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Interview: May Pang

Lennon's "Lost Weekend" Lover

By

Interview: May Pang

May Pang's book about her time with John Lennon was published in 1983 by Warner Books, Inc.

After chatting with May Pang for a few minutes, you begin to understand why John Lennon was attracted to her. She is smart, funny, easygoing, and very knowledgeable about music.

Pang was personal assistant to Lennon and Yoko Ono when, in 1973, she began a romantic relationship with Lennon that came to be known as his "Lost Weekend," even though it lasted for a year and half, with Yoko's full knowledge and permission.

Lennon's former lover and his widow have not remained close. In fact, prior to a chance meeting (in Iceland, of all the unlikely places) on October 9, 2006 -- what would have been Lennon's 66th birthday -- they hadn't spoken in nearly 20 years.

May Pang:
We were [staying] in this hotel and, lo and behold, in the same hotel, on John’s birthday, was Yoko Ono. This was the first time we’ve actually seen each other since 1988. I went up to her and I just sort of said, “Hello” and I wished her well on her project -- she was unveiling a sculpture in Reykjavík –- and it was so funny because that’s neutral territory ... where they’ve had all the summit meetings ... so it was quite fitting for us actually! I sat back down and she came around again and she spotted me and she started waving wildly at me and saying, “Hi! Hi! Hi!”

About Classic Rock:
Do you speak with her often?

May Pang:
No, not at all. In fact the person that I have a very close relationship is [John’s first wife] Cynthia.

About Classic Rock
How did that happen?

May Pang:
I guess I understood her situation and what had happened, and when I was with John, I guess it helped give her closure to her relationship with John, which I don’t think she had at the time. Once he went with Yoko it was like she was left out in the cold, never getting that closure or talking to him. It just developed because of Julian [John and Cynthia’s son] … Julian would come over and … I was like the surrogate mother, making sure everything was okay, and she appreciated that. And we just continued to be friends from that moment on.

About Classic Rock
Often your time with John is referred to as “the lost weekend” … reflect on that, if you will.

May Pang:
You know, that’s the party line. That phrase is the party line. John came to me and said, “I have to say something.” People don’t realize that “The Lost Weekend” refers to the Ray Milland movie. People ask, “Why is she writing a book or why does she talk about John when she only spent a weekend with him?” … I’m very proud of the fact that I lived with this man [at a time when he had] a #1 album [Walls and Bridges] and I was part of that. I lived with him for more than a year and a half. The other misconception is, you know, we were not in hiding. [Yoko] knew where we were, she called us every day.

About Classic Rock
Wasn’t this, in a way, arranged by Yoko?

May Pang:
It was with her permission. She wanted him to go out. They were having problems. He was ready to go out with somebody whether it was me or anybody else. That’s what people don’t understand – they were really having problems in their relationship. It sounds better [to say that] she put us together, but it wasn’t as easy as that. It was more that he pursued me. I didn’t jump for this one. I had been with them for three years. The last thing I was thinking about was going out with John Lennon.

About Classic Rock
Aside from the characterization of your relationship with him, what would you say is the biggest misconception that people have about Lennon?

May Pang:
He always used to say, "I’m a chameleon." He would say what he wanted to say at the moment, how he felt at that moment. If he said he hated something … it wasn’t necessarily the same for him two weeks from that moment. They didn’t allow him to change his mind.

May Pang:
[On Lennon, the activist]
He was learning, every day of his life. He would sit up with his first cup of coffee … and he would read The New York Times, and he would just absorb. He absorbed info constantly. But he realized he couldn’t change a lot of things. He realized that after he did Some Time In New York City, which was a very heavy, activist type protest album. He couldn’t record for a while, because he read all the reviews and, as a musician, he couldn’t handle it. And he didn’t come back until Mind Games, which was a year later. He just went into hiding.

May Pang:
[On a post-Beatles Lennon-McCartney reunion]
At one point … he started asking, "should he write with Paul again?" and I said, "You should. Solowise, both of you are good, but as a duo, kind of hard to beat." And we were thinking about going down and visiting Paul, and I knew that it was a possibility that something might have happened. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to fruition because certain things happened and he went back to The Dakota [to reunite with Yoko].

About Classic Rock
What’s your favorite Lennon album?

May Pang:
I guess I would have to say the one that I worked on, Walls and Bridges and probably behind that … Rock and Roll. And there’s another misconception. When you hear the voice come in whispering John’s name [and singing background vocals] on "#9 Dream" they think it’s Yoko but it’s really me.

About Classic Rock
Do you have a favorite song of his?

May Pang:
Well, probably the one that he wrote for me, "Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)." He’s written other songs about us but that was the first one about me, so that’s the closest one to me.
______________________________________________________
Today, May Pang lives just outside New York City, raising two children, making frequent personal appearances, maintaining her blog, and marketing a line of Feng Shui jewelry and furniture through her Web site. She is also working on an exhibition of Lennon photos.

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