‘My lost weekend with Lennon’: May Pang breaks her silence over their relationship

The title of this headline is quite deceiving.  May Pang had already broken her silence about her relationship with John Lennon years ago.  She had written, in my estimation, one of the best and most honest books about John Lennon.  She was candid, frank and honest in her book, Loving John, first published in 1983.  It is refreshing to see and hear some new stories about Lennon and his fabled “lost weekend.”

 

It looks, though, that this time around, May Pang is opening up her photo album and sharing her personal memories of John.  We get to share in some of these treasures for the first time.  It looks quite impressive.

  • Check out the article below for some lengthy excerpts from her upcoming book, Instamatic Karma.  Follow the link after the article to see some photos as well. 

Here’s what we’ve read.

Most people have come to know the time that John Lennon and I spent together as The Lost Weekend. I am always surprised by how many people are under the impression that our time together lasted only a single weekend.

John and I were together “officially” for 18 months, but our relationship actually spanned ten years – from December 1970 to December 1980.

My association with the Lennons began as a working relationship. For three years, I had a dream job: personal assistant and production co-ordinator for John and Yoko.

A typical day would consist of the mundane (such as brewing the morning coffee), to calling the likes of Jackie Onassis or Andy Warhol, to co-ordinating recording sessions. Each day would hold a surprise.

But the biggest surprise of all came in the summer of 1973 as I was organising media coverage for Yoko’s new album Feeling The Space and sessions for John’s upcoming album Mind Games.

One morning, Yoko came to my office in their apartment at the Dakota building, New York, and told me that she and John were not “getting along”, which wasn’t exactly surprising news to those of us who worked alongside them.

Yoko said John would start seeing someone new and she wanted it to be “someone who would treat John well”. I now sensed a bombshell coming. I was thinking: “If they split, who will I be working for?”

Yoko continued: “You don’t have a boyfriend.” I dropped my pad and pen. Did I just hear right?

I assured her I wasn’t interested in John, if that’s what she was thinking, but Yoko didn’t stop there: “I think you should go out with him.”

I was dumbfounded and kept telling her no, but apparently her mind was made up. “If John asks you out, you should go!” Yoko announced, making it sound a little stronger than a suggestion.

For the next two weeks, all was quiet. Recording was put on hold and I assumed John and Yoko had worked out their differences.

When John resumed recording Mind Games, I prepared to accompany him to the studio. The moment we got into the lift at the Dakota, my world changed.

John grabbed me and kissed me and said: “I’ve been waiting to do that all f****** day.”

As we drove to the studio, I sat in silence while John kept assuring me that “it’s OK, don’t be frightened, everything will be all right”.

After the recording session, John told me he was coming home with me. I just couldn’t deal with it, so I ordered the car to take him to the Dakota.

After a couple of nights of trying to come home with me and getting rebuffed, he sent the car away during a session without my knowledge.  

“We’re getting a cab and I’m coming home with you,” he declared. I wasn’t going to argue on the streets of New York at 2am. And so our relationship began.

Shortly after Mind Games was completed, Yoko flew to Chicago for a feminist seminar. On the spur of the moment John decided we should go to Los Angeles with his lawyer, Harold Seider.

I hardly had time to pack and tell my mother. I threw a few things together and grabbed my Nikkormat 35mm camera.

John later bought me a new Polaroid SX-70 for my birthday (as well as my first cool car, a 1968 Barracuda).

In LA, we saw old friends and made new ones. We also began taking road trips because John wanted to experience America. He encouraged me to capture our times together.

Photography had always been a hobby for me, so this was natural. He “really liked my eye for taking pictures” and felt I captured him in ways that no one else had because of his comfort level with me. Of course, I was flattered.

In those days, nobody thought of taking photos all the time – we always thought there would be tomorrow.

Many of what are now considered historic events, such as John and Paul McCartney’s only jam session after The Beatles split up, weren’t photographed. I’m surprised I captured as many moments as I did.

