John Lennon was a divisive character during his short time on earth. The Beatles singer was never afraid to state his opinions and was rarely scared to hear the reply, it was the case when the singer made the claim in the mid-seventies that he was visited by aliens while staying in New York.
After Blink-182 frontman Tom Delonge finally managed to corner the US Air Force with his footage of a UFO and coerced a confession of ignorance from the head honcho, this story doesn’t feel as crazy as it once used to. But you can trust us, when Lennon came out in 1975 to share his experience of the UFO, many people thought he had lost his mind.
The encounter took place on August 23rd, 1974, during a period in Lennon’s life known as the “Lost Weekend”. It saw Lennon cut adrift from Yoko Ono and spending a lot of time—at Ono’s demands, it must be said—with their assistant May Pang. During that time, Lennon lost his way with working on music and instead began drinking heavily, it would lead to many an embarrassing moment. But for this story, Lennon guaranteed he was sober.
“I was lying naked on my bed, when I had this urge,” he recalled to Andy Warhol’s Interview. “So I went to the window, just dreaming around in my usual poetic frame of mind. … There, as I turned my head, hovering over the next building, no more than 100 feet away was this thing with ordinary electric light bulbs flashing on and off round the bottom, one non-blinking red light on top.”
Though sober, Lennon made sure to call out for Pang in attempt to confirm his beliefs: “As I walked out onto the terrace,” she said, “My eye caught this large, circular object coming towards us. It was shaped like a flattened cone, and on top was a large, brilliant red light, not pulsating as on any of the aircraft we’d see heading for a landing at Newark Airport.”
Adding: “When it came a little closer, we could make out a row or circle of white lights that ran around the entire rim of the craft—these were also flashing on and off. There were so many of these lights that it was dazzling to the mind.” The pair both took pictures with their Polaroid cameras but they showed nothing.
It was an assertion that Lennon carried to his grave, on the lower-left hand corner of the artwork for Walls and Bridges, Lennon wrote: “On the 23rd Aug. 1974 at 9 o’clock I saw a U.F.O.” initialling the statement. But according to a friend of Lennon’s, Uri Geller (a famous psychic and magician), the ‘Imagine’ singer had a second encounter.
Geller said that Lennon had claimed to him that he had been visited by ‘bug-eyed aliens’ one evening in New York. His story followed a similar pattern, Lennon being awoken this time by a “blazing light” at his bedroom door. He opened the door to find four small aliens waiting for him they apparently stunned him with their minds, rendering him helpless.
If that wasn’t dubious enough, Geller also stated that when Lennon awoke the next day he had been left a gift, a small egg-shaped object which the Beatle kept on his person for months before eventually handing it over to Geller. Naturally, as anyone would do with some possibly legitimate proof of alien life, Geller decided to hide it until Lennon’s death and then wheel it out years later, showing it to select people (journalists).
It’s hard to find much truth in Geller’s version of events and the thought of UFOs in New York still feels a little preposterous. But then if we’d have told you the guy who once sung about dog butts was now at the forefront of scientific discovery, you’d have probably said the same thing.