Gale Group | 2000
Biography Resource Center Sean Ono Lennon Also known as: Sean Lennon Birth: October 9, 1975 in New York, New York, United States Nationality: American Ethnicity: Asian American Occupation: musician Source: Biography Resource Center Online. Gale Group, 2000.
Biographical Essay Further Readings Source Citation BIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY Despite Sean Lennon's quest for popular recognition in the music world based on his own merits, he does not publicly condemn writers and interviewers who consistently compare him to his deceased father, John Lennon. Growing up as the guarded son of a modern music legend, Lennon is on his way to securing a reputation in the music world for a unique blend of musical genres that is different from his father's.
Born into a New Rock and Roll Dynasty
Sean Ono Lennon was born in New York City on October 9, 1975, at two in the morning. He weighed in at a robust eight pounds, ten ounces. His mother, Yoko Ono, was a renowned alternative/ experimental musician with an international following of fans impressed with her sense of art. But she never made popular headway into the mainstream music scene as Lennon's father, John Lennon, had. John Lennon=s former band, the Beatles, had been arguably the most internationally acclaimed popular music group of the century. Yoko Ono and John Lennon set out to collaborate on creating music and art as an avenue for presenting their political and social views, as well as proclaiming their steadfast love for each other to the world. Sean ï¿¼Lennon was to fans a wonderful embodiment of his parents= love and art.
Lennon only knew life in the Beatlemania spotlight and was always aware of his parents' fans' adoration for him. In a 1998 interview with Rolling Stone's David Fricke, Lennon described his early and lasting memories of moments with his father. He recalled watching the Muppet Show with him and his father turning off the set during commercials, instructing Lennon that "anything you ever see on a commercial is a lie."
John Lennon was extremely strict, forbidding his son to eat refined sugar or dairy products. He recounted memories of his father's fiery temper, noting that his voice, which at tender moments could be wonderfully "soothing," would "become like a knife" when John's ire was raised. Lennon reminisced that the most intimate moments with his father were usually at bedtime.
Lennon recalled, "He did this really cute thing: He would flick the lights on and off in rhythm to whatever he would say....It just made me feel so cozy."
After John Lennon was killed by a fan's bullet on December 8, 1980, on the doorstep of the family=s Dakota residence in New York, Lennon felt that he started to get to know his mom in a close way for the first time. At only the age of five, John was approached by his mom one morning and told that his father had been killed.
Lennon revealed to Fricke that he responded by saying, "Don't worry mom, you're still young. You'll find somebody." He then ran to his bedroom and cried ï¿¼intensely. Lennon and his mother continued living at the Dakota, refusing to run away from their memories of John Lennon.
Lennon maintained, "The Dakota was all we had left of him."
However, he admitted to Fricke later that there was a strain of fear connected to living there. He concluded, "...when I walk into the Dakota with my mom, I make sure she walks in front of me. I can't tell you how many dreams I've had about being shot, man. I can't tell you how many dreams I had when I was a little kid about my mom getting shot."
When he wasn't in school, Lennon spent much of his childhood with his mom in studios, where his mom would work on her music. Lennon identified the recording studio as a secure, comfortable, and "magical" environment for a child. Having observed his mom's work so closely, he praised her music as heroic and brilliant in the Fricke interview.
"It's an amazing accomplishment that she went into the studio after my dad died. She takes the most painful, most intense experiences and turns them into beautiful art. And I think that's what my dad loved so much about her."
Even as a child, Lennon had opportunity to experience life in different parts of the world and to view how his parents were beloved worldwide. He spent kindergarten in Tokyo. His middle school years were at a school in Switzerland. At 13 he appeared in Michael Jackson's "Moonwalker" music video. He spent the eleventh and twelfth grades in New York City. Lennon attended college ï¿¼at Columbia University, studying anthropology, but dropped out to pursue a musical career.
Here Comes the Son
Lennon grew up close to his mom's music and keenly in touch with his dad's. He developed his soprano-ranged voice and taught himself to play guitar, drums, and piano. In 1984 he sang on his mom's Every Man Has a Woman tribute album. In 1991, as a protest to the Gulf War, Lennon, together with his mom and Lenny Kravitz, put together a cover of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," sung by various popular vocalists. He also appeared on Kravitz's Mama Said. After he left Columbia he became active in the New York independent music scene and played in the band IMA with his mom, releasing the album Rising in 1995. In 1996 mother and son performed at the Tibetan Freedom Concert, organized by the Beastie Boys. Lennon began playing bass for the band Cibo Matto, and toured with both IMA and Cibo Matto.
After Beastie Boys Adam Yauch listened to demos Lennon provided him, he offered him a recording deal with the Beastie Boys= label Grand Royal. The outcome was Lennon's debut solo album, Into the Sun, released in May of 1998.
Into the Sun was inspired by and recorded with Lennon's girlfriend and Cibo Matto keyboardist, Yuka Honda. In the prose on the album jacket, Lennon wrote about the pulse and stimuli of the music's creation: "It's about the beginning of a new relationship and about growing to understand one another. It's about sharing everything with somebody, ï¿¼and the risks involved. It's about overcoming fears of intimacy, and about learning to trust each other. It's about the happiness of being in love and the craziness that goes with it. It=s about exploring new things and ideas."
The album has been widely compared to Lennon's parents' Double Fantasy and Two Virgins albums by critics. In addition to musical interest and talent, the couple shares a parallel in age gap with Lennon's parents, as Honda is 15 years Lennon's senior. The album has been described as widely diverse, even eclectic. Influenced by Beck, the Beach Boys, the Beastie Boys, and of course, the Beatles, Lennon offered a collection of pieces that, according to Maclean's Nicholas Jennings, is a "range from breezy pop and hard rock to jazz and bossa nova." Lennon predicted in the jacket copy, "I think the music of the future will not be so easy categorize."
Billboard, April 18, 1998.
Maclean's, June 8, 1998.
People Weekly, May 25, 1998; June 1, 1998.
Rolling Stone, June 11, 1998.
Time, May 18, 1998.
ï¿¼Toronto Sun, May 17, 1998.
Village Voice, May 26, 1998; March 2, 1999.
CD-Now, www.cdnow.com/cgi-bin/mserver/SID=226596825/ pagename=1RP/CDN/FIND/discography.html/ ArtistID=LENNON*SEAN/Select=biography.
E! Online, aol.eonline.com/News/Items/0,12220,00.html.
Grand Royal, ASean Lennon into the sun,@ www.grandroyal.com/Bands/SeanLennon.
"Sean Ono Lennon." Biography Resource Center Online. Gale Group, 2000.