Julian Lennon performed his father’s song “Imagine” for the first time in public. The singer-songwriter played the song as part of Global Citizen’s current social media fundraising campaign Stand Up for Ukraine, which is sending financial relief to Ukraine during the ongoing war with Russia.
Guitarist Nuno Bettencourt accompanied Lennon during the performance, which you can watch below.
“The war on Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy,” Lennon wrote in the clip’s description. “As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could.”
Lennon has previously performed a handful of Beatles songs, including “Day Tripper” and “It Won’t Be Long,” as well as Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” which his late father John also covered. The younger Lennon released his first album, Valotte, in 1984, but his first experiences in recording studios can be traced back to when he was 11 years old and he played drums on his dad’s 1974 song “Ya Ya” from Walls and Bridges.
Over the years, Lennon has fielded questions from fans and writers about his lineage, noting in a 1984 interview with Melody Maker that he has “always felt proud of everything [his father] did,” but up until now, he had had never performed what is arguably his dad’s most famous solo song, “Imagine.”
“Why now, after all these years?” he wrote. “I had always said that the only time I would ever consider singing ‘Imagine’ would be if it was the ‘End of the World.’… But also because his lyrics reflect our collective desire for peace worldwide. Because within this song, we’re transported to a space, where love and togetherness become our reality, if but for a moment in time. … The song reflects the light at the end of the tunnel, that we are all hoping for.”