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A painting of the Beatles by artist Jonathan Hague is unveiled at the Beatles Museum in Liverpool by Julia Baird, the half sister of John Lennon, and Roag Best, the half brother of former Beatles drummer Pete Best.

A Beatles portrait created by a Welsh artist, and one of John Lennon’s best friends in art college, has gone on display.

The figurative painting of the Fab Four in their Sgt Pepper uniforms was created by Jonathan Hague in 1984 and is similar to another of his works which was bought by Lennon in 1967, but has never been seen since.

The painting was unveiled by Lennon’s sister Julia Baird at the Liverpool Beatles Museum on the city’s Mathew Street on Thursday.

Ms Baird said her brother and Hague, who were known as “the two Johns” at the Liverpool College of Art, had maintained their friendship after the Beatles found success.
Lennon even bought a house for his college friend, who went on to become an art lecturer.

She said: “Some of Jonathan Hague’s paintings were Beatles-inspired and John did sponsor him.

“John and Paul (McCartney) together sponsored his exhibition in 1967 at the Royal Academy of Arts and John bought the original, if you like, the sister painting to this, and nobody knows where that is.
“It might turn up now.”
She said Lennon was a fan of the figurative art style and was believed to have paid £50,000 for the original work.

Hague, born in Llandudno, North Wales, painted the second piece for himself after John Lennon was fatally shot in New York in 1980.
Museum owner Roag Best, brother of the original Beatles drummer Pete Best, said the work had been donated by the family of Hague, who died in 2015.

He said: “Jonathan Hague was a country boy so when he came to Liverpool, John Lennon took a soft spot to him and showed him how to become streetwise, showed him how to dress, showed him how he should do his hair.

“It became a bond that continued right through their lives.”

The painting joins hundreds of exhibits of Beatles memorabilia in the five-storey museum, which opened in 2018.



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Julia Baird, 73, spoke of their childhood in Springwood in Liverpool with their mother Julia. Told that John and Paul McCartney had a ‘determination’ that other teens didn’t.

She told how their mother, who was also called Julia, always ‘encouraged’ the singer’s dreams, despite other parents they knew deterring their children from pursuing a career in music.
John’s sister told how their mum would play the ‘washboard and the banjo’ as her son practised in their Springwood home, and that her brother and pal Paul McCartney had a ‘determination’ that other young musicians didn’t.

‘We didn’t know any differently,’ said Julia. ‘John was our brother, we were always together. It was a very close knit family for the youngsters.’
When asked whether she always knew that John was special, she admitted that having a brother in a band was nothing special in their local community.

‘Everyone had a brother that was in a group,’ she told. ‘But they all dropped off as they got to 15, their parents got them out, [they] went to university, they all wanted to do different things. But John and Paul had a determination the others never had.’
Speaking of her late mother she went on: ‘In our kitchen in Springwood in Liverpool, is where our mother not just encouraged and said you can have the kitchen to rehearse, it but joined in.

‘She played the washboard and the banjo, my mother wanted to be in the group herself I think.’
Julia described her brother as ‘ a bit bossy’ but reminisced about memories of trips to the cinema and John helping her with school work.
She said: ‘He’s six and a half years older than me, very much the older brother – a bit boss. He played with us, drew with us, practised our time tables with us, took us to the cinema to see Elvis and then the little picture and then Elvis again.’

John’s family always held a place in his heart, with Julia revealing he picked them out of the crowd ahead of the Liverpool premiere of the band’s 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night.

‘The real premiere was in London with Princess Margaret,’ explained Julia. ‘But he said the real premiere was in Liverpool the next day and the whole family went and John came out and chatted and said: “Where’s my family?”.’

Following the band’s breakup in 1970, John released his debut solo effort John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band in the same year, releasing Imagine less than a year later.
Julia revealed that in 1973 John came home to Liverpool from the US looking for his family:  ‘We didn’t lose John until he went to America, and it wasn’t only us that lost him then, everybody lost him physically. ‘But in 1973 when John came back he was looking for his family and we said, “We’re all here John, we haven’t moved anywhere…”. We started getting letters and phone calls and until he died we were in touch.’

