The real Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds has died of the ravages of lupus at age 46.
Lucy Vodden died in London after a long battle with the chronic disease.

Many people have always thought that ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ was a tribute to LSD. Actually Lucy, age 4, was a friend of John Lennon’s son, Julian, in pre-school. He came home one day from school with a drawing and told his dad that it was ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.’ Thus, the song came in to being. John Lennon was gathering material for the Sgt. Pepper Album.

Julian and Lucy lost track of each other over the years. They reunited after Julian found out about her illness.

According to Huffington Post:

He sent her flowers and vouchers for use at a gardening center near her home in Surrey in southeast England, and frequently sent her text messages in an effort to buttress her spirits.

“I wasn’t sure at first how to approach her,” Julian Lennon told the Associated Press in June. “I wanted at least to get a note to her. Then I heard she had a great love of gardening, and I thought I’d help with something she’s passionate about, and I love gardening too. I wanted to do something to put a smile on her face.”

In recent months, Vodden was too ill to go out most of the time, except for hospital visits.

She enjoyed her link to the Beatles, but was not particularly fond of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

“I don’t relate to the song, to that type of song,” she told the Associated Press in June. “As a teenager, I made the mistake of telling a couple of friends at school that I was the Lucy in the song and they said, ‘No, it’s not you, my parents said it’s about drugs.’ And I didn’t know what LSD was at the time, so I just kept it quiet, to myself.”

Vodden is the latest in a long line of people connected to the Beatles who died at a relatively young age

So the mystery is solved. Just as ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ was a kid’s song, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ was about a 4 year old playmate of Julian Lennon. 

R.I.P. Lucy. It is also wonderful to read of Julian’s kindness towards an old school mate. It shows there is still much decency in the world.

Full story is at:

 Huffington Post
Wall Street Journal

Mail Online  (includes pictures)

Enlarge picture

The video is from Cirque du Solei -Love- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

36 Thoughts to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds–Dead at Age 46”

  1. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    I heard this the other day. Funny thing is, the real story is more interesting than the whole LSD thing!

  2. Moon-howler

    It certainly is. And I can remember smuggly going around telling my friends that Lucy was really LSD. (Like I was the ONLY person every to have heard the story) Of course, what does one expect out of a 20-something?

    How neat that Julian Lennon reached out to the real Lucy.

    If you get a chance to see Love playing at Mirage, it is well worth the scalping you get buying a ticket. Fabulous show, even if the Beatles aren’t your favorite group.

  3. Rick Bentley

    The kid HAD to be responding to talk of LSD in the house. And Lennon HAD to be well aware that the initials were LSD.

    I just bought the Sgt. Peppers CD reissue. This is one of the Beatles tracks written by John Lennon that was completely, wildly different from what had been done before, and widely imitated on to this day. People weren’t writing wigged-out psychedelic music before that. It can hardly be coincidence that :

    A. John Lennon was by everyone’s admission pretty much eating LSD for breakfast at this point, and taking it every day
    B. He wrote this song that sounds like nothing else in the world before it, but so clearly describes a “psychedelic” state of mind

    The other track that powerful on the record is “A Day In the Life” whose message can be summed up as “life sucks, therefore I do drugs” – from a man who was about to retreat into heroin for a few years. Not a great message but the cinematic means by which it is delivered is staggering. And that track’s been wildly influential and much imitated as well.

    For more evidence of Lennon’s genius and expansion of music’s vocalbulary, check out “Good Morning, Good Morning” on that record as well and from “Revolver”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”.

  4. Moon-howler

    Well Rick, I don’t know what to say. The kid was 4 and I have included the picture. The story was collaborated by Lucy O’Donnell Viddon before her death.

    When all this music came out, I was just reacting to what was there at the time. No time to intellectualize it like is done now. (Same with Dylan) I like the kid story better, even if Lennon was doing every drug in the world.

    I suppose the thought I walk away with is how sad that someone with that much money had to lose himself in drugs. I can understand someone on the street, perhaps. But not the wealthy.

  5. Moon-howler

    Rick, I should have asked, what is different on the reissue? The only Sgt. Pepper we have is wax and was a gift from my husband’s ex wife. We no longer have a turntable.

  6. Rick Bentley

    You mean no longer have a turntable?

    You asked the right guy this question if you want details.

    Short answer – it will sound just like the LP used to.

