John Lennon was born to his parents, Alfred and Julia Lennon, on Oct. 9, 1940
The Beatles singer was born to Alfred and Julia on Oct. 9, 1940. While he was their only child together, Julia went on to welcome three more children with two other men and Alfred had two more sons with his second wife Pauline.
Julia died at 44 years old on July 15, 1958, just months shy of John’s 18th birthday. She was hit by a car while crossing the street, leaving John traumatized and inspiring him to dedicate the songs “Julia” and “Mother” to her memory.
John lost contact with his father for some time before the two reunited at the height of the Beatles' fame in the 1960s. In 1968, John told a journalist that he had practically forgotten his father, saying, “It was like he was dead,” per Bob Spitz’s biography The Beatles – The Biography.
From their love story meeting as teenagers to their turbulent relationships with John, here’s everything to know about John Lennon’s parents.
Julia and Alfred met when they were teenagers
The first time Alfred saw Julia was at a club in Liverpool, England, when she was 14 years old and he was 15. They later met again in a park where he had gone with a friend to meet girls, Spitz wrote in his biography on the Beatles.
Eleven years after they first met, on Dec. 3, 1938, Julia and Alfred married in secret after she proposed to him. Her family did not approve of the marriage, according to Spitz, with her father even threatening to disown her if she ever lived with a “lover.” He asked Alfred to show proof that he could financially support his daughter, but Alfred signed up to be a Merchant Navy steward on a ship that would go to the Mediterranean Sea and came up short.
After returning from his position three months later, Alfred attempted to find a job as an entertainer, but to no avail.
Alfred was serving as a merchant seaman when John was born
In January 1940, Julia found out she was pregnant. However, World War II had started by then and Alfred was called back to sea, though he sent money home regularly, per Spitz.
John was born on Oct. 9, 1940, while Alfred was still abroad. Around the time of his birth, Julia began dating John Dykins and soon the two moved in together, even though she was still legally married to Alfred.
Julia’s sister raised John
Julia’s older sister, Mary “Mimi” Smith, was there for Julia since John’s birth but didn’t always approve of her parenting choices. Ultimately, John came to live with Mimi and was raised in her home, though he frequently visited Julia and Dykins’ house nearby, John’s first wife, Cynthia Lennon, wrote in her biography of the Beatles star, John.
In July 1946, Alfred came back to visit John and took him to Blackpool, England, on vacation. However, he secretly planned to emigrate with him to New Zealand. When Julia found out, she followed them to Blackpool with Dykins by her side, and, in the end, John went back to live with his mother, Cynthia wrote.
However, after a few weeks, Julia handed John back to Mimi and he continued to live there through his childhood and adolescence. John later blamed himself for his mom giving him back to his aunt, saying, “My mother ... couldn’t cope with me," per Spitz's biography.
Despite his living with Mimi, John remained close to Julia. She bought him his first guitar and taught him how to play banjo and ukelele chords. In John, Cynthia said that John and Julia shared a love for music and the two would enjoy listening to Elvis Presley together while dancing around the kitchen.
Julia had other children despite still being married to Alfred
Though Julia never officially divorced Alfred, she had moved on in the few years after John’s birth and welcomed three more children. She first gave birth to daughter Victoria in 1945 with a soldier, “Taffy” Williams, whom she met on an evening out and placed her for adoption.
Julia also welcomed two more daughters during her relationship with Dykins — Julia Baird was born on March 5, 1947, and Jackie was born on Oct. 26, 1949. During a 2019 interview, Baird reminisced on growing up with her mother and watching John and Paul McCartney, whom she called the "dream team" play the banjo and guitar.
"She was very funny, very very witty. She was a happy mother and an active mother doing things with us," said Baird. "My mother was very musical. We had a piano that she played, we had the banjo."
Alfred and John had a turbulent relationship
After Alfred's plans to leave for New Zealand with his son fell through, Spitz wrote that he and John did not reconnect again until John was at the height of his fame with the Beatles in the 1960s. Alfred was working as a kitchen porter at a hotel in England when someone showed him a newspaper clipping of John and asked if the two were related, Cynthia wrote in John.
The estranged father then decided to visit John, showing up with a journalist at the famous North End Music Store office where the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, was stunned when Alfred announced himself as John’s dad. Epstein phoned John, who quickly arrived but refused to shake his father’s hand, merely asking what he wanted.
"You can't turn your back on your family, no matter what they've done,” Alfred reportedly told John, per Spitz’s biography.
Despite Alfred’s desire for reconciliation, John turned him and the journalist away, according to Spitz. A few weeks later, Alfred showed up at John’s home where the singer’s wife, Cynthia, let him in. However, Alfred left after waiting a few hours for John, who never arrived.
Cynthia encouraged John to reach out to his father and a few months later, John relented, admitting to Cynthia, “He's a bit 'wacky,' like me,” per Cynthia’s biography John.
Before he died on April 1, 1976, Alfred wrote a manuscript detailing his life story that he left for John. In it, he told his side of the story with Julia which allowed John to have some understanding of him. When he died, Alfred’s then-wife Pauline called John, and the two reconciled while Alfred was on his deathbed.
Julia died in 1958
Julia was visiting Mimi on July 15, 1958, when she was crossing the street and was hit by a car. She was brought to a hospital but died instantly from the impact. She was 44 years old.
John wrote songs in her memory
John was traumatized by the death of his mother and went on to have a hard few years after she died.
He wrote the Beatles' song “Julia” in memory of his mother, with the lyrics, “her hair of floating sky is shimmering/glimmering in the sun.”
“I lost her twice,” John once said in an interview. “Once as a 5 year old when I was moved in with my auntie. And once again when she actually physically died.“
John also named his first son, Julian, after his mother.
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