“More popular than Jesus”: The disastrous moment John Lennon compared The Beatles to Jesus in 1966

On March 4, 1966, in an interview with journalist Maureen Cleave for the London Evening Standard, The Beatles’ John Lennon made a comment which would go on to threaten the future of the band.

Cleave, a supremely talented writer who would go on to excel in her career, grew very close to The Beatles during the ’60s and, in particular, John Lennon. Rumours of an intimate relationship between the two grew stronger and, while being interviewed for the Beatles Anthology documentary, McCartney recalled: “John used to know Maureen Cleave… quite well,” before actively moving away from the subject: “We’d gravitate to any journalists who were a little better than the average because we could talk to them. We felt we weren’t stupid rock and roll stars.”

The interview Lennon conducted with Cleave on March 4, 1966, was no different to the hundreds he had done prior to this moment. The interview fell part of Cleave’s weekly series titled “How Does a Beatle Live?” in which she would speak to each member of the band and publish a two-page piece in the Evening Standard.

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