It was 53 years ago Saturday (November 9th, 1966) that John Lennon and Yoko Ono first met. Yoko was preparing a conceptual art show at a London’s Indica Gallery, which was owned by Lennon’s friend John Dunbar. Lennon was invited to peruse the exhibition the night before the show opened, which led to the future couple being introduced. Lennon recalled the meeting to Rolling Stone in 1970, saying, “I got the humor in her work immediately. I didn’t have to have much knowledge about avant garde or underground art, but the humor got me straight away. . . There was a fresh apple on a stand and it was 200 (British pounds) to watch it decompose.”
Lennon eventually went on to sponsor several of Yoko’s exhibitions, prior to the pair becoming lovers in the spring of 1968. Lennon and Yoko were married on March 20th, 1969.
John Lennon recalled meeting Yoko in 1966: [“I’m looking for action, y’know? I see this thing, ‘Hammer A Nail In’ — it’s a board with a chain and a hammer hanging on it and a bunch of nails at the bottom. I said, ‘Well, can I hammer a nail in?’ (Yoko laughs) She says, ‘No.’ But she came over and says, ‘You can hammer one in for five schillings. I said, ‘Are you. . . I’ll give you an imaginary five schillings and hammer an imaginary nail in, alright?’ And that’s when we fell — (sings) da da da da.”] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . da da da)
George Harrison‘s first wife Pattie Boyd says that the days of all the Beatles‘ wives being a close-knit group pretty much ended with Yoko entering the inner circle: [“John fell in love with Yoko and that was that. She was more a man’s woman than a woman’s woman. She would never have girlfriends, I don’t think, anyway. Y’know, that was fine, so I knew I’d never get close to her. She was quite friendly toward me. I mean, she and John once stayed in our house and she was just so intent on John all the time. John was her only focus, really and truly.”] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . really and truly)
Despite the tension between Paul McCartney and Yoko over the years, in his recent book, titled McCartney, author Christopher Sanford uncovered a first-hand source that alleges that in 1966, prior to hooking up with Lennon, Yoko and McCartney were actually romantically linked. Sanford’s unnamed source places himself at McCartney’s London townhouse throughout the duration of a social call by Yoko.
Sanford says that judging from McCartney’s taste in women alone, it’s not too far fetched to believe that the affair took place: [“He was known for his attraction to women who were not necessarily, shall we say, traditionally good looking. And we have the source I mentioned, who says that (Paul and Yoko) displayed notable affection for each other. They went up the stairs, and he was seen hugging and squeezing her as she left later that afternoon.”] SOUNDCUE (:20 OC: . . . later that afternoon)
John Lennon recalled that linking with Yoko Ono as his partner ultimately meant that his days as a Beatle were fading fast: [“But I presumed that I would just be able to carry on and bring Yoko into our lives, but it seemed I had to be married to them or Yoko. And I chose Yoko. y’know? And I was right.”] SOUNDCUE (:10 OC: . . . I was right)
IN OTHER BEATLES HISTORY
Today also marks the 53rd anniversary of what was rumored to be the day Paul McCartney died (November 9th, 1966). The legendary conspiracy theory that McCartney died in a horrific car accident was first brought to the public’s attention nearly two years later, shortly after the release of the Beatles‘ Abbey Road album.
According to legend, an angry McCartney stormed out of a Beatles recording session in the early hours of November 9th, 1966, which was supposedly referenced by the band as “Stupid bloody Tuesday” in 1967’s “I Am The Walrus.” He then supposedly died in a car crash. And because the Beatles feared that their fans would never accept his death, they supposedly hired an unnamed winner of a British McCartney look-alike contest, named William Campbell, to replace McCartney. The band was said to have included various death clues in their songs and album covers to slowly break the news of McCartney’s demise to fans.
The first hole in the theory, which many “Paul Is Dead” conspiracists seem to overlook, is that the Beatles didn’t hold a recording session on that day — their first session that autumn was on November 24th.
A second obvious hole is that November 9th, 1966 actually fell on a Wednesday — a clue that some enterprising fans believed was referenced in “She’s Leaving Home”: “Wednesday morning at five o’clock.”
“PAUL IS DEAD” CLUES
In The Grooves:
- On the fade of the Beatles‘ “Strawberry Fields Forever,” John Lennon is presumed to twice mutter the phrase “I buried Paul.” Lennon later went on record explaining that he was saying “cranberry sauce.”
- The announcement of “Billy Shears” during the introduction to “With A Little Help From My Friends” was thought to be a subtle band introduction to Paul McCartney‘s supposed replacement, “William Campbell.”
- On “The White Album’s” “Don’t Pass Me By” Ringo Starr sings, “You were in a car crash and you lost your hair.”
- On that album’s “Revolution #9,” the repeated phrase “Number nine” when played backwards sounds alarmingly like a voice saying “Turn me on dead man.”
- The end of “I’m So Tired,” when played backwards sounds like John Lennon is mumbling “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him.”
- Lennon’s “Come Together” lyric of “One and one and one is three” is supposedly the surviving Beatles’ declaration that McCartney is indeed dead.
On The Covers:
- On the cover of 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, McCartney is wearing a patch on his uniform stating “O.P.D.” Many assumed that this meant “Officially Pronounced Dead.” It later explained that it was one of the many police badges and patches given to the group during one of their North American tours, with O.P.D. standing for Ottawa Police Department.
- Also on the front cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, McCartney is shown holding an oboe, the only instrument held by a group member not featured in a marching band.
- The flowers in the foreground of the Pepper sleeve are designed to look like a bass guitar, albeit one with only three strings, symbolizing three Beatles. That and McCartney posing with his back to the camera on the back cover were also considered “death clues.”
- On the poster included with the group’s 1968 “White Album,” a photo featuring skeleton hands appears to be reaching out for McCartney.
- The cover to 1969’s Abbey Road album cover was “decoded” as perhaps the ultimate death clue, with each Beatle portraying a character at a funeral; Lennon as an angel; Ringo as a priest; the barefoot McCartney — who is walking out of step with the others, and, as a lefty, strangely smoking a cigarette in his right hand — as the corpse; and George Harrison dressed as a gravedigger.
- The white Volkswagen in the left corner bears the license plate “28 IF,” which was thought to mean, “28 years old — if he had lived.” (At the time of the album’s cover shoot on August 8th, 1969, McCartney would have actually only been 27.)
- The back cover, which featured a cropped photo of a woman walking near the Abbey Road street sign in St. John’s Wood in London, has been perceived as being an abstract image symbolizing McCartney’s face crashing through his car windshield.
- Although the Beatles issued no comment on McCartney’s supposed death, due to album sales being at an all-time peak with fans searching for “death clues,” McCartney eventually addressed the issue after being tracked down on his Scottish farm.
- On November 7th, 1969, Life magazine featured a cover of McCartney, wife Linda, and daughters Heather and Mary, with the title “Paul Is Still With Us.”