This past Wednesday afternoon May Pang stopped by Berklee to give a seminar and promote her book, Loving John: The Untold Story, detailing her time together with John Lennon. Her story is quite interesting; she worked for Lennon and Yoko Ono for a few years before dating Lennon. Although it may seem as if there were tension between Pang and Ono, the relationship was actually suggested by Ono in private, until Lennon made his own pursuit. Over the course of their 18-month relationship, Lennon was on hyper-speed in terms of creating and recording. Mind Games, Walls and Bridges, “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup,” and a rock ‘n’ roll project with Phil Spector were just a few things Pang and Lennon accomplished together. Although Pang is proud of her musical accomplishments with Lennon, she is most content with the work put into John’s relationship with his fellow Beatles, and most importantly, with his son Julian.
John hadn’t seen Julian for three years before Pang suggested they should see one another. The disconnect occurred after Lennon’s relationship with Ono took off. The two moved to the U.S. leaving behind many loved ones who they’d later have to rebuild relationships with. Pang shared stories of spending time with “the boys,” as she called them. One story was about the first day the agreement was supposed to be signed to officially end the writing partnership of the Beatles. Every member except for John was present, along with a room full of lawyers as well. John didn’t want to go and left everyone at that meeting hanging, but it mostly offended George Harrison.
John was on good terms with everyone but George, which is sad because he always viewed him as a kid brother. “George was just George,” said Pang. Since he and John were equally stubborn, George was the Beatle that John really needed to come face to face with. After a while John apologized, and when asked why he wasn’t there for George, John replied with, “I’m here now.”
Pang spoke of a night when she was hanging out with John, Paul and Linda McCartney. Paul told them of a new project he would be going down to New Orleans to record, which later became Venus and Mars. That night, after the McCartneys left, John confessed to Pang that he wanted to go down to New Orleans with Paul to write. Pang looked at him and said, “Now that you are not bound by a piece of paper, I think it’s a great idea.” Sadly it never happened, but it makes you wonder, what if?
Pang worked for Apple Records for quite some time, but before that she never had an expansive knowledge of music. I had a moment with Pang and asked her: “How deeply were you involved in the music scene when you applied for the job at Apple Records?” Her answer was, “I wasn’t much of a performer, but I was always interested in who wrote the songs and created the harmonies, the behind the scenes aspects of the music.” Pang had a great ear for what sounded good, and in the music business, that is what really matters.
Along with Loving John: The Untold Story, she also released a book of photography called Instamatic Karma. They are both available in bookstores around the world as well as online.
The years Pang worked for Apple was definitely a highlight of her great career. She’s brought much knowledge and information to the surface, and what she’s accomplished in her life is very impressive and inspiring.