For Yoko, Read Yuka; Ray Connolly on How History Has Repeated Itself with the Woman at the Side of a New Lennon Legend

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 10, 1998 | Go to article overview

For Yoko, Read Yuka; Ray Connolly on How History Has Repeated Itself with the Woman at the Side of a New Lennon Legend


Byline: RAY CONNOLLY

IMAGINE John and Yoko, it's easy if you try.

And you didn't have to try very hard if you were in Camden Town, London, when Sean Lennon launched his first solo album in the packed back room of the Barfly pub.

Because not only does Sean, 22-year-old son of murdered Beatle John Lennon, look just like his

father, he sounds like him as well.

But his girlfriend, who was playing keyboards alongside him and who produces his records, shares more than a clutch of similarities with his mother, Yoko Ono.

Which isn't to suggest that the young lady immediately jumped into a black bag on the tiny pub stage and wailed like a banshee, or showed her bottom or anybody else's, or did anything in the manner made myth all those years ago by the giggling Mrs Lennon.

But if, as they say, a boy's best friend is his mother, then Sean Lennon could hardly have chosen anyone more similar - and more likely to gain maternal approval - than Yuka Honda (yes, that's her name: Yuka, as in ukulele, and Honda, as in Civic).

The fact is that history has a real habit of repeating itself. Thirty years ago - almost exactly - the world's Beatle fans watched in dismay as John discarded his cosy Liverpool wife, Cynthia, after falling in love with Yoko Ono, a Japanese avant-garde artiste who had reached the impossibly ancient age of 35, eight years older than he.

And here we are again . . . Sean, the Beautiful Boy son of the martyred Walrus, is in love with Yuka, a Japanese avant-garde musician, aged 37, and a full 15 years older.

These Lennon fellows certainly go for the older woman. Indeed, as a music industry observer said on Thursday: 'If Yuka didn't look so incredibly young and pretty it would seem almost as though the boy had fallen in love with his mother.' But when your father is shot dead on your front door when you're five, such closeness might almost be expected.

According to Sean, he is more than just in love with Yuka. She is, he told the packed, curious and musically influential pub crowd, 'his muse', 'the love of his life' and the inspiration for his new album, Into The Sun.

And again, just like his father before him, it isn't enough just to be in love he wants to tell the world and have his girl sing harmonies on his songs. (No need to worry . . . judging by the album, singing is one way in which Yuka doesn't take after Yoko).

So, forsaking his mother's fairy castle of swish apartments overlooking New York's Central Park, Sean has set up home with Yuka in a loft in Greenwich Village where they can work together.

And there's another coincidence - a Greenwich Village loft was exactly where John and Yoko first lived in l970 when they were starting out in New York together.

Perhaps, though, there is one respect in which Sean is very different from his father. He first met Yuka with his mother after Yuka - a successful underground artiste in first Tokyo and then New York - had covered one of Yoko's songs. Afterwards he joined her band as a lowly bass player and, they say, it took three tours for them to progress from being friends, to holding hands, then becoming lovers.

IS father, I seem to remember, was usually a little more direct than that.

He and Yoko went to bed on their first proper date. And when Cynthia - to whom he was still married - arrived home from holiday next day, she was met with Yoko and a calm announcement that her marriage was finished.

This rather touching bashfulness aside, though, Sean - who recently inherited [pounds sterling]36 million and can expect millions more in the fullness of time seems very much his father's son. …

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