Update: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono have all released statements in tribute of Lennon. Read them below.
Born Cynthia Powell, she met John while in art college. They married in 1962, and their only son, Julian, was born a year later.
In 1964, Cynthia accompanied her husband to America for The Beatles’ first tour, where she was subjected to physical and emotional harassment from jealous female fans. She also participated in her husband’s early experimentation with psychedelic drugs.
The Lennons’ relationship was marred by John’s frequent physical abuse against her, as well as his infidelity. Prior to The Beatles’ infamous trip to India in 1968, Cynthia discovered letters written by Yoko Ono. Though John initially denied being involved with Ono, the pair began a romantic relationship soon after. After arriving home early from a vacation and discovering the two together, Cynthia filed for divorce.
Months later, after checking in on Cynthia and Julian, Paul McCartney famously composed “Hey Jude”.
Despite her split from John, Cynthia remained immersed in Beatlemania. She wrote a pair of memoirs about her time with John, opened several business ventures inspired by Beatles music — including a perfume line and restaurant — and released a recording of “Those Were the Days”, a cover of Mary Hopkin (which was produced by McCartney). More recently, she and Julian unveiled a museum exhibition in Liverpool as well as the John Lennon Peace Monument.
Update: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono have all released statements in tribute of Lennon.
“The news of Cynthia’s passing is very sad,” McCartney wrote on his website. “She was a lovely lady who I’ve known since our early days together in Liverpool. She was a good mother to Julian and will be missed by us all, but I will always have great memories of our times together.”
Starr tweeted a message of condolences to Julian Lennon:
Meanwhile, Ono wrote on her website, “I’m very saddened by Cynthia’s death. She was a great person and a wonderful mother to Julian. She had such a strong zest for life and I felt proud how we two women stood firm in the Beatles family. Please join me in sending love and support to Julian at this very sad time.”