I recently happened to come across this documentary about the Beatles, on an on-line subscription service offered as an add-on to my Internet connections, hence the French language description. The player is sub-standard, but it allows me to view stuff by HBO and other publishers that is impossible to get otherwise here.
In 1966, John Lennon made a remark in an interview:
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ’n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.
Nothing happened in the UK. It was only after the interview was published in the US that hell broke loose. I am sure you can imagine. It wouldn’t be different today. Later in 1966, the Beatles went on a US tour, and it was a series of nightmares. They were hounded down and harassed by the bigot evangelical hordes.
After that experience, they decided, You know, fuck you, we don’t need this shit, and never played live concerts again,1 focusing exclusively on studio work until they disbanded a few years later. Their music changed fundamentally. They added new types of instruments, such as the sitar. Case in point, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but also the earlier albums Rubber Soul and Revolver show first signs of change, and then there are the White Album, and Abbey Road.
I always have appreciated this second phase of their creative work much more than the first, but I had not been aware of this clear break. Their very consistent reaction to the harassment has given me new respect for the four.