This very first interview with John and Yoko Ono Lennon. Previously unreleased, is now available to hear – and more . . .
[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″]After hearing John’s ideas on creative change, my sense of independent creative purpose deepened and grew, and this has continued to energize me[/quote]
Hard Rock Café, New York City, February 9, 2014 – On this date last month, 50th anniversary of the first appearance of The Beatles on TV in the USA, Hard Rock shared a valuable piece of music history with the world and opened its memorabilia vault to release a 1968 interview with John and Yoko Ono Lennon conducted by then-college student Maurice Hindle. The 2 hour long interview, made available in a streaming format shared at Hard Rock Lennon Tapes, has already been heard by nearly 6000 people.
In December of 1968, Maurice Hindle, then a new student at Keele University, was given the opportunity of a lifetime, when his letter to John and Yoko requesting an interview was forwarded by the Beatles Monthly fanzine and got answered – by John Lennon himself. Maurice spent hours at Lennon’s home, Kenwood, in Weybridge, Surrey, while John and Yoko gave a candid, fascinating glimpse into their lives and roles as the counterculture’s leading icons.
“The audio tapes of the interview were acquired by Hard Rock in 1987, and we’re proud to share them in their entirety with music fans around the globe – free of charge,” said Jeff Nolan, Music and Memorabilia Historian at Hard Rock International. “It’s a powerful, memorable experience illustrating the timeless nature of John Lennon’s artistry and philosophy.”
Maurice Hindle was at the heart of a free listening party for the exclusive interview content onstage at Hard Rock Cafe New York City on Sunday, February 9, 2014. This featured a live question and answer session with Maurice, Jeff Nolan and Beatles historian and author, Andy Babiuk. Maurice was asked numerous questions by Jeff and Andy about how he devised and made possible the interview with John; how he and his two student friends Daniel Wiles and Bob Cross were picked up at Weybridge station by John and Yoko in his Mini-Cooper; and some of his reflections on what had been discussed that day in long conversations about what ‘Revolution’ meant to John, taking them into and around many different topics: politics, religion, art, The Beatles, creativity, Marshall McLuhan, macrobiotic diet, meditation & much more.
Maurice mentioned that he thought one of the reasons John was so open to the idea of an interview was because he had begun his letter ‘Dear John and Yoko’. He had been particularly concerned to address them as a couple because of the animosity then being shown by the British press towards them – especially Yoko. The ‘gentlemen of the press’ – as Lennon sarcastically called them in the interview – had become openly racist toward Yoko, and Maurice, engaged by their conceptual art events, wanted to give John and Yoko the chance to make their own views heard, in their own voices, and at some length. 46 years later, and Hard Rock’s decision to share the interview with all has given him great personal satisfaction.
“Before interviewing John Lennon in 1968 on his views about Revolution I was already an independently-minded person,” says Maurice Hindle. “After hearing John’s ideas on creative change, my sense of independent creative purpose deepened and grew, and this has continued to energize me ever since, as I hope is conveyed in my Hard Rock PodcastMaurice Hindle Remembers It’s thrilling to think that those who hear the two hours of recorded interview, now made available by Hard Rock, may be inspired in a similar way.”
Reflecting back on one particular occurrence at Kenwood that 1968 interview day, Maurice makes a wider point. “Seeing John and Yoko carefully pulling out the pins someone had stuck in voodoo doll effigies of them – received in a package as part of the mail that afternoon – was shocking to watch,” says Maurice. “It was the first time I had seen any kind of hate-mail. But it also made me realize the importance of getting the true story of these two vibrant artists, John and Yoko, out there to a xenophobic Britain. That wasn’t to be, in the shorter term of course.”
By 2014, things had changed. “My pestering of Hard Rock over a long period finally paid off with their brilliant idea to release the interview tapes in a streaming format from their website,” says Maurice Hindle. “But for me this is just the beginning of a longer process. With attitudes toward John Lennon still divided in Britain, and racism still rearing its ugly head both here and in Europe more widely, I want to do something that may help improve matters in my own way. For years, as a long-time devotee and player of music, especially Rock, I have been putting together notes toward a book about John Lennon’s music. Now that some other important projects I initiated are virtually complete, I can focus hard on this book. It will be analytic to a degree, and well-researched, but also very accessible, primarily celebrating John Lennon’s musical achievements as a songwriter, recording artist, musician, and especially as the singer and conversationalist with an unmistakable voice.”
Maurice tells how he had enjoyed “teaching Shakespeare at The Open University for a good while”, and publishing a successful book about Shakespeare on film. “But it’s now time to turn my attention to the work of a more recent Briton of artistic genius”, says Maurice. “My book on John is not a biography: there have been enough of those. Instead, I aim to capture what made John Lennon’s music so brilliantly unique. To a degree this is a matter of aligning his personality and outlook at any one time with the music. But this cannot be done in any naïve way. John was both artist and craftsman in music, his main art form, and he fashioned each of his songs as artefacts, though the material obviously varied in quality over time, just as Shakespeare’s dramatic output was a bit uneven over a 20 year career. A good part of being able to achieve my aims in this book involve me reflecting deeply on the slow-release insights that have surfaced over the years about what was said and what happened in that 1968 interview, and allowing that to inform the research and listening I have done on what I call his songworld, and which I am still doing.”
Singing his Heart and Speaking his Mind: The Songworld of John Lennon
by Maurice Hindle (forthcoming)