Liverpool marks 70th birthday of John Lennon
A new monument was unveiled in John Lennon's home town of Liverpool Saturday on what would have been his 70th birthday, as the city and his family marked his musical legacy and his commitment to peace.
The ceremony was attended by Lennon's son Julian and his first wife Cynthia in a park overlooking the River Mersey in this northwest English city, where the singer-songwriter and his fellow Beatles launched their careers.
"We come here with our hearts to honour Dad and to pray for peace and say 'thank you' to each and every one of you, and everybody involved in the celebrations today," said Julian Lennon, 47.
His 71-year-old mother Cynthia, who met Lennon at Liverpool Art College, added that people should not mourn him but should enjoy his life.
"Don't be morbid, enjoy the joy that he had and what we all have from his music," she told the crowd of dignitaries and fans from all over the world who gathered in the city's Chavasse Park for the unveiling ceremony.
It was one of a number of events planned worldwide to celebrate Lennon's birthday and his legacy, 30 years after he was shot dead outside his Manhattan apartment in December 1980.
His widow, Yoko Ono, took part in celebrations in Iceland -- even though she admitted Lennon had never liked to mark the progress of time.
"The last birthday, he told me: 'I can't quite believe I'm going to be 40'. I don't think he liked that part," she said in an interview published in The Times newspaper Saturday.
"I don't think of him as 70. He was always that sort of strutting around, very, very energetic guy, and to me he's still like that," she continued, adding: "I think he would have aged well, he had a good bone structure."
The 77-year-old was due to light up the "Imagine Peace Tower" in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik later Saturday, before performing with her Ono Plastic Band and her son Sean Lennon at an evening concert in the capital.
The tower, a three-year-old art installation composed of a strong, vertical beam of light which can reach up to 4,000 meters (13,100 feet), is lit up every year and stays lit until December 8, the anniversary of his death.
Organisers of the Liverpool monument hope their new sculpture can provide an alternative base for Lennon's fans.
Designed by US artist Lauren Voiers and commissioned by a US arts organisation, the Global Peace Initiative, it comprises a globe with multicoloured symbols of peace and musical references swirled above it.
There are two hands outstretched to the sky, doves of peace, a keyboard and a white feather, which Julian Lennon said was a symbol of his father's spirit.
"One of the things my father said to me was that should he pass away, if there was some way of letting me know he was going to be OK, it was by, in some shape or form, presenting me with a white feather," he said.
Asked how her husband would have faced the modern world today, Yoko Ono said he would have loved computers and would have used them to make music and communicate around the world.
Lennon would also have remained a peace activist, she said: "He would have been very, very angry that violence and war are still going on."
© 2010 AFP