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Instamatic Karma: Photographs of John Lennon Hardcover – March 4, 2008
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Lennon was famously requested by wife Yoko Ono to have an affair with the couple’s personal assistant, May Pang, while on sabbatical from the marriage. Apparently, Pang had a camera, but the biggest wonder is that no book of her photos appeared until now. The pictures show Lennon at a time of estrangement and personal excess (drink and drugs). The latter may be inferred from the cheery shot of Lennon with surprisingly fresh-faced Bobby Keys, who played the sax lead on the hit “Tequila” as a teen and became Keith Richards’ dedicated imbibing partner. Other photos touch on underappreciated facets of Lennon’s life: he and son Julian, then about 10, cavort in the water; Julian dresses up in John’s clothes—all very homey, as are shots of Lennon and Pang exuding domestic bliss. Not out to foment scandal, Pang comments about Lennon’s recording activities and personal concerns of the time very gently. Great for fans and desirable if not essential for biographical reference. And finally, how can libraries go wrong acquiring anything about any Beatle? --Mike Tribby
About the Author
MAY PANG worked for ABKCO, the Beatles’ management company, in the early 1970’s, and from there was hired as John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s personal assistant. After her relationship with Lennon ended, Pang worked for Island Records and United Artists. In addition to photography, she designs a line of feng shui jewelry and furniture. She lives in New York with her two children.
Top customer reviews
I do know it's thanks to this book we have the last photos of John & Paul together, enjoying each other's company, relaxing. That certainly hadn't occurred beforehand. Nor had contact been made between John and (at that time) only son, Julian. So it's nice to see them together, getting to know one another, again.
"Instamatic Karma" has plenty of photos of John and May showing there was a real relationship between the two. There are many nice photos of Julian during visits with his father, swimming, going to Disneyland, and general clowning around. Cynthia and Julian Lennon added an endnote to the book expressing thanks to May for her kindness and friendship to them, which was touching.
Since there is controversy about the common misconception that the years 1973 and 1974 were nothing more than a "Lost Weekend" for John, it was very satisfying to see photographic proof not only of the relationship, but that Lennon was happy, social and artistic during those years. There are photos of John with friends like Paul and Linda McCartney, Ringo Starr, David Bowie, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, Jesse Ed Davis, Klaus Voormann and Mal Evans who spent time with John during this productive and commercially successful period. And there are some great photos from the recording sessions of "Walls and Bridges."
I highly recommend this book for Lennon fans. It's a beautiful book at a reasonable price. And you can still get a copy of the First Edition!
Side note: If you want the blow by blow description of John and May's life during this period, with all the details included, check out "Loving John" Loving John or "The Lost Weekend" John Lennon: The Lost Weekend both written by May Pang.
The pictures capture the so-called "lost weekend" that Lennon had away from Ono, which actually lasted over a year and a half, while he was dating Pang.
Candid, natural, and shot in different locations, the photos depict Lennon with friends like former Beatles Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, his son Julian, and with author/photographer Pang, among others, at home, in the recording studio, and at Disneyland/Disney World; and more importantly the pictures capture Lennon the person, rather than the personality.
Sure the pictures aren't high resolution photographs, I believe some of them were Polaroids, but they are clear, even though the colors may be a little faded. But it's like looking through a friend's photo album or one's own, with each picture telling a little story.
Pang writes briefly about the time and place and what was going on during the time the pictures were taken, so readers won't be at a loss for information, and does so with grace and elegance. This isn't a gossip book or a Yoko bashing or the ravings of a jilted lover just one person's fond memories of her loving relationship with a legendary man.
INSTAMATIC KARMA is short and sweet and of course it left me wanting more! I highly recommend it to fans of Lennon's, the Beatles, or just of Hollywood legends--including "urban"-- in general. Great for gift giving and I got an autographed copy!