The fifth Beatle? Cynthia Lennon finally wins her place in pop history

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John’s first wife has been written off as a mere support act. Now a new play recognises her importance in the story of the Beatles

The true identity of the “fifth Beatle” is a contentious matter for fans of the Fab Four. The name of Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon’s close friend, is often put forward, as is the ousted drummer, Pete Best. Others claim the title for manager Brian Epstein or record producer George Martin. Yet Cynthia Lennon, the artist by the young Lennon’s side for a decade, is never even considered.

Now a new play about the powerful influence of the first Mrs Lennon is to make the case that she held the band together during the years of their greatest success. “I want to get across how important she was in John’s life, and not just because of their son Julian,” said playwright Mike Howl. “John used to write to her every single day while he was out in Hamburg, playing in the night clubs of the Reeperbahn. Her friends told me they saw some of these letters. I do think that without Cynthia’s love, John would have gone completely off the rails.”

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