I was glued to the television screen in my hotel room the night they aired the CNN documentary, Losing Lennon: Countdown to Murder. It was the thirty year anniversary of his death. Has it really been that long ago? Lennon’s death, like that of John F. Kennedy, Lady Diana and Elvis Presley, mark a day in people’s lives when they can tell you exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. The whole world mourned his loss.
I read a book not long after he died entitled Loving John written by May Pang. I still have the copy on my bookshelf at home. The binding is cracked and the pages worn as I have returned to this book many times over the years.
In the book May Pang chronicles her love affair with John Lennon when he and Yoko separated. As I delved deeper and deeper into the book I kept wondering if this was all fiction. No one ever talks about her. She wasn’t even mentioned in the documentary I watched that night.
But she is not fiction, she is real and she had a profound and healthy impact on Lennon and his life. She published a second book, Instamatic Karma in 2008. In this book she has included photographs of her time with Lennon. I want to add this book to my collection soon.
You can hear May Pang’s hypnotic singing on this track whispering John’s name.
Reading her first book made me see Yoko Ono as a villain of sorts. I imagine she is quite manipulative and controlling, but she raised the bar during this time in her life. The detailed account of how she pushed Pang to seduce Lennon so she could continue to manage his sex life is something out of a twisted romance novel. It’s like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland proclaiming “YOU will bed my husband in order to keep him from sleeping around!” Creepy!
I don’t see where Yoko has changed much over the years, but she does a good job of staying behind the scenes nowadays. Perhaps she has mellowed a little. It’s not my intention to paint her as a witch. She has some amazing philanthropic activities. But when it comes to John Lennon, you can always hear an edge in her statements. It always feels to me as if she is still competing with him, even though he has been gone for thirty years.
Ono’s only mention of May Pang on her website is a recounting of her version of why John came back to her and I’m sure this is not the truth. I hope Pang gets the chance to let the world know her story on the upcoming documentary by Joe Crummey. For years Yoko has been trying to obliterate Pang from Lennon’s past, but Pang is finally speaking up and letting the world know just how good she was for him.
I believe if Lennon had stayed with Pang, the Beatles would have reunited. I am not alone in the belief.
May Pang lives in New York with her two children. She was close with John Lennon until the day he died. You can find her online here.
John Lennon wrote this song for May Pang.