There were times I was a bit reticent in taking out my camera, particularly when friends stopped by. I didn’t want to intrude on these moments, but John insisted.

For years, only my closest friends got to see these photos, which I kept in a shoe box in my closet. They were surprised these images did not convey the John portrayed in the Press during our time together. In fact, the photos showed a side of John seldom seen.

Every photograph holds a special memory for me, especially the ones I took of John with his then ten-year-old son, Julian. When John laid eyes on him for the first time in four years, he was shocked to see “a little man” and not the small child he remembered.  

They spent a lot of time getting reacquainted as father and son, playing the guitar and making music. They were both good swimmers, which I was not, enabling me to capture some rare moments of togetherness.

As I started going through my photos, memories of our time together came back, opening up a floodgate of emotions – from happiness to sadness and back to happiness.

The best part is that I feel these images bring John back to life. Here, I share with you John Lennon . . . through my eyes.

THE BEACH HOUSE

Although some people are under the impression that John and I spent our entire year-and-a-half together in LA, we spent only about seven months there, from September 1973, with many long breaks back in New York.

The most infamous place we called home in LA was a rented beach house in Santa Monica. It was built by film producer Louis B. Mayer, was quite “Hollywood” in design and had been a hotspot for movie royalty.

It was later owned by the actor Peter Lawford, who continued the tradition by hosting fellow Hollywood luminaries as well as his brothers-in-law, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, on many occasions. Allegedly, Marilyn Monroe had been a frequent visitor, which greatly piqued John’s interest.

When John decided to produce Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats album, he thought it would be a great idea to have everyone who was working on it living under one roof.

John and I took the master bedroom. When we first saw it, he said: “So, this is where they did it,” referring to John F. Kennedy and Monroe. The other five bedrooms were occupied by Keith Moon, Harry, Hilary Gerrard [Ringo Starr’s business manager] and Klaus Voormann, the artist who had designed the cover for The Beatles’ album Revolver.

The library, complete with official portrait of President Kennedy on the wall, was converted into a bedroom for Ringo.

Although we could still see remnants of the home’s historic splendour, the new owners obviously didn’t feel the need to preserve the original decor.

They had sealed up the huge projection screen installed by Mayer and covered expensive parquet floors with a hideous Seventies shag carpet.  

IN THE DESERT

In early October 1973, John and I went to Las Vegas for a few days. We flew there from Los Angeles on a shuttle booked by our friend Elliot Mintz, who came with us.

Our seats were in the middle of the aircraft. Everybody was going nuts over John, who looked at Elliot and said: “Why are we back here in the middle of all this?”

When Elliot explained there was no first-class section, John snapped: “Please think before putting me in this situation again!”

Once we’d had enough of Vegas, we drove back to LA. On the way, we came across an abandoned mining town called Calico, a real slice of Americana, right out of a history book or a Western.

In my pictures of John in Calico, you can see embroidery on his jeans – that’s because they were mine. One morning, John woke me up by saying: “I’m wearing your jeans!”

“So I see,” I said. “Why?”

“Because they fit. I love them!” He never gave them back. I thought it wise to remove the butterflies and flowers I had sewn on them – remember, this was the Seventies.

As we wandered around Calico, John kept eyeing a Harley trike, so finally I said: “Just go over to it and I’ll take a picture.”

I took only a single shot which, fortunately, came out pretty well. After I took the photo, John joked in a Bogey-esque drawl: “Hop on, kid, let’s blow this joint.”

MAJOR AND MINOR

One day while John was recording, the studio receptionist brought in a litter of kittens. John knew what I was thinking. “No, we can’t, we’re travelling too much,” he said.

I picked up a black one and put him over my shoulder. John rolled his eyes and said: “Now you’ve done it!” I had a moment of doubt but when John came over, he started stroking the kitten and said: “Well, I guess we have to have a cat.”

At the end of the day when we were leaving the studio, John asked if there were any left. Only one remained – a white one that no one wanted because she was so loud – so we took them both home.

