Tag Archives: John Lennon

May 9 Music et al

May 9 Music et al

Steve Katz

May 9 Music et al

May 9, 1945: Steve Katz of Blues Project and Blood Sweat and Tears, born. (see SK for much more.)

May 9 Music et al

Alan Freed

May 9 Music et al

May 9, 1958: a Suffolk County, NY grand jury indicted Alan Freed on charges of inciting the unlawful destruction of property during a riot touched off at a performance of his rock ‘n’ roll show the previous Saturday night. [Newspapers dot com article] (see May 16)

May 9 Music et al

Billy Vaughn

May 9 – 15, 1960: Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra’s album Theme from a Summer Place was Billboard’s #1 album.


May 9 Music et al

Louis Armstrong

May 9 – 15, 1964, ending The Beatles’ streak of three number-one hits in a row over 14 consecutive weeks, “Hello Dolly” by Louis Armstrong  #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It became the most successful single of Armstrong’s career, followed by a gold-selling album of the same name.

At 62 years old, the song also made Armstrong the oldest artist ever to reach #1 on the Hot 100 since its introduction in 1958. [NPR audio story]


May 9 Music et al

Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions

May 9, 1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono released Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions, the second of their three experimental albums of avant-garde music on Zapple, a sub label of Apple. It was a successor to 1968’s Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins, and was followed by the Wedding Album. LIfe With the Lions peaked in the US at number 174. The album, whose title is a play on words of the BBC Radio show Life with The Lyons, was recorded at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London and live at Cambridge University, in November 1968 and March 1969.

William Rhulmann wrote in his All Music review, “If, as they suggested, their lives were their art, then this is, too. Maybe.” 

Edmund O. Ward wrote in Rolling Stone magazine that the album was “utter bullshit” and “in poor taste” (see May 24 – June 27)

I dare you!


May 9 Music et al
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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 first met master sitarist Ravi Shankar in June 1966 in the UK and Shankar gave a couple of lessons to Harrison. 

On September 14, 1966, a Mr and Mrs Sam Wells, aka George and Pattie Harrison, flew to Mumbai.  The main reason was to take sitar lessons from 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 received her mantra. 

see Beatles meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for more

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.

The accusations were likely untrue.

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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 and that was that.   No outrage by the British.

US reaction

Tony Barrow was the Beatles press officer. He offered the rights to all four interviews to 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." 

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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