Tag Archives: John Lennon

John Lennon George Harrison David Frost

John Lennon George Harrison David Frost

September 29, 1967

George Harrison Sitar

The path that led the Beatles to transcendental meditation was mainly through George Harrison's use of the sitar, the Indian instrument he used on Rubber Soul's "Norwegian Wood." Harrison used the sitar simply because he liked its sound, but he wanted to learn more. 

Harrison had first met Shankar in June 1966 in the UK and Shankar gave a couple of lessons to Harrison. 

On September 14, 1966, Mr and Mrs Sam Wells, aka George and Pattie Harrison, flew to Mumbai.  The main reason was to take sitar lessons from renowned musician Ravi Shankar.  Because the sitting position was so difficult for Harrison, Shankar had a yoga instructor help him.

The following year Pattie attended a lecture on Transcendental Meditation at Caxton Hall, London, where she had been given her mantra. 

Beatles meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Encouraged by Pattie Harrison's interest and enthusiasm, on August 24, 1967  the Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a lecture in London. All except Ringo and his wife Maureen (she had just given birth to to their son) attended.  While there, they found out that he was giving a series of classes. They all decided to attend.

Of course if the Beatles found something interesting, fans followed suit. Ravi Shankar became part of the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and famously played in the rain at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.

John Lennon George Harrison David Frost

On September 29, 1967 John Lennon and George Harrison were guests on David Frost's The Frost Programme. 

Among the comments were:

Lennon: "Buddha was a groove, Jesus was all right."

Harrison: "I believe in reincarnation. Life and death are still only relative to thought. I believe in rebirth. You keep coming back until you have got it straight. The ultimate thing is to manifest divinity, and become one with The Creator."

Because viewers found that  program so interesting,  John and George returned for another interview a week later. 

Again, the subject of the 45-minute show was Transcendental Meditation. Lennon and Harrison answered questions that Frost and studio guests asked as well as from letters sent in. There was also a pro- and con- discussion about meditation. 

No Mas Maharishi

The interest continued and on February 16, 1968 John and Cynthia Lennon, and George and Pattie Harrison flew to India for further study with the Maharishi.  Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Ringo and Maureen Starr followed on the 20th.  The plan was to stay at least six weeks.

Ringo found the food there too difficult and he and Maureen  returned to England  less  than two weeks after their arrival. Paul and Jane returned on March 20.

The stay for the others came to an abrupt end when one of the members of the Beatle party told John and George that the Maharishi was sexually inappropriate with one of the female guests.

John and George confronted the Yogi, but he didn't take the accusation seriously which convinced John, George, and the others that he was guilty.

John left, but George, rather than return straightaway to England, went to visit Ravi Shankar and didn't return until April 28.

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John Lennon Opines

John Lennon Opines

July 29, 1966

August 1966 interview about his March opinion 

Looking for trouble

          By 1966, the whole world seemingly knew who Beatles were and that most of the world liked their music and them, too. That is only a somewhat accurate statement. Of course there were many who did not like the Beatles's music nor the Beatles themselves. Critics made wise cracks about them needing a haircut, looking like girls, or their looks in general.

          Rock and Roll was just a teenager and there were plenty of people who were suspicious of the music and anyone associated with it. The Red Scare and McCarthyism of the 1950s still echoed in the early 60s, the Soviet Union was still our arch nemesis, and the re-invigorated civil rights movement threatened the status quo, however unjust that status quo was. 

          Parents warned their teenagers, "If you go looking for trouble, you'll find it." Teenagers knew, "If you want to find a reason to dislike my music, you'll find a reason."

John Lennon Opines

          Journalists knew that a Beatle interview was money in the bank.  Maureen Cleave, of the London Evening Standard, ran a series of interviews called "How does a Beatle Live?" 

          On  March 4, 1966, Maureen Cleave interviewed John Lennon for the series.

          During the interview, Lennon, who had been reading about various religions said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

John Lennon opines

          The article appeared an that was that.   No outrage by the British.

US reaction

          Tony Barrow was the Beatles press officer. He offered the US teen magazine, Datebook, the rights to all four interviews.

John Lennon Opines

          On July 29, 1966 the article appeared with a headline featuring the Lennon Christianity quote, which was only a small part of the entire interview.