John called them Major and Minor and said they reminded him of his days with Aunt Mimi, whom he playfully referred to as the Cat Woman.

FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST

John had a voracious appetite. We had a tradition every Sunday: at 11am I’d fetch the New York Times, some of the British papers, and coffee (John gave up tea in America because it was decidedly British).

I would then make a big English breakfast of bacon and eggs, beans, toast, tomatoes, chips and sometimes black pudding, after I discovered a local Irish butcher who sold it.

I didn’t know how to cook it at first, so I asked John, who said: “Just fry it up.” The pudding really made the kitchen stink but he loved it.

John also loved Chinese food, especially my mum’s. When we were home in New York, she would bring over her speciality: fried rice and spare ribs.

As unconventional as John was, he was also old-fashioned. Because of the nature of our relationship, John felt uneasy and never met my mum, which he later regretted. He would hide behind the door until she left.

THE FINAL CONTRACT

At the end of 1974, after three years of court battles and acrimony, the final dissolution of The Beatles was about to happen.

The meeting was scheduled for December 19 at New York’s Plaza Hotel – ironically, this was the first place the group stayed in America in 1964.

George Harrison was in New York on his Dark Horse tour. Paul and Linda McCartney came in, and of course John and I were already in the city. Only Ringo was missing, but he had signed the documents in England.

Julian was with us for the Christmas holiday and all was calm, all was bright. John was even planning to join George on stage during his concert at Madison Square Garden.

Gathered around a huge table were George, his lawyer and business manager; the McCartneys, with Paul’s in-laws and lawyers; Ringo’s lawyer and business manager; Neil Aspinall, of Apple, with two sets of company lawyers (one for America and one for Britain); and John’s lawyer Harold Seider and his team.

Harold told me that after a while, George said out loud what everyone was thinking: “Where’s John?”

“Good question,” replied Harold. Harold left the room to call John, who wouldn’t come to the phone.

I was with John and it was up to me to tell Harold he had decided not to attend the meeting. Although John was concerned with shouldering a major tax burden because he lived in the United States, I could sense there was a bit more on his mind. His official reason for not showing was ‘the stars aren’t right’.

George, already in a dour mood because his tour was getting poor reviews, went ballistic. He started yelling at Harold, as did all the other lawyers in the room.

Then George picked up the phone and called John. I answered and asked if he wanted John, but he barked, “No! Just tell him whatever his problem is, I started this tour on my own and I’ll end it on my own!” before slamming down the receiver. John was listening over my shoulder.

George’s rage didn’t last long. Julian went to George’s concert the next day and returned home with a message saying: “All’s forgiven, George loves you and he wants you to come to his party tonight.”

We did go to the party at the Hippopotamus Club, where George, John, and Paul all hugged.

John, Julian and I left New York the following day to spend Christmas in Florida. On December 29, 1974, the voluminous documents were brought down to John in Florida by one of Apple’s lawyers.

“Take out your camera,” he joked to me. Then he called Harold to go over some final points.

When John hung up the phone, he looked wistfully out the window. I could almost see him replaying the entire Beatles experience in his mind.

He finally picked up his pen and, in the unlikely backdrop of the Polynesian Village Hotel at Disney World, ended the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in history by simply scrawling John Lennon at the bottom of the page.

Source: Daily Mail

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23 Responses

  1. YAWN, same old same old. nothing new. Everything said in this article was already in her book Loving John she put out in 1983. There is only one picture of John and Paul in this book and you have all seen it in this article. Therefore, no need to buy the book. John knew how to mug for a camera, these pictures prove nothing. John said he was unhappy during the 18 months with May and I think John knew how he felt better then anyone else. May is worse then Yoko

    • You are clearly not smart. John said to one of his friends “You know Larry, You know Larry, I may have been the happiest I’ve ever been… I loved this woman (Pang), I made some beautiful music and I got so fucked up with booze and shit and whatever.” So you are doubting his word. I’ll take what he said in private over whatever the fuck he said in public.

