Posted in interviews | music on February 6, 2014

by Jonathan Dick

Julian Lennon

Having began his musical career at the age of eleven on his father's 1974 album Walls and Bridges, Julian Lennon has the unique and at the same time daunting privilege of bearing the name and legacy of one of music's most profound and influential voices. Complexities abound with any discussion involving Julian's relationship to his father, yet through all manner of rhetoric that might be employed in those same conversations, his own undeniable merit as an artist, photographer, and philanthropist have cemented a place outside the oftentimes dark shadow of the man he called "dad." History is fickle enough concerning those cultural icons we value, with nostalgia and retrospect often becoming irreversibly blurred once those same individuals are no longer with us. For Julian Lennon, the fact that his art and namesake are invariably intertwined is a source of comfort and one that propels him to utilize memory not only for his own sense of pride but for the millions worldwide who see that legacy as one that's synonymous with hope and the possibility of peace.

This Friday (2/7) the Morrison Hotel Gallery will open a photography exhibit commemorating the 'Golden Anniversary of the Year America Met the Beatles', curated by Julian. The exhibit, running concurrently in NYC and West Hollywood, will feature photos of the band, several of which have never before been seen by the public.

With last year's Everything Changes, Julian's first solo release in thirteen years, and then the upcoming anniversary of the Beatles' American debut, Lennon's artistic output is as impressive as ever and one that presently finds him in a place of reflection for the past and, more importantly, anticipation for what lies ahead.
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BV: Tell me a little about the background for your exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery that's celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles coming to America.

Julian: It's a little roundabout, but how this came about was the fact that we knew the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles was coming up, specifically with the Ed Sullivan show. The whole Grammys thing was coming up, and then there was the whole performance and that. It was all a bit much, and all a bit too shiny for me. [Laughs] Maybe that's not the preferred word, but it was all a bit too much for me. It was actually very difficult to even get a sense of...in all honesty, it was like trying to get blood from a stone in who was playing what, who was singing what, what went where and how. After a long chat with mum and a few other folks, I just said "You know, it's all a bit too much. I'd rather just stay out of it and wish everybody well and send my love." Prior to that, Timothy White, who is one of my dearest friends, who was the bugger that got me into photography in the first place [laughs], and who is the man who curated my first exhibition as well in New York at the Morrison Hotel Gallery - he's now part of the Morrison Hotel Gallery group, so I've done...I can't even remember, to be honest with you, how many exhibitions I've done with them now. It must've been anywhere between three and five last year alone. One way or another, whether it was the one in Miami, the gallery in LA, or New York. I'm involved a lot with them, and they've looked after me, and I've looked after them. Anyway, Timothy came to me and just said "Listen, it seems you're more aligned with photography these days. I mean, you still do music, yes, and all the other stuff, but your passion is really photography. What about taking a look and curating some beautiful old pictures of your dad and the Beatles - some of which have never been seen before? How about that? Would you consider that?" And I thought that was certainly a different approach than most people would say or think that I'd do under the circumstance, really. The likelihood is that they're expecting me to be at the Grammys and do everything else. I loved this idea, and the moment I was able to see even a few of the images that I'd never seen before, I just fell in love with the idea of doing it. One thing led to another, and I was bombarded with hundreds of Beatles pictures that I'd never seen before. It was very, very difficult, I've gotta say, trying to decide which ones would be the most appropriate for this occasion. For me, I looked at it as a son. I looked at it as an artist and as a photographer, too. I just wanted to find images that I could clearly read their emotions on their faces - that you knew you felt exactly what they were going through at any particular point in time with these photographs. I think I've managed to do that. Initially they were going for twenty five shots, and I said "You can't do twenty five on their fiftieth anniversary. You've gotta do fifty." [Laughs] We eventually locked it down, and I think there's a great selection of stuff, and some people may have seen a couple before or seen similar shots, but to me they're all pretty unique and pretty individual and really quite special. It's definitely a time and a place and definitely an emotion that you can relate to.

continued below...

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The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, 1964 by Ken Regan/Camera Five
Beatles
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You mentioned seeing the Grammys and the upcoming "reunion" show as a bit too much. Your response to the anniversary of the Beatles coming to America seems to be more reflective as a kind of response to the nostalgic sense of a band reunion. What's your perspective on the reunion?

