October 9, 2008 12:05 PM
May Pang, John Lennon's girlfriend during the 'Lost Weekend' years, on the former Beatle and her new book 'Instamatic Karma'
gr8fuldude(Q) Had Mr. Lennon lived into today, how do you think his music would have evolved, and what do you think his view of today's music and the state of the music industry would be?
May_Pang(A) Whoo! I cannot say what his music would sound like. Only John would know that. As far as the music business, that's a hard one. I can't go there. Who'd have thought I'd be saying right now 'What music business?'
Mark_Wolf(Q) How seriously did John pursue trying to get the Beatles back together?
May_Pang(A) We thought about it to the point where John was ready to have a good laugh, have a couple of gigs -- not to do it permanently. We thought about it to start up in upstate New York. He asked me about writing with Paul again. That was in January of 1975.
Mark_Wolf(Q) Would he and Paul at least have written together?
May_Pang(A) We had been with Paul recently and he mentioned he was going to New Orleans to record what was ultimately the Venus and Mars album. John was thinking about wanting to write with him and was it a good idea? Of course I said yes.
seventeen(Q) Hi May, ever considered writing a movie script entitled "The Lost Weekend"? I'm sure this would make a great movie / love story.
May_Pang(A) People have approached me about it but i've not thought about it seriously at this time. I have other things that I'm doing. Right now I'm at Civic Center Park with my new book, Instamatic Karma, full of John photos from that "weekend." Please come down!
seventeen(C) Thanks May, love
noozgroop(Q) Can you give more information about the photo of John and Paul, circa 1974, in your book? What went on that day?
May_Pang(A) Just relaxing. It was the day after the first visit to the Harry Nilsson session. The next day he brought Linda and the kids so everyone was relaxing at the house in Santa Monica. It was just a day at the house. If anyone was hungry they got food. Paul sat at the piano and played piano. Mary looked at him and said 'Dad, are you some kind of pop star?' I think she was 5 or 6 at the time.
Mark_Wolf(Q) How did the Instamatic Karma book come about?
May_Pang(A) My friend Mario who has known me since he was 14, kept saying to me the stories that came out from the 'lost weekend' days don't match up with the photos I own and had taken of John during that time. We thought the truth should ultimately come out about what it was really like. He wasn't down and out.
Mark_Wolf(Q) Reviewers have remarked on how relaxed and happy John looks in the pictures in Instamatic Karma. Was part of your aim with the book to refute the notion that he was wasted and depressed during those years?
May_Pang(A) Yes, see above answer. It was a peaceful and relaxing time, with a few odd moments out!
noozgroop(Q) What contact did you have with John after 1975? When was the last time you communicated with him?
May_Pang(A) He called me memorial weekend, 1980. It ws my last communication with him. He called me from Capetown, South Africa to see if I was OK. And to say he was thinking of me and hoped we'd be able to get together shortly.
john_stone(Q) What did you think of the new reissue of Dennis Wilson Pacific Ocean Blue?
May_Pang(A) I haven't heard it yet. Why do you ask?
noozgroop(Q) Did John seem awkward around Julian? Was it your idea to get the two of them closer together?
May_Pang(A) At first John felt a bit awkward with Julian, having not seen him in a few years. But it was my idea to make sure that he wouldn't lose touch with him again after getting together. When we knew we were coming up to record at Caribou we thought Julian might like to see the place. But unfortunately as a 10-year-old kid he wanted to play with friends in Los Angeles!
john_stone(Q) what do you remember about the making of harry nilsson %%%%% cats?
May_Pang(A) Laughs! Anything specific? I remember a lot of it. I was only the production coordinator!
Mark_Wolf(Q) You write that as unconventional as John was, he was also old-fashioned, especially about your mother.
May_Pang(A) Yes. He was nervous in just meeting her. And he wanted it in a better setting. But in the end he unfortunately did not meet her. He told me later on when we were no longer together that he was sad we did not meet up with her.
noozgroop(Q) You mentioned the phone call in 1980, but was there any contact with John between 1975-1979? If you were "cut off," do you think this was Yoko's influence?
May_Pang(A) Yes, there was contact. We saw each other quite often during '75 to '79. He would just call me and want to come over and see me.
Mark_Wolf(Q) John didn't attend the meeting that dissolved the Beatles. Why not and what were his feelings about the official breakup of the group?
