March 4, 1966: John Lennon's "Beatles Are More Popular Than Jesus" Controversy Begins
The Beatles in 1966.
Forty-six years ago today -- March 4, 1966 -- the London Evening Standard published an interview with John Lennon of The Beatles. It was written by Maureen Cleave, a reporter who was friendly with Lennon and the other Beatles.
Most of the story was a fascinating portrait of Lennon's home life, full of tidbits like this:
John swept past the objects in which he had lost interest: 'That's Sidney' (a suit of armour); 'That's a hobby I had for a week' (a room full of model racing cars); 'Cyn won't let me get rid of that' (a fruit machine). In the sitting room are eight little green boxes with winking red lights; he bought them as Christmas presents but never got round to giving them away. They wink for a year; one imagines him sitting there till next Christmas, surrounded by the little winking boxes.
But a little later in the piece, this happened:
Experience has sown few seeds of doubt in him: not that his mind is closed, but it's closed round whatever he believes at the time. 'Christianity will go,' he said. 'It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will 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.'
Although it took a few months for the more reactionary bits of the American South to find out about Lennon's comments, they heard about them, alright, especially since excerpts from the piece were being published around the world.
Deranged knuckleheads started hoisting "Ban The Beatles" signs and burning Beatles albums, even establishing pickup points where "Beatles trash" (including records, photos and other memorabilia that would've been worth a lot of money today had they not been destroyed by deranged knuckleheads) could be dropped off, stomped on -- and burned, of course.
That spring and summer, the original London Evening Standard piece grew more notorious as the storm of controversy escalated. Lennon was forced to apologize, which he did at a Beatles press conference that summer during the band's final tour.
I should point out that with its 26 million fans, The Beatles' Facebook page is much more popular than any single Jesus-related Facebook page.
I'm just sayin'!
Here's a spoof of this interesting slice of The Beatles' story. It's a scene from All You Need Is Cash, the 1978 made-for-TV film about a fictional band called The Rutles. It was written and narrated by Eric Idle of Monty Python (and featured a cameo appearance by George Harrison):
Guitar World and Agile Partners have announced a new release of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app that introduces The Beatles Lick Packs to the popular app for learning guitar on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
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