Julian: All in all, there's a lot that can be said. I've always said there never can be a reunion because, you know, two of the members are missing. It's an impossibility for there to be a reunion as such. I thought it was a bit weird that Ringo ended up playing a McCartney song more than anything else. I don't know. To me, the last thing I wanted to do was stand in the audience with everybody else, clapping my hands, and being filmed in front of millions while watching a Beatles karaoke session. Okay, some of the biggest acts in the world were there, but I felt...I don't know. Give me the originals any day. I'll listen or watch the originals any day, and that's my cup of tea. That's why I decided that I much more preferred to be in a state of reflection and appreciation and doing something much more subtle and much more heartfelt, in my mind, than the glitz and the glam of those kind of shows.


With the album Everything Changes last year and obviously your award-winning music career as a whole and now the upcoming exhibit and your reputation as a photographer, I'm curious to know, Julian, how much of your father you see in yourself. As you're looking at the photos for this exhibit, you're not seeing John Lennon or the Beatles, you're seeing your father and the people who, I imagine, were also very parental to you in one way or another. As you looked at these pictures, what went through mind as both a son and as an artist?

Obviously I noticed, without question, that I can see the emotions within dad's face in a lot of these, and have felt very much the same as him in many of these circumstances. My circumstances didn't go quite as crazy as that [laughs], but I had all those anxieties and those nerves and those feelings that he went through in the early days. I think we all do when we're artists and we're creative people who push ourselves out in front of everybody to be judged. It's a tough one. You just wanna do the best you can and enjoy it and hope you get through it. [Laughs] And hope that other people are gonna enjoy it, too. I think what made it possibly easier for them is that, number one, they had a great manager behind them. No question about that. Number two, one of the world's best producers ever with George Martin. The fifth Beatle in my mind. Well, there's almost a sixth, really, if you're talking about Brian. But, fortunately, they were all mates, and they'd grown up together to a certain degree, and they each had shoulders to lean on, in many respects. Which, that's the one thing that stands out differently for me. Not that I'm trying to make a comparison here, but I went out there alone and that was a bit scary, but I'm still here, and I still survived. It's just...I'm happy to be able to sit here now as a grown man, as an artist on many fronts, as a photographer, and to be able to look at these and enjoy these and see that although there was a lot of anxiety and nerves, there was an incredible amount of excitement and fun. It was just an original and unique experience that only they could have gone through.


Your philanthropic work is something that seems to be just as important for you as any of your artistic endeavors.

I'm literally, on the first of next week, off to Kenya and Ethiopia to track through all the sites and villages that we've helped get clean water pumped for many, many thousands. This is my first experience getting on the ground and doing the groundwork. To see what Whitefeather Foundation has achieved already with those who are on the ground and with other charities like Charity Water - who we did a campaign with last year - and the idea for me is I think this will be a life changing for me. No question about that. And I think it's one that's needed in this fiftieth year of my life. I think it's very, very important. For me, the idea is to not only take the camera with me for editorial purposes, because I would like to let people know what's been going on, but also these people are incredibly beautiful, and they're a very proud people, and their countryside is incredibly beautiful, too. The idea, too, is to take some artistic stills there, and make it into a book or boxset to put in an auction for the Whitefeather Foundation. Little anxiety going on. [Laughs] It's going to be quite an experience, and I'm looking forward to it. Especially with the state of the world at the moment.


You saying the "state of the world" brings to my mind this past December and the thirty three years that have passed since your father's death. Has the world learned anything since that day?

I think greed has really harmed this world so terribly. So badly. I think the only thing good that has come out of the years since has been the internet, and the fact that people have a bit more of a voice and are a lot more connected. In being able to organize better groups and better petitions and better objectives and better opportunities for those people who do want to make a change and do want to push forward with the positive. I think it's given those people a lot more of a possibility to do that and communicate and push that forward. The world does seem like such a lost place these days in many, many respects. So much war. So much violence. Charity has to start at home and if everybody helps in even the smallest way, that can make the biggest of differences. It's baby steps to try and do something better for anybody and everybody you can do. That's what I'm headed towards.

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Head to morrisonhotelgallery.com for more info on the Morrison Hotel Gallery photo exhibit which opens February 7 in NY and LA.

Catch Julian Lennon at SXSW this year. You can also download his app:

Julian Lennon - Through The Picture Window App Demo (Apple / Android)

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Comments (56)

Good name.

