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Old 05-05-2010, 06:01 AM
 
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Today at the store the clerk was playing her Ipod, out from it came John Lennon's "Just Like Starting Over".

Hearing that song reminded of the stories I have heard about Lennon over the years but the one about him making the statement about how he/The Beatles were "bigger than Jesus".

OK...when Lennon said "bigger than Jesus"..at the time was this really a big deal? I know it was in the south and midwest but what about places like California? New York? New England?

In the 60's would it had made any difference had someone else made that statement. For the sake of this thread say that it was some major icon like Lucille Ball or even Bob Hope who had said "..hey I am bigger than Jesus Christ"..would that had made any difference? Would people be more willing to "accept" Lucy saying it than some "punk who plays the devil's music" such as John Lennon.

Could one of today's big stars , compare themselves to Jesus and get away with it today" Example someone like Ryan Seacrest, supposed on American Idol, Ryan would look into the camera and say "..you know what America..I AM bigger and more popular than Christ !!"..would people today even care?
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Old 05-05-2010, 06:20 AM
 
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I remember when that happened. It was taken the wrong way. He said they were more popular than jesus, which was true among teenagers and young 20's. Certainly were more popular with me! I was shocked that teenagers were burning their albums because of this! WTF?!

I don't think it would be a big deal now except in the bible belt.
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:28 AM
 
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Anything he said in the late sixties recieved a great deal of attention, even if it was off the cuff. The statement was completely misunderstood and he tried to point out to limited effect. It might be noted that the present pope has stated that the beatles were misunderstood and were an interesting group. Forty years ago he might have been listening to them
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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While living, Jesus did not enjoy much popularity outside his immediate group of followers. He simply was not a big deal in his own time and place. There are no sources outside of the gospels which make any mention of him until the start of the Second Century. John the Baptist was a much bigger star as is evidenced by the treatment given him by Flavius Josephus who chronicled the history of Judea in the First Century. Cornelius Tacitus, the Roman historian of the era, found no reason to make mention of anyone named Jesus.

Jesus the Legend, the mega star, was an invention of his followers many years after his execution.

The vast majority of the Roman world simply never heard of Jesus while he was walking around, and among those who had, he was primarily regarded as just one more trouble maker, one more in an ongoing series of messiah wannabees who tired to provoke the crowds in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast. The Romans had to deal with such people every year, Jesus was just one in a string.
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:40 AM
 
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Good thread Cathyj! And some good commentary here.

Like the others here, I was a teenager in this era. We didn't have Rolling Stone, Mojo, or the other various rock and roll related magazines to find out about this, it was basically the three major networks, the newspapers, Life magazine, etc. to report on this.

I'm sure if I can google this subject on the web a whole bunch of info can pop up here, so I'm only going on memory here and my own thoughts.

By the Spring of 1966, the Fab 4 had released 10 albums on Capitol, one on United Artists (A Hard Days Night), and 2 on Vee-Jay (I'm sure I'm leaving an item or 2 out here). They had released two movies; Help and A Hard Days Night. They were touring non stop; the concerts were sellouts, the fans were going bonkers, and the media pressure on them was unrelenting.

I remember those comments well. I heard it first on NBC's Huntley-Brinkley report, with ABC and CBS reporting on this as well. There were two other controversial things going on with the Beatles at this time.

One was the concert in the Philippines. in the Spring of 1966. If memory serves Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos wanted the Beatles to meet them after the concert the next morning. Apparently any public figure who visited and/or performed in the Philippines had indeed visited the Marcos family. They didn't, and it created a lot of bad publicity for them. In fact, they got out of that country just in the nick of time as riots had occurred over the snub. If memory serves, Brian Epstein, their manager said that it's not that they wouldn't, but just couldn't due to the tour schedule, flying out of the Philippines, etc., etc.

The other was a major disagreement with their label, Capitol Records. The Beatles releases in Great Britain were on EMI-Parlophone. They were not only superior in quality but also contained extra tracks on the albums themselves. The Beatles were critical of the production of their last few lp's and told Capitol just that, with the Beatles claiming they were "butchering" their latest releases. Yesterday and Today covered a number of those songs left out on the original UK releases from the last couple years. I don't believe the record buying public was clued in to their disagreements with Capitol at that time, so the Beatles decided to make a statement.

Yesterday and Today was released on June 15, 1966 and the album cover got everybody's attention, like right now! It showed the Beatles dressed in butcher smocks with doll parts and cuts of raw meat laying on the Beatles laps, with the Beatles all smiling. When those shipments of the lp hit the retail market, a lot of the buying public had a moo cow over the cover, particularly in the South. But the problem was at that time the public did not understand the point of the cover. Led by U.S. Customs, lots of copies were immediately destroyed, and thousands of other copies were sent back to Capitol records. The critics considered the cover "extremely offensive". They also considered it to be unmarketable due to a "misinterpretation of pop satire." Shortly after that is when the album and memorabilia burnings started. The one southern city that got the most publicity on this was Birmingham, Alabama.

