John Lennon crashes his car in Scotland

While holidaying in Scotland with Yoko Ono, her daughter Kyoko and his son Julian, John Lennon crashed his white British Leyland Austin Maxi car near Durness in the Highlands.

Lennon was a notoriously bad driver who had rarely been behind the wheel since passing his test in 1965. He was poor at navigating roads and often failed to notice other traffic.

The roads were narrow, the weather was poor, and Lennon panicked after spotting a foreign tourist driving towards him. Lennon lost control of his Austin Maxi, driving it into a roadside ditch. He, Ono and Kyoko sustained cuts to the face and Ono’s back was injured.

They were taken to Golspie’s Lawson Memorial Hospital where Lennon was given 17 facial stitches, Ono 14 in her forehead, and Kyoko four.

John Lennon's autograph, signed at Lawson Memorial Hospital, Golspie, Scotland, July 1969

Julian Lennon was treated for shock but was otherwise unhurt. He was taken to stay with Lennon’s Aunt Mater in Durness, around 50 miles away, before his mother Cynthia took him back to London the following day. When she arrived at the hospital to demand an explanation from Lennon he refused to see her.

Lennon remained in hospital for five days. He later told reporters, “If you’re going to have a car crash, try to arrange for it to happen in the Highlands. The hospital there was just great.”

The crashed Austin Maxi was later transported to the couple’s Tittenhurst Park estate where it was sited in the gardens.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono with their crashed Austin Maxi, Tittenhurst Park, 1969

Although Lennon was never intending to attend, 1 July was the first official day of recording for what became the Abbey Road album. The crash further delayed his return to London, and after being discharged from hospital he spent three days at home before finally rejoining The Beatles on 9 July.

Yoko Ono suffered worse injuries in the crash than Lennon, and was pregnant at the time. Keen to keep a close eye on her wellbeing, he arranged for Harrods to deliver a double bed to the studio, and had a microphone suspended above it for her to add her thoughts during the sessions that followed.

Last updated: 3 March 2023
John Lennon and Yoko Ono holiday in Scotland
Recording: You Never Give Me Your Money
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