‘Give me the originals any day’: Why Julian Lennon stayed away from the Beatles anniversary blitz

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As the long period of celebrations in honor of the Beatles’ stateside arrival 50 years ago wrapped on this week, we’d seen Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, Olivia and Dhani Harrison. But where was Julian Lennon? Not at any of these gala events, but instead about as far away from the Grammy-type hub bub as he could be — in Kenya and rural Ethiopia, working to help restore clean water to the region.

“To me, the last thing I wanted to do was stand in the audience with everybody else,” Lennon told Brooklyn Vegan, “clapping my hands and being filmed in front of millions while watching a Beatles karaoke session.”

This water campaign is a key effort for Lennon’s White Feather Foundation, which is collaborating in Africa right now on various humanitarian and environmental projects with Millennium Villages and Charity: Water.

Even if he wasn’t so busy, it doesn’t sound like Lennon is all that interested in hearing Beatles music as presented by half of the original lineup and a series of guest stars, anyway: “Give me the originals any day. I’ll listen or watch the originals any day, and that’s my cup of tea,” Lennon said. “That’s why I decided that I much more preferred to be in a state of reflection and appreciation and doing something much more subtle and much more heartfelt, in my mind, than the glitz and the glam of those kind of shows.”

If you’d like to follow Lennon’s work in Africa, he’s posting images here.

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  • RubyMaeN

    Ha! Yes! “Beatles karaoke session”! That’s exactly what it was, Julian! Glad I’m not the only one who thought it was more weird than wonderful.

    • BellBino

      The Beatles got their start as a covers band. They did Motown karaoke and Buddy Holly karaoke, by Julian’s definition. Julian’s snotty passive-aggressive comment implies he thinks he’s too good to honor the Beatles by doing a Beatles cover. That attitude of his is seriously self-absorbed.

      • DM

        You seem to have some sort of problem with Julian that’s a bit odd.

  • RodSerlingsGhost

    Well, that and he wasn’t actually invited to attend. Fucking shameful.

    • BellBino

      Yes he was invited. He chose not to attend because he wanted to sing on stage with Paul and didn’t get to do that. And Julian singing on stage with Paul would have been a cheesy maudlin circus show. I’m glad the Grammy producers said no to that awful idea.

  • Red Polygon

    I have the feeling his father would approve.

  • BellBino

    Julian’s comments make no sense. First he said on Facebook that he offered to perform at the tribute and he was “turned down.” So clearly he was willing to be involved. But I guess he didn’t want to sing a Beatles song. So what did he want to perform at a Beatles tribute? One of his own songs? Sheesh, the Beatles tribute wasn’t about Julian or promoting Julian. It was about the Beatles.

    And there’s nothing wrong with “Beatles karaoke.” For goodness sake, the Beatles got their start as a covers band, singing covers of Motown, Elvis, Buddy Holly, and black artists. Motown karaoke wasn’t too good for the Beatles. Why does Julian think he’s too good for Beatles karaoke.

    Sadly, Julian has a habit of making passive-aggressive comments like this when he feels he hasnt’ gotten the attention he deserved. He wanted to get up there and sing with Paul, but that would have been wrong. It would have taken the focus away from Paul and Ringo reuniting to play together and put it on Paul and Julian singing together for the first time ever. It would have promoted Julian and sidelined Ringo. Sorry, Julian, but sometimes you have to accept that things aren’t always about YOU.

    • DM

      I totally understand him. He wanted to be able to be on stage; being turned down must have been really humiliating and hurtful. How could he show up and sit mute in the audience?? I can’t comprehend why the organizers did not welcome him. For one thing, he has had a better career than any Beatle offspring, and he belongs to the first generation of fans, really; for another, he has a total right to be there, plain and simple, more right than many of the people who did perform!!! He is John Lennon’s eldest son!
      You are putting words into his mouth by saying he wanted to perform one of his own songs that night – he never said that. I am sure he would have been proud and delighted to sing any Beatle song he was asked to sing. “Julia” would have been a really wonderful choice, or “Dear Prudence”, for that matter. Such a shame.

  • James

    Typical….This crap has been going on with the Beatles going back to 1969 when they not only broke up but refused to tour again and even appear together again. So, they’ve been repackaging the same crap over and over again since ’69. How many different ways can you keep presenting the same music until it finally just get’s old? The Beatles got rich and lazy and left their followers twisting in the wind. They performed in earnest from about 1964 to 1969. Then they retired to count their money. Even the Beach Boys and Rolling Stones have had successful world tours many times over since then.