John Lennon’s Eldest Son Believes His Father Sent Him A Profound Message From The Afterlife

When losing a loved one, it’s only natural to wish that they could communicate something of significance. Julian Lennon not only longed for this but received it loud and clear. The message he interpreted from his late father, musician John Lennon, was so meaningful that it changed his life and motivated him to change the lives of others. Read on to discover how a strained father-son relationship transformed into a beautiful message of peace, and the will to move on for the better.

Meet Julian Lennon

While John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s child, Sean Lennon, has received media attention from a young age, you may be surprised to hear that John had a son long before Sean. Julian Lennon was born during John’s first marriage, which was to Cynthia Lennon.

Middle-aged Julian grins to the side of the camera.
John Parra/Getty Images
John Parra/Getty Images

Born in Liverpool in 1963, Julian was named after John’s mother, Julia, who had passed a few years prior. Though he inspired multiple songs from The Beatles, he didn’t always feel close to his famous father.

Having A Rockstar Dad Was Tough

Julian was born six years after The Beatles first formed and in the midst of their growing acclaim in the UK. The band’s manager, Brian Epstein, was named Julian’s godfather.

Young Julian sits on a bed with his father.
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

The same year of his birth, The Beatles recorded Please Please Me, an album full of chart-topping singles that made them an international success. By the time Julian was one-year-old, his father was touring the world and the media was erupting over John’s “secret wife and baby.”

Being Left Out Of The “Fab Four”

The Beatle’s press officer, Tony Barrow, came up with the idea to call the band the “fabulous four,” which the media abbreviated to “the Fab Four.” Meanwhile, Cynthia Lennon was raising Julian largely on her own and trying to avoid the overbearing media attention.

The Beatles pose in their schoolboy look.
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Rather than the young family being the “fab three,” Julian experienced from a young age a detachment from his father. Though the family did get to enjoy a skiing trip with the band in 1966, it was overshadowed by relentless fans.

Julian Was Involved In The Band As Much As He Could Be

In 1967, Julian experienced being on the set of the Magical Mystery Tour Beatle’s film. Around the same time, the little guy created a watercolor painting in the nursery school of his friend Lucy surrounded by stars.

John holds Julian while both are dressed in hats and floofy boas.
Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The painting became the source of inspiration for John’s song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Lennon also wrote the song “Good Night” for Julian, which was the final song on The Beatles’ White Album and featured Ringo Starr on lead vocals.

A New Family Arrangement

When Julian was just five-years-old, his parents divorced and John embarked on a relationship with Yoko Ono. They married in March of the following year, which was 1969. John’s relationship with Yoko heightened the tension between bandmates, and The Beatles parted ways shortly after their marriage.

Yoko Ono smiles at young Julian, who sits on John's lap.
PA Images via Getty Images
PA Images via Getty Images

Rather than returning home to Julian, John further invested himself into his music and released a solo album in 1970. In 1971, the pair moved to New York, creating even more distance between Julian and his father.

Julian Felt Closer To Another Beatle

When Julian was older, he looked back on his relationship with his dad with resentment. He stated that he remembered spending more time with The Beatles band member Paul McCartney than he had John Lennon.

Paul McCartney holds young Julian.
Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images

Paul revealed his love for little Julian when he wrote the song “Hey Jude” to console the young boy during John and Cynthia’s divorce. The song was initially called “Hey Jules,” but it was changed to a name that would be easier to sing.

A New Father Figure For Julian

In addition to Paul McCartney, Julian gained a new father figure when his mother remarried in 1970, a year after John married Yoko Ono. She wed Roberto Bassanini, who she’d met while on a trip to Italy with Julian.

Roberto holds a smiling Julian while standing next to Cynthia.
Mike Lawn/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Mike Lawn/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Cynthia and Roberto were only married for a few years, after which Julian reunited with his father and enjoyed some of their best years as father and son. In 1978, she had another short-lived marriage to engineer John Twist.

John’s New Relationship Reconnected Him To Julian

When Lennon and Yoko separated in 1973, John developed a romantic relationship with their personal assistant, May Pang. May encouraged John to re-connect with Julian, who he hadn’t seen in two years.

John Lennon puts one arm aroung May Pang and the other around Julian at a pool.
John Rodgers/Redferns/Getty Images
John Rodgers/Redferns/Getty Images

In an interview with The Times, Julian described his time with May Pang and John as “the happiest times” he had with his father. During this time, Julian made his musical debut at the age of eleven when his father unexpectedly used Julian’s drum recording in the song “Ya-Ya” on Walls and Bridges.

Reconciliation With Yoko Ono

At the start of 1975, John Lennon agreed to meet with Yoko Ono after more than a year of separation. The two reconciled and Yoko gave birth to their son, Sean Lennon, later on that year.

Yoko Ono wears a tense face while walking next to an oblivious teenage Julian.
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William Jacobellis/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images

In a 1999 interview with Dini Petty, Julian admitted that he felt his father was a hypocrite. He said, “Dad could talk about peace and love out loud to the world but he could never show it to the people who supposedly meant the most to him: his wife and son.”

John Lennon’s Untimely Passing

In December of 1980, John Lennon lost his life to Mark David Chapman while on his way to his Manhattan apartment. A Strawberry Fields memorial was later created in Central Park to honor the late musician.