Following her brother’s death, Julia was unable to listen to his songs, but over the years has managed to find comfort in the memory of her late brother.
Julia confessed: ‘It was terrible at first, none of the family could listen to anything. And even now, if an interview comes on, and it’s likely now, and I hear his voice, and it’s like “oh”.
‘I actually only watched Above Us Only Sky for the first time ever last week because of the piano at Strawberry Field. But I watched it and it was quite hard, but by the end I was enjoying it. It’s a weird thing. And that film almost felt personal.’

Julia told that the family will celebrate the birthday of John, who was shot dead aged 40 in New York in 1980, by having a meal together as a family.
Explaining more about the community project Strawberry Field, Julia said, ‘He [John] called the song Strawberry Field his only psychoanalytic poem.
‘I see John as a poet, very much so. And he said that was his favourite song. And Strawberry Field is a very special sanctuary and now it’s reopened.’


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On 15 July 1958, when John was 17, Julia died on Menlove Avenue shortly after leaving Mimi’s house, while crossing the road to get to a bus stop. She was struck by a Standard Vanguard car driven by an off-duty policeman, 24-year-old Eric Clague.

Contrary to some reports, Clague was not drunk at the time, and he was driving under the 30mph speed limit. He was, however, a learner driver who was unaccompanied:
“Mrs Lennon just ran straight out in front of me. I just couldn’t avoid her. I was not speeding, I swear it. It was just one of those terrible things that happen.”- Eric Clague, 1998

John’s childhood friend Nigel Walley later recounted what happened:

“I went to call for John that evening but his Aunt Mimi told me he was out. Mimi was at the gate with John’s mum, who was about to leave. We stood chatting and John’s mum said ‘Well, you have the privilege of escorting me to the bus stop!’ I said ‘That will do me fine. I’ll be happy to do that.’ We walked down Menlove Avenue and I turned off to go up Vale Road, where I lived. I must have been about 15 yards up the road when I heard a car skidding. I turned round to see John’s mum going through the air. I rushed over but she had been killed instantly”.-Nigel Walley.

Julia is buried in the Allerton Cemetery in Liverpool.


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‘We were all waiting for him to come home’, reveals the Beatle’s sister Julia Baird

For Julia Baird, one of John Lennon’s younger sisters, hearing Yesterday or She Loves You on the radio in a faraway place has extra poignancy.
She was once in the Himalayas, having handed over her passport in return to access to the Dalai Lama’s library, and there was a monk wearing trainers and playing Yellow Submarine on an old cassette.
She was in a tiny French cafe with a basket of torn-up baguette on the table and All You Need is Love started up.

Julia said: “There is nothing private about John.
“There is no escape. It’s easier to be inside than to try to pretend it didn’t happen.”
This is why, when she learned that Cavern Club was looking for investors, she decided overnight to sign herself up.
She said: “I just said to Bill (Heckle – Cavern director) ‘I could do that’. He said, ‘Go and sleep on it’.
“We have the biggest fun. It’s a business, a serious business, but we laugh a lot. The fans are fantastic.”
Julia was too young to see the Beatles perform in the Cavern but she did get to their gigs at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre as well as a particularly memorable concert in London’s Finsbury Park Astoria.
She said: “The Rolling Stones were in the dressing room so we knew they were really famous.
“Everyone was drinking Coca Cola – so we thought. Theirs was laced, ours wasn’t.
“We went on the stage and I wanted to go down to the four rows at the front that were completely empty.”
But when she asked John, he at first said no before reluctantly agreeing.
“So Jackie, and I jumped off the side of the stage. The curtains closed. They were all behind getting ready.
“We’re sitting there and the curtain comes up and John’s doing his She Love’s You bit, bouncing up and down. And everyone from the back appeared at the front.”
Security arrived and John said “Get the girls”.
Julia adds: “We were hauled ignominiously back onto the stage and under the curtain, and John’s still singing. He said, ‘I told you so’.”
Many younger sisters look up to their big brothers, but Julia particularly looked forward to John’s visits to her family home because he lived elsewhere – with his Aunt Mimi in Mendips on Menlove Avenue.
Her earliest memories include “leaping about to Elvis” with John, their little sister Jackie, their cousin Stan – and of course their beloved mother Julia.
Julia said: “She was a dynamo. She was lively and active and musical.
“I’ve called her a woman out of time. I’ve also called John, a man out of his time. They were very, very alike in their talent.
“My father taught her to play the banjo. He came back from sea with a monkey and a banjo. I didn’t meet the monkey, I met the banjo. And he taught my mother to play by ear.
“I remember her leaning over John – he’d have his hands on the frets, and she’d be doing the strumming or the picking, and then they turn it around so that John would be doing the strumming.
“She also played the piano, the ukulele and the piano accordion, which was so big – it was one of the old fashioned ones.
“The great big thick straps crisscrossed and she used to sit down in an armchair and strap herself into it. Remember she was only small. And she put her arms on the arm of the chair and heave herself up to standing and sort of planted her feet.
“You could see it was heavy, but the music was heavenly.”
Life changed irrevocably when their mother was knocked down and killed by a car while crossing the road in 1958.
Julia says they all got on with coping with the shock and grief because they simply had no alternative.
She said: “You have to deal with it. You haven’t got a choice. Carry on, carry on. Either that or jump in the Mersey.
“He was 17. I was 11 and Jackie was eight –  so there’s no doubt whatsoever that Jackie was the one that was hit worst.
“John was able to go out and about and express himself in other ways. Paul said in something he wrote that John was on a bus and would go backwards and forwards and not get off it. I suppose it was the only place he could be entirely by himself.”
Later, when The Beatles’ success had exploded and John had built a new life in America, Julia rarely heard from her brother – “We didn’t realise as a family that John was as spaced out as he was.”
But one day in 1974, she was living in Wirral, when her aunt phoned from Edinburgh.
“She said, ‘Julia, stay up till midnight’. I had two children and was tired. ‘John’s going to phone you.”