    Long answer – the CDs of the Beatles catalog that were in circulation until last month were ABYSMAL. They were mastered in the mid-80s when most CD mastering was very poor, typically they just took the old degraded tapes which were full of hiss and ran a relatively weak signal into the master recording – played it safe and invested no money into remastering the sound. I have a lot of CDs made in the late 80’s and early 90’s that sound abysmal – should be grounds for a class action lawsuit. (But it’s easier to just go steal the music anyway from a sharing site). The CDs sounded weak when compared to the sound that people heard on their turntables years back before the tapes degraded (we all know how cassettes degrade into hiss over the course of decades. Same thing happens with the old two-track reel to reel tapes).

    Increasingly it became obvious that a stronger sound was obtained, when delaing with older music, mastering from physical things that didn’t degrade over time – LPs and acetates used in LP mastering. Computer software was developed that removes the surface noise from these – pops and crackles – and can smooth the sound out into something that sounds perfectly clean to the average ear.

    To boot, the Beatles catalog as originally mastered to CD used the old stereo mixes. Most people in the US heard mono pressings of most of these records, all the way through Sgt. Peppers in 1967. The stereo mixes were a freaky thing meant to show off stereo seperation, analogous to a 3-D movie nowadays. They would mix for example the voices all the way to the left and the guitars all the way to the right, to a degree that made the music sound much weaker and more fragile. It was probably a mistake to use the stereo mixes in this case.

    Also I believe that the Beatles producer, George Martin, is not so hot sometimes. He mixed everything in a similar way – usually all the guts went out of Ringo’s drums for example, his bass drum was usually obliterated sonically by McCartney’s bass. Martin very consistently did the same things with the instrumental tracks, when you add the crazy seperation inherent to his stereo mixes on top of that, it does the music a disservice.

    For 20 years everyone else put out remasters and remixes and made their music sound better, and the Beatles didn’t. It was a crazy thing if you ask me. Finally they did it.

    It’s obvious to me that they used LPs as source material and that they smoothed out the seperation and moved things to the middle using software. So, it sounds more or less just like it used to. And, that’s as good as it ever will or ever can sound. It sounds like rock music again.

    The hype about hearing details you never heard before is pretty much nonsense. These recordings were done on 4 tracks on reels of tape long since degraded. But finally it sounds like it did back in the day and sounds as it is supposed to.

  7. Rick Bentley

    It sounds good enough that hearing “Lucy” and “A Day in the Life” moved me near tears, at the level of artistry they were working at, which I hadn’t heard sound good in a long time. We haven’t seen their like since. (Though I believe the band XTC deserves props for making similarly great music).

  8. Rick Bentley

    I guess it probably came out of Julian’s drawing but if so I’d bet my bottom dollar he had that in his head because Mommy and Daddy were talking about and probably fighting about LSD and he had those letters in his head. No one can really believe that the guy who wrote the first acid trip song, who was at that time by his admission taking LSD daily, didn’t realize what the initials spelled.

    Look at any picture of Lennon from 1967-69 – he is glassy-eyed and pretty far gone a lot of the time. part of the antipathy towards Yoko by the other Beatles was because soon after meeting her the guy became a junkie.

  9. Rick Bentley

    “I suppose the thought I walk away with is how sad that someone with that much money had to lose himself in drugs. I can understand someone on the street, perhaps. But not the wealthy.”

    He fell into it out of personal unhappiness, as most people do. His mother abandoned him to his aunt and he had a lot of anger in life. Additionally, he felt guilty about his best friend (Stu Sutcliffe) who he felt was more talented than him and maybe a better guy, dying young – after the Beatles kicked him out, and after a beating that Lennon escaped from. As evidence of his state of mind I would cite :

    “Help” (1965)
    “I’m a Loser” (1965)
    “A Day in the Life” (1967)
    “Yer Blues” (1968)
    “Mother” (1970)

  10. Rick Bentley

    “In 2001, Sutcliffe’s younger sister, Pauline (a former psychotherapist) published a memoir … wrote that the cerebral haemorrhage of which Sutcliffe died of was caused by an injury inflicted by Lennon in a jealous rage while in Hamburg (corroborated by the Lennons’ Dakota neighbour and the mother of Sean’s playmate, Kaitlin, Marnie Hair, in Albert Goldman’s Lives of Lennon book).”

    Supposedly he ruined one of his son’s hearing, or at least affected it, kicking them in the head at a young age … this was not a happy guy. Money does not buy happiness. Guilt, self-loating, and heavy mother and father issues were present in this guy. If that’s not enough, a tape recently surfaced of him telling someone that he was laying next to his mother at one point with the distinct impression that she wanted to seduce him.

  11. Rick Bentley

    Like most of our great artists he was a mess personally … Miles Davis, Lenny Bruce come to mind for me.