Teenage Julian and young Sean Lennon put their arms around Yoko Ono.
Barbara Alper/Getty Images
Barbara Alper/Getty Images

John was and is still lived on by his two sons, who were five and 17 at the time of his passing. Earlier that year, John Lennon had mentioned in an interview that he loves both of his sons equally and that Julian, “belongs to me, and he always will.”

Following In His Father’s Footsteps

Shortly after his father passed, Julian followed in his footsteps by putting out his first album, Valotte. Julian told Rock Beat that one of the album’s songs, “Well I Don’t Know,” was “about looking for signs of the afterlife from Dad.”

Julian sings onstage.
David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images
David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

He’d inherited his father’s songwriting ability and his voice was regarded by music critic Robert Christgau as being eerily similar to that of John. The album earned Julian a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1985.

The Rise Of Julian’s Music Career

Julian’s next album, The Secret Value of Daydreaming, reached number 32 on the Billboard 200. It also featured the single “Stick Around,” which was Julian’s first song to reach number 1 on the US Album Rock Tracks.

Julian Lennon performs next to his guitarist.
Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

His second single to top the Album Rock Tracks was “Now You’re In Heaven,” which peaked at number 5 in Australia. His single “Saltwater” on his 1991 album topped Australian charts for a month and featured former Beatles member George Harrison on the guitar.

Something Incredible Happened While On Tour In Australia

The track “Saltwater” was famous in Australia for a reason, as it was an environmentally conscious ballad that transcended the decade. Julian’s touching lyrics attracted the attention of aboriginal leaders, who met with the musician while he was on tour.

Julian poses for a professional headshot.
Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images
Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images

They asked Julian if he would use his fame to help bring them awareness. The elder of the tribe known as Mirning was a woman who handed him a gift. When Julian took it, he could hardly believe his eyes.

A White Feather Full Of Meaning

The aboriginal leader had handed Julian a white feather. He later told Today that John Lennon had once told him that a white feather would be his way of communicating to his son that we were all going to be alright.

A white feather sits upright against a black backdrop.
Myriam Zilles/Pixabay

His plea from his first album’s track “Well I Don’t Know” for his father to send him a sign seemed to have been answered. Julian realized at that moment that he needed to do something meaningful with his career.

Staying True To His Word

Julian stayed true to his promise that he would help the Aboriginal Australians. In 2006, he produced and narrated the film Whaledreamers, which illuminates an aboriginal tribe’s meaningful relationship with Australian whales that are at risk of extinction.

2022 Live In The Vineyard
Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage
Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage

The documentary outlines various environmental issues and was shown at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. It won several awards, including Best Film by the Byron Bay Film Festival and Best Music/Song by the Tahoe/Reno Int’l Film Festival, and raised funds for Greenpeace and Elcho Island Elder Burmulla.

Julian’s White Feather Foundation

Julian didn’t just stop at highlighting the issues plaguing the aboriginals; that was just the beginning. In 2009, he started the White Feather Foundation, named after the encounter that he considers a sign from his late father.

Julian sings at an event for his White Feather Foundation.
Pascal Le Segretain/French Select via Getty Images
Pascal Le Segretain/French Select via Getty Images

The organization sets out to raise funds for both environmental and humanitarian issues and to bring attention to those who are setting out to make a difference. To Julian, the white feather represents peace on account of its influence in his life.

Julian Was Inspired By An Old Friend

The same year that Julian founded the White Feather Foundation, he also raised funds for an illness that took his late friend’s life. He partnered with Meagher and Birch to create the revolution, LLC, through which he released the EP “Lucy.”

A man puts both arms around Julian.
JOE SCHILDHORN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
JOE SCHILDHORN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The song was a tribute to Lucy Vodden, the little girl he painted in nursery school that inspired John’s song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Half of the proceeds from “Lucy” were to be donated to Lupus research since that was the disease that took her life.

Sean And Julian’s Relationship Has Blossomed

After all Sean and Julian went through, they came out on the other side as strong brothers and allies in the music industry. In 2011, Julian told The Express that he loves his brother Sean deeply, and that’s why he needed to “get over” the past.

Sean Lennon grins with his arm around a smiling Julian.
George Pimentel/WireImage/Getty Images
George Pimentel/WireImage/Getty Images

Sean stated in 2010 that his big brother is the reason he started playing music. Interestingly, Sean’s music is what prompted Julian to dive into photography, a habit that flourished after he photographed Sean’s music tour in 2007.

Finding Peace With Photography

Julian seemed to have put an end to all of the family drama with his 2010 exhibition called “Timeless: The Photography of Julian Lennon.” Naturally, his mother Cynthia was there, but more shockingly was how cozy Julian looked with Yoko Ono.

Sean, Julian, and Yoko crowd together to view a photo at Julian's exhibition.
Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images
Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images

He kept his arm around her shoulder as she smiled at his photography, which included shots of Sean. Yoko and Cynthia even embraced as the family reunited over Julian’s work. It seemed that the tension of the past decades had finally ceased.

Honoring His Father In The Name Of Peace

Also in 2010, Julian joined his mother Cynthia in the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument in Liverpool. The beautiful, 18-foot sculpture is a colorful sphere covered with music notes and peace signs and topped with silver birds.

Julian puts his arms around his mother Cynthia as they pose before the john lennon monument in liverpool.
ANDREW YATES/AFP via Getty Images
ANDREW YATES/AFP via Getty Images

It reads “Peace On Earth For The Conservation Of Life In Honour of John Lennon 1940-1980.” Julian said at the ceremony, “We come here with our hearts to honor Dad and pray for peace and say thank you to everybody who is celebrating today.”