Today in history... John Lennon apologises for saying The Beatles were 'bigger than Jesus'

On August 12th 1966, John Lennon was forced to make an apology for stating his belief that The Beatles were now bigger than Jesus, following outrage during their US tour.

At the time Lennon seemed somewhat bewildered by the incident and with good reason.

Five months earlier he had made the quote during an interview with reporter and friend Maureen Cleave of the London Evening Standard. In the article, printed on March 4, 1966 Lennon stated:

"Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock 'n' roll or Christianity."

At the time Lennon had been reading up on religion and the quotes were simply part of a standard interview.

It was only when U.S teen magazine, Datebook, reprinted the quotes out of context on July 29, as part of a front cover story, that things heated up.

Rallies were held, records were destroyed and radio stations in the south opted to ban Beatles music. Lennon received death threats and the KKK even demonstrated at a Beatles concert in Alabama.

Weeks later, a bewildered Lennon was forced to make an apology:

 "...I'm not saying that we're better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this..."

The furore surrounding the statement and the subsequent 1966 tour marked the end of The Beatles concert days as they opted instead to focus on their studio work to obvious success.

Today, autographed memorabilia from these tours are some of the most sought after Beatles collectibles on the market and offer great returns on any investment.

A South Pacific TEAL in-flight magazine, 8.5 x 11, signed on the front cover in blue ballpoint by all four band members offers one such investment.

The Beatles signed in flight magazine

The magazine was signed back in June 1964 as The Beatles toured Australia for the first and only time.

At Adelaide airport, the Fab Four were greeted by 350,000 fans in what was the largest crowd ever recorded in the bands touring history.

The autographs were signed on the Tasman Empire Airlines flight around New Zealand, during the frenzied Far East tour which marked the height of Beatlemania. This rare memento of The Beatles famous tours is available for £22,000 and has been maintained in a fine condition.

And while US anger and Australian hysteria coloured much of The Beatles world tour, things continued to prove difficult for John Lennon on his solo travels.

Lennon's handwritten
Customs Declaration

Lennon was known as a controversial peace activist who actively engaged in the anti-war movement during his life.

Having travelled frequently to and from the U.S, he was constantly regarded with suspicion by the authorities, but was ultimately granted citizenship.

One truly unique autograph from these travels is a signed United States Customs declaration.

Measuring 4 x 8.5 inches, the document was completed and stamped on July 28 1980.

Lennon had just returned from a two month working vacation in Bermuda and planned to record a new album.

However, the document would prove to be his last travel declaration, as four months later he died.

Featuring his signature, personal details and a list of Bermuda purchases that include a commissioned painting of himself and his son, the autograph is available for £9,500.

In recent weeks, we reported on the growing value of John Lennon collectibles, with many pieces now more valuable than The Beatles.

So while an autographed memento from The Beatles tour is a highly valuable collectible now, investing in unique signatures from John Lennon's travels will prove an equally wise choice.

Though I can assure you that none of them will be bigger than Jesus. 


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