Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of “The John Lennon Series”, a nine-volume biography of the musician. She wrote an outstanding article for DoYouRemeber.com and it is my pleasure to reproduce it below. After reading Cynthia Lennon’s book, “John”, I couldn’t agree more!


Fifty years have passed, and music critics and Beatles fans are still debating the question: “Who was the Fifth Beatle?” Votes for Brian Epstein are not without merit. He changed the leathered, beer-swilling, swearing Cavern scruffs into a polished group. He secured that prized record contract for the Beatles and pushed them to worldwide success.

And votes for John’s soul mate, Stu Sutcliffe—who suggested the name “Beatles” and urged the lads to be “artists, not mere rock ’n’ rollers”—hold great validity. Stu called upon the Beatles to see themselves as a singular and creative group of trendsetters.

Of course, thousands would vote for the genius George Martin, who took the Lennon/McCartney arrangements to a higher level with his suggestions of tempo changes, intro and outro additions, instrument enhancements and clever hooks. Martin worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the group to make their music unforgettable.

And there are enthusiastic votes for Pete Best, the band’s talented first drummer, while others might argue in favor of Neil Aspinall or Mal Evans (or both) as the Fifth of the Fab Four. But I contend that the Fifth Beatle is Cynthia Lennon.

The arguments supporting that selection lie in the very definition of “the Fifth Beatle.” To me, that designation should go to someone with a) longevity—a long and meaningful history with the band; and b) influence—evidence of making a profound and positive impact on the group. In both of those categories, Cynthia Powell Lennon outperforms all other competitors for the title.

Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Cynthia Lennon is the Fifth Beatle:John-and-Cynthia-cynthia-lennon

1) Cynthia was the earliest “associate member” of the group. She arrived on the scene in the fall of 1958, and by the summer of 1959 was holding John’s microphone (taped to a broomstick) in the basement of Liverpool’s Jacaranda coffee house, while John and his inexperienced Quarrymen performed for almost no one. This predates the Beatles’ acquaintance with Epstein, Best, Evans, Aspinall and Martin. As early as spring/summer of 1959, Cynthia believed in John’s dream of getting to the “toppermost of the poppermost” and was doing her part to make it a reality.

3) Cynthia was one of the first Beatlettes (the official Beatles Fan Club during the Cavern Club days). In 1959 and ’60, when the Beatles were a lunchtime and evening Cavern staple, Cyn faithfully attended each performance, supplied John with nudgers (sandwiches), cheese rolls and Cokes—and fed his dreams, as well. She raved about how fantastic he was (even on days when he wasn’t). Later, Cynthia became a support system for and a close friend to Freda Kelly (the Beatles Fan Club Secretary…more about her in my upcoming September article). Cynthia assisted Freda, when she could, with the group’s fan mail and requests for Beatles souvenirs.

4) Cynthia inspired many of John’s songs. “I Call Your Name” was one of the first tunes written for her, penned when she had an attack of appendicitis. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” was John’s tribute to their hidden marriage, their sequestered love. “When I Get Home” was written about Beatle John’s devotion to his far-away and patient wife back home. And “I Feel Fine” was John’s nod to Cynthia’s undemanding love for him. The list of Cynthia Lennon songs in John’s repertoire is extensive.

5) Cynthia encouraged John to seek his dreams when other girlfriends or wives might have begged him to stay. As early as the summer of 1960—when Cynthia found out that John wanted to leave Liverpool for a long stint in Hamburg—she never asked him to remain with her. She always put John’s dreams on the front burner and urged him to “do what you want to do, and go where you’re going to.” (Sorry, Harrison lyric!) This selfless attitude was even more apparent in the hectic days of Beatlemania when the group toured the world and were rarely home for more than a few days at a time. Cynthia njohn-lennon-cynthia-lennonever complained.

6) Cynthia was there emotionally! In John’s life, so few people were ever “there for him.” Even Aunt Mimi, who was there physically, was not present in any actual emotional way. Uncle George (who was a loving father figure to John) died when John was almost 15. Stu Sutcliffe (who was John’s dearest friend) died before the Beatles achieved their first number one. John’s parents (for very complicated reasons) were unable to “be there” for him as he was growing up. But Cynthia was always “there.” She always supplied a listening ear and an understanding heart. She was John’s sounding board and friend.

7) Cynthia was there physically! She was present in the basement of the Jacaranda when the Quarrymen practiced, in Room 21 at the Liverpool College of Art when John and Paul practiced at lunchtime, in The Cavern Club, and in The Casbah! In fact, in the summer of 1959, Cynthia helped paint the walls of Mona Best’s Casbah so that John’s band could secure the gig on opening night. Cynthia was on the first Beatles trip to America in February 1964 and stood in the wings at every Ed Sullivan Show! She attended the Washington, D.C., concert (despite what some historians have claimed—check her book: She was there!), and was present when the Beatles played Carnegie Hall. She was there when the band flew to India, when they lost Brian, and when they penned their songs. No other “Fifth Beatle” can claim such perfect attendance.

8) Cynthia put herself second to the needs of John and the band. In fact, she transformed her entire appearance to try to be John’s dream girl, Brigitte Bardot. And throughout Beatlemania, she continued to dress to please John and to take part in activities in which he was interested, such as studying under the Maharishi in India. Cynthia did all she could to encourage John to be happy and to succeed. Hence, she was a positive influence on the group as a whole.

9) Cynthia was privy to Beatles information that she never revealed. As the first Beatle girlfriend, the first Beatle wife, the first woman to travel with the Beatles, the first mother of a Beatle child, etc., no one was more a part of the “Beatles’ inner circle” than Cynthia Lennon. However, like Neil Aspinall and Freda Kelly, Cynthia gladly kept all the Beatles’ secrets to herself. Neither her first book, A Twist of Lennon, nor her later work, John, serves as a “tell-all.” In these two volumes, Cynthia tells her own story, but she never stoops to being “a tattler.” And for many years, Cynthia’s need for financial stability might have persuaded her to make such a move, but she always demonstrated the highest integrity and inordinate trust.

10) Cynthia was the source of strength for the band’s founder and leader, John Lennon. In Lennon Revealed, author and Beatles friend Larry Kane states, “The romance between Cynthia Powell and John Lennon, somewhat forgotten in the modern era… is a significant one in the life of the young artist. Cynthia Lennon [was] an enormous source of strength for John.” And Beatles insider Tony Bramwell states, “[John] was insecure, and Cynthia was there to pump him up, to buttress…his weak side.” Finally, Beatles press agent Tony Barrow ices the cake with these words: “Cynthia was always waiting for John, was always there to embrace him….Most people have no idea what a central figure she was in terms of keeping him…stable during that hard phase when no one knew if the boys were a passing fad or the real thing.”

Supplying inspiration, stability, understanding and support, Cynthia earned her place in the group. Attending most of the major events of the Beatles’ career, she was the silent partner in their history. Creating an environment in which the group’s founder, John, could continue to push his band to “the toppermost of the poppermost,” Cynthia Lennon was the catalyst for the band’s success.

She was a part of Beatles history long before Brian Epstein walked into The Cavern Club in November 1961, or George Martin met the lads in 1962. She was a part of the group from the earliest days when their names were on no one’s lips but her own. She was The Fifth Beatle, even if she wouldn’t rush out to claim that honor, and would only modestly “hide her love away.”

More at www.johnlennonseries.com

Categories: The Beatles

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