Posted by VIII(!) | February 6, 2014 9:12 AM

It's much too late for goodbye's

Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 9:40 AM

Julian is the Absalom to Sean's Solomon

Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 10:15 AM

I like the video, nice effects and a bit touching and sad. However the beat is the coolest.

Posted by Best Naperville Dentist | February 6, 2014 11:13 AM

My mom is a dumb gook whore who ruined my dad's band

In addition Paul McCartney was a talentless hack

Posted by Julian lennon | February 6, 2014 12:22 PM

the name of the dude who wrote this is 'dick.'

heh heh


Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 12:36 PM

Hey, 12:22, Cynthia Lennon ruined the Beatles?

Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 12:56 PM

12:22 needs a history lesson. Or a psychoanalysis. Not sure which would be more helpful.

Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 12:56 PM

LOL @ 12:22
Yeah, way off kid

Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 1:22 PM

nono you guys it's me sean lennon that made post of 12:22

Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 1:31 PM

Always felt bad for this guy, having been shafted by the Ono's all these years.

Posted by Anonymous | February 6, 2014 9:33 PM

you stupid piece of gargage, the name is Apollo Anton Ohno. what is wrong with you? you should have a garden hose shoved all the way up your colon, with an equal length of barbed wire inside the hose, then have only the hose removed. that way, the rest is up to you. I also believe that for your ignorance, you should have acid poured on your face to permanently disfigure and blind you. then you can be left on the side of the road holding a sign that makes an example of you for everyone else.

Posted by Olympian Angel | February 7, 2014 2:16 AM

***NEWS FLASH***

Coco Puffs? More like Yoko Puffs. Thumbs through Catcher in the Rye Bread! Butcher cover and the Dakota. Helter Skelter Squeeky girl, but Susan Atkins is queen. And Julian Lennon? No More Like Julian Stalin. Julian Putin. etc.

Posted by ***FREE PUSSY RIOT*** | February 7, 2014 2:30 AM

Dan Deacon Ultimate Reality comments are leaking

Posted by Wings > Beatles | February 7, 2014 3:10 AM

***BEST COMMENT AWARD***

His father abandoned him and now I see why—and now it's time for the rest of the world to do the same. What a self centered piece of tripe!

Posted by ***AWESOME*** | February 7, 2014 5:25 PM

You Win.

Posted by 5:26 | February 7, 2014 7:05 PM

Julian I was hoping you'd be there and perform as no one could do your dad like you. Sure you had your reasons but of all the Beatle "kid" you should have been there in my book. I think you are all your Dad never was. You have such a kind soul and I love your voice. Bless you as you reflect.

Posted by Anna | February 9, 2014 8:47 PM

Just watched "The Night that Changed America". Geesh... Mixed feelings. The one thing I'm sure of and that is Yoko is a freakazoid from the planet zeno I love ya, John, but what the hell did you ever see in that ugly crack is whack???

Posted by SexySadie | February 9, 2014 10:14 PM

Julian you deserved to be there just as much as Sean. You are your own person. I enjoyed your early music in the eighties. :)

Posted by Anonymous | February 10, 2014 12:32 AM

Julian should have been there and sung his fathers part in a song. Julian, you need to get on with starting a family. Raise your children as you wish your father had. Greatest respect to MEN that raise this children. Boys run and hide. But, it is easy to save and help others, saving yourself takes courage.You must be a father to understand your father. On and on......

Posted by Jimbo | February 10, 2014 11:07 AM

"Number one with a bullet"

Posted by Bradbury | February 10, 2014 1:53 PM

This was a very good, reflective interview. Julian has his reasons for not being in the spotlight. He's entitled to them. He's honoring the Beatles in another way. What's wrong with that? Everyone is so critical. I can imagine John agreeing with his son on this one. I for one am looking forward to seeing his curated exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery. I hadn't heard about it. Thank you for publicizing it.

Posted by Eleni | February 11, 2014 11:23 PM

Why is it weird for Ringo to perform on a McCartney song? He drummed on "Beautiful Night", songs on " Broad Street" and others.

Posted by Charlie | February 13, 2014 11:28 AM

They all played on each other's records. It would have ben cool if Paul asked Stevie Wonder if he wanted a "little toot" cause it's going around...on the CBS special.

