce was swift and acrimonious
While she had suspicions of Lennon's infidelity over the years, with friends telling her that Lennon had had numerous affairs as far back as their time together at art college in Liverpool, Cynthia ignored the warnings.
The Lennons' marriage troubles came to a head in February 1968 when Lennon drunkenly confessed to sleeping with other women during their marriage.
Lennon suggested Cynthia take a holiday with friends. She returned to find her husband sitting across from Yoko Ono on the floor - staring into each other's eyes.
In one of her book's she wrote that she then found Yoko's slippers outside their bedroom door - shocked and upset she left the house to stay with friends.
After years of trouble, the marriage finally ended in August 1968 when Yoko Ono discovered she was pregnant.
Fearing a lengthy divorce process, the couple settled outside of court, with Lennon agreeing to pay Cynthia £100,000 and give her custody of Julian.
Palatial home: The Surrey home where the family lived in the Sixties. But beneath the exterior of the lavish home, there was trouble - John had affairs, usually with clever, upmarket women, while Cynthia patiently tried to keep the peace
The divorce prompted Paul McCartney to pen the Beatles' classic Hey Jude to help Julian cope with his parents' separation. He changed the name Julian to Jude in the song.
The line 'take a sad song and make it better,' is about the Lennons' broken marriage and its impact on their son.
Cynthia learned of Lennon's death on 8 December 1980, while she was staying with friends in London.
She married Italian hotelier Roberto Bassanini in 1970, divorcing him in 1973. In 1976, she married John Twist, an engineer from Lancashire, but divorced him in 1983.
In an interview to publicise one of her books, 2005's John, she told Good Morning America: 'I have read so many books and seen so many films, and it's like we don't really exist. We are like walk-on parts in his life. We did spend 10 years together.'
Recalling their early days, she said: 'You couldn't resist being around him. You couldn't resist watching what he was up to. I mean, he was a total rebel. Everybody was amazed by him.'
Author Hunter Davies, who wrote the only authorized Beatles biography in 1968, described Cynthia as a 'lovely woman'.
He said that unlike John, she was 'quiet and reserved and calm' and 'not a hippy at all.'
He said their friends at art school never thought the relationship would last because they were so different.
In her book, Cynthia described being mistreated by John. Julian was their only child together.
He said: 'When I was writing the book I spent two years with them, visiting her home and spending time with her.
'I think it was the attraction of opposites between them. When they got together at art school everyone was amazed - she was seen as refined and reserved and nobody thought they would last.
'We two women stood firm in the Beatles family': Yoko Ono pays tribute to John Lennon's first wife Cynthia calling her a 'wonderful mother' after she died at home in Mallorca following short battle with cancer
By Ray Connolly for the Daily Mail
You will go a long way before you meet anyone who knew her who won’t have a kind word to say about Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John Lennon, who died, aged 75, in Majorca yesterday.
Because she was just a very, very nice person who, as a teenager, fell in love with a mercurial, talented boy, despite the fact that few thought he would ever go anywhere in life.
A pretty girl who then watched from the sidelines as the boy some thought was a layabout became one of the most famous and artistically celebrated young men in the world.
Come together: Sean Lennon, Yoko, Cynthia and Julian Lennon in New York in 2010. Yoko posted this image yesterday, paying tribute to Cynthia as a 'wonderful mother and great person'
Cynthia Lennon, who died at her home in Spain yesterday, later penned memoirs of her time with her famous husband, who eventually left her for Yoko Ono
This memorial website set up for her by her family carried an image of her surrounded by a love heart and a brief statement explaining she had died after a 'short but brave' battle with cancer
Later, she lived through all the excitement of Beatlemania and seeing her husband being adored by millions, while she had to hide in the background and endure the pain of having to deny being his wife — it being an unspoken rule that rock stars were unmarried in those days to protect their image as a teen idol.
And she never complained, not publicly anyway, and only in a very small voice to him.
