Yoko Ono Flew John Lennon’s Son — But Not His Ex-wife — To See Him After His Death

John Lennon had a son with his first wife, Cynthia Lennon — Julian Lennon. When he was shot in New York, Yoko Ono even offered to arrange for Julian Lennon to be with his father overseas.

John Lennon was shot to death in 1980

Artists Yoko Ono, John Lennon (1940 - 1980), and his son, singer, songwriter Julian Lennon
Artists Yoko Ono, John Lennon (1940 – 1980), and his son, singer, songwriter Julian Lennon | Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A Beatle known for his songwriting and advocating for peace, Lennon was killed in New York City in 1980. Lennon was married to his second wife, Yoko Ono, when he was shot. He had one son from his previous marriage with Cynthia Lennon, Julian Lennon, who was 17 years old at the time of his father’s death.

Yoko Ono only flew Julian Lennon to New York after John Lennon’s death

John Lennon’s ex-wife found out about the murder from the Beatles’ drummer, Ringo Starr, writing that she was “stunned” in the 2005 memoir John. After learning about his father’s death, Julian Lennon wanted to travel to New York to be near him.

“Julian and I went up to the bedroom to ring Yoko,” Cynthia Lennon wrote. “We were put straight through to her, and she agreed that she would like Julian to join her. She said she would organize a flight for him that afternoon.” 

“I told her was worried about the state he was in, but Yoko made it clear that I was not welcome,” she noted. “’It’s not as though you’re an old schoolfriend of mine, Cynthia.’ It was blunt but I accepted it: there is no place for an ex-wife in public grieving.”

Cynthia Lennon and Ono later reunited to discuss Lennon’s death on 60 Minutes, appearing publicly together for Beatles and John Lennon-related functions. In 2015, Cynthia Lennon died of cancer, with both Paul McCartney and Ono releasing statements. 

“I’m very saddened by Cynthia’s death,” Ono wrote. “She was a great person and a wonderful mother to Julian. She had such a strong zest for life and I felt proud how we two women stood firm in the Beatles family. Please join me in sending love and support to Julian at this very sad time.”

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Julian Lennon said it was a ‘rocky path’ being John Lennon’s son

As the foreword to his mother’s memoir, Julian Lennon said that he grew up longing for “more contact” with his father. Being John Lennon’s son had been a “rocky path,” he explained, saying that people would often approach him with admiration for his father. 

“I always have very mixed feelings when I hear this,” he wrote. “I know that Dad was an idol to millions who grew up loving his music and his ideals. But to me, he wasn’t a musician or a peace icon, he was the father I loved and who let me down in so many ways.” 

“After the age of five, when my parents separated,” the artist continued, “I saw him only a handful of times, and when I did he was often remote and intimidating.”

Aside from his children, John Lennon’s legacy is his solo music and work with the Beatles, which continues to earn millions of Spotify plays. There’s also the Imagine Mosaic in New York City’s Central Park, created in honor of the songwriter.