Posted by Eric Clapton | February 13, 2014 6:56 PM

What a passive-aggressive moaner Julian Lennon has become. So he didn't want to do "Beatles karaoke." Um, hello, the Beatles got their start as a covers band doing Motown karaoke and Elvis karaoke. It was good enough for them but apparently it wasn't good enough for Julian "All I do is Whine" Lennon. What a privileged spoiled brat he is at age 50. What, exactly, did Julian think he should do on the the show? He said on Facebook that he'd offered to sing on the show so clearly he wanted to sing something. I guess Julian only wanted to show up if hd could promote himself and his own album. And now he tried to sour the Beatles 50th with more of his incessant "poor me" nonsense. I used to feel sorry for the guy but not anymore. He only cares about himself and whether he's getting enough attention.

Posted by Lee | February 13, 2014 9:42 PM

Julian is wrong when he says Ringo only played on a Paul McCartney song. That was just at the Grammy's, where Ringo performed one of his solo songs and also performed with Paul. Second, on the Beatles tribute show, Ringo sang Matchbox, Boys, and Yellow Submarine and then performed with Paul on With a Little Help From My Friends and Hey Jude.

The real truth of why Julian is also complaining lately and feeling sorry for himself is that he can't stand that Yoko and Paul McCartney are finally getting along. Julian hates Yoko and probably has reason to for the shabby way she treated him before and after John died. But John was the one who left Julian out of the will. And it's not Paul's fault that he's finally matured enough to realize that Yoko isn't the Devil. That's Julian's problem: He still think Yoko is the Devil and he's angry with Paul for making amends with Yoko. IMO.

Posted by Drew | February 13, 2014 9:49 PM

^ what the fuck is going on here?

Posted by Anonymous | February 13, 2014 11:18 PM

Sorry but Julian complains a lot. Why has every recent Beatles event become about him? If he didn't want to go to the tribute show, fine. But why bash Paul and Ringo? Why insult them with a crack about "Beatles karaoke" when, as another commenter pointed out, the Beatles got their start doing covers. A classy thing to do would have been to not comment about it at all. But instead Julian makes all these passive-aggressive comments. Sheesh, grow up already.

Posted by Dee | February 14, 2014 8:39 AM

wow...just read all the ugly fucked up comments. you won't slaughter a cow but you'll crucify someone you don't even know. talk about self serving spoiled brats! none of you have a clue. leave the Lennon family alone on accounts.

Posted by vade ad formicam | February 14, 2014 4:58 PM

"ENOUGH ALREADY"! It was a very Good Tribute celebrating The Beatles 50th year since appearing on Ed Sullivan. Julian choose to "celebrate" in a different manner which goes along wonderfully with his "Doing Photography". Julian doesn't even "Hawk" his new CD himself, so I doubt very much "that thought even entered his head"! I agree with the individual who said John would probably like & approve Julian's "Ode To The Beatles"!
Julian's "supposed "Hatred" for Yoko has been 'resolved" for the sake of his relationship with Sean, & I doubt very much that he was "speaking through the lines or just plain lying. You people should ease up, enjoy The Beatles WHO WERE BY FAR THE GREATEST BAND TO HAVE EVER PLAYED MUSIC & WHO INFLUENCED SO MANY CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS,hence the tribute & leave Julian alone, who happens to be a "Chip off the Block of his old man"& happens to be "pretty good himself". Oh, & like his Dad John, he has also turned out to be involved in several Charities to help others, & for that he even gets Shit! People, be Grateful!

Posted by Rich | February 14, 2014 6:09 PM

Good Luck Julian you have done it on your own, your father would be very proud of you.

Posted by helen grant | February 14, 2014 7:46 PM

"Having began" honestly?

Posted by Greg Herriges | February 14, 2014 8:27 PM

I have always thought that the only thing close to a Beatles Reunion would have Julian singing Johns parts and George's son singing his parts. I would never be the Beatles but who can deny that Julian looks and sounds just like his dad. Can't believe you all have been so nasty on here. He had his reasons for not being there. I thought several of the tribute performances we're not that good at all. Though some were excellent though never as good as the real thing. I commend Julian for all his charity works, yes he may be a little eccentric but so was John, give him a break. I thinks he's earned the right to do what he wants.

