The relationship between a father and a son is an important one. A son looks up to his father and has similar hereditary characteristics to his father. But, that was not really the case with John Lennon. John and his father Alfred had a bitter relationship from the very start. They never got to have a good relationship from the very start as he was away from home. Things were left in a bitter way.
Alfred himself had a difficult childhood. Alf was a seaman of Irish heritage. Allegedly Alfred and his sister Edith had spent many years in an orphanage when their father died. Alfred married Lennon’s mother Julia Stanley in 1938. John was their only child but Alfred couldn’t see Lennon much in his infant period as he was away at sea during World War II. He occasionally came home but couldn’t form a great relationship with his son, Lennon.
While that was the case, Alf went AWOL from the army. Before that, he sent regular pay cheques to Julia. She was at Newcastle Road with John back then. That’s when Alfred came to Liverpool occasionally. But his army duties were always a barrier and had to go. Then, all of a sudden the cheques that came to Julia stopped coming in 1943. He went AWOL and both Julia nor the Merchant Navy didn’t know about his whereabouts.
Julia also started to think that the relationship was over between the two of them. That’s when Julia had a relationship with a Welsh soldier named ‘Taffy’ Williams. She also became pregnant.
Both his parents were busy with their own lives. John was raised by his aunt Mimi. Alf also had a different motive back in the day. In 1946, he resurfaced and took John to Blackpool. He plotted to take Lennon to New Zealand and begin a new life but was stopped by his mother Julia.
That’s when the contact between them stopped. Alf didn’t contact John until 1970. That was a day after Lennon recorded his song ‘Remember’. They had dinner at Tittenhurst. It was also the occasion of Lennon’s 30th birthday. That was the very last time the pair met. John’s father, Alfred was also accompanied by his younger wife Pauline, and their 18-month-old son David Henry Lennon. The meeting was not really a successful reunion. Alfred was not really fond of the experience and later on released a four-page handwritten statement. The statement revealed,
“He launched into an account of his recent visit to America, and as the story unfolded, so the self inflicted torture began to show in his face, and his voice rose to a scream as he likened himself to Jimi Hendrix and other pop stars who had recently departed from the scene, ending in a crescendo as he admitted he was ‘Bloody mad, insane’ and due for an early demise. It seemed he had gone to America, at great expense to have some kind of treatment through drugs, which enabled one to go back and relive from early childhood the happenings, which in his own case, he should have been happier to forget. I was now listening to the result of this treatment as he reviled his dead mother in unspeakable terms, referring, also, to the aunt who had brought him up, in similar derogatory terms, as well as one or two of his closest friends. I sat through it all, completely stunned, hardly believing that this was the kind considerate ‘Beatles’ John Lennon talking to his father with such evil intensity…
There was no doubt whatsoever in my mind, that he meant every word he spoke, his countenance was frightful to behold, as he explained in detail, how I would be carried out to sea and dumped, ‘twenty – fifty – or perhaps you would prefer a hundred fathoms deep.’ The whole loathsome tirade was uttered with malignant glee, as though he were actually participating in the terrible deed.”
That was not a very successful meeting with his son. Many of the reasons were attributed to the Primal Therapy that Lennon had undergone in Los Angeles. Later on, Alfred was also in a relationship with Pauline. That’s when he asked if John could give her a job and she was hired to help look after Julian Lennon. Later in his life, Alf commented that it was John’s mother Julia who broke their marriage. And by 1976, Alfred was diagnosed with stomach cancer and that’s when John sent a large bouquet of flowers to the hospital. He also phoned Alf and apologized for his past behavior.
Lennon and his father sure had a sour relationship. but their final meeting was a heartbreaking one. But later on, if Lennon had known about his father more, maybe they would have loved each other’s company.