Inside John Lennon and son Sean’s beautiful but tragically short-lived time together
20 June 2022, 11:17
Tragically, John Lennon only spent the first five years of his life with his son Sean.
In a moment that shocked the world, former Beatle and cultural icon John Lennon was murdered in New York City on 8th December 1980.
Born on October 9th 1975, Sean - John's first child with long-time partner and creative confidant Yoko Ono - was the decisive factor in Lennon putting his music career on ice.
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After the release of his covers album Rock 'n' Roll in 1975, began what was to be a five-year hiatus from the music industry.
His main reason for leaving music behind was Sean - he wanted to devote his entire team to raising his newborn son.
John made several mistakes with his eldest son Julian from his previous marriage to Cynthia Powell, and didn't want to go down a similar path.
It took almost the entirety of Julian's childhood for him and his father to reconcile, so he ensured he was a model father with Sean.
And their time together was incredibly precious, with John saying that the majority of the time spent in those five years he simply "baked bread" and "looked after the baby".
It was a far cry from the rock 'n' roll lifestyle he'd carved for himself throughout his career, choosing not to go on tour or occupy his focus in the recording studio.
The connection that he and Sean made were incredibly special, with John citing that he was more than happy with a stable family life, something he hadn't been able to enjoy until that point due to the nature of his career.
Officially confirming his break from music in Tokyo in 1977, he said at the time: "We have basically decided, without any great decision, to be with our baby as much as we can until we feel we can take time off to indulge ourselves in creating things outside of the family."
Fortunately, they captured countless moments together, with Yoko Ono often behind the camera.
Lennon shut himself off from the outside world, his fans, the music press, the media, to find purpose in his new role as a loving father.
John Lennon & Sean Lennon
John's daily routine was shaped by Sean, waking up at 06:00 every day to prepare his son's meals and spend quality time together.
When asked about how his days panned out, John said he'd "have a cup of tea — no caffeine — and plan what Sean’s going to have for breakfast, and he comes out, we communicate, and then I’m thinking about the next meal, like Mrs. Higgins, in Wisconsin."
It was worlds away from his 'lost weekend' in LA only a few years earlier, where his average bedtime would've been approximately 06:00 every night/morning.
Even in his early childhood, Sean looks back fondly on the limited time spent with his father, consoled by the fact that he put his career on hold to fully love and raise him.
But after a life-threatening experience on a boat in Bermuda in 1980, John finally decided to return to the studio to write an album inspired by the love for his family.
John Lennon - Beautiful Boy
Double Fantasy was John Lennon's first album in five years, and despite being a mere five years old, Sean remembers moments from the time he was recording in the studio.
One song that particularly resonates with Sean - and all father's alike - is 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)', the gorgeously tender song dedicated to him.
Even Paul McCartney later cited 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)' as the favourite of his former compatriot's songs, because of the pure love John had for his son when writing it.
But only a month after Double Fantasy was released in November 1980, John Lennon was shot dead.
As a result, the album became more than just music to Sean, rather becoming a conduit to his dad after losing him in such shocking circumstances.
In a 2020 interview, Sean said: "Double Fantasy is a very loaded record for me because my earliest memories are hanging around the Hit Factory as a kid when they [John and Yoko Ono] were making it."
“I have so many personal memories revolving around that record. After my dad died, one of the ways in which I mourned or processed his death was just listening to that record over and over again."
"I don’t even have any objective relationship to that music, for the most part, because it’s not even music,” Sean explained. "It’s this fundamental part of my childhood."
John Lennon interviews an infantile Sean Ono Lennon
After building such a uniquely close bond with his father, Sean is evidently still dealing with the trauma of losing his father at such a young age.
“A lot of people don’t remember when they were five" he said during the interview.
“I’ve never asked a psychologist, but I’ve assumed that because my dad dying was so traumatic for me that a lot of those early memories just stayed. I have more memories of being five and four than I do being 16.”
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From an early age, Sean was involved in music and is now a fully-fledged musician himself, following in his father's footsteps and even covering his songs on occasion.
Listening to 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)' even now sends shivers up the spine, given that the song details how besotted he is with his beloved boy, how he longs to see him grow up, and their future as father and son.
Sadly, that chance was taken away from both John and Sean. But their short-lived five years together was remarkably special.