Posted 08/05/2015 at 3:34pm
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Forty-nine years ago this summer—in late July and August 1966—the Beatles found themselves in a touchy situation.
On July 29 of that year, a teen magazine called Datebook published segments of a nearly 5-month-old interview with John Lennon. Among the republished segments was this quote by Lennon:
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with 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.”
The quote, which originally appeared in a March 1966 London Evening Standard story by Maureen Cleave (a reporter who was friendly with Lennon and the other Beatles), didn’t cause much of a stir in the U.K. or the rest of the world when it was originally published. After all, the Jesus line was just a tiny part of a lengthy piece full of tidbits like:
In the sitting room are eight little green boxes with winking red lights; (Lennon) 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.
However, with its publication in Datebook, the quote reached a wider audience—including the American South. On Sunday, July 31, a disc jockey in Birmingham, Alabama, kicked off a drive to ban the Beatles from the airways. He said their radio station would no longer play records by the Beatles, who “grew wealthy as the music idols of the younger generation.”
By early August, deranged knuckleheads began 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.
Source: Guitar World