Monday, April 14, 2008

Meet the Beatles former girlfriends

Meet The Beatles former girlfriends

Former girlfriends of John, Ringo talk of life, love

Judith Salkin • The Desert Sun • April 12, 2008

Back in the 1970s, May Pang and Nancy Lee Andrews lived out the fantasy of young women around the globe.


They were the girlfriends of former Beatles John Lennon and Ringo Starr.

Now both women have documented their relationships in books, offering a glimpse into the lives of their famous loves.

On Sunday, Pang and Andrews will be the guest speakers at Melvyn's Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs.

Pushed by Yoko

In 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono made the move from England to New York and set up not only housekeeping, but a multi-armed business (fueled by Lennon's wealth) headquartered at the St. Regis Hotel.

One of the couple's first employees was a 21-year-old Chinese American named May Pang, who had been working at Apple's American office. She started as the Lennons' gofer, eventually rising to the position of personal assistant.

But by 1973, John and Yoko's marriage was on the verge of imploding. It was then that Ono took Pang aside, told her that Lennon fancied her and that it was OK to respond to him.

Over the next 18 months - what he later called his "Lost Weekend" - Lennon and Pang embarked on a productive and passionate affair that ended as abruptly as it started when Ono decided she wanted Lennon back in her life.

Pang told her side of the story in "Loving John" with Henry Edwards in 1983, and more recently in "Instamatic Karma," a book of photos documenting their time together.

"It was probably John's most productive period," Pang said from her home outside New York City. "He recorded three albums - one right after the other. But I guess the idea that John was depressed is a great way for someone else to continue the myth."

Using her camera (a present from John) Pang recorded their adventures on film, which included a trip to Palm Springs with singer and notorious troublemaker Harry Nilsson.

Through her lens, she also captured Lennon's happy reunion with his son, Julian, after a four-year separation; a summer in Peter Lawford's Santa Monica beach house with Ringo; Nilsson and Keith Moon working on Nilsson's "Pussy Cats" album; and Paul and Linda McCartney dropping by in New York.

"What I love about the photos is that this was the John I knew," Pang said. "He's not guarded; he's relaxed and you can see he's enjoying his life. What I didn't realize was that I was capturing history. I was just on autopilot."

Poker pal

Dark-haired model Nancy Lee Andrews was introduced to Ringo at Lennon's Santa Monica beach house. She had moved through the world of rock with boyfriend Carl Radle, who worked as Eric Clapton's bass player in Derek and the Dominos.

Andrews was then asked by Lennon to deliver the 1968 Barracuda he'd purchased for Pang to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Starr, who was estranged from his wife Maureen, opened the door to their suite. Standing over his shoulder, Lennon gave Andrews a wink.

"He told me, 'Give the lad a chance,'" Andrews recalled from her home in Nashville, Tenn.

She decided to give Ringo a chance.

The romance blossomed and Andrews was later named the co-respondent in Starr's divorce.

"Ringo asked me to do it for the sake of his children," Andrews said.

The pair were together for the next six years, engaged in fact, when Starr began working on the 1981 movie "Caveman" with Barbara Bach.

"That was the end of our relationship," Andrews said. "But I have to give it them - they've been together for 27 years, so I'm happy for them."

Today, Andrews has a studio on her property outside Nashville and is a sought-after photographer for album art and portraits.

She moved to the country music capital after marrying in 1994. Her book, "A Dose of Rock and Roll," is the result of a her experiences.

"I told them I'd only do the book on my terms," she said. "I wanted it to be an homage to the '70s and the music of our times."

Judith Salkin is a features writer. She can be reached at 202-3233 or

In your voice

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oldboys wrote:
Regarding the girlfriends... Are they living in assisted living?
4/12/2008 3:31:25 PM
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