Richard Nixon tried to get John Lennon thrown out of America because he saw him as a ‘counter-culture enemy’, according to a new documentary.
The former US President was so paranoid the Beatles singer could inspire the youth vote against him that he wanted him deported.
Lennon biographer Tim Riley said that Nixon regarded the Liverpudlian as ‘dangerous political leader’ and wanted him gone before the 1972 US election.
President Nixon was reportedly paranoid the Beatles singer could inspire the youth vote against him and ‘wanted him gone before the 1972 election’
According to ‘John Lennon: It Happened Here’, which is screening on US TV network Reelz, Lennon’s anti-war views and support of free speech made him a target for Nixon.
At the time Lennon was living in New York where he recorded ‘Imagine’ in 1971 after the break-up of the Beatles.
He also staged his ‘Bed-In for Peace’ with his wife Yoko Ono where they stayed in bed for a week to call for peace.
All of this turned Lennon into an icon on the left at a time of protests over the Vietnam War and rising suspicion of the US government.
Riley said that the Nixon White House took the threat posed by Lennon so seriously that they ‘decided to attack his