In the end, Julia was asked to phone her brother, but first she had to answer a list of questions proving her identity. Just as she was losing patience, the final one came – ‘What’s your father’s middle name?’.
“I said, ‘Albert, after Prince Albert’ and he came straight on the phone and said, ‘I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry’. And we talked for four hours about everything.
“We talked many, many times after that. We got letters when Sean was born. And the last time I spoke to him, actually, was on November 17, just before he died.”
John had talked of coming home to Merseyside – and was even planning a reunion in Rock Ferry at Ardmore, a large house that had been in the family for many years.

Julia said: “Obviously, we were all waiting for him to come home. And John said in November, ‘There are so many of you we will all have to get together at Ardmore. So we were going to meet in that house.”
Instead, one of the most shocking murders in musical history happened and John was shot dead outside the Dakota Building in New York on December 8, 1980.

His family reunion never took place but Julia’s memories, his inescapable musical legacy and her involvement with The Cavern has kept the siblings close.
During meetings in the organisation’s offices close to Mathew Street, she looks at one of Astrid Kirchherr’s photographs of her brother during The Beatles’ Hamburg days, which hangs on the wall of the boardroom.

Julia said: “That is so the John of my childhood that I feel as if John’s in the room with us.
“I don’t imagine him here. I just think, to me, John is an integral part of the Cavern.
“I don’t believe in ghosts or anything so for me he’s imbued in it, rather than walking around in it. And that’s the picture that reminds me this place is as much John’s as it is ours.”



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Fans will no longer have to peer through the gates – the Salvation Army garden immortalised by John Lennon is opening for the first time, with an interactive exhibition

“Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields” urged John Lennon in 1967. Now, for the first time, everyone will be able to walk in his footsteps, when the gardens immortalised in the classic Beatles song are opened to the public on 14 September, alongside a new visitors’ centre, cafe and shop.

Housed in a sleek, modern, light-filled building, it is a stark contrast to the original Gothic mansion that stood there when Lennon was a young boy and would bunk over the wall to climb trees and play hide-and-seek in its garden. Built in 1878 for a shipping magnate in the wealthy Liverpool suburb of Woolton (the family of prime minister William Gladstone lived nearby, in another long-gone pile) it was bought by the Salvation Army in 1934 and turned into a children’s home.

Lennon lived round the corner with his Uncle George and Aunt Mimi, and as well as sneaking into the garden with friends, he loved the summer fete held at Strawberry Field (in the singular, Lennon added the “s”). His aunt once recalled: “As soon as we could hear the Salvation Army band starting, John would jump up and down shouting, ‘Mimi, come on. We’re going to be late!’”

