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Maureen Cleave, British journalist who championed the Beatles, dies aged 87 | Music

Maureen Cleave, the British journalist greatest identified for her profiles of the Beatles, has died aged 87 after a brief sickness.

As one in every of the few younger journalists given scope to write down about the pop explosion of the Sixties – and along with her inquiring, non-deferential tone – Cleave helped to kickstart the British music journalism that flourished in her wake.

Her most well-known encounter got here with John Lennon in 1966, who instructed her: “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock’n’roll or Christianity.” His statements outraged God-fearing Americans and broken the band’s reputation – after their tour of the States later that yr, they by no means toured in the US once more. Lennon later wrote: “If I hadn’t said the Beatles were ‘bigger than Jesus’ … well, Lord, I might still be up there with all the other performing fleas.”

Born in India in 1934 and later raised in her mom’s native Ireland, Cleave studied at Oxford and was employed as a secretary at London’s Evening Standard following commencement. She persuaded the newspaper’s editor to present her a column on pop music, entitled Disc Date. It enabled her to go to Liverpool in 1963, the place she documented the rising Beatlemania in a bit headlined Why the Beatles Create All That Frenzy.

In the coming years she continued to write down about the group, and befriended them. She later described them as “more fun than anyone else and terrible teases. The interviewer was outnumbered four to one: they might put your coat in the wastepaper basket, offer to marry you, seize your notebook and pencil, pick you up and put you somewhere else, demand you cut their hair … On the other hand, they were often kind, offering you cigarettes or a swig from their bottles of Coke, making sure you never got left behind.”

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Cleave with the Beatles in 1964.
Cleave with the Beatles in 1964. Photograph: Express/Getty Images

She rewrote a line of A Hard Day’s Night: “I find the things that you do / Will make me feel all right” up to date Lennon’s extra laboured “I find my tiredness is through / And I feel all right”. Lennon later claimed that Norwegian Wood was written about her and that he and Cleave had had an affair, however Cleave denied it and Lennon later recanted, saying he couldn’t bear in mind who it was about.

In September 1966 she married her husband Francis Nichols, whose work took the couple to Peru for a spell in the late Sixties. After returning to the UK, Cleave continued her journalism profession, additionally writing for the Daily Telegraph, Observer and others.

Cleave was identified with ME in the Nineties, and later with dementia after her husband’s loss of life in 2015. She is survived by their three kids.

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