  2. You said there is only one picture of John and Paul in this book…you mean you’ve actually seen the book? How is that possible? It’s not out yet!

    And as for John saying he was unhappy, may I point you to the following quote (this is sourced from the May Pang Wikipedia page and it has solid references to back it up):

    Journalist Larry Kane, who befriended Lennon in 1964, wrote a comprehensive biography of Lennon which detailed the “Lost Weekend” period. In the interview with Kane, Lennon explained his feelings about his time with Pang: “You know Larry, I may have been the happiest I’ve ever been… I loved this woman, [Pang] I made some beautiful music and I got so fucked up with booze and shit and whatever.”[24][25]

    According to the press, this book is not about the stories but about the photos–150 of them, most have never been seen before and many show John happy and relaxing with friends and his son.

    Lucy, please don’t pretend you’ve seen this book, you haven’t. You’re not fooling anyone.

  3. Lucy Lennon is nothing more than a cyber stalker. She follows May around like a MDC. Of course she hasn’t seen the book yet. The fans are gonna love this book, The pictures shown fromit are a mere tidbit of the goodness between the covers.

  4. Knee-high rainbow socks! OMG

  5. I have a friend at the publishers and have seen the trade release copy of this book. There is one photo of John and Paul.

    As far as your “sourced” quote, it is all heresay. Anyone can say “Lennon said this or that”. There is no proof that John EVER said that to Larry Kane, it is Kanes word against the world. The actual quote in Kane’s book never mentions Pang by name the quote is he loved a “woman”. John had many affairs during his time with May so it is speculation to assume he meant Pang.

  6. When you read the ENTIRE passage from Kane’s book it most certainly says John was speaking about his time with May Pang and not a some anonymous hatcheck girl, as you imply.

    As for your having a “friend” at the publisher, I doubt it. If you HAD seen the book you would have mentioned the forward by Larry Kane and the beautiful words from Julian Lennon and his mother, Cynthia, all of which confirm exactly what May has said for years.

    Stop pretending to be an insider, Lucy…your wannabee act is desperate and pathetic.

  7. Well I guess YOU have a “friend” at the publisher as well or how would you know all these “inside scoops”? good for you. However, Larry Kanes book NEVER mentions Pang at all in that quote so it is insinuation, IF John even said that at all. Perhaps Pang gave Kane a blowjob to write that. WHO CARES? May never deserved time with John and she still doesn’t seem to get that John was only LOANED to her by Yoko, which was a sick thing for Yoko to do. By May’s own admission, John was never interested in her until Yoko said he could have some pie on the side. This was arranged only for convenience for Yoko.

    • Oh my fucking god. He wrote it for the introduction of her book which you “supposedly” read. You stalk May from beginning to end, writing shit about her and her time with Lennon. What the hell do you mean? Yoko chose May because she knew that John liked her!? When Yoko told John, he asked her how she knew. May is no fucking slut either? Have you not read anything about her? Both she and Larry are people of class.

  8. Obviously I have seen the book and you haven’t…I guess that’s pretty clear now, isn’t it?

    You don’t know anything about this whole story.

    Better quit before you expose more of your ignorance, you desperate nothing wannabe.

  9. Just relax and enjoy the photo’s…for christ’s sake!

  10. oh what are you getting so upset about IM?

    could it be that your little fantasy is threatened by the reality that John will NEVER be with May ever again?

    you are so desperate to defend your “place” that you’re gonna burst, hahaha.

    I’m not the one who’s desperate.

  11. I believe the Beatles to be a great Pop group. However, The Rolling Stones are the Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band EVER! The Stones have the most top 40 hits- the most successful tour-and the most consecutive # 1 albums. The Beatles sold more records, but the Stones music is still current. On the contrary, The Beatles music is dated. Try playing Yesterday at a Teenage party today-you will get Bored faces from the crowd. Play BROWN SUGAR and you get SMILES!