Years later, Lennon took this nostalgic post-war memory of summer tea parties and brass bands and, through the prism of psychedelia and LSD, used it as the inspiration for one of the most groundbreaking songs of the 1960s. The Beatles spent a then unheard-of 55 hours of studio time on the record, creating what Time magazine called a song of “astonishing inventiveness”, adding, the band “have bridged the heretofore impassable gap between rock and classical, mixing elements of Bach, Oriental and electronic music with vintage twang to achieve the most compellingly original sounds ever heard in pop music.”

The old house was demolished six years after the song’s release, and replaced by a smaller children’s home, which closed for good in 2005. But the locked gates didn’t deter Beatles fans turning up to peek through at the overgrown Strawberry Field – the Liverpool tourist board estimated that about 60,000 visitors did so last year.

Owned and run by the Salvation Army, the attraction gives fans access to the last major missing piece in the Beatles jigsaw: the band has been so forensically analysed – with books chronicling every day of their existence and every note of music. Income generated from the exhibition will fund the charity’s Steps to Work programme, which helps young people with learning disabilities find employment through training, mentoring and work experience.

The interactive exhibition (adults £12.95, concessions £8, family of 3+2 £35) explores the history of both the Salvation Army and Lennon’s life, focusing on his childhood and the writing and recording of Strawberry Fields through archival footage, multimedia and interviews with Paul McCartney, George Martin and Julia Baird, his younger half-sister and president of the project. The most fun feature is the virtual Mellotron that teaches visitors to play the song’s unmistakable opening notes. Another star attraction is the set of iconic wrought-iron red gates – or rather, both sets. The originals were stolen in 2000 but when the crime made the news the thieves realised what they had on their hands and dumped the gates at a local scrap metal merchant, who returned them the following day. Kept in storage ever since, they will now sit in a quiet corner of the garden, while the heavily-graffitied replicas – the site of a million selfies – will remain in place on the road at the former entrance.

The smart red-and-white cafe and landscaped gardens are free to enter, the latter designed to encourage meditation and spiritual reflection. The trees Lennon may once have climbed are still here, and in a clever touch, sections of the original mansion walls and steps (made from the same local red sandstone as Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral) are scattered around the garden, to be used as benches.

Lennon’s sister, Julia Baird, 72, who is honorary president of the Strawberry Field project, said the grounds of the home had been a “sanctuary” for the musician as a youngster.She said: “I suppose as children we all have somewhere that’s a bit ours, a bit special. It might be a little hidey-hole under the stairs or it might be up an oak tree but it’s somewhere we take ourselves. It seems from the song that this was John’s special place.”“The first time I visited John in New York I was struck just how closely his gothic Dakota Apartment building resembled the old Strawberry Field mansion. Perhaps he was searching for another sanctuary.”



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Strawberry Field opens its gates to the public for the first time next month, with a new heritage attraction, cafe and training hub .

The site immortalised by Beatles hit Strawberry Fields Forever will offer visitors a tranquil experience, following in John Lennon’s footsteps through an interactive exhibition.

The exhibition will be available in multiple languages, featuring stories old and new about the site’s history and heritage, John Lennon’s childhood, and the writing and recording of the famous song as told by John’s close friends and family.
Visitors can also enjoy a break at the Imagine More Cafe, which will be serving light refreshments, lunch and early dinner menus.  At the centre of the new attraction are the gardens, where Lennon played as a child, so visitors will be able to trace John’s steps. Tours through the gardens will encourage visitors to take the time to reflect and think, in a space John Lennon knew and loved.
Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister and honorary president of the Strawberry Field project, said: “I am sure that John would have been thrilled that Strawberry Field is to become a bastion of hope for young adults as well as an inspirational Visitor Experience.”Also on-site will be Steps to Work, a training centre for young adults with learning disabilities and other barriers to employment, in the effort to provide new skills and work experience.
Julius Wolff-Ingham, fundraising and marketing director for The Salvation Army, said: “Strawberry Field will weave together educational, cultural, heritage and spiritual exploration in one bold, imaginative site.
“It’s going to be a vibrant visitor experience, which we hope will inspire people today as much as the place inspired the young John Lennon.”