I liked John Lennon a lot. But I liked Cynthia, too. And it seemed that John treated her badly and was unnecessarily cruel to her, denying after their marriage was over that he had ever been in love with her, when his love letters had told the exact opposite.
He wouldn’t have married her, he used to say, if she hadn’t got pregnant. ‘Julian,’ he told an American magazine in 1970, ‘was born out of a bottle of whiskey on a Saturday night.’
‘That was cruel,’ Cynthia would say years later. ‘Inhuman.’ Before adding wryly: ‘The question should be: “Would I have married him?” She smiled at that, adding: ‘No. He wasn’t the best husband. But he wasn’t the worst.’
But Lennon did have a habit of making dramatic over-statements.
John Lennon and Cynthia board a flight from Heathrow to New York in 1964 before thousands of adoring fans
They’d met at Liverpool Art College in 1957 in their first term, when she was 18 and John 17. Some students thought Cynthia Powell, as she then was, must be posh because she came from Hoylake, which was ‘over the water’, Liverpudlian slang for the middle-class Wirral.
Actually, she wasn’t any posher than John Lennon, who also had a middle-class upbringing with his Aunt Mimi, but she was certainly more reserved, and felt intimidated by his endless bravado, tight jeans and long, greasy hair.
They weren’t in the same class, but he was quickly smitten, telling his friends that she looked like Brigitte Bardot, and making jokes about her, determined to catch her attention. Secretly, she would hang around him, dazzled by his rebellious charisma.
They got together after a Christmas party during their second year in 1958. Her widowed mother was not best pleased at her choice, Cynthia having dropped a Hoylake boyfriend of two years for John.
Cynthia was now watching the birth of The Beatles as Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who were at the school next door, would join John at lunchtimes in the college for rehearsals.
It had to be exciting, as were John’s passionate, not say erotic, love letters to her when he dropped out of college to go to Hamburg with The Beatles.
Cynthia Lennon pictured with The Beatles in 1964 during their rose to global stardom
He was, the letters made clear (as did several of The Beatles’ early songs which were about letter-writing) desperate that she would stay faithful to him while he was away.
The reverse, however, never seemed to apply, to John. ‘It was all “love, love, love” and, of course, other things which are unprintable,’ she would remember. ‘I suppose I fell in love with a bad boy, whom I knew to be a bad boy. My father had died a couple of years earlier. If he’d still been alive, he wouldn’t have let John get past the front door.’
Altogether, John was a jealous, suspicious, unfaithful, bohemian boyfriend. She was a lower middle-class, very reasonable, faithful girl, and she waited for him.
Soon he was back in Liverpool, playing at the Cavern Club, when, almost on the brink of The Beatles’ first recording session, Cynthia discovered she was pregnant. It was August 1962. ‘There’s only thing for it, Cyn. We’ll have to get married,’ John said as soon as she told him. Aunt Mimi was furious. She and Cynthia never got on.
Manager Brian Epstein arranged a very quiet wedding, and the happy couple moved into a little flat in Liverpool where Cynthia, and then baby Julian, would stay a secret, as The Beatles became the biggest act in the world.
‘The more successful The Beatles became, the further away from me John seemed to be,’ she told me.
The couple share a laugh together in 1964. Cynthia later described her role in their relationship as like a 'walk on part'
In later years, Cynthia wrote in her book of how she was mistreated by Lennon as he soared to fame
The Beatles' only authorised biographer, Hunter Davies, said the couple's friends at art school never thought the relationship would last because they were such different characters
Cynthia Lennon, pictured in 1968, divorced from the hit songwriter after he met Yoko Ono
After a year of her reclusive existence, the truth eventually leaked out and she and Julian joined John in London, first in a flat in Kensington and then, as the money poured in, in a grand house in Surrey’s stockbroker belt.
