Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon’s First Wife, Dies at 75

Cynthia Lennon Dead
Express/Hulton Archive

Cynthia Lennon, first wife of the BeatlesJohn Lennon, has died in Mallorca, Spain, after a brief battle with cancer. She was 75.

Her son Julian Lennon – himself a musician – announced his mother’s death on Twitter Wednesday morning.

Cynthia, who met her husband-to-be in 1959 at Liverpool College of Art, wed Lennon in 1962 after learning she was pregnant with their son.

She was married to Lennon at the height of the Beatles’ international fame – prompting a famous subtitle, “Sorry Girls He’s Married,” during a close-up when the band appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964.

She weathered Lennon’s casual touring infidelities and escalating drug use, but push came to shove in 1968 after she discovered letters from artist Yoko Ono. She sued for divorce. The couple was divorced that November.

She published a sometimes caustic memoir, “A Twist of Lennon,” in 1978.

Born Cynthia Powell in Blackpool, England, she was 20 when she met her future husband, then a semi-pro musician and aspiring artist, in a college lettering class. Though rough-edged Teddy boy Lennon later described her as “dead snobby,” they soon became a couple.

By the time the Beatles began their first club residency in Hamburg in 1960, Powell was renting a room from Lennon’s aunt and guardian Mimi Smith. She visited Lennon in Germany during the band’s second stay in 1961.

After her pregnancy was discovered, Lennon and Powell were swiftly married in secret (at the insistence of the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein) in August 1962 — the month before Lennon’s rising band recorded the hit “Love Me Do” for EMI.

Their son Julian was born in Liverpool in April 1963 while Lennon was on tour. The birth was successfully kept secret until late that year, by which time the Beatles were the biggest act in England; the couple’s cover was blown after news of Julian’s christening leaked out in the press.

Cynthia accompanied John on the early 1964 tour that broke the Beatles in the U.S., infuriating Epstein in the process. Possibly taken aback by the madness of incipient American Beatlemania, she chose to remain home – at the house known as Kenwood, in Weybridge, Surrey – during future road treks.

Initially, Lennon was a loving and generous husband, and his wife appeared with him socially in London during the apex of the Beatles’ international fame. Unlike Lennon, she was not a drug enthusiast, and did not join him on the dozens of LSD trips he took from 1965 on.

On the eve of the Lennons’ 1968 trip to India for a group retreat at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s meditation ashram, Cynthia unearthed Ono’s letters to Lennon. A drunk and tearful Lennon confessed his infidelities to his wife during the flight back to England.

She would later discover Lennon and Ono together at their home upon her return from a trip to Greece. Upon learning that Ono was pregnant with Lennon’s child (which she miscarried), Cynthia initiated divorce proceedings. After Lennon’s and Ono’s divorces were finalized — and Cynthia received a meager settlement — they wed in Gibraltar in March 1969.

Cynthia waited nearly a decade to write “A Twist of Lennon.” The book’s candor shocked some Beatles fans; Lennon, then retired and serving as a self-described “house husband” with Ono, briefly attempted to squelch its publication. Lennon was murdered in New York in December 1980.

She subsequently penned a second book, “John,” in 2005.

She remarried and divorced three times, and also had a 17-year relationship with a Liverpool chauffeur.

Her lone attempt to enter the music business — a 1995 version of “Those Were the Days,” originated by Mary Hopkin, an artist on the Beatles’ Apple label — was not successful.

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  1. byibush7 says:

    Reblogged this on Music and Politics.

  2. The Editor says:

    Reblogged this on Music Suite.

  3. Cynthia Kimble says:

    What a strong woman!! God Bless

  4. RIP Cynthia.
    You were wonderful.

    George Vreeland Hill

  5. me thinks says:

    they are together now. without yoko

  6. M. F. Sibley says:

    Cynthia was too good for Lennon. She seems to have done everything right and he still had a wandering eye. Who can blame Cynthia for divorcing him when he became caught up with Yoko Ono? He gave her next to nothing as a settlement and yet she was with him when he was a nobody. How soon he forgot about her and he never looked back. In plain words, she was too good for the likes of him. He was selfish and had a narcissistic personality. May she rest in peace.

  7. Steve Peterson says:

    Cynthia was perfect for John. She gave him a fabulous son. He did her wrong.

  8. Victoria says:

    The Lennons split up after Cynthia came home after a trip to Greece at 6:00 AM to find her husband and Yoko in bathrobes. That was the end. Yoko wasn’t pregnant then. This was just the start of her relationship with John.

    You can see Cynthia Lennon in Albert Maysles’ fine 1964 documentary about the Beatles.

    And oh, yes: Lennon was never a loving and attentive husband in the early years. By his own admission, he smacked Cynthia around and was cheating on her right from the start.

    • And you are completely correct. John was a lousy father and husband with his first family. He was a drunk and a drug addict, thanks to Yoko. Cynthia was always too good for him, but she was the perfect Liverpool wife. Yoko was not. Maybe John needed a stronger female figure, but he never would have stood for it if Cynthia had been that kind of wife. The divorce settlement was pathetic, and I often wonder if Yoko had something to do with that.

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