'The Lost Weekend' tells love story between John Lennon and assistant May Pang

Thursday, April 20, 2023
'The Lost Weekend' tells love story between John Lennon, May Pang
May Pang tells her version of what happened in "The Lost Weekend," which is billed as a love story with John Lennon.

NEW YORK -- A new documentary takes its name from a time in the life of the late John Lennon.

Half a century ago, the former Beatle was living apart from his wife Yoko Ono in a relationship with the couple's assistant, May Pang.

Pang tells her version of what happened in "The Lost Weekend," which is billed as a love story. Her tale begins in NYC, continues in LA, and then ends more than 18 months later in Manhattan.

Lennon himself used the words "lost weekend" to describe his time of drinking and drugging while apart from his wife. The period became notorious due to a few incidents in LA of very public drunkenness while the star was out in public.

Less well known is the period that followed when he and Pang returned to NYC. The new film makes clear that their time together lasted a lot longer than simply a weekend, and it was by no means totally lost, but their relationship was most definitely a love story, and it is interesting to speculate about what might have been had they stayed together.

The relationship began while Pang was working for the couple in their apartment at the Dakota. About two years after she was first employed there, Ono came to the young assistant with a startling proposal.

"Yoko walked into my office and said, 'John and I are not getting along. I want you to go out with him,'" she said.

She was reluctant at first, but Pang and Lennon were soon together.

"I don't think she even thought for a minute that we were gonna fall in love," Pang said an interview with Sandy Kenyon. But the film makes clear that she did fall in love, and so did he.

The pair moved in together, renting a 900 sq. ft. apartment on East 52nd Street in Manhattan.

"We had a balcony, and we faced the East River, and he loved sitting out there especially on a summer night," Pang said.

Lennon told her the view reminded him of The Mersey River in his native Liverpool. He came from a lower middle class background, says Pang, "so he appreciated people. He appreciated everyone who's on the street: the cops, the sanitation men."

In NYC, Lennon could be himself, even riding an MTA bus at the urging of Pang, who'd grown up in Spanish Harlem.

"He loved the city," she said. "He loved being able to walk around and being able to talk. It was just the mecca at that point."

Lennon sang at The Garden with Elton John after losing a bet to his fellow rocker. That appearance shook the rafters and became famous, but what's less well known is how the former Beatle had re-connected with his bandmates, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. At one point, he even asked Pang: "what do you think if I write with Paul again?"

The film even explains how Lennon's only number one single as a solo artist came to be written in the small apartment. The two were watching Reverend Ike on TV one night when the famous preacher suddenly yelled, "whatever gets you through the night!"

Lennon turned to Pang and said, "what a great line."

"He grabs his pad. He always had a pad and his pencil or Flair pen, and he writes it down," Pang said.

"Whatever Gets You Through The Night" was released in 1974.

Their togetherness did not last in part because Yoko Ono was a constant presence in their life and called them daily. The lovers were together about 18 months, and Pang said their physical relationship continued for awhile after Lennon returned to Ono in The Dakota.

Kenyon ended their conversation by asking May if she'd ever found a man whose qualities added up to John Lennon's.

"Not quite," she replied. "Close, but not quite."

Today, Pang is the mother of two adult children and she just wants to set the record straight. The former assistant was a part of rock history, but she also was very kind to John Lennon and helped him re-connect with his son. She remains friends with Julian Lennon to this day.

On Sunday, April 23, Kenyon will be with May Pang for a conversation following the 6:50 p.m. showing of "The Lost Weekend" at the Angelika Cinema, and she will be answering questions from those in attendance.

ALSO READ | Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon

Eyewitness to the Death of John Lennon: A WABC-TV special


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