Tuesday, September 27, 2005

First wife tells of violent, cheating Lennon

The Australian

"THE more I got to know him, the more I realised what a hard time he had had as a child."

This is Cynthia Lennon, 66, talking, trying to explain why she put up with years of abuse from her husband, The Beatles' John Lennon.

He was cruel, violent and in the later years of their marriage he was unfaithful, drug-addled or absent - or any combination thereof.

Her book John, to be published in Australia on Saturday, describes how the teenage Lennon hit his then girlfriend Cynthia Powell in a jealous rage, how he largely ignored his family after the birth of their son Julian and how drugs such as cannabis and LSD became a significant factor in the couple's break-up.

"If I had known what falling for John Lennon would lead to, I would have turned around and walked away," she writes.

In an exclusive interview with The Australian, Lennon said she chose to put up with her husband's erratic behaviour before and during their marriage because she knew his unhappy childhood in Liverpool, including the death of his mother and being raised by his Aunt Mimi, had had a troubling effect on him. John Lennon died 25 years ago in New York after being shot outside the Dakota Building, where he lived with his second wife, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean.

Ono is also criticised in the book, with Cynthia claiming that she was prevented by Ono from taking part in a Lennon tribute concert, and how the musician's affair with the Japanese artist in the late 1960s led to her divorce.

Cynthia met Lennon at Liverpool College of Art and they were married in 1962, a year before Beatlemania began.

It was during their early romance that Lennon hit her, flying into a rage because she had danced with his friend and one-time Beatles bassist, Stuart Sutcliffe.

"Not only was he passionately jealous, but he could turn on me in an instant, belittling or berating me, shooting accusations, cutting remarks or acid wisecracks at me, that left me hurt, frustrated and in tears," she writes.

She describes how she and her son Julian, who later established his own music career, felt neglected by John and describes her feelings of resentment at being almost ignored in the history of the Beatles.

Julian has supported her in a foreword to the book.


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