Convention Interview: Cynthia Lennon

Special thanks to
Matt Hurwitz
Good Day Sunshine Magazine
for use of their article
From: "Good Day Sunshine" magazine, 1994, issue #75

Convention Interview: Cynthia Lennon
By Spencer Leigh
Transcribed by Batya Selavan

Ms. Lennon was introduced by Alistair Taylor -- this was the first time the two met face to face. Spencer Leigh conducted the interviews.

Spencer: You hardly ever do Beatles Festivals, so what made you change your mind?

Cynthia: It's very important to give back. Over the years so much has been taken from the fans. Eventually someone has to give back...not a lot, but something. (Applause from audience.)

Spencer: Last night you went to the Instant Karma Show. When you see bands like that one on stage, is it difficult for you or is it a pleasure?

Cynthia: It can be a pleasure and it can be difficult. Instant Karma was a fantastic and powerful band. It was a bittersweet situation. Hearing songs like Beautiful Boy and other songs about Sean when there's Julian there. It's a very sensitive area.

Spencer: Did the John of the 1970's seem to be a different person to you than the John we knew in the '60's?

Cynthia: John to me became a chameleon. I can only speak from my own personal vision of John. He changed during '65 and onwards, a John I didn't know what I was looking at when I saw him being interviewed or heard his music. I felt he became very aggressive. He did always have a quick wit, but I felt he changed when he left the Beatles.

Spencer: Do you think his changes were subconscious, or did he deliberately want to change?

Cynthia: It's very hard to answer that question. John was always a leader. What followed in his life was what he wanted, but not in the context it was perceived by everyone else. John wanted love and when the Beatles split he lost a lot of love...mass love from the fans.

Spencer: When you say John was a leader, if I had met him in 1963 and said to John Lennon, "Are you the leader of the group?" and if I had asked Paul would he have said yes?

Cynthia: I don't think either of them would have said yes at the time. I don't think they would have answered direct questions in those days. It always had to be something humorous.

Spencer: Can we go back to the time when you first met John; what were your first impressions of him?

Cynthia: I was totally fascinated. I looked at this fellow who was a rough teddy boy, but this was at art college. There was something artistic about him, but I didn't understand the way he dressed.

Spencer: How good an artist do you think he was?

Cynthia: I think his art was brilliant. I think he was out of time; he didn't fit in. He had a cruel wit. He never fit in.

Spencer: Do you think the Beatles held your own career as an artist back [then]?

Cynthia: I can't blame anyone. I wanted to be in that creative sphere. I wanted to be a teacher, but I couldn't have been in a better creative sphere than the Beatles.

Spencer: There are examples of your work in Liverpool for the benefit of all the tourists.

Cynthia: Cavern Walks in Mathew Street. A year after John died, I was approached by the architect, he was a great John fan, and he wanted me to contribute something to the Walks. I was delighted.

Spencer: Why did you choose those designs?

Cynthia: Doves are special, and peace and roses. It was a very simple way of expressing them.

Spencer: Back to the early days, when you got married. I would have thought for someone like John Lennon it would have been very difficult to keep this marriage secret. Who told him to do that?

Cynthia: He wasn't talkative and chatty. John was quite a deep character. It was a shock to both of us that I was pregnant anyway. He had to break the news to Mimi and I had to break the news to my mum.

Spencer: How difficult did that make it for you if you wanted to go to a Beatles show?

Cynthia: When I was pregnant?

Spencer: No, by being married to John Lennon; by having to keep it a secret.

Cynthia: I led a very quiet existence, and that I did not mind at all.

Spencer: When did the marriage actually come out?

Cynthia: The press found out. I was pushing the pram at my mom's in Hoylake and they followed me around and took pictures.

Spencer: In the week you got married, Pete Best got sacked from the Beatles. Can you tell us what really happened; why did Pete Best lose his job?

Cynthia: I was on the outside. They just got a new manager. I was not involved in the agreement. I think Pete, as lovely as he was, did not fit in. That is just a personal opinion. Because their sense of humor was different [than] Pete's. It had nothing to do with the fact he was a talented drummer or a nice person. It just didn't gel. What they needed in those days was someone that would fit in with their Liverpool humor.