  12. Rick Bentley

    Maybe the kicking his son in the head was just rumor. His son apparently clarified the story in 2008 :

    “[He was] teaching me how to cut and eat steak, which was a mystery to me at age 4; how to stick the fork in and cut behind it, and that was how you got a piece in your mouth,” writes Sean, 32, whose mom is Yoko Ono. “I think it was that night when he got very upset with me, I think because of something I did very cheekily with the steak. He did wind up yelling at me very, very loudly to the point where he damaged my ear, and I had to go to the hospital.”

  13. Moon-howler

    Rick, you are all over this. Thanks for the info. I knew Lennon came from a blue collar background. I always think that people who improve their lives financially should be happier. Guess that’s a big myth.

    I don’t know why I typed keyboard for turn table. I guess because the gson’s keyboard lives where the turntable used to be. Sorry and glad you could decode that.

    So you don’t think there will be a difference in sound from the old one other than fewer scratches? Have you heard it on wax? I will have to check this out. Does Best Buy have it yet?

    How do you know all this stuff?

  14. Moon-howler

    Very few of our artists have lived normal life it seems. Even some straight arrow like Mel Brooks gets all liquored up and lets his anti-semitic demons escape. Then there was my personal favorite–Joplin.

  15. Moon-howler

    And I did see Joplin a few months before she died. Thrill of my life.

    My only semi-claim to fame in music is a group called the Lafayettes who my husband and brother in law knews…up in Baltimore County years ago. The Sally mentioned in the song was my sister-in-law. And in her case, life was too short. She died of complications of fibromyaglia in her mid 50’s. Several of those in the Lafayette band came to her funeral.

  16. Moon-howler

    I have to add this, I don’t ever remember the Lafayettes. I think they came along before my time, but I never heard them as a teenager/kid.

  17. Rick Bentley

    “So you don’t think there will be a difference in sound from the old one other than fewer scratches?”

    Nope. Spectrum Analysis wise there are differences but I think it’s going to sound to most of us just like it used to on a good stereo system.

    “Have you heard it on wax?”

    Yeah, I grew up listening to a cassette taped off the radio in the LP era.

    “I will have to check this out. Does Best Buy have it yet?”

    Yep. $12.99 a pop. If they are marked $13.99, they will take a dollar off at the register if you complain that the web site price is cheaper.

    I highly recommend “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver”.

    “How do you know all this stuff?”

    Big music guy, big Beatles guy.

  18. Rick Bentley

    You mean Mel Gibson, not Mel Brooks?

    There are artists, and then there are ARTISTS – real visionaries who see the world in new ways. Stravinsky, Fellini, Picasso, Hendrix, Lennon, James Brown, etc. Many of these people are particularly “off”. To go down that list that I just came up with off the top of my head as artistic geniuses :

    Stravinsky – “notorious philanderer”

    Fellini – obsessed with women, cheated on his wife constantly

    Picasso – “Throughout his life Picasso maintained a number of mistresses in addition to his wife or primary partner”

    Hendrix – clinicaly depressed, prone to drug abuse

    Lennon – clinically depressed, prone to drug abuse

    James Brown – abused women, drove under the influence of PCP

    And my hero, Miles Davis – beat women, terrible father, strong mother issues, head-tripped people constantly, drug abuse.

  19. Moon-howler

    Would you put Clapton into the ARTIST category?

    I was never a strong Beatles fan. I was fairly neutral and then I went more into folk music.

    Now, having said that…I thought that the Cirque du Solei production of Love was absolutely fabulous. I think I paid $150 a pop for that and it truly was worth it. Now, that coming from a person who isn’t nuts over the Beatles…..

    Fellini the film maker? I didn’t see a novelist in the list. Keep your list going.

  20. Rick Bentley

    Personally, I consider Clapton a hack and an imitator.

    Yes, Frederico Fellini. Great filmmaker. I’m not as big on novels. If you make me pick a writer I pick … Phillip K. Dick.

  21. Rick Bentley

    To try to think of a few more artistic geniuses :

    Akira Kusosawa (Japanese filmmaker) – suicidally depressed
    Rainier Fassbinder (German filmmaker) – sadistic to an extreme
    Lee “Scratch” Perry (Jamaican record producer) – clinically insane
    Louis Armstrong – actually, a pretty stand up guy
    Phillip K. Dick – abused drugs, as described in “A Scanner Darkly”
    Lenny Bruce – drug addict

  22. Moon-howler

    I think Clapton is great. But that’s what makes horseraces. Who do you feel influenced Clapton?

    Feel free to list more artists.

  23. Rick Bentley

    “Who do you feel influenced Clapton? ”

    Blues players in general, my favorite would be Hubert Sumlin, and Jeff Beck, and Hendrix.

