In 2011 music enthusiast Liz Hajek and I traveled to New York to spend a day with May Pang, Lennon’s girlfriend for almost two years in the early 1970s.
After enjoying 12 hours with May in her home, and at a nearby Gilligan’s Seafood Restaurant near Pomona, NY, us two Texans understood why John Lennon was attracted to such a beautiful and insightful lady.
During his time with Pang, in 1973-1975, Lennon was the most musically prolific since his Beatle days. Friends say it was also the happiest times in his life.
With May, John renewed his relationships with son Julian, and the other Beatles.
Paul McCartney thought John seemed “more relaxed, loveable and it was obvious he felt love.”
What would John be like if he was alive?
“That’s easy. He would love today’s TV with all the channels that are available,” Pang laughed in her living room, adorned with art and photos of Lennon. “Of course, he always loved, and enjoyed talking with his fans.”
“I can imagine he would be signing autographs, reading every day—sometimes, I can imagine him being near the sea, listening to music, and just relaxing,” Pang smiled. “Who knows, he even talked about writing again with Paul. Perhaps by now that would have happened.”
“There is no doubt he would still be friends with his brothers for life, Paul and Ringo (Starr),” Pang became serious. “They were bonded for life, despite what people think.”
In 1973, John’s wife, Yoko Ono, became interested in another musician. She decided her and John would separate. Yoko told her husband she had already chosen the ideal “companion” for John– 23 year-old May Pang, their personal assistant.
How did John Lennon become May Pang’s boyfriend?
“Hmmmm, I don’t know if I have ever been asked that question that way before,” Pang ponders. “It’s always how did I become his girlfriend. But I can tell you it was the biggest surprise of my life.”
“It was the summer of 1973 and I was organizing sessions for his Mind Games album and media coverage for an album she was releasing,” Pang recalled.
“All of us, the housekeeper and anyone who was around the office at the Dakota building (their apartment in New York) knew and could feel the tension between the two. Yoko came into my office one morning and told me they were not getting along.”
“I thought ‘well that’s no big surprise,’” Pang giggled. “I thought she was about to tell me they were splitting up and I would have to look for another job.”
“You don’t have a boyfriend,” Yoko said, looking Pang straight in the eyes.
“I thought maybe I didn’t hear her right and told her I wasn’t interested in John and that he was my boss,” Pang remembers. “I was sort of numb and in shock and kept telling her no, but Yoko had already made up her mind.”
“’If John asks you out, you should go!’ Pang said Yoko announced. “It was like this is not a recommendation, or a mere suggestion, it was a lot stronger than that.”
“For two weeks, we bumbled around and I didn’t know how to react,” Pang said. “His recording sessions were put on hold and everything was just quiet. I assumed John and Yoko had worked out their differences.”
Finally, when it was time for John to resume studio recording, Pang was summoned to accompany him.
In the elevator at the Dakota John reached over and kissed her.
“I’ve been waiting to do that all xxxxx day,” John told her.
“Everything changed,” Pang grinned. “My entire life would never be the same.”
John and May soon moved to Los Angeles. May encouraged him to call his son Julian, who he had not seen for a very long time, to come out for a visit.
What is the biggest difference between John Lennon the star and John Lennon the man?
”I’m asked that question often and I still think about it because it is not that easy to answer,” Pang replied. “I know a lot of famous people and there always seems to be a contradiction in the real person and the celebrity. John was no exception.”
“Although he has been portrayed in the press as brooding and troubled, John loved to laugh, and was very creative.”
“His creative mind was always ready. He kept a black marker pen with him and he was always writing things down that could someday be a song.”
“Yes, he had a traumatic childhood and had some issues from that, he was always striving for knowledge, and absorbing new information, things, and people and places that would inspire him—and they did.”
“As he aged, he was pragmatic enough to realize he couldn’t change everything,” Pang said. “But he was enthused enough to remain inspired.”
A beautiful book, Instamatic Karma: Photographs Of John Lennon by May Pang is available at Amazon.
Raised in San Antonio, Jack Dennis’ early experiences were as a newspaper reporter and private investigator. With a Texas State University bachelor’s degree, Jack studied journalism, education and psychology. He was the founding vice-president of Sigma Delta Chi, the Association of Professional Journalists at the University. Jack has received numerous awards, including Investigative Reporter of the Year from Rocky Mountain Press Association, David Ashworth Community Award, and Leadership in Management.
Some of the people and groups Jack has interviewed include:
Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, George Strait, Roy Orbison, Justin Timberlake, Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, Steve Wariner, Tanya Tucker, Scotty Moore, Fats Domino, Patty Page, Tommy Roe, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Rivers, Charly McClain, Kinky Friedman, John McFee, Guy Allison & Patrick Simmons (Doobie Brothers) , Randy Bachman (BTO), Jim Messina, Todd Rundgren, Alvin Lee, Gary Puckett, The Ventures, Freddy Cannon, Augie Meyer, Christopher Cross, Whiskey Myers, Sha Na Na (John “Bowzer” Baumann), Flash Cadillac, Jerry Scheff, John Wilkinson, Darrell McCall, and more.
Politicians & News
George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lady Bird Johnson, Greg Abbott, Rudolph Giuliani, Larry King, Jack Anderson, Tom Bradley, Connie Mack, and more.
Clint Eastwood, Mike Myers, Taylor Lautner, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Lewis, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Selena Gomez, Tippi Hedren, James Earl Jones, James Woods, Jim Nabors, Martha Raye, Rosalind Russell, June Lockhart, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Howie Mandel, Meg Ryan, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, James Drury, Melanie Griffith, Nathan Lane, Alan Thicke, Lou Diamond Phillips, Clint Howard, Tony Sirico, Cesar Romero, Michael Berryman, Tracy Scoggins, William Windom, Warren Stevens and more.
Buzz Aldrin, Alan Bean, Wally Schirra, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Walt Cunningham, Scott Carpenter, Gene Kranz (NASA Flight Director), Ed Mitchell, Richard Gordon, Bruce McCandless, Vanentina Treshkova (first woman in space, Russia), Alex Leonov (first man to walk in space, Russian), Al Worden, Dee O’Hara (nurse to astronauts) and more.
Sports: Joe Torre, Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes, Billie Jean King, Manuela Maleeva, Drew Pearson, Bob Lilly, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Tony Parker, Shannon Miller, Cathy Rigby, Bruce Bowen, Wade Boggs, Fernando Valenzuela, Bernie Kosar, Dale Murphy, Jim Abbott, Dick Bartell, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pastorini and more.
May Pang, Bob Eubanks, Vernon Presley, Vester Presley, Charlie Hodge, Joe Esposito, Rick Stanley (Elvis’ step-brother, Harold Lloyd (Elvis’ first cousin), Doyle Brunson, Kara Peller, Hank Meijer, Norman Brinkler, Stanley Marcus, Jerry King, Mac King, Nathan Burton, Zach Anner, Louie Anderson, Owen Benjamin, Steve Byrne and more.
As head of Facilities for a major retailer (H-E-B Food/Drugs) for 20 years, Jack co-founded Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) and was elected President to establish PRSM magazine. Jack is a writer, speaker, golf-concierge and happiness coach. He has researched and studied happiness for over 40 years.
Jack was a prolific writer for Examiner.com, with over 1,900 articles written in six years. His articles and stories have appeared in AXS Entertainment, The ROWDY Country Music, Memphis Flash, and numerous magazines.
He is author of “Miracles of Justice,” a true courtroom drama novel about social injustice and miracles.