The Beatles’ iconic animated film, “Yellow Submarine,” has left a lasting impact on generations of fans, including a major epiphany for Sean Ono Lennon, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Despite being born several years after the film’s release, Sean’s introduction to “Yellow Submarine” came through a friend’s television viewing, leading to a significant revelation about his father and the legendary band.
In a 1980 interview featured in the book “All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono,” John Lennon discussed his son’s relationship with The Beatles and the unique way Sean perceived the band’s members. John revealed that he and Yoko never actively introduced The Beatles to Sean stating:
“Beatles was never mentioned to him. There was no reason to.”
John debunked the misconception that he constantly played Beatles records at home, clarifying that Sean’s exposure to the band was limited.
However, an unexpected encounter with “Yellow Submarine” on television changed everything. John recounted the moment when Sean rushed over to him, asking: “Daddy, were you a Beatle?”
It’s important to note that John did not lend his voice to the animated film but made a brief live-action appearance at its conclusion.
Sean’s innocence led him to perceive The Beatles differently than most.
He didn’t differentiate between the band members and his parents, believing that Yoko Ono was also a member of The Beatles. John humorously explained:
“He thinks Yoko is a Beatle, too. He knows that there’s a Ringo and a Paul and a George and these people that somehow used to be around. But children can’t conceive of what goes on before they’re born.”
When asked if Sean approached The Beatles like any other band, John clarified that he shielded his son from the band’s music.
“I think I let him have one Beatles record when he expressed an interest, once he got this idea that there was some singing going on. But I generally keep them away from him,” John noted.
“Yellow Submarine,” with its timeless and imaginative storytelling, left an enduring mark not only on Sean Lennon but also on pop culture.
The film’s re-release for its 50th anniversary garnered significant attention and box office success, proving its timeless appeal.
Furthermore, “Yellow Submarine” influenced various aspects of pop culture, notably through its memorable villains, the Blue Meanies. Circus performers in the Fab Four jukebox musical “Across the Universe” bear a striking resemblance to the Blue Meanies, featured during the film’s “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” sequence.
Even the residents of Atlantis in the television special “SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis” draw inspiration from the Blue Meanies, with the Atlantean emperor voiced by the iconic David Bowie.