What John Lennon's Relationship With His Sisters Was Really Like

Before John Lennon was a world-famous rockstar, he was just like any other older brother in his Liverpool neighborhood. So says his younger half-sister, Julia Baird. Baird is the daughter of Julia Lennon, John's mother, and Bobby Dykins, who became her common-law husband after her separation from Alfred Lennon. Baird was born in 1947 (seven years after John Lennon), and her sister Jacqueline in 1949, per The Palm Beach Post.

John didn't grow up with his sisters in childhood — he lived with his maternal aunt, Mimi Smith, who had him taken away from his mother after she began a relationship with Dykins (via Far Out). Nonetheless, John visited the Lennon-Dykins household often. Though he occasionally bullied his sisters, Baird remembers him mostly as "a good older brother," according to the Concord Monitor. He often babysat them, played with them, and took them to places like the park and the swimming pool. Baird to the outlet that even went along with their stories about "the fairies at the bottom of the garden," Baird said.

Band practice on Blomfield Road

Earlier this year, Julia Lennon's former home on Blomfield Road in Liverpool was auctioned off, per the BBC. According to Julia Baird, this is where some early musical magic happened for a young John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and their friends. They often practiced in the kitchen — the table would be pushed aside, and Baird and her sister would be relegated to the backyard to play. Julia Lennon (pictured with John) sometimes joined in the jam sessions. A talented musician herself, she taught John to play piano, ukulele, accordion, and banjo (via Concord Monitor). Banjo or washboard were her instruments of choice when she played with the band. The washboard, or a tea chest, served as the band's makeshift rhythm section.

The house's bathroom also became a rehearsal area because of the good acoustics (via The Palm Beach Post). The room was tiny. Baird said of the sessions (via BBC): "To see John, Paul, George, Pete Shotton, Ivan Vaughan, my mother and probably a couple of hangers-on scrambling around inside, trying to find a place to sit, was like a comedy act."

Baird clearly remembers a gig John played with The Quarrymen at a church event in 1957. It was the day John supposedly met Paul McCartney, and the band played on the back of a slowly-moving coal truck. John's sisters walked along beside it, tugging at John's legs, which dangled over the back of the truck, trying to pull him off. "He was laughing so hard," she said (via Liverpool Echo).

Memories of Beatlemania

Julia Baird continued to be privy to the Beatles' development — she remembers hearing early demos of "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me." Once they became successful, she and Jackie visited John and his first wife, Cynthia, in London. That's how they ended up at the Beatles' show at Finsbury Astoria Park, London, in January 1964 (per Liverpool Echo). Baird remembers seeing The Rolling Stones in the dressing room. Though John instructed his sisters to stay in the wings, away from the crowds, they snuck out anyway after noticing the first few rows of seats were empty to give the band space from their adoring fans. Unfortunately, the fans surged once the band started playing, and Julia and Jackie ended up in trouble. Baird said (via The Palm Beach Post), "John was playing but he yelled to security, 'Get the girls! Get the girls!' They hauled us away on our stomachs. Back on stage, I remember John looked sideways at us, still singing, as if to say, 'I told you so!'"

In London, the girls babysat John Lennon's son and combed through John's fan mail, sometimes even replying to them (via The Palm Beach Post): "Yes, I will marry you. See you at the church tomorrow," Baird recalled one response.

John Lennon's later life

Julia Lennon died in 1958 after being hit by a car (per The Palm Beach Post). The Dykins sisters went to live with relatives and saw less of John Lennon as his career progressed. Baird (pictured) thinks their last in-person meeting was in 1967. After he moved to New York with Yoko Ono in 1971, they lost contact for a few years until he unexpectedly called her in 1975. They talked for hours, she said. He asked her to send him family photographs, which she did. She never got them back, according to the Liverpool Echo. She hoped to see him in 1981 — he was planning a trip to England — but he was killed on December 8, 1980. After his death, Baird says, "I was a wreck of a human being." For some time, she couldn't listen to his music (via Concord Monitor).

Baird has lived a mostly private life — marrying, having children, working as a teacher, living in England and Northern Ireland. However, she began speaking publicly about her family because of media misrepresentations of her mother. Julia Lennon wasn't irresponsible or a bad mother, Baird insists, and she didn't give John up willingly, per The Concord Monitor. In recent years, Baird has toured with Beatles cover bands and runs the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the young Beatles once played (via The Palm Beach Post). Jackie Dykins, however, has continued to stay out of the limelight.

John and Alfred Lennon's rocky relationship

Even more than Jackie Dykins, John Lennon's half-brothers have stayed far away from the media. There's very little information out there about them except a book written by their mother, Pauline Lennon. She was John's father's second wife, marrying him at the height of Beatlemania. They apparently had two sons, David and Robin (via NZ Catholic).

Alfred Lennon (pictured) was a sailor during World War II and had deserted Julia and John in 1943, per The Palm Beach Post. His younger sons were born well after John became famous and after his father had reappeared in his life circa 1964. John believed his father was only interested in his fame and fortune at that point. Though he gave his father money and a house, he later took it back and kicked his father out of his life, only to then reconcile with him again just before Alfred's death in 1976 (via The Argus). It seems he never had a relationship with his brothers.

A possible third sister?

In 1998, an English woman named Ingrid Pedersen (pictured) came forward with an incredible claim: she was John Lennon's long-lost half-sister. She provided The Sun newspaper with birth and adoption certificates showing she was born Victoria Elizabeth Lennon in 1945 in Liverpool and that Julia Lennon was her mother (via Associated Press). Pedersen said she was the product of an affair Julia Lennon had with a soldier after Alfred Lennon left the family. In an interview with ITN, Pedersen said she had known her true identity since 1966 but had chosen not to speak publicly about it until her adoptive parents died. Initially, the truth seemed impossible even to her, she said, but she came to really believe it after a family friend casually referenced John Lennon as "your brother" after seeing him on TV.

The ITN interview notes that John was aware of her existence and had searched for her without ever finding her. While Pedersen acknowledged that it was too late to have a relationship with John, she hoped to meet his (and her) half-sisters, as well as his widow, Yoko Ono. "She's the sister-in-law," Pedersen said. "You should meet your sister-in-law." Whether she ever did is unclear.