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Published:June 14th, 2009 20:49 EST
The Real "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" in Trouble

The Real "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" in Trouble

By Vincent Gonzalez

The girl who was the inspiration for the Beatles` 1967 psychedelic classic "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" --Lucy Vodden is gravely ill. Vodden was diagnosed with lupus about five years ago after suffering other serious health problems. She has been struggling extreme fatigue, joint pain, and other ailments. Julian Lennon, the musician son of John Lennon, who currently lives in France, sent his old friend flowers and vouchers she could use to buy plants at a local gardening center, since working in her garden is one of the few activities she is still occasionally well enough to enjoy. More importantly, he has offered her friendship and a connection to more carefree days.

Together, they are linked by something that happened more than 40 years ago when Julian brought home a drawing from school and told his father, "That`s Lucy in the sky with diamonds."

Just the sort of cute phrase lots of 3- or 4-year-olds produce " but not many have a father like John Lennon, who used it as a springboard for a legendary song that became a centerpiece on the landmark album "Sgt. Pepper`s Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Vodden admits that she enjoys her association with the song, but doesn`t particularly care for it. Perhaps that`s not surprising. It was thought by many at the time, including BBC executives who banned the song, claiming that the classic was a paean to LSD because of the initials in the title. Plus, she and Julian were 4 years old in 1967, the "Summer of Love" when "Sgt. Pepper" was released to worldwide acclaim. She missed the psychedelic era to which the song is indelibly linked.

There`s no doubt the fanciful lyrics and swirling musical effects draw heavily on the LSD experiences that were shaping Lennon`s artistic output at the time " although many of the musical flourishes were provided by producer George Martin, who was not a drug user. 

 "The imagery in the song is partly a reflection of John`s drug experiences, and partly his love of `Alice in Wonderland, `" said Steve Turner, author of "A Hard Day`s Write," a book that details the origins of every Beatles song. "At the time it came out, it seemed overtly psychedelic; it sounded like some kind of trip. It was completely new at the time. To me it is very evocative of the period."

Turner said his research, including interviews with Vodden and Julian Lennon, confirm that she is the Lucy in the song. He said it was common for John Lennon to "snatch songs out of thin air" based on a simple phrase he heard on TV or an item he read in the newspapers. In this case, Turner said, it was the phrase from Julian that triggered John`s imagination.