  12. […] one of the best books on John a few years earlier, in the form of Loving John.  This new book, Instamatic Karma, looks like it will be the pictorial record of her time with John, though, and be nothing short of […]

  13. Wow, old posts here. But that won’t stop me from putting my two cents worth in. “Lucy Lennon”…are you for real? Or just real delusional? You sound ignorant. Do you know these people or were you there when all the shit went down like you say it did??? How the fuck do you know? —-You have alot of balls to talk about two woman you know nothing about and don’t even know. Desperate and pathetic is exactly what you are, stupid. WHOSE little fantasy is being threatened here??? YOUR fantasy, the one where you think you know ANY of them, let alone what they said, did or thought you freaking retard. Did you think you’d come on here and impress someone?? The only thing I am impressed with is the depth of your delusional ignorance.
    I hope Yoko and May don’t happen upon your stupidity like the rest of us unfortunate to know you exist

  14. “oh what are you getting so upset about IM?

    could it be that your little fantasy is threatened by the reality that John will NEVER be with May ever again?

    you are so desperate to defend your “place” that you’re gonna burst, hahaha.

    I’m not the one who’s desperate”

    What a freaking witty comeback. If your going to show the world your lack of an education at least do us all a favor and use your freaking spell check would ya??

  15. Oh Lucy you are just great for a laugh. You have a “friend” at “the publishers”?? And what publiser is that liar? If you have any friend at any publisher, outside of your mind that is, you would say who this alleged “friend” is or at least what publisher. At “the publishers”……..you really are a desperate nothing wannabe. Don’t assume everyone is as stupid as you are……..

  16. And by the way, Sean…….The Rolling Stones belong in a nursing home. You want to talk about dated, hello, they are from the same freaking time of The Beatles. You must have got lost and thought this was a Rolling Stones post. I’ll let it go this time.

  17. This book is an extremely touching look at the real John Lennon that none of us fans will ever know. The truly lucky ones are those that had the chance to be so close to him.

    Of course John was happy. Have you heard Surprise, Surprise? It’s John’s song about May Pang. Saying “I need her” and I” love her” do not denote that he was unhappy.

    Lucy, she also says she didn’t capture a lot of photos with John and Paul. She didn’t want to intrude.

    And the forwards were very touching as well. My heart still goes out to those who lost him.

    • Even his music was great when he was with May. He wrote his greatest songs there. They were passionate and jazzy. May’s song was better than all his songs written for Yoko, that’s for sure. He didn’t sound like a dead washed up, old pop singer. He sounded like a real rock star, whose creative juice was flowing.

  18. Oh, and #1 fan, there’s really no need to be so rude.

    Peace. It’s a good practice.

  19. Hmm.

    It seems “Lucy Lennon” was right. There IS only one picture of John and Paul in this book. Wonder how she knew that before anyone else did. Also wonder how all the other “insiders” above did not know it.

  20. I am so tired of people talking about John when he is no longer here to dispute it. I knew John starting in 1976 and ending on December 8 1980. The so called homebound John was always in my home. John told me the truth (according to John) about May Pang and his “so called agreement” with Yoko. But all these women talk now that John is dead and the other side cannot be heard. I have endless pictures of us together. Notes John wrote me every day when I was at work. John introduced me to many people who could easily vouch for our relationship. However John hated the fact that he had become what he referred to as a dollar sign to everyone he knew. I guess they feel they have it coming to them for services rendered. I on the other hand have been approached by many publishing companies because of people that knew John and I together but I’m not going to exploit our relationship. It was wonderful, personal and private. I can support myself without exploiting someone I loved who loved me. So May tell your stories they are one sided and according to John nothing like you say. He wanted you out of his life and made it clear to several people even Bob Gruen. Your still using him your a sell out. You will sell John out for money. Which by the way you were always contacting him for. As far as Yoko and her stories she should be writing story books she’s been lying since she went to England looking for money and started at Paul’s house asking for sheet music and then stated she never heard of the Beatles. She was in a mental institution not a cave. Mimi was right from the start all she wanted was the Lennon name and the Lennon money she never really loved her John. What can I say and in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

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