Rock legend John Lennon was killed by a gunshot fired by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980, outside his New York apartment. Since Lennon’s tragic death, there’s been much speculation and rumor surrounding his personal life and his music. It’s no secret that John’s widow, Yoko Ono, has endured both praise and criticism for her role in Beatles
history. However, one other important aspect of Lennon’s history has often gone unnoticed. I’m referring to the “other” woman … May Pang.
Pang shared a two-year relationship with the beloved Beatle. The couple continued to remain close right up until his death. However, Yoko, along with many rock historians, have deliberately attempted to alter history and eliminate any record of May’s involvement with John.
Ironically, it was Yoko herself who had chosen Pang as the “ideal companion” for John. Pang was an attractive Asian woman who had been John and Yoko’s personal assistant. But the plan backfired on Yoko when Pang and John fell in love and moved in together.
Unfortunately for Pang, the relationship failed when, in 1975, John moved back in with a determined Yoko. Pang went on to marry and
eventually divorce producer Tony Visconti, with whom she
had two children.
I had the opportunity to chat with May about her relationship with John Lennon, and her thoughts on Yoko Ono and the rest of the Beatles.
Chaunce Hayden: Where do we begin?
May Pang: (Laughs) That’s a good question! Most people want to know what John Lennon was like as a person, and a lot of girls want to know what he was like in bed! We can start there or ease into it. Which do you prefer?
(Laughs) Remember, he was the first guy I ever lived with.
Okay we’ll ease into it.
What people fail to realize is that I had a relationship with John that spanned over ten years.
But John Lennon himself called his relationship with you “The Lost Weekend.” That must have been one hell of a weekend.
That was from the movie, “The Lost Weekend.” He was a big movie buff. He was asked to make a statement about his return to the Dakota, and that was the concept line he came up with. He couldn’t very well say he had the time of his life! (Laughs)
Referring to his time with you?
Yes. He told me in advance he was calling our two years together “The Lost Weekend” so I would be prepared to see this in the press. So people
who hadn’t heard of me before will say, “Why is she talking about this when it was only a weekend?” Obviously, this is a misconception. People didn’t understand why I would write a book based on a weekend. But they didn’t know the real story.
What’s the real story?
I lived with John Lennon for almost two years, and overall we had a ten year relationship together. For some reason, people are floored by that.
John was married to Yoko Ono during the years you claim to have been with him.
It is not a “claim” but a fact that I lived with John Lennon… even Yoko has conceded this point. At the time we were together, he was separated from Yoko.
One day Yoko just pulled you aside and said, “John and I are having marital problems. So I want him to be with you for a while.” True or false?
Well, you put it in a nutshell. It was 9:30 in the morning. I was just settling in for the day’s work before everybody came into the office. Yoko came up to me and said, “You know John and I aren’t getting along. And you know he’s going to start seeing other people. I know you don’t have a boyfriend… ” I just looked at her and said, “What! I’m not interested!” Yoko said, “I know you’re not after John, but I think you need a boyfriend so I think you should be going out with him.”
Sounds like fun.
No! No! I didn’t want him. But Yoko said, “I think you should go out with John and you will.” And she walked out of the room. I was sitting there
thinking, “What just happened?” John told me later that Yoko walked into the bathroom while he was shaving and said, “I fixed it for you so that you can go out with May Pang.” John told me that he nearly slit his throat! He said to Yoko, “How do you know I like her?” She said, “Oh, I know.” And that was it.
So where did things go wrong?
Yoko thought it would only last two weeks and that things would go back to normal. She thought I would be a quick shag and that would be it. Obviously, I was hand-picked because I was a quiet, meek little person! But what Yoko didn’t count on is that John and I would fall in love with each
That was a risky game for Yoko to play.
I guess so! But she knew I wasn’t interested so she felt it was safe. But it took time to fall in love with John.
I would guess that the biggest rock star in the world would be a difficult person to get along with. What was the relationship between the two of you like?
He wasn’t difficult at all. People have written so many things about him that aren’t true.
I’ve read that John Lennon needed to be controlled; that he needed a baby sitter.
John had been brought up by his Aunt Mimi, who was a very controlling woman. He fought that as much as possible. He needed to be shown how to do the simple things in life because he was a prisoner of his own fame being a Beatle…everything was always done for him. We had a relationship of mutual respect with lots of common interests. Music… rock ‘n’ roll music was our big common ground. It shaped his life as it did mine.
Was John an angry drunk?
Here we go again. Everybody thinks that he was always drinking. But he wasn’t. The crazy things you read about John’s drinking only happened two or three times. That was it. But the press keeps dragging it up because that’s the way people wanted to see him at that time. Look at the two years we were together. He put more into his writing and music than at any other time during his solo career. So if the man was drunk and stoned all the time, how could he do his work and music? By the way, the drugs weren’t something that he did on a daily basis. Friends would come over and they would share what they had with him, but it wasn’t something he had to have.
It was said that during the recording of “Walls and Bridges,” John was drunk the entire time.
Some people would like to think that he was drunk and miserable. But he wasn’t — and especially not during the making of this album. Trust me, if John were as drunk as people claimed, he wouldn’t be able to work. John was a workaholic when he was doing his music. He was very strict about his time in the studio. No drugs, no drink. When John called for a 7 o’clock studio time, he meant 7 o’clock, not 7:15. After a session was over, he might light a joint to relax and listen to the day’s work.