JOHN LENNON’S relationship with Yoko Ono has been widely credited with breaking up his first marriage – yet an unearthed letter from 1976 revealed why he thought his relationship with Cynthia Powell really crumbled.
Lennon was famed as a member of The Beatles, the hit pop band which dominated the charts throughout the Sixties. They officially disbanded in 1970, leading fans to blame Lennon’s budding relationship with Yoko Ono for The Beatles’ separation. The divorce papers from his six-year marriage to his school sweetheart Cynthia Powell stated that his affair with Yoko had broken up that relationship too.
However, the discovery of a private letter written by Lennon in 1976 shows a different side to the story.
In 2017, The Telegraph revealed the contents of a letter he had written for his ex-wife which was being put up for auction.
Addressing Cynthia eight years after their divorce, he wrote: “As you and I well know, our marriage was over long before the advent of […] Yoko Ono… and that’s reality!”
He had been having affairs throughout their marriage, as his band’s fame made him into a global superstar. They married after Cynthia fell pregnant, but kept it a secret out of fear that it would damage the Beatles reputation.
He was writing in response to Cynthia’s tell-all interview with several newspapers and magazines about Lennon’s affair.
At the time, extracts from her 1978 memoir, ‘A Twist of Lennon’, were being published in the News of the World, subsequently enraging the former Beatle.
In the letter he said: “Your memory is impaired to say the least.”
He continued: “I don’t blame you for wanting to get away from your ‘Beatle’ past. But if you are serious about it, you should try to avoid talking to and posing for magazines and newspapers!’”
Cynthia claimed she knew the marriage was over after she returned from a holiday early and found Yoko Ono in her house.
In 1985, she told American radio talk show host Terry Gross that “she had been staying with John that night, and I came home and they were there”.
They were reportedly both dressed in white dressing gowns and staring into each other’s eyes.
Cynthia claimed the moment “was sort of curtains for our marriage as far as all of us were concerned really”.
She was not the only one to blame his affair with Yoko for the breakdown of their marriage.
Fellow Paul McCartney told American radio host Howard Stern in 2018: “[John] had found Yoko and John loved strong women.
“His mother was a strong woman, his aunty who brought him up was a strong woman but, bless her, his first wife wasn’t a strong woman.”
He continued: “John had met up with Yoko and even though we thought it was intrusive, because she used to sit in on sessions and we had never had anything like that, but the guy was totally in love with her. You have to respect that.”
Lennon, on the other hand, appeared to think his first marriage was doomed anyway, regardless of his relationship with Yoko.
He also revealed in the letter how Cynthia had tried to rekindle their marriage several years later – and, despite being separated from Yoko at the time, he was not interested.
He wrote: “You also seem to have forgotten that only two years ago, while I was separated from Yoko, you suddenly brought Julian to see me in Los Angeles after three years of silence.”
He said she then asked him to remarry her, “and/or give you another child”, for the sake of their son Julian.
Lennon explained: “I politely told you no, and that, anyway, I was still in love with Yoko, (which I thought was very ‘down to earth’).“We did have some good years, so dwell on them for a change, and, as Dylan says, it was ‘A Simple Twist of Fate’!”He ended the letter by writing, “love and good luck to the three of you, from the three of us”.
Cynthia went on to marry three more times.