Later that summer John Lennon addressed the "Jesus" issue, and the one statement I remember him saying is they are not putting down Jesus or organized religion, that while the group appreciated the attention they were getting, they thought the media reporting their every move and pandemonium breaking out wherever they went was simply too much. And they were right.

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 05-05-2010 at 12:02 PM..
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Earth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noetsi View Post
Anything he said in the late sixties recieved a great deal of attention, even if it was off the cuff. The statement was completely misunderstood and he tried to point out to limited effect. It might be noted that the present pope has stated that the beatles were misunderstood and were an interesting group. Forty years ago he might have been listening to them
Considering that the KKK threatened to kill Lennon (at a time when Civil Rights tensions were at their height and the Klan was much bigger than today) and Memphis police found a bomb in the arena where the Beatles were playing that night (and fortunately removed it before the crowd came in), it was a MAJOR deal.

The Beatles also got threats from Quebecois separatists when they played Montreal on that tour (the threats said something about "Jews coming here from England to destroy our culture", although none of the Beatles were Jewish and only Ringo had Jewish ancestry), as well as threats from Japanese ultranationalists (not related to the Christ statement) and being fired upon by police at Manila airport as they were leaving the country after turning down a request by Imelda Marcos to play for the kids of the elite (mentioned elsewhere in the thread). These threats of violence had a great deal to do with the Beatles' retirement from touring (as well as the increasing complexity of their material ; on the 1966 tour the only new song they performed was "Paperback Writer").

The "more popular than Jesus" statement later resulted in a young Christian fundie named Mark David Chapman becoming obsessed with killing Lennon ; while he was a counselor in a Christian summer camp in the early 1970s he had the kids singing "imagine John Lennon dead", and Chapman would go on to kill Lennon.

FWIW, as the Beatles never covered up pedophile acts by their employees nor did they ever promote genocides in Africa, one wonders who should be doing the apologizing. Ringo said something to that extent.
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Old 05-06-2010, 05:53 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn
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I remember Lennon's comment too. I also remember that shortly afterwards, in the wake of the international firestorm he created, Lennon explained that he meant the Beatles had a larger following than Jesus did judging by the number of their fans. He was talking about numbers, not necessarily importance or influence (beyond the strictly musical). Whether or not he was trying to put a band-aid on the situation or qualifying a vague statement, I don't know. But his explanation didn't get anywhere near the publicity as the original comment.
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Old 05-06-2010, 08:08 AM
 
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If Lucy had said it?

That's easy. She and her program would have died under a wave of negative publicity, and the network would have announced the cancellation of her series to show that it was on God's side.

The Beatles were at least regarded as four, slightly weird foreign musicians by most American adults....Lucy was (a currently much over-used word) a national icon, and she could never have gotten away with it.
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Old 05-06-2010, 08:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by majoun View Post
The Beatles also got threats from Quebecois separatists when they played Montreal on that tour (the threats said something about "Jews coming here from England to destroy our culture", although none of the Beatles were Jewish and only Ringo had Jewish ancestry), as well as threats from Japanese ultranationalists (not related to the Christ statement) and being fired upon by police at Manila airport as they were leaving the country after turning down a request by Imelda Marcos to play for the kids of the elite (mentioned elsewhere in the thread). These threats of violence had a great deal to do with the Beatles' retirement from touring (as well as the increasing complexity of their material ; on the 1966 tour the only new song they performed was "Paperback Writer").
Also the Beatles by 1966 were becoming very very picky as to which US cities to play in. The Beatles were almost signed to play Victory Stadium in Roanoke, Virginia but it didn't happen mainly because Brian Epstein had some "bad vibe" about that city's airport. Central Pennyslvania's Hersheypark Arena was another venue that was to host the Beatles but that never happened either.

The Beatles for some unknown reason never played Phoenix, the Carolinas, Columbus ( Ohio ) and Louisville, Kentucky plus some of the places where the band did play the first time in 1964, they would never to come back as they developed a distaste for the city. That happened in Denver, Jacksonville and Indianapolis. Several years ago on ythe radio program "Beatle Brunch" they played an audio piece of the band really slamming those 3 cities.
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kevxu View Post
If Lucy had said it?

That's easy. She and her program would have died under a wave of negative publicity, and the network would have announced the cancellation of her series to show that it was on God's side.

The Beatles were at least regarded as four, slightly weird foreign musicians by most American adults....Lucy was (a currently much over-used word) a national icon, and she could never have gotten away with it.
Then again both William Frawley ( Fred Mertz ) and Vivian Vance ( Ethel Mertz ) were atheist and both were at the time of I Love Lucy quite blunt about their opinions too. Actually acording to a 1959 TV Guide article Frawley himself had said that religion was a "sham" and "worthless" but despite that Frawley was still offered a full-time job on "My Three Sons". In the bio about Vivian Vance that came out about a decade ago, according to interviews from the 70's of Vivian Vance herself, well she didn't speak highly about any religion either, she actually damned it, I am sure CBS knew about all of this from day one. Had Lucy herself would had said that she was "bigger than Jesus" and with Vance & Frawley being so connected to Lucy perhaps CBS and/or the general public would had looked the other way.

Last edited by cathy J.; 05-06-2010 at 12:06 PM..
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