Today would have been John Lennon’s 69th birthday. His time spent in Los Angeles in the early 1970s is well-documented:
In June 1973 in New York, his wife, Yoko Ono, pushed for a separation and said he should take May Pang, their personal assistant, as his boy-toy while they reassessed their marriage.
Lennon and Pang in LA, 1974
In quick order, Lennon moved to LA with Pang and flung himself into what has become known as his “Lost Weekend,” an eighteen-month period during which he caroused, recorded some middling material, caroused, reconnected with Paul and Ringo, caroused– you get the picture.
From a rented home in the Hollywood Hills, Lennon lived out loud and large in public places in Los Angeles, making a drunken, coke-fueled spectacle of himself with stars and players of the day. When confronted by the press with criticism, he said, “So it was a mistake, but Hell, I’m human.”
Shortly thereafter, Lennon cleaned up his act. He and Yoko reunited (in NYC, backstage after Lennon’s cameo during an Elton John concert) into renewed matrimonial bliss, had a son together, Sean, and lived a happy family life in relative seclusion at the Dakota until that fateful, sad night in December 1980 when Lennon’s fame tragically caught up with him.
From where we are with sexual politics in the early 21st century, maybe some wisdom can be gleaned from the way the Lennons openly navigated their relationship in the 1970s and the way it was received. Little public pillorying of John, no tearful media statements from Yoko, no desperate extortion attempts from lurking opportunists due to needlessly keeping secrets about the bumps in a relationship’s road, no knee-jerk accusations about employer/employee dalliances from self-appointed know-it-all scolds.
Just honesty about how a particular marriage of interest was going; forthrightness about monogamy and the lack thereof occasionally as a reality check; and not a speck of shame, contrived or otherwise, from anyone involved.