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

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.

More Music

  • Fyre Festival

    Creditors Move in on Fyre Festival, Billy McFarland

    Cynthia Lennon, first wife of the Beatles’ John 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 […]

  • Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president

    Apple's Eddy Cue Confirmed for Q&A Session at Pollstar Live! Conference

    Cynthia Lennon, first wife of the Beatles’ John 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 […]

  • Epic Records EVP Benny Pough Exits

    Epic Records EVP Benny Pough Departs for Roc Nation

    Cynthia Lennon, first wife of the Beatles’ John 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 […]

  • Scott Mills Debra Lee

    BET Names Scott M. Mills President, Debra Lee to Stay on as Chairman and CEO

    Cynthia Lennon, first wife of the Beatles’ John 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 […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content