John Lennon: The Nixon - Hoover connection
"Beatlemania" swept the nation in the mid 1960's, creating a far reaching musical tsunami spreading through this country's musical heart for two more decades. John Lennon left the Beatles in 1969, beginning his own brand of music and more importantly, his message to the world. Give Peace a Chance - those four simple words with such profound meaning resonated with a core group and the idea took root and began to flourish. What no one knew back in 1964 was the fallout set to occur only seven short years later.....
Washington was caught up in the turbulent era of the Viet Nam War, the Peace Movement, Civil Rights, and a society with fervid mixed emotions. Protestors, Peaceniks, Doves and Hawks; names synonymous for their individual stances back in the day, in a time of this nation's great angst. Richard Nixon sat in the White House and J. Edgar Hoover controlled the reins of law enforcement from FBI Headquarters. Both men were uniquely powerful and equally paranoid. Each possessed a twisted view of reality due to their often distorted and delusional perceptions.
John Lennon's stance on the war set the stage for outright surveillance by the Bureau and Nixon even pressuring Hoover for unlawful "wire taps." Why? Nixon's irreconcilable fear of losing an election hounded him relentlessly. The former Beatle was perceived as direct threat because of his charismatic ways and supposed "leftist" and anti-war leanings, as discussed in NPR's interview with historian, Jon Wiener. Nixon ruminated on Lennon's ability to attract the younger generation who votes might cost him dearly at the polls. The FBI's thick file on the musician turned activist contained page after page of possible socialist and other radical ties. Appearing in the media and TV, Lennon admittedly knew he was under the microscope, fully aware of the possibilities of deportation and other charges relating to drugs. There are even rumors of MI 5, Britons' intelligence agency's involvement in conspiring as to the above.
So what set all this in to motion? Perhaps the precursor is Eisenhower's warning in his exit speech from the presidency, alluding to concerns about the Military-Industrial complex. Money will not be made if war does not exist. Scary to think our world still revolves in this unbroken chain of death and destruction. Perhaps John Lennon was enlightened long before many of us, understanding there is no hope in constant fighting and the creation of turmoil. Unfortunately, Mark David Chapman, brought an end to Lennon's reign as a man of peace. Gunned down at the age of 40, Lennon lay bleeding on a New York city street as his life and hopes slipped away. Another lone and crazed gunman, in an all too familiar scenario spilling over from the 60's.
What is it we find so compelling in Lennon's music and words? What is it about the man whose ideas were perceived by some as radical and unpatriotic; yet will forever haunt us because we will never know where his dream may have lead us or how his beliefs might have changed the world. December 8, 1980, brought a day filled with tragedy and shattered the former Beatle's member's elusive dream. But still the burning question lingers. What's so wrong with - Give Peace a Chance?