An In-Depth Look At Yoko Ono's Relationship With Julian Lennon

On September 16 2010, Julian Lennon, his mother Cynthia Lennon, his half-brother Sean Lennon, his step-mother Yoko Ono, and May Pang — his dad's girlfriend for eighteen months — attended the opening of "Timeless: The Photography of Julian Lennon." At the opening, Julian Lennon explained to Rolling Stone that he finally had an area in which he wasn't constrained by his famous father, John Lennon: "My dad wasn't really a photographer, so it just allows me to breathe a little more. He used to take a couple Polaroid's, but it wasn't a potential career. This is my own thing."

More noteworthy, however — and Rolling Stone did note this — was that this marked the first time that all five of people who were most intimate with John Lennon were in the same room together. Moreover, a CBS recording shows them laughing and embracing, a far cry from the tensions that had dominated John Lennon's private circles for decades. After the issues of neglect and legal battles that occurred between Julian Lennon and Yoko Ono, it's frankly amazing that they might have put their past behind them.

"Product of a whiskey bottle"

If anything were to encapsulate the relationship between Julian Lennon and his father, it would be in a quintessentially Lennon remark that the Irish Times shared in 1998, which he allegedly told Julian as a child, regarding he and his brother: "Sean was the product of love. You were the product of a whiskey bottle." 

Such a statement would be cruel, no matter what age the child was, but still, the fact that Julian was thirteen when Sean was born in 1976 adds a special pubescent cruelty to the proceedings. Of course, Yoko Ono cannot be blamed for John Lennon being awful to Julian, while doting on Sean, but she was the woman for whom John Lennon left Cynthia, his first wife and Julian's mother. As Julian acknowledges in a Yahoo article covering the fallout of the Lennons, he was a "mother's boy." Later on, Yoko Ono would point to this, to explain their distanced relationship: "Of course, if he's too friendly with me, then I think that it hurts his other relatives." However, if Yoko Ono wanted a more positive relationship with Julian, she probably could've done more to prompt Lennon to take his paternal duties more seriously. 

That said, in All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Lennon does state that he wants to improve his relationship with Julian. So if he hadn't been murdered in 1980, perhaps the situation could have improved.

But then ... there was the money

Unfortunately, John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980. And, of course, he had a large estate to inherit. When John Lennon's final will was read, as reprinted on Rockmine, it revealed that everything, an estate worth £220 million, would go to Yoko Ono. However, as explained by Danielle and Andy Mayoras, you also have to remember all the royalties that would come from being John (expletive-inserted) Lennon, which easily brought in $12 million a year.

Julian Lennon, as you might imagine, wasn't too pleased by being snubbed by his father, in favor of Yoko Ono, from beyond the grave. So, he sued, and sixteen years after Lennon was shot — by this point, it was the mid-nineties — he finally received an undisclosed sum, via a settlement, that was rumored to be worth £20 million. 

Since then, there has been a thawing of a sorts. At the opening of his show, he explained to an interviewer, Anthony Mason, why everyone seems calmer: "I think the key point to all this, for me at least, has been Sean. If I hurt Sean's mother, then I hurt Sean. It's a roundabout way of thinking about things. But because I love Sean so much, I just don't want to hurt him. I can get over it. Have gotten over it."