Uncle Charlie (Lennon)


Scott Wheeler, Charlie Lennon and Dennis Roach onstage at the Beatles Bash in Boston in April 1996 performing Charlie's 'Ships Of The Mersey' When Charlie was young he used to play piano and harmonica. With his brother Freddie (John's father, Alfred Lennon) he used to sing Italian songs before World War Two with Freddie's wife Julia (John's mother) playing banjo.

When Julia Lennon was having a child by a Welsh soldier, Taffy Williams, while still married to Freddie, Charlie went along with Freddie to consult the soldier, who was billeted in Cheshire. They brought him back to confront Julia and Williams told her he loved her. She laughed in his face and called him 'a bloody fool.' Charlie went to make a cup of tea and then Julia told Williams to leave and Freddie and Charlie went for a drink with him.

Years later, when Freddie was no longer a seaman, Charlie worked with him in the Barn Restaurant in Solihull. He was present when their brother Sidney sent a clipping from the Liverpool Echo reporting on Julia's death. Charlie had told him that while Freddie was at sea, several people had visited Copperfield Street while Charlie was still there, asking for Freddie to give Julia a divorce and offering him £300 if he would do so - but Charlie told them to get lost.

A despondent Freddie left Solihull and set off for London, although he kept in touch with Charlie by phone.

Around Christmas 1963 several press people were contacting Freddie, having discovered he was John's father. He didn't know what to do and went up to see Charlie, who was still working at the Barn. Charlie told him, "The papers are running stories that you abandoned him as a baby. What the hell are you going to do about it?"

In an effort to clear his name, Freddie approached one of the papers that had previously contacted him. A meeting with John was arranged and Freddie presented his side of the story. Then Freddie was approached by Tony Cartwright, who became his manager, and they wrote a song together about Freddie's life. However, Cartwright said they needed some money to be able to get a flat and a car and they approached Charlie, who lent then £200.

In 1967 Charlie heard that John had slammed the door in Freddie's face and became angry. He wrote to John, putting forward Freddie's case, how it wasn't his fault that the marriage had broken up, how he came home from sea to find his wife pregnant by another man, how he forgave her and took her back and how she still walked out on him and placed John with his auntie.

Charlie Lennon and TV director Ken Howard in the John Lennon club In the letter he explained that there were two sides to every story and that he should forget everything his aunt's had told him about his father and see Freddie to get the truth. When Freddie sent him a note of consolation after Brian Epstein's death, John then wrote back to him at the Greyhound Hotel where he worked, and the two got together.

Charlie was also invited to visit John at his Weybridge home and John once told him, 'Uncle Charlie, whenever you're confronted by the press you have two left feet and a stub of an arm."

In 1989 Charlie wrote a number called 'Ships Of The Mersey' and he first appeared on Spencer Leigh's Radio Merseyside show in August 1991 performing it. He was later to perform it again on Spencer's show, accompanied by Scott Wheeler.

Charlie died in Liverpool on May 26 2002 at the age of 83.

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