When the Beatles made their first American television performance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, they showed each of the boys individually during the performance, and put their names on screen to help the public understand who was who in the band. When they flashed John’s name on the screen, they quickly added under his name “Sorry girls, he’s married”. Reportedly, Lennon did not know it was going to happen, and was not happy about it when it did.
John Lennon was the first of the Beatles to get married, to a nice, young girl he had met at school named Cynthia Twist. It would be nice to say that they immediately fell so deeply in love that they decided they couldn’t live without each other. But the truth was that Cynthia was very pregnant, and Lennon was urged by his manager, Brian Epstein, to do the right thing and marry the young girl. In one of his last interviews, Lennon said, “Ninety percent of the people on this planet, especially in the west, were born out of a bottle of whiskey on a Saturday night, and there was no intent to have children.” I guess you could call that brutal honesty. The product of that relationship was John Charles Julian Lennon, best known simply as Julian Lennon.
Fast forward to 1989. I was travelling in England with two friends of mine, Bob and Craig. It was the first visit to the UK for Bob and I, so Craig would often go off by himself when Bob and I wanted to do “touristy” stuff. And so it was on the day we were in Liverpool. Bob and I wanted to take the Beatles tour, which Craig had already been on, so we went ahead while he stayed behind to do some shopping. We had to go to the tourist office to get our tickets for the tour, and the ladies that worked there allowed us to keep our bags there while we were on the tour.
Craig is one of those guys who starts up conversations with total strangers, and usually can talk his way into anything. So when Bob and I got back from the tour, Craig was talking to an older woman and said, “Hey guys, you’ll never believe this, but this is Cynthia Lennon’s aunt!” It was true. She was a very kind and proper elderly lady, who was very proud to talk about her niece. We asked what Cyn was doing these days, and she said that she had just opened a restaurant in London called “Lennons”. We were on our way back to London, so we agreed to have dinner there that night when we arrived back in the city.
When we got there, we didn’t have to wait long for a table. The décor included large pictures on the wall of the Beatles and several other British Invasion groups. When the waitress came to take our orders, we started asking her a few questions about the restaurant. Then I asked the million dollar question… “Is Cynthia ever AT the restaurant?” The waitress replied, “Yes, she’s in the bar right now…would you like to meet her?” The answer was a unanimous “YES”.
A few minutes later, our waitress returned with Cynthia Lennon. She sat down at our table and seemed very happy to meet us. We chatted about the restaurant, and talked quite a bit about Julian’s career (he had just released a new album). Strangely, we never ever brought up John’s name. I guess we kind of figured that she had answered enough questions about him.
We had a picture taken with her, and that was that…our brush with the Beatles. Unfortunately, Lennons didn’t stay in business much more than a year. Perhaps Cynthia got tired of sitting and talking to every American Beatles fan that happened in.