Episode 34: May Pang opens up about John Lennon, the Beatles and her front-row seat to rock history
May Pang is a former music executive and an eyewitness to key moments in rock ‘n’ roll history, particularly in terms of the lives and times of the former members of the Beatles, especially John Lennon.
After growing up in Spanish Harlem and Manhattan, Pang's early jobs included working as an old-school record-plugger and at Allen Klein’s management office, which represented Apple Records and three former Beatles: Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. In December 1970, Pang was invited to assist Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono with their film projects, “Up Your Legs Forever” and “Fly.” Pang was then asked to be Lennon and Ono's secretary in New York and Great Britain, which led to a permanent position as their personal assistant when the Lennons moved from London to New York in 1971. That October, Pang famously coordinated an art exhibition for Ono's This Is Not Here art show at the Everson Museum in Syracuse.
When Lennon and Ono separated in 1973, Pang and Lennon began a relationship that lasted more than 18 months. Lennon later referred to this time as his "Lost Weekend". In addition to acting as Lennon’s muse, she served as production coordinator for him on such hit LPs as “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Walls and Bridges,” which included “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night,” John’s only number-one solo hit during his lifetime.
After Lennon returned to Ono in 1975, Pang began working as PR manager for record companies. Pang subsequently authored two books about her relationship with Lennon—a memoir entitled “Loving John” (in 1983) and a book of photographs, “Instamatic Karma” (in 2008). She was recently the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary, “The Lost Weekend: A Love Story,” which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this past June.
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