Julian Lennon Breaks Lifelong Vow Not To Perform 'Imagine' for Ukraine Fundraiser

Mason Joseph Zimmer
Julian Lennon standing at rocky beach by lighthouse
instagram | @julespicturepalace

A couple of years ago, you may recall that a group of celebrities attracted widespread ridicule for releasing a video of themselves performing John Lennon's "Imagine." Although this move appeared to have the intention of lifting people's spirits as the pandemic emerged, critics pointed out that it came across as out of touch and even hypocritical as those singing it didn't have many of the same worries as the people they were singing to.

Another issue was that their rendition didn't really accomplish anything, but the same already cannot be said for a version Julian Lennon has recently performed for the Stand Up for Ukraine campaign.

Because not only does he have a closer connection to the original artist than any of those celebrities did, but his performance was done for a purpose that his peace advocate father was endlessly passionate about.

But according to him, this wasn't a song he ever had any intention of singing.

For much of his early life, Julian Lennon had a complicated relationship with his father.

childhood photos of Julian Lennon piled together
instagram | @julespicturepalace

As Rolling Stone reported, this largely had to do with the fact that the elder Lennon saw him less and less as his life went on and the firstborn was largely denied access to money and mementos he may have otherwise inherited.

Nonetheless, the two were able to rekindle a relationship before his father's murder and the younger Lennon regarded him a wise and welcome presence in his life.

But while Lennon would embark on a music career of his own, there was one thing he swore to never do while pursuing it.

John Lennon playing piano for audience
Getty Images | Icon and Image

In the description of a YouTube video posted to his channel on April 8, he said that he would not perform his father's song "Imagine" unless the most extreme of circumstances arose.

In his words, "I had always said, that the only time I would ever consider singing ‘IMAGINE' would be if it was the ‘End of the World.'"

Although he did not elaborate on why he made this promise to himself, it seems that a positive response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine served as the perfect reason to break it.

Julian Lennon standing at rocky beach by lighthouse
instagram | @julespicturepalace

According to ET Canada, Lennon sang the classic as part of a televised Stand Up For Ukraine benefit that saw over $10 billion raised to provide relief for refugees.

As he said, "The War on Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy... As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could."

And as he saw it, "Imagine" is deeply relevant to this unfolding situation as it reflects the "light at the end of the tunnel."

As he put it, "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 moving performance is available right here.