    More artistic geniuses :

    Howard Stern – sex addict, obsessive compulsive and neurotic to a fault
    Charles Mingus – violent, serious anger problem

  24. Rick Bentley

    I’d put Woody Allen on the list. We know what he did. I was deeply disappointed when that story came out.

  25. Moon-howler

    I was thinking last night during the Ken Burns NP show: Muir and Stephen Mathers were probably bi-polar. At best they were extremely eccentric. They were mover and shakers and the people who really preserved nature and the lands for the rest of us…and they were all nuts! The Great Smoky Mountain guy whose name I have forgotten fits right into the same category.

  26. Moon-howler

    What story on Woody Allen? I just can’t even remember. Was he a perv?

  27. Rick Bentley

    You don’t remember? He seduced the daughter of his girlfriend, who he had one biological child and had adopted 2 other children with. Soon-Yi was 17 or younger. They have been married and now have children of our own. At about the time the story came out, Woody was accused of molesting his seven year old daughter. he was not found guilty of that, but was found guilty of “grossly inappropriate” and frankly bizarre behavior with the seven year old, and his girlfriend (Mia Farrow) won full custody of her.

    I didn’t realize until researching this that he and farrow had a biological child. So now that child’s sister is married to his father.

  28. Rick Bentley

    Allen and Farrow’s only biological son, Ronan Seamus Farrow, said of Allen: “He’s my father married to my sister. That makes me his son and his brother-in-law. That is such a moral transgression. I cannot see him. I cannot have a relationship with my father and be morally consistent…. I lived with all these adopted children, so they are my family. To say Soon-Yi was not my sister is an insult to all adopted children.”[

  29. Moon-howler

    Yuck. So he joins the ranks of Polanski and Phillips. I just couldn’t remember what the old creep had done. It just goes to prove that if you have enough money you will get off most crimes: OJ, William K Smith, to name a few infamous characters.

  30. Rick Bentley

    On the pervert scale, Allen < Polanski < Phillips? Or maybe Polanski deserves a higher ranking. He deserves to spend serious time in jail.

    It was to paraphrase Whoopi Goldberg “a rape rape”. He got a 13 year old girl into a situation where she was alone and vulnerable, gave her alcohol and quaaludes, then anally raped her. Then he ran from the MINIMAL punishment that might have been proscribed for him. Polanski deserves to suffer.

    The fact that the girl, who has at that point been paid off by him, doesn’t want him in jail is completely irrelevant.

  31. Rick Bentley

    Hmm, who’s the worse human being, Polanski or Phillips? One deliberately raped a child and has been running from justice for 31 years. The other raised a child so badly that she has spent most of her adult life helplessly addicted to drugs and deeply affected by his lack of responsibility.

    I say Phillips is worse. He didn’t break the law. but he’s worse.

  32. Moon-howler

    Phillips, according to daughter MacKenzie, had sex with her for 10 plus years, when she was underage and of age. Sounds pretty illegal. I think he is worse also.

    As for punishing Polanski–yea, give him some hard time for running so that the 40 days become 400 days. Or just ban him from the United States. It is irrelevant what the victim wants at this point.

  33. Rick Bentley

    Wrong – she was overage. I guess he could have been prosecuted for rape. But not for the 10 years of drug-fueled consensual sex.

    Yes, I agree, hopefully Polanski gets hard time for running. His lenient sentence in the first place was a travesty – based on his personal traumas (admittedly severe – mother died in the holocaust, wife killed by the manson family) he was basically allowed to rape a 13 year-old.

  34. Rick Bentley

    Phillips said she was 17 or 18 the first time they had sex.

    I’m sympathetic to her. To the degree that she was a drug-addled slut, it probably had to do with the void in her life caused by her father’s aberrant parenting.

    One of her stepmoms said that from a young age she was overly physical and even sexual with her father. Amateur psychologist guess : she wanted her father’s attention when she was young, she sensed he had a sexual interest in her, she was flirty to get his attention and that worked to some degree and amplified itself. He interpreted this desperate need for a father as a sexual attraction to him and after she was 18 or so it made sense to him that he should take the lead on that. I blame him more than her. Anyone whose father is teaching them how to do drugs at age 12 or whatever is going to be a mess.

  35. Rick Bentley

    Actually I see she says they were 19 the first time they had sex (that she knows of).

  36. Moon-howler

    Interesting. As she spoke on Oprah, it sounded very much like she had been much younger than 19. That actually makes me not want to dig Phillips up and kill him. At 19, she is as responsible as he for that conduct.

    Yuck. again.

    He is still a creep but she is less pitiable.

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