Spencer: Did you know Ringo beforehand?

Cynthia: No, Ringo was introduced to me when John and I married. I met him when John and I were staying at Brian's flat. I remember shaking hands with all these rings. We were shy and embarrassed about it all.

Spencer: Did you see a difference in the band when they had Ringo?

Cynthia: There was a difference. Things seemed to take off after that.

Spencer: If you had to go back in time to one of the Beatles' live [performances], would it be one of the famous ones or would it be at the Cavern?

Cynthia: I would prefer at the Cavern and the performances in Hamburg.

Spencer: They would actually play for three or four hours a night?

Cynthia: Longer -- all night.

Spencer: Was it true that John was insulting the Germans?

Cynthia: All the time -- yes.

Spencer: Didn't they know English to know what he was saying?

Cynthia: If they did, they didn't care.

Spencer: John, Paul, and George have similar humor, so why was it that John and Paul wrote the songs and George was left to write on his own?

Cynthia: George was younger and he would follow John and I around. George was never considered on an adult level. George had to evolve over the years. George's music was exquisite; he became a really beautiful songwriter. [Applause.]

Spencer: What about the way they worked together; did it bother John if he was writing on his own sometimes with Paul, or did he take it as it came?

Cynthia: Yes, John would write me poems whenever the mood struck him.

Spencer: It's often said that "We Can Work It Out" is the perfect Beatle song.

Cynthia: It's like a good marriage. It's sad when there's a divorce.

Spencer: How early were they writing songs separately?

Cynthia: They always did their own thing. They had to produce and do so many records. The pressure was on; the demand was enormous.

Spencer: The Royal Variety Show, which at the time in '63, [it] was rare for a pop group to be on a Royal Variety show, so were the Beatles surprised to be asked? Did John actually plan his remark about "rattle your jewelry"? Did he say to you, "I'm saying this..."

Cynthia: It would be off the cuff. Everyone in Liverpool is a bloody comedian.

Spencer: How did he feel about that night?

Cynthia: He was embarrassed saying [that], but he had to say it. He knew he was stepping out of line. That's what was so special about John.

Spencer: The Beatles were involved with the Maharishi. You actually missed the train.

Cynthia: [Laughs.] That is the story of my life. I was carrying the bags and this burly policeman stopped me. I was left on the platform.

Spencer: Did you feel in your heart of hearts that the Maharishi had something to offer you?

Cynthia: The Maharishi was offering an alternative to drugs. I had a wonderful time in India.

Spencer: What about the Sgt. Pepper lp, it took 6 months to finish. Did they know from the outset it was going to take so long?

Cynthia: They had the time in those days.

Spencer: Any fave song?

Cynthia: I love them all. I play them all the time.

Spencer: The break-up: even if Yoko hadn't come along, it was going to break-up anyway?

Cynthia: I have no idea. It could have been anybody; the changes were so speedy. Looking for different dreams in life and John was looking for something different in life that nobody could give him. That was the position he was in when he met Yoko.

Spencer: Did you think the acid he took effected his songwriting?

Cynthia: Yes, it effected everything.

Spencer: Yoko was able to offer something creative?

Cynthia: I don't know. [Applause from the crowd.]

Spencer: He started working with her and his relationship with Paul had broken-up, so he was having someone he could create some artistic things with...

Cynthia: Yes, a woman as opposed to three men.

Spencer:Recently there has been quite a lot in the press about the millions Yoko's got and Sean's worth a lot...Does it bother you that all the money has gone over there?

Cynthia: [Pauses a moment.] Yes, it does sadden me. It's the fans' money...[it] belongs to everyone.

Spencer: Julian has made quite a few albums. It's very good, the first one, but it sounds like John Lennon. How intentional was that?

Cynthia: No intention at all. The publicity was tremendous. [Applause.]

Copyright by Good Day Sunshine magazine, 1994, all rights reserved.
E-published at the Ottawa Beatles Site on May 30, 2001, used with permission.
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