In this episode of "Here, There, and Everywhere", Jack Lawless sits down with May Pang, a renowned photographer, music industry executive, and the former girlfriend of John Lennon. May recently released a new film called "The Lost Weekend: A Love Story", which explores the 18-month romantic relationship between her and the legendary musician.
In this exclusive interview, May shares never-before-heard stories about her life with John Lennon and her memories of "The Lost Weekend". May and Jack talk about how she started working for Yoko & John, her memories of living with John, jamming with John and Paul McCartney, how she encouraged John to re-connect with loved ones, John's opinions on the music of the other Beatles, and more!
If you're interested in seeing "The Lost Weekend: A Love Story" in theaters, be sure to get tickets here: https://www.thelostweekendtickets.com/
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The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, that comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the most influential band of all timeand were integral to the development of 1960s counterculture and popular music's recognition as an art form. Rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock 'n' roll, their sound incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop in innovative ways; the band later explored music styles ranging from ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As pioneers in recording, songwriting and artistic presentation, the Beatles revolutionised many aspects of the music industry and were often publicised as leaders of the era's youth and sociocultural movements.
Led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, the Beatles evolved from Lennon's previous group, the Quarrymen, and built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over three years from 1960, initially with Stuart Sutcliffe playing bass. The core trio of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, together since 1958, went through a succession of drummers, including Pete Best, before asking Starr to join them in 1962. Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act, and producer George Martin guided and developed their recordings, greatly expanding their domestic success after signing to EMI Records and achieving their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962.
Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all released solo albums in 1970. Their solo records sometimes involved one or more of the others; Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only album to include compositions and performances by all four ex-Beatles, albeit on separate songs. With Starr's participation, Harrison staged the Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971. Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974, later bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74, Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again.
Two double-LP sets of the Beatles' greatest hits, compiled by Klein, 1962–1966 and 1967–1970, were released in 1973, at first under the Apple Records imprint. Commonly known as the "Red Album" and "Blue Album", respectively, each has earned a Multi-Platinum certification in the US and a Platinum certification in the UK. Between 1976 and 1982, EMI/Capitol released a wave of compilation albums without input from the ex-Beatles, starting with the double-disc compilation Rock 'n' Roll Music. The only one to feature previously unreleased material was The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977); the first officially issued concert recordings by the group, it contained selections from two shows they played during their 1964 and 1965 US tours.
The music and enduring fame of the Beatles were commercially exploited in various other ways, again often outside their creative control. In April 1974, the musical John, Paul, George, Ringo ... and Bert, written by Willy Russell and featuring singer Barbara Dickson, opened in London. It included, with permission from Northern Songs, eleven Lennon-McCartney compositions and one by Harrison, "Here Comes the Sun". Displeased with the production's use of his song, Harrison withdrew his permission to use it.Later that year, the off-Broadway musical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road opened. All This and World War II (1976) was an unorthodox nonfiction film that combined newsreel footage with covers of Beatles songs by performers ranging from Elton John and Keith Moon to the London Symphony Orchestra. The Broadway musical Beatlemania, an unauthorised nostalgia revue, opened in early 1977 and proved popular, spinning off five separate touring productions. In 1979, the band sued the producers, settling for several million dollars in damages. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978), a musical film starring the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, was a commercial failure and an "artistic fiasco", according to Ingham.
Accompanying the wave of Beatles nostalgia and persistent reunion rumours in the US during the 1970s, several entrepreneurs made public offers to the Beatles for a reunion concert.Promoter Bill Sargent first offered the Beatles $10 million for a reunion concert in 1974. He raised his offer to $30 million in January 1976 and then to $50 million the following month. On 24 April 1976, during a broadcast of Saturday Night Live, producer Lorne Michaels jokingly offered the Beatles $3,000 to reunite on the show. Lennon and McCartney were watching the live broadcast at Lennon's apartment at the Dakota in New York, which was within driving distance of the NBC studio where the show was being broadcast. The former bandmates briefly entertained the idea of going to the studio and surprising Michaels by accepting his offer, but decided not to.
May Fung Yee Pang (born October 24, 1950) is an American former music executive. She worked for John Lennon and Yoko Ono as a personal assistant and production coordinator, and when Lennon and Ono separated in 1973, Pang and Lennon began a relationship that lasted more than 18 months. Lennon later referred to this time as his "Lost Weekend". Pang subsequently produced two books about their relationship—a memoir called Loving John (Warner, 1983) and a book of photographs, Instamatic Karma(St. Martin's Press, 2008). A documentary about their relationship, The Lost Weekend: A Love Story, was produced in 2022.
