More than 40 years after John Lennon wrote Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, his son has gone to the help of the real Lucy, who is now suffering from an incurable disease. Lucy O’Donnell, who was at nursery school in Surrey with Julian Lennon, became “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes” as the subject of one of the Beatles’ most famous songs, written at the height of their flirtation with psychedelia.
Julian had drawn a picture with starlike shapes before telling his father that it was “Lucy in the sky with diamonds”. His father used it as a title for a song he penned for the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, which was released in 1967.
Lucy, now 46, is suffering from lupus, an auto-immune disease where the body attacks its own cells, causing immense pain and organ breakdown.
Two months ago Julian, who lives in France, heard through his personal assistant, who knows Lucy’s sister, that she was chronically ill. “I’ve been able to help out a bit,” he said. “I was so upset to hear what had happened.”
When Julian initially heard of her illness he sent a huge bunch of flowers to her home in Surbiton, Surrey, with a personally written card. He followed up with garden centre gift vouchers because he had learnt that she took solace in looking at her plants.
“It was lovely of Julian,” said Lucy, who has only seen him once – 23 years ago at one of his concerts – since they were both four. Julian did, however, send a greeting when Lucy married Ross Vodden in 1996. For many years there was speculation that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds referred to the drug LSD. “Not so,” said Vodden.