John Lennon and his first wife, Cynthia, married in 1962, early in The Beatles’ rise to prominence. When they first married, The Beatles’ manager wanted to keep their relationship a secret, but the news filtered out anyways. Lennon said he felt embarrassed to have a wife and child.
John Lennon met his first wife at school
Lennon and Cynthia met at school in Liverpool in 1957. While she initially did not think Lennon was her type, he eventually won Cynthia over.
“You couldn’t resist being around him,” she said, per ABC News. “You couldn’t resist watching what he was up to. I mean, he was a total rebel. Everybody was amazed by him.”
She noted that she began feeling drawn to him when he played music.
“It softened … All the aggression lifted,” she explained, per the book John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman. “At last there was something I had seen in John that I could understand.”
The former Beatle said he found his marriage embarrassing
After dating for some time, Cynthia became pregnant in 1962. At this point, Lennon was beginning to find success in The Beatles, and she worried about telling him. Lennon calmly told her they needed to get married.
“I said yes, we’ll have to get married,” he said, per Slate. “I didn’t fight it.”
The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, had hoped to present the band as eligible bachelors and didn’t necessarily want Lennon to be married. They tried to keep the relationship and Cynthia’s pregnancy quiet.
“If … the main man in the group, John, was found to be married, then it might take away from that particular success,” Cynthia said in 1985, per NPR. “So I walked around pregnant for quite a long time, hiding it. I’d wear very big, blousy clothes. In fact, I was asked many times if I was John’s wife, and I had to refuse and say, ‘No, no. I’m somebody else.'”
Though the relationship was secretive, Lennon said he still felt embarrassed to have a wife.
“I did feel embarrassed, walking around married,” he said. “It felt like walking round with odd socks on or your flies open.”
John Lennon and his first wife divorced in 1968
Following six years of marriage, Lennon and Cynthia divorced in 1968. He had begun an affair with Yoko Ono, which Cynthia found out about while on vacation.
“I was on holiday and somebody showed me a newspaper,” she explained. “Then an emissary of John’s came over to visit me in Italy and said, ‘John wants a divorce and he wants Julian and there’s a detective.’ Now, I was on holiday with my mother and uncle and [son] Julian, so God only knows why there was a detective put on me. It was one of those situations I will never understand.”
Though their relationship ended acrimoniously, Cynthia said she did not stop loving Lennon.
“[After the divorce] I didn’t [stop] loving him or caring for him or worrying about him, I mean, because I didn’t have any anger or bitterness about it,” she said. “I had a lot of hurt. But, of course, I was looking after his interests, in my own little way, and caring about his future and hoping that he was happy, because he’d had to go through such hell to do what he did.”