Posted by J. Lowery | February 14, 2014 10:44 PM

Getting real tired of this young man who seems to want it both ways...loves the publicity and fame that comes with the name...loves the freedom all the millions of dollars gets him...loves to whine and complain about his father...loves to capitalize on "THe beatles" whenever the opportunity arises...the 50th Anniversary was fantastic...without him...

Posted by PJ | February 15, 2014 10:14 AM

Dude, he was abandoned by the dad who beat his mom, left him outof his will and the entire world considers him a god. You wouldnt be bitter?

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 11:04 AM

Julian
You are your own Person
Always stay true to yourself
God bless you

Posted by Ken Bernard | February 15, 2014 11:11 AM

Holy FUCK people - Comments, NOT NOVELS! Where do you people get all your spare time from?

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 12:45 PM

Maybe I'm an idealist, but my dream band for the reunion would've been Julian, Paul, Dhani and Ringo. Now, that would've been something. But I can understand Julian's reasons for not wanting to be there. The only thing I don't agree with is his comment about "Beatles karaoke". Performing people's songs is a valid way of paying tribute to them. But other than that comment, I thought Julian Lennon was very gracious. Happy 50th Anniversary Beatles!

Posted by Frank Jordan III | February 15, 2014 4:55 PM

Personally I would mos def want to just be know as "So And So's kid". No need to have an identity of my own, just give me your expectations and dreams and when I don't fulfill them (which I absolutely won't be able to) then you can defame me, kill me. What a wonderful way to die!

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 5:15 PM

the iPods

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 6:39 PM

upset

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 6:41 PM

format

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 6:42 PM

link

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 6:49 PM

fact

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 6:49 PM

VINYL IS INFERIOR TO DIGITAL IN EVERY REGARD! THIS IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT!

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 6:51 PM

CLARIFICATION

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 6:51 PM

subject

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 6:51 PM

SAUSAGE

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 7:42 PM

TAINT

Posted by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 7:43 PM

Julian,
What an amazing thing would have happened if you would have sang your father's song, Imagine, at the Grammy Tribute show.
Would have been amazing!
Missed opportunity.

Posted by imagine | February 17, 2014 1:27 PM

A classy thing to do would have been to not comment about it at all. But instead Julian makes all these passive-aggressive comments. Sheesh, grow up already.

Posted by casademassagem | February 21, 2014 8:54 AM

Why can't go to the bathroom at a Beatles Reunion concert?

There's no john!

Posted by Anonymous | February 23, 2014 8:51 PM

12:22- "Gook" is for Vietnamese. Not Japanese. Racist!

Posted by Anonymous | February 26, 2014 1:46 PM

A Legacy Celebrated: Sid Bernstein
Sid Bernstein was one of the most visionary and influential individuals in American music history.
He arranged to bring the Beatles to America when they were virtually unknown and before they released a record or had any radio airplay in the States. He put the Beatles in Carnegie Hall, for their first concert ever in the United States and helped convince Ed Sullivan to have the Beatles on his show, introducing them to America and, the world. Sid produced the groundbreaking Beatles concerts at Shea Stadium, (15.7.65 and 23.7.66...) establishing the precedent of attracting huge crowds to large venues and setting the standard for all future concerts.
Sid, ("The Father of the British Invasion") was the first to present to America, eleven of the top thirteen British rock acts. These included: The Animals, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, The Kinks, Manfred Mann, the Moody Blues, and the Rolling Stones.
On the 7th of June...his friends and fans will come together at Symphony Space, (New York City) to pay a musical homage to him.
Performing will be:
Mick Francis, co-host of "The Beatle Bug Radio Show," WDAR/West Dublin, Ireland...
"Diamonds In Jupiter," Newark, NJ's premier, Old and New School Funk Band...
David ("That Guitar Man"/Central Park, NYC) Ippolito...
and, "Strawberry Fields" - The Ultimate Beatles Tribute!
Hosting "Legacy" will be Q104.3/NYC legendary, classic-rock jock...and host of Q's "Breakfast With The Beatles," Ken Dashow.
All net proceeds will be donated to The Robin Hood Foundation: Fight Poverty Like A New Yorker! : http://www.robinhood.org/

Posted by Herb Malsman | March 11, 2014 11:02 AM

i agree in if you would have sang your father's song, Imagine, at the Grammy Tribute show.Thanks for sharing!

Posted by MassagemLingam | March 17, 2014 12:46 PM

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