It seems only appropriate that the single quote from the Beatles uttered by John Lennon, the unspoken leader and member of the group. On March 4, 1966, Lennon said that Christianity would succumb. He does not need to argue about that. The band is more popular than Jesus. He did not know which will go first Rock ‘n Roll or Christianity. He mentioned Jesus was alright, but his followers were thick and ordinary. It’s twisting them is what ruins it for him.
The actual article containing the above incredible paragraph has been titled “How a Beatle Lives.” It was written by a friend of Lennon, by Maureen Cleave. It was a casual article, chronicling what John was doing, how he was spending his life, what he did in his spare time. These kinds of posts about movie stars, rock stars, and TV stars have always been a staple of newspapers and magazines.
Backlashing on the statement by the Beatles
There was hardly any backlash when the article came out in England, resulting from the controversial quote. But on July 29, an American teen magazine called “datebook” printed the quotation in a post called “The Six Adults You Dig/ Hate Most.” As a curious sidebar, it was really on the cover of this issue that Paul McCartney made a derogatory quote about America stating that in America, they’ll call you a ‘Nigga’ and express opinions on the race-related state in the US. Fans and the press entirely ignored Paul’s quotation.
It was Lennon’s “Jesus” quote that sparked the firestorm. Upon the article’s release, several radio stations, mostly in the South, instantly banned the playing of Beatles’ records. By an amazing and funny coincidence, one radio DJ grandly called for the banning of all Beatle records and refused to play any on his display. That evening, the radio antenna of this station was struck down by lightning!
Beatles “bonfires” were quickly organized, and their records were ceremoniously burned. To this, Ringo wittily answered later that they do not mind if the Beatles records were burnt; one can repurchase them. It also included burned copies of Lennon’s books: In His Write and A Spaniard in the Works. The Ku Klux Klan burned figurines of the Beatles.
The Vatican got into the act, denouncing Lennon in their paper. One minister threatened to dismiss any member of his congregation who attended a Beatles concert. Spain, Mexico, and South Africa each formally issued a ban over the quotation on all Beatles records.
Threats and hate mail were for each member of the band
Death threats were issued and sent not only to John but to all the Beatles crew members. Threats of cancellations to the boy’s forthcoming tour poured forth. Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, immediately replied to the ongoing threats by asking how much it will cost to cancel the trip and suggested that he will pay for it. Epstein was strongly protective of the Beatles.
Brian flew to America and stated that any venue wishing to cancel a Beatles’ concert could do so. Despite this announcement and all the controversy, no shows canceled. Epstein spoke of deep sorrow about John’s statement and said John’s words had been misinterpreted.
John received a remarkable amount of hate mail, but it wasn’t all bad, religious figures and some priests wrote not to undermine John, but hoping to advise him. John Lennon was profoundly affected; he claims that he was scared. Brian and Paul and the other Beatles persuaded him to go. Paul remembers that this was the time John was so nervous and he had never seen him like this ever.