The Backlash Against These Music Gods Backfired
John Lennon tried to explain that his comment that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus” was taken out of context. He had actually ridiculed the notion that a music band was worshipped. In a series of press conferences, he denied that he had compared himself to Christ, and apologized. Neither explanations nor apologies calmed the furor. Protests were held, threats were made, and editorials called for the band’s deportation, The Ku Klux Klan began to picket Beatles concerts, and some radio stations stopped playing their songs. Some stations went further and organized “Beatles bonfires” – public burnings of the band’s records. One such in Longview, Texas, KLUE, invited listeners to burn the band’s records and other symbols of their popularity on August 13th, 1966.
Beatles LPs and merchandise were burned, amidst imprecations and predictions made that lightning would strike the group for their blasphemy. Attendees included a KKK Grand Dragon, who nailed a Beatles record to a wooden cross. In that time and place, a KKK Grand Dragon’s participation was positive PR for the radio station rather than negative. However, whatever PR benefit was gleaned by KLUE did not last long. Lightning did not strike the Beatles. Instead, the very next day lightning struck that station’s transmission tower. It knocked out KLUE’s news editor, and knocked the station off the air for quite some time.