Music icon John Lennon has been immortalized thousands of times in pictures and photographs, but perhaps none are as personal as May Pang's snapshots of the Beatle. In "Instamatic Karma," Pang, who was Lennon's girlfriend from 1973 to 1975, goes public for the first time with some of the couple's most personal pictures. The photos show Lennon at work and at play, and offer important insight into the character of one of the world's most popular musicians.
Read an excerpt of "Instamatic Karma" below.
OUR APARTMENT, NYC
We decided to find a permanent home in New York in May 1974. My cramped studio on East 89th was fine for a pit-stop, but it wasn't going to work for the long term. While John was working on Pussy Cats, Eddie Germano, general manager of Record Plant Studios, told us there was an apartment available in his building.The address was 434 East 52nd Street. The apartment we looked at was called the Penthouse Tower B. When we opened the front door, we were greeted by a steep staircase that led up to a rooftop apartment. Although it was a small one-bedroom, it had a nice kitchen, a large living room with a working fireplace, and a balcony that overlooked the East River (which is where we would see the UFO that John referred to in the booklet for Walls and Bridges). We ended up using the living room as our bedroom and entertaining center, and kept the small bedroom as a dressing room and as Julian's room when he came to stay.
One great advantage of living in that apartment building was having a neighbor like Eddie. He was the guy to go to if you needed anything, and he would always oblige John. If John needed anything at the studio, he'd tell Eddie and it'd be ready when we got there. He even outfitted our apartment with a state-of-the-art sound system so John would be enveloped in sound and could study his mixes.
We brought in a platform king-size bed and the largest-screen TV available in those days: a twenty-seven-inch Sony Trinitron. Our bed became "Lennon Central"—with the cable box, telephone and sound system all within reach. John dreamed his hit song "#9 Dream" in this bed.
One day while John was recording, the studio receptionist brought in a litter of cats. John immediately knew what I was thinking and said, "No, we can't, we're traveling too much."
I picked up a black one and put him over my shoulder. When I came back into the recording room with him, John rolled his eyes and said, "Now you've done it! Now you've done it!" I had a moment of wondering what I'd done, when he came over, started petting him and said, "Well I guess we have to have a cat."
At the end of the day when we were leaving, he asked if there were any left. We went back to get the only kitten that remained – a white one that no one wanted because she was so loud. John christened them Major and Minor. He loved those cats. It reminded him of his days with Aunt Mimi (whom he playfully referred to as the "Cat Woman").