Even after The Beatles broke up, John Lennon was so influential on American culture that the government tried to have him deported. The legal battle between Lennon and U.S. Immigration began this week in 1972, when he was at the height of his political activism.
According to Jon Wiener’s book Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files, the Nixon Administration (we know, crazy) issued one letter ordering Lennon to be “arrested if at all possible on possession of narcotics charge” to give them good reason to deport the Beatles legend. Yup, Lennon was so outspoken that the U.S. government tried to deport one of the most treasured and revered artists in all of music.
The Nixon Administration was legitimately concerned that Lennon alone would influence enough voters to swing the election in favor of Nixon’s opponent, so that should put in perspective just how massive a figure Lennon was at the time. It also didn’t help Nixon that Bob Dylan penned a typically eloquent letter to the INS defending him which said:
John and Yoko add a great voice and drive to the country’s so-called art institution. They inspire and transcend and stimulate and by doing so, only help others to see pure light and in doing that, put an end to this dull taste of petty commercialism which is being passed off as Artist Art by the overpowering mass media. Hurray for John and Yoko. Let them stay and live here and breathe. The country’s got plenty of room and space. Let John and Yoko stay!
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