May_Pang(A) He didn't want to attend the meeting for the final signing because there were a couple of things in the contract he didn't feel comfortable with. Of course George was upset. He was screaming down the phone. Paul and Linda were shocked as well. The next day Paul came over to see us and ask what was going on. John aired his concerns about parts of the contract. Later on it was worked out. The lawyers brought it down to John to sign it in Disney World of all places, where we were vacationing for the Christmas holiday with Julian. He said 'Started the band, ended the band' because the others had already signed it.
xia5(Q) What a pleasure to be able to speak you you May! My question is, I recently read you described John as willing to make music again with the Beatles. How close did that reunion really come to taking place?
May_Pang(A) Close enough. The consideration was there. If you consider it that much, it was close. He was willing to get onstage. He'd done stuff with Ringo. It was getting closer all the time.
mrjinks(Q) How aware was John of the other ex-beatles solo recordings? Did he seem to know what George was doing in the studio and what did he think of it? What music would he listen to? Current (at the time), "oldies", nothing?
May_Pang(A) He was aware of everyone. He was always open for someone to bring new music to him. He helped put Billy Swan's I Can Help on the charts. He loved Love Train by the OJays. He liked the riff out of Shame Shame Shame, and next thing you know there's a #1 record out of it with Bowie -- Fame.
noozgroop(Q) Did John ever explain the meaning of "Ah! Bowakawa, pousse, pousse" in #9 Dream?
May_Pang(A) Those words just came to John in a dream one night. It has no meaning. He didn't understand it. It just came to him and he put it in the song.
noozgroop(Q) Were you disappointed when John returned to Yoko in 1975? Did you envision a future with him?
May_Pang(A) What can I say except that I took each day as one day at a time?
xia5(Q) I would love to have some John Lennon art on my wall. I went to an art showing of his work in Denver and noticed there were different ways his signature was signed. Did he have differents ways or should I be wary about fakes?
May_Pang(A) That's not my area of expertise.
seventeen(Q) Hey May, I now this question will sound a bit left field, but what do you think of Oasis ? They claim a huge Lennon / Beatles influence, and even included a Lennon talk sampling on their latest release "Dig Out Your Soul".
May_Pang(A) I know that they're big, big fans of John. I think it's Liam who named his son after him, Lennon. I know he wants to move to America to get a feeling of John in that time period. I don't know their music at all.
Yabo(Q) Hi May, I'm a bit late (hopefully not too late), recently got back from Beatle week in Liverpool, they spoke kindly of you there... an old man at the Penny Lane barbershop called John a Yabo... he lived across the road from him... very entertaining (funny old man) and I look forward to reading your new book!
May_Pang(A) Thank you! I'm in Civic Center Park all day today signing copies. Today is John's birthday. Come on down! I'm enjoying Denver since I haven't been here since I came here with John in 1974!
noozgroop(Q) Did John ever speak about his first wife Cynthia?
May_Pang(A) Yes, I got the two of them together when Julian first arrived in America. It was the first time Cynthia had seen john in years. It was closure on their life in that sense, seeing one another and talking to each other.
Arn(Q) You were in Denver with John in 1974? What was the occasion?
May_Pang(A) This was to go up and record with Elton at Caribou Ranch for Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. He loved it. It was John's suggestion to put that little reggae beat in the middle of the song.
Mark_Wolf(Q) Combining two similar questions: From Aggie: If Yoko was actually instrumental in putting you and John together originally, why do you think she doesn't talk with you these days? and from xia5: What reasons can you give for not beining included in Yoko's book, "Memories of John Lennon"? You'd have more memories than a Jackie DeShannon or Bonnie Raitt.
May_Pang(A) Even though Yoko wanted us to be together it was actually John who pursued me. I decided to go off with him. It was really John himself. She suggested, but it was John who initiated it at the end.
mlwlegal(Q) what were John's specific opinions of the other beatles, personally and musically?
May_Pang(A) He never had a worry about Paul about writing. It was a given. Paul was his equal. George was like his younger brother, followed John everywhere. Ringo he worried about. Because he didn't write songs. I'm down at Civic Center Park, there's live music and I'll be speaking to the crowd at noon. Come on down everyone!
mrjinks(Q) John seemed to disengage from politics/activism in the time you were together. Was he still passionate about causes? Would he, for example, read a daily newspaper and get animated about events in the news? Or was he more involved in music & "life" during that period?
May_Pang(A) His favorite newspaper was the New York Times. He kept up with events, but he had to go back to his roots, which was his music.
Mark_Wolf(P) Thanks to May Pang and thanks to all the participants for the excellent questions.