Just three days after making their first record at Percy Phillips’ studio in Kensington, Liverpool, tragedy was to strike John Lennon once more.
In the June of 1955, his Uncle George had died suddenly. The 14-year-old John took it badly. However, what did help him was the re-establishing of a relationship with his mother, Julia. She had bought him his first guitar, taught him to play a few songs using banjo chords and even let The Quarrymen rehearse in her house. She encouraged his love of music.
“I Lost her Twice”
On 15th July 1958, he was to lose his mother for the second time; this time it was forever. Having been taken away from his mother at the age of five, he longed for a relationship with her again in his teens. When making “Looking for Lennon”, our documentary feature film, we interviewed and filmed Nigel Walley, John’s childhood friend and eyewitness to Julia’s death.
Julia often used to take the bus to Mendips to see her sister Mimi, and on this occasion, John was in his mother’s house. Nigel called at Mendips just as Julia was coming out of Mendips, and walked to the corner of Vale Road with her. After saying goodnight, Nigel headed down Vale Road to his house, while Julia crossed the road and headed for the bus stop. As she crossed the old tram tracks and stepped onto the road, a car, driven by an off-duty policeman who didn’t have a full driving license, slammed on its brakes, but it was too late: the car hit Julia and sent her flying through the air. Nigel heard the brakes and turned round to see his best friend’s mother in the air and slamming onto the road. He ran over, but he knew she was dead. He can still picture her red hair blowing in the wind.
John opened the door…..
John answered the door of his mother’s house to the police, exactly like it is in the movies he said. He was devastated. The mother he adored was gone, and he spent the rest of his life seeking something for fill the void left by her. He immortalised her in song “Julia”. Some would say he never recovered from her loss.
The policeman, Eric Clague, eventually left the police force and, in a strange twist of “instant karma”, became a postman, delivering Beatles fan mail to 20, Forthlin Road, the McCartney house.
Looking for Lennon
You can see the footage we shot with Nigel Walley, and the affect it had on him according to those who knew him best, and they didn’t all agree on how it affected John, in Looking for Lennon.
It is available on digital download worldwide on various platforms, on DVD/Blu-Ray in the US and will be sold all round the world. It should be out on DVD/Blu-ray in the UK soon, and is still available to watch on SkyTV.