But the nature of their relationship had changed. The very nice, friendly girl from Hoylake was no longer as erotically exciting as she’d once seemed. John had affairs, usually with clever, upmarket women.
‘I wasn’t passive or a dimwit. I think it was more a case of being patient. But I was beginning to be aware that these women could be dangerous. Most people now know about sex, drugs and rock and roll, but I don’t think I was aware so much then. I thought he was working all the time.’
Cynthia once told me that the only normal family day out she can remember they ever had when Julian was a little boy was in 1965. John had bought his Aunt Mimi a seaside home in Dorset and John, Cynthia and Julian went to see her and spent the day on the beach, John hiding under a large sunhat. ‘It was heaven,’ she told me. ‘We made sandcastles for Julian with his buckets and spades. And planned to do it again. But we never did’
Most of the time John was touring, filming or recording. They had a beautiful house, with lots of staff, but he was bored, and then irritated when Cynthia’s mother came to stay. He saw himself increasingly as an avant-garde artist and Cynthia as just a housewife. She did her best to keep the peace in the house.
‘But little by little, John’s personality began to change as drugs became an important part of his life,’ she told me, ‘leading him to the destruction of so much that he valued. At home, he would be lost in a daydream . . . present, but absent. I’d talk to him, but he wouldn’t hear me.’
Once she had been a secret. Now she was feeling left behind.
When The Beatles suddenly became interested in transcendental meditation and rushed off to see the Maharishi in Bangor, North Wales, she missed the train and was left on the platform as it pulled out. The end came when John met Yoko Ono, who sent him letters while The Beatles were staying in Rishikesh in the Himalayas studying meditation in 1968.
During all the time they were there, John refused to have sex with Cynthia, who had joined him, insisting that he slept in a separate room, as he looked forward to Yoko’s letters arriving at the post office at the ashram where they were staying.
The end of the marriage came shortly afterwards, when, upset by his indifference towards her, Cynthia took a short holiday in Greece.
DIVORCE PAPERS SHED LIGHT ON THE LENNON'S RELATIONSHIP
Cynthia and her son Julian pictured together in 2006 at the opening of The Beatles' LOVE by Cirque du Soleil
Cynthia was often left to look after the couple's son Julian (pictured together in 2011) at home by herself as Lennon traversed the globe with The Beatles
On returning, she found John and Yoko in the kitchen, John in his dressing gown, Yoko wearing Cynthia’s. They’d obviously only just got up. What hurt most was that John knew that she was on her way home. ‘It was vicious,’ she told me.
The divorce was swift and unpleasant. John, normally the most generous of men, showed a vindictive side to his character.
‘My final offer is £75,000,’ he shouted at her. ‘That’s like winning the pools for you, so what are you moaning about. You’re not worth any more.’ Finally, in 1970, she accepted £100,000 for her and Julian.The family home was sold. For a time, she lived in Kensington and saw old friends, though she was hurt that the other Beatles didn’t stay in touch with her.
She didn’t stay single for long, first marrying Italian hotelier Roberto Bassanini, and then a very nice engineer called John Twist.
But once again, that didn’t work out. It was impossible for her not to be associated with John, and probably difficult for her second and third husbands, too.
It can’t have been easy following in Lennon’s footsteps.
Then, in 2002, she married Noel Charles, a friend of Julian, a former nightclub owner. They lived happily together until Noel died in 2013.
Julian was at her bedside for her last moments. In a tribute, he said: ‘You gave your life for me, you gave your life for love. The love you left will carry on.’
Some have said Cynthia should have fought to keep John Lennon. I think that she was a terrific woman, calm and quiet, who did her best under very trying circumstances.
She and John Lennon were opposites. She knew that when she began going out with him. That was probably why she fell in love with him.
I like to think that, in the final years, she was finally happy.
The mother and son, who were extremely close, attend the unveiling of the John Lennon monument in 2010
Julian yesterday released a moving song written in tribute to his mother. The two remained close right up to her death