Legendary Lawyer Leon Wildes, Savior of John Lennon’s US Stay, Passes Away at 90

New York City, NY – American lawyer Leon Wildes, known for his role in representing John Lennon in his battle against deportation from the United States, has passed away at the age of 90. Wildes, whose health had been deteriorating following a series of strokes, died on Monday at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, according to his family.

In the early 1970s, Wildes became involved in the high-profile case of Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, as they sought to extend their US visas. Initially unaware of the famous couple, the lawyer agreed to meet with them at the offices of Apple Records, which was founded by the Beatles. What Wildes initially thought would be a straightforward process turned into a protracted and dramatic legal battle.

The US government had sought to deport Lennon, citing a drug bust in London in 1968 where he pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis resin. At the time, US law dictated that non-residents faced deportation for convictions related to illicit drug possession. However, government files later revealed that President Richard Nixon feared Lennon’s anti-war activism and his potential influence on young voters in the 1972 election.

With support from musicians and artists who called for Lennon to remain in the US, Wildes managed to delay and eventually overturn the deportation order. He found a loophole in the immigration drug law and secured a court order in October 1975 that reversed the decision. This victory came amid the political turmoil of the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation.

Following his successful representation of Lennon, Wildes remained close to Yoko Ono and even attended Beatles conventions. He fondly recalled how he was praised by numerous people for his efforts on Lennon’s behalf, calling it a “marvelous experience” to be thanked for his work.

John Lennon was tragically shot and killed in New York City in 1980. Leon Wildes’ passing marks the end of an era and a reminder of the historical and cultural significance of the legal battle that allowed Lennon to continue his musical legacy on American soil.