Inside The Relationship Between Paul McCartney And Julian Lennon

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are one of the most famous songwriting duos in the history of popular music. The two struck up a friendship in their hometown of Liverpool during the late 1950s, years before Beatlemania gripped the world. Lennon and McCartney also had one of the most famous fallouts in popular music history as well. After The Beatles broke up in 1970, both Lennon and McCartney wrote diss tracks toward one another (via Ultimate Classic Rock). It took years for them to get back on speaking terms. Fortunately, they did get back on speaking terms before Lennon was killed in 1980. McCartney revealed to NBC News that the last conversation that he had with Lennon was cordial and simply about their mutual bread baking hobby.

An interesting aspect of Lennon and McCartney's years together as friends, bandmates, adversaries, and back to friends was McCartney's relationship with Lennon's son Julian Lennon. Julian was born to John and his first wife, Cynthia, just before The Beatles conquered the United States. Julian essentially grew up around The Beatles in the flesh.

Hey Jude is about Julian Lennon and his parents

In The Guardian, Julian Lennon explained that he and his father John Lennon had a close relationship, but that quickly changed when his father fell in love with Yoko Ono. Witnessing the father-son strain between them, Paul McCartney wrote "Hey Jude," which was originally "Hey Jules," as Jules was a nickname of Julian's. The lyrics suggest that McCartney encouraged Julian to be receptive of Ono as new member of his family — a common issue for children when divorced parents remarry.

Julian was five years old when the divorce occurred, around 10 years after John and Cynthia first met. According to her, John was not keen on getting married, but felt it necessary once Julian was on the way. Her accounts make John's quick exit seem less quick. Years later, McCartney confirmed that "Hey Jude" was directed toward Julian during the turbulent situation he and Cynthia faced. McCartney stated that he "always feels sorry for kids in divorces" (per The Washington Post).

John Lennon knew that Julian and Paul McCartney were close

Jim Booth of The New Southern Gentleman refers to Paul McCartney as a peacemaker for the Lennon family. Maybe he attempted to be one, at least. Eventually, McCartney told Julian Lennon that "Hey Jude" was about him and his parents. "Paul and I used to hang out a bit — more than dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seem to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad," he explained (via The Washington Post). John Lennon was aware of McCartney's familial bond with his son as well, stating that McCartney "was like an uncle to him," but felt that the lyrics to "Hey Jude" were directed toward himself and his new relationship with Yoko Ono rather than toward his son.  

Perhaps Jim Booth (writing at Scholars and Rogues in 2012) is accurate in his assessment of McCartney's desire to be a peacemaker. Booth cites evidence from the 2005 book "The Beatles: The Biography" that McCartney acted as a "mediator" for his own family after his mother passed away when McCartney was a teenager. The same personality characteristic could easily have spread to his care for the Lennons at the time — maybe even including John.

John Lennon said being his son must be hell

John Lennon did not seem to have any ill will regarding Paul McCartney's uncle-like relationship with Julian. If he did, he was also self-aware. Lennon thought that being his son likely did not yield a picture-perfect life. In Spin Magazine when Julian was 11 years old, Lennon stated that being his son "must be hell." Lennon also revealed more about how Julian felt about McCartney, stating, "I think he likes Paul better than me. I have the funny feeling he wishes Paul was his dad." However, he also said that Julian was a fan of The Beatles and the two often discussed music. They once went to Disney World together.

Lennon famously lived in New York City following The Beatles' breakup. He and Yoko Ono lived a relatively normal life, within walking distance of Central Park, as Lennon strayed a bit from the public eye, save for releasing music. Their son, Sean Lennon, was born in 1975 (via Smooth Radio).

Julian Lennon is a musician and singer

Julian Lennon grew up to bear a striking resemblance to John Lennon, both in appearance and vocally. In 1984, he released his debut album, "Valotte," featuring the hit single "Too Late for Goodbyes" (via Songfacts). He was nominated for best new artist at the Grammys. The music video for the song often featured on MTV as well.

Though he visited his father in New York City, his father's will excluded him completely. After John Lennon's murder in 1980, it took years for Julian to receive any inheritance. The entire estate went to Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon. Julian believed that his father created the will to exclude him due to Ono's wishes.

Now in his 50s, Julian continues to release music, according to his Instagram. Billboard reports he also legally changed his name from John Charles Julian Lennon to Julian Charles John Lennon, explaining that he had always used the name Julian and "needed to finally be heard as Julian." He cited dealing with security when traveling with different names as another reason for the change.

Julian Lennon was not at Paul McCartney's wedding

As for his relationship with Paul McCartney, who turned 80 years old this year, Julian Lennon felt "snubbed" when the former Beatle did not invite him to his wedding or the reception in 2011 (via NME). He wondered why he was left off the guest list and left out of promotional appearances for the 2011 film "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" as well. The Daily Mail reported that it was just a "misunderstanding." Everyone thought Julian was out of town during the reception.

The relationship seems to have been repaired. Since then, Lennon has expressed his mixed feelings about "Hey Jude" because it usually brought back painful memories regarding his parents' divorce. However, he explained that he is "grateful to Paul for writing it." He also gave the 2021 "Get Back" documentary about The Beatles his seal of approval, as it revived positive memories of his father as well. "It reminded me how much love I actually had for him" (per Rock Celebrities).