“The Beatles are Bigger than Jesus”…
was a famous phrase taken out of context in one interview that John Lennon was given to his friend and journalist Maureen Cleave. During 1966 Cleave was doing a coverage about John´s life and career and she published and article explaining different moments and events regarding his career. When John was talking about the importance of rock and roll and the influence of they career in music, he explained that at that specific point they were important, nevertheless after a few years their relevance could be vanished away. This is the quote from Lennon published in the London Evening Standard.
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right, and I will be proved right. We are more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first — rock’n'roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”
It had complete sense, Lennon did not want to be showoff and way too proud of himself, he was just giving an explanation of how people can twist, fix and break different issues. However five months after this statement, a magazine in the USA took Lennon out of contest and published seven words out of this statement We are more popular than Jesus. Christianity and people around the world started to complain about John´s declaration and began to show a strong hate towards the singer. It is impressive how people could be easily influenced by a weak article. After many contradiction around the world, Lennon had to apologize and give a depth-explanation about his words.
John: “If I had said television is more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it, but I just happened to be talking to a friend and I used the words “Beatles” as a remote thing, not as what I think – as Beatles, as those other Beatles like other people see us. I just said “they” are having more influence on kids and things than anything else, including Jesus. But I said it in that way which is the wrong way.”
Reporter: “Some teenagers have repeated your statements – “I like the Beatles more than Jesus Christ.” What do you think about that?”
John: “Well, originally I pointed out that fact in reference to England. That we meant more to kids than Jesus did, or religion at that time. I wasn’t knocking it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact and it’s true more for England than here. I’m not saying that we’re better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it’s all this.”
Reporter: “But are you prepared to apologize?”
John (thinking that he had just apologized, because he did): “I wasn’t saying whatever they’re saying I was saying. I’m sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologize if that will make you happy. I still don’t know quite what I’ve done. I’ve tried to tell you what I did do but if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then OK, I’m sorry.”
At the end of the day, trying to sell a new, publish and article and make a profit out of an insignificant event will drive situations like this. Beatles´ fame did not fade away but the other way around they just became more important due to one reason: there is no good or bad marketing, it is just marketing and having people talking about you, will make you more important.