John Lennon

John Lennon Embraces Fatherhood

“Beautiful Boys”: Father John and son Sean Lennon, in the kitchen at the Dakota, 1978.

John Lennon's battle to remain in the United States reached a happy conclusion on July 27, 1976, when he was finally awarded his Green Card and told the press, "It's great to be legal again." It also meant that for the first time in five years he could travel abroad without fear of being refused re-entry.

A few months after attending the inauguration gala of President Jimmy Carter in Washington D.C., John and Yoko Ono, together with their son Sean, flew to Japan for an extended vacation.

There they visited many of Yoko's relatives, and on October 4 they held a press conference at the Hotel Okura, at which John stated, "We've basically decided, without a great decision, to be with our baby as much as we can, until we feel we can take the time off to indulge ourselves creating things outside the family. Maybe when he's three, four, or five, then we'll think about creating something else other than the child."

In short, what this amounted to was that John would lead a fairly ordinary life, without venturing into the public spotlight, visiting clubs, going to parties, and so on. The press, of course, decided in no time at all that this was reason enough to dub him "The Howard Hughes of Rock."

Over the next few years stories would constantly find their way into the papers, reporting on what were termed the Lennons' wild eccentricities: spending lavish amounts on properties dotted around the States, "extortionate" sums on special Regis Holstein cows for their Delaware farm, and keeping an entire apartment for Yoko's fur coats in the Dakota building in New York.

John and Yoko had bought their sixth floor apartment in the Dakota, situated on the corner of West 72nd Street and Central Park West, in April of 1973. A gothic, somewhat eerie-looking building, this had been the setting for Roman Polanski's 1968 devil-worship horror film, Rosemary's Baby; what better place for a "recluse" to hide himself away in?

Yet, to all intents and purposes, what was actually going on behind these doors was hardly strange, let alone supernatural. Quite simply, the couple had decided to reverse roles: Yoko, the former avant-garde artist who had once turned her back on material wealth, now took care of the couple's business affairs.

She invested in properties, bought and sold artworks, and helped sort out the complicated financial and legal affairs in which the Beatles were still tangled up. This meant going to countless business meetings and having to combat the bullying tactics of the men whom she faced around the tables.

At first, this was a daunting task, but Yoko's adversaries gradually gained respect for her strong character and her sharp business brain. In time, she vastly expanded the overall value of the estate she shared with John.

John, on the other hand, had always been the archetypal "man's man," a hard rock 'n' roller who enjoyed the sexual pleasures offered by women, but who preferred to pursue work and other leisure interests in the company of like-minded male companions.

All this had changed for a while after he teamed up with Yoko, but he later began to slip back into old habits, most notably during the infamous "Lost Weekend." Now, however, with no musical obligations to fulfill, and Yoko sitting down with the lawyers, accountants, and assorted financial sharks, he had plenty of spare time to enjoy new experiences for the first time since his mid-teens.

The number one priority in John's mind was Sean, and so while Yoko went out to work John stayed home and acted as a househusband, caring for the baby, preparing his meals and, later on, teaching him to read, write, and draw. For most men this kind of daily routine would be unusual, but in John's case it was downright peculiar. Cooking? The end-product was all that he had ever been interested in, not the preparation. Otherwise, when in doubt, with no woman about, open a can of beans!

It couldn't have been easy for John to dispense with this kind of attitude overnight, but he persisted. He forced himself to learn the basics in the kitchen; so proud was he of the first two loaves of bread that he baked, he couldn't resist taking a Polaroid photo of them.

In 1980, John described his bread to BBC interviewer Andy Peebles: "It looked great, you know, and it tasted good -- that was pretty damned good -- and so for about half a year, or a year, I was providing the food for Yoko, the baby ... even the staff was eating! I was so excited that I could do it, that I would stop, bring all the staff in to eat lunch, you know.

"But after a bit it was wearing me out. ... Okay, feed them, you don't get a gold record, they just swallow it, you know. If they swallow it, that means you were a hit, if they don't swallow it, that means you did something wrong. ...

"They loved the bread. I'd make two on Fridays, supposed to last a week; it'd be gone Saturday afternoon, you know. Whoom! Like pigs -- whoomph, it's gone. So I started buying the bread again, pretty damned quick!"