Singer/songwriter Julian Lennon returned to the U.S. music scene this year with his first
LP since the early '90s, Photograph Smile.
After hitting it big with his 1984 debut, Valotte, the eldest son of late Beatle John
Lennon had diminishing success with his follow-up LPs and eventually took a long
hiatus from recording.
John Charles Julian Lennon was born 36 years ago today in Liverpool, England, to John
and his first wife, Cynthia Twist. He spent most of his early years with his mother while
John toured with the Beatles, but still managed to inspire two Beatle classics.
Julian's drawing of a classmate reportedly influenced John to write "Lucy in the Sky with
Diamonds." In addition, Paul McCartney's feelings for Julian in the midst of the
dissolution John's marriage to Twist resulted in the song "Hey Jude," which began life as
Julian played guitar and drums as a child and eventually learned the piano. Snippets of
his drumming can be heard on the cut "Ya Ya" from his father's Walls and Bridges
After his father's murder, Julian embarked on a quest to become a recording artist. At first
he reportedly signed a contract to record an unreleased song stolen from the vaults of
John's widow, Yoko Ono; he later decided against it.
Julian eventually worked with veteran producer Phil Ramone and issued Valotte,
named for the French chateau where it was recorded. He quickly had a top-10 hit with
the title track and a top-five hit with "Too Late for Goodbyes." Julian was both embraced
and criticized because his voice and music sounded so much like his legendary father's.
The album sold well and raised expectations for the follow-up, 1986's The Secret
Value of Daydreaming, which received largely unkind reviews and didn't sell as well,
despite some MTV airplay.
Mr. Jordan (1989), which fared even worse, was darker in tone and spawned the
minor hit "Now You're in Heaven." When Help Yourself stiffed two years later,
Lennon quit the music business. He was largely silent for most of the decade, though he
appeared as a bartender in "Leaving Las Vegas," the movie that won Nicolas Cage an
"I just felt it wasn't going the way I had hoped," Lennon said recently about his hiatus. "I
made a very clear and distinct decision ... which turned out to be a blessing in disguise ...
to get out of that."
Last year Lennon released Photograph Smile (RealAudio excerpt of
HREF="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get- music/Lennon,_Julian/Photogragh_Smile.ram">title track
music/Lennon,_Julian/Photogragh_Smile.ram">title track) in Europe and
Japan. The CD includes the single, "Day After Day," and the ballad "I Should Have
Known." The album, which hit #1 in Japan, also features guitar by Lennon's childhood
friend Justin Clayton.
Lennon, who lives in Italy, plans to tour the United States in the summer. He was recently
spotted at this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, during which his father's
songwriting collaborator, McCartney, was inducted as a solo artist. Lennon was mobbed
by fans attending the festivities at New York City's Waldorf Astoria.
Steve Howe (Yes), 52; Izzy Stradlin (ex-Guns n' Roses), 37; and Donita Sparks (L7), 36.