‘More popular than Jesus’?… Um, not in these parts

“Lennon’s comment [that the Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus’], in context, was an observation about religion losing its connection to youth. But it was taken, especially in the South, as an anti-Christian boast.

“ ‘Anyone making a sacrilegious remark like that has no place on our station,’ George Nelson of WRNB in New Bern, North Carolina, told  Raleigh’s News and Observer (Aug. 5, 1966).

“Bobby Dark of WYNA of Raleigh reported that his station had a Beatles bonfire scheduled. Among others banning Beatles music were WPET of Greensboro, WBBB of Burlington, WVCB of Shallotte, WRKB of Kannapolis and WTYN of Tryon….”

— From Bigger Than Jesus? ‘Burn The Beatles’ ” by Jack Doyle at Pop History Dig (Oct. 11, 2017)


When John and Yoko watched Billy Graham on TV

“John, in 1977, out of sheer boredom, had taken to watching preachers on TV. It was something else to do besides sleep and program dreams…. He somehow became a big fan of the Reverend Billy Graham. At first he watched only for entertainment. Then, one day, he had an epiphany — he allowed himself to be touched by the love of Jesus Christ, and it drove him to tears of joy and ecstasy. He drew a picture of a crucifix; he was born again, and the experience was such a kick he had to share it with Yoko.

John and Yoko sat in front of the TV watching Billy Graham sermons. Every other sentence out of John’s mouth was Thank you, Jesus or Thank you, Lord.  Then, as quickly as Jesus came, Jesus went, and John apologized to Yoko for subjecting her to Billy Graham.”

— From “Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon” by Robert Rosen (2002)

Bob Dylan’s appreciation of Graham was considerably more thoughtful, not to mention longer lasting.