John Lennon opines

          It became national news on August 4. A NY Times article lead sentence read: "Dozens of radio stations throughout the United States are banning music by the Beatles because of a statement by one of the rock 'n' roll singers that his group is more popular than Jesus." The article's last sentence read: "Several radio stations scheduled bonfires for the burning of Beatle records and pictures."
 

Some support

          The US negative reaction was not universal. A Kentucky radio station declared that it would give the Beatles' music airplay to show its "contempt for hypocrisy personified", and the Jesuit magazine America wrote: "Lennon was simply stating what many a Christian educator would readily admit."  [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/More_popular_than_Jesus]

Aftermath

          The Beatles toured that summer, but it was their last. While the Christianity comment alone did not cause that cessation,  it was  a part of it. 

          And in 2008, the Vatican issued the following statement: "The remark by John Lennon, which triggered deep indignation, mainly in the United States, after many years sounds only like a 'boast' by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success, after growing up in the legend of Elvis and rock and roll. The fact remains that 38 years after breaking up, the songs of the Lennon-McCartney brand have shown an extraordinary resistance to the passage of time, becoming a source of inspiration for more than one generation of pop musicians."

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Give Peace A Chance

Give Peace A Chance

June 1, 1969

Give Peace a Chance

           While the Beatles as a group typically remained apolitical, their fame visibility, and life style put them on the world stage whether they wanted to be there or not. By 1969 the Vietnam war was still raging despite new President Nixon's promises to end it. The Beatles were still recording as a group (they'd begin the Abbey Road  album  in exactly a month) and were still controversial (radio stations were banning the "Balled Of John and Yoko" because of the line "Christ you know it ain't easy.")
          It seemed the more others criticized Yoko Ono and her supposed negative impact on The Beatles, the more John fell in love with her and wanted to prove to the world he wasn't listening to those criticisms.
              John and Yoko married on March 20, 1969 and began to do a number of peaceful events to promote peace and end war. In an Amsterdam interview he said: What we’re really doing is sending out a message to the world, mainly to the youth, especially the youth or anybody really that’s interested in protesting for peace, or protesting against any forms of violence and we say everybody’s getting a bit heavy or bit intellectual about it. Everybody’s talking about peace, but nobody’s doing anything about it, except for a few people, and the things like the Grosvenor Square marches in London. The end product of it was just newspaper stories about riots and fighting. And we did the bed event in Amsterdam and the Bag Piece in Vienna just to give people an idea, that there’s many ways of protest and this is one of them. And anybody could grow their hair for peace or give up a week of their holiday for peace or sit in a bag for peace, protest against peace anyway, but peacefully. Because we think that peace is only got by peaceful methods and that to fight the establishment with their own weapons is no good, because they always win and they’d been winning for thousands of years. They know how to play the game ‘violence’ and it’s easier for them when they can recognize you and shoot you. They don’t know how to handle humor, and peaceful humor. And that’s our message really.

              One of these events, a Bed In, took place in Toronto and on June 1, 1969 they recorded "Give Peace a Chance" while in their room with several others helping such as including Timothy Leary, Petula Clark, Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, DJ Murry the K, Derek Taylor, and Tommy Smothers. Smothers also played acoustic guitar with Lennon.
                 The recording became the first single released by Lennon while still a Beatle. It was even credited at first as a Lennon-McCartney tune.

                Lennon and Ono would perform the song live on September 13, 1969 at the Toronto Peace Festival. Their band was called the Plastic Ono Band and included Klaus Voorman, Alan White, and Eric Clapton.
From the Varsity Stadium on the campus of the University of Toronto and attended by some 20,000 persons. The event was produced by John Brower and Ken Walker.

Give Peace a Chance

Ev’rybody’s talking about
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, that-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m


All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance


C’mon
Ev’rybody’s talking about Ministers
Sinisters, Banisters and canisters
Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Pop eyes
And bye bye, bye byes


All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance


Let me tell you now
Ev’rybody’s talking about
Revolution, evolution, masturbation
Flagellation, regulation, integrations
Meditations, United Nations
Congratulations


All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance


Ev’rybody’s talking about
John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary
Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan, Tommy Cooper
Derek Taylor, Norman Mailer
Alan Ginsberg, Hare Krishna
Hare, Hare Krishna


All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

          The song has become one of the most powerful peace songs ever written and is still sung today.