Pang was married to producer Tony Visconti from 1989 to 2000 and has two children.
Pang was born in Manhattan, New York City, New York. She is the daughter of Chinese immigrants and grew up in New York's Spanish Harlem with an elder sister and an adopted brother, both of whom were born in China. Pang's mother had a laundry business in the area. The Pang family left when the tenements where they lived were scheduled to be razed, and moved to an apartment near 97th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan.
After graduating from Saint Michael Academy, Pang attended New York City Community College. She wanted to be a model, but the modeling agencies told her she was too "ethnic". Pang's early jobs included being a song-plugger, which meant encouraging artists to record songs written by songwriters. In 1970, she began work in New York as a receptionist at ABKCO Records, Allen Klein's management office, which at that time represented Apple Records and three former Beatles: Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.
Pang was asked to help Lennon and Ono with their avant-garde film projects, Up Your Legs Forever and Fly, in December 1970. Pang was then asked to be Lennon and Ono's secretary and factotum/gofer in New York and Britain, which led to a permanent position as their personal assistant when the Lennons moved from London to New York in 1971. Pang coordinated an art exhibition in Syracuse, New York, on October 9, 1971, for Ono's This Is Not Here art show at the Everson Museum. Ono's show coincided with Lennon's 31st birthday, and a party was held at the Hotel Syracuse, which was attended by Ringo Starr, Phil Spector, and Elliot Mintz, among others.
In mid-1973, Pang was working on the recording of Lennon's Mind Games album. Lennon and Ono were having marital problems and Ono suggested to Pang that she become Lennon's companion. Ono explained that she and Lennon were not getting along, had been arguing and were growing apart, and said that Lennon would start seeing other women. She pointed out that Lennon had said he found Pang sexually attractive. Pang replied that she could never start a relationship with Lennon, as he was her employer and married. Ono ignored Pang's protests and said that she would arrange everything. Ono later confirmed this conversation in an interview.
At the time Lennon had his 18-month relationship with Pang, he was in a period of his life that he would later refer to as his "Lost Weekend", in reference to the film and novel of the same title.
In October 1973, Lennon and Pang left New York for Los Angeles to promote Mind Games, and decided to stay for a while, living at lawyer Harold Seider's apartment for a couple of days and then Lou Adler's house. While there, Lennon was inspired to embark on two recording projects: to make an album of the old rock 'n' roll songs that inspired him to become a musician, and to produce another artist. In December 1973, Lennon collaborated with Phil Spector to record the oldies album Rock 'n' Roll. The alcohol-fueled recording sessions became legendary. Every musician in L.A. wanted to participate, but soon Lennon's drinking and Spector's erratic behavior (which included his firing a gun in the studio control room) caused the sessions to break down. Then Spector, who claimed to have been in a car accident, took the session tapes and became unreachable.
In March 1974, Lennon began producing Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats album, thus named to counter the "bad boy" image the pair had earned in the media with two drinking incidents at The Troubadour. The first was when Lennon placed a Kotex on his forehead and scuffled with a waitress at a concert given by Ann Peebles, who had released one of Lennon's favorite records at the time, 'I Can't Stand The Rain'; and the second, two weeks later, when Lennon and Nilsson were ejected from the same club after heckling the Smothers Brothers. Lennon thought it would be a good idea for the musicians to live under one roof to ensure they would get to the studio on time, so Pang rented a beach house in Santa Monica for her, Lennon, Nilsson, Ringo Starr and Keith Moon to live in. At this time, Pang encouraged Lennon to reach out to family and friends. He and Paul McCartney mended fences and played together for the first and only time after the breakup of the Beatles (see A Toot and a Snore in '74). Pang also arranged for Julian Lennon to visit his father for the first time in almost four years.
Julian began to see his father more regularly. Lennon bought Julian a Gibson Les Paul copy guitar and a drum machine for Christmas in 1973, and encouraged Julian's interest in music by showing him some chords. "Dad and I got on a great deal better then," recalls Julian. "We had a lot of fun, laughed a lot and had a great time in general when he was with May Pang. My memories of that time with Dad and May are very clear—they were the happiest time I can remember with them." The cover of Julian's seventh album, Jude,features a childhood photo of him taken by Pang.
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