Julian Lennon Recalls ‘Nerve-Racking But Fun’ Moment With His Father John
The late Beatles icon John Lennon‘s son Julian Lennon recently looked back on when he was in the studio for his father’s album, ‘Walls and Bridges,’ during a chat with his brother, Sean Lennon. Apparently, little Julian had no idea his father was recoding his drumming, which eventually ended in the final version of ‘Ya Ya.’
‘Walls and Bridges‘ is the fifth studio album by John Lennon, released on 26 September 1974. The record was an American No. 1 album on both the Billboard and Record World. In addition to this, the album included two hit singles, ‘Whatever Gets You thru the Night,’ which marked Lennon’s first No. 1 hit in the United States as a solo artist, and ‘#9 Dream.’
The album also has multiple unique aspects as it was written, recorded, and released during his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono. Lennon took the opportunity to get reacquainted with his son Julian during this time, whom he had not seen in four years.
The father and son spent much of their time together in the studio, during which Julian’s interest in music, especially instruments, grew further. In fact, the final track on the album is a cover version of Lee Dorsey’s ‘Ya Ya,’ with Lennon, who was billed as ‘Dad’ on piano and vocals while son Julian was on drums.
Little Julian didn’t have a clue that his fooling around with the drum could actually end up in his father’s album as Lennon surprised his son with its inclusion on the record. During a recent interview with his brother Sean, Julian Lennon looked back on when he spent most of his days in the studio during the making of ‘Walls and Bridges.’
Julian was only 11 years old when he unintentionally worked on his father’s album, and the only thing he remembers about this studio is the black leather couch outside and the studio room itself. However, the musician has another memory with Yoko Ono and John Lennon that reminds him of the recording process.
Apparently, he discovered an instrument named the mellotron while with his father John and Yoko Ono. That instrument was in the studio Lennon was recording as well. During a regular day in the studio, while he was playing with instruments, he decided to play the drums along while his father was singing. That’s when Julian’s performance on ‘Ya Ya’ was recorded and released without his knowledge.
When his brother Sean asked about jamming with their father, Julian said:
“It was the hit factory, wasn’t it? As far as I could recall. I remember the black leather couch outside, the studio room itself. I remember loving it there but being bored to tears at the same time. I just wandered around and just remember going out into the studio. I’d pretty much play around on any instrument I could.
I remembered that back in the day when I visited dad and your mom at Tittenhurst Park when they were living there and recording there that there used to be this big front room which was like a storage room but there was a lot of instruments in there. I remember falling in love with this, at that particular point in time, one of the weirdest instruments I’d ever come across which is the mellotron.”
“I remember playing the mellotron at Tittenhurst. I remember seeing the same mellotron in the studio. I remember playing, sitting there when I was bored of hanging out in the control room. I would sit in there and play on dad’s mellotron. For me, that was the best thing in the world. I fell in love, but then there was a drum kit there. I was literary whacking, I had one stick, and I was just whacking it just to hear it from a rim shot to the different sounds.
Then all of a sudden, dad comes in and starts playing and singing ‘Ya Ya.’ I’m trying to keep in time and going, ‘Okay, wow!’ I was thoroughly anxious, nervous beyond belief. I had no idea they were recording at the time either. I just playing along thought that was fun, nerve-racking, but fun.”
You can listen to the entire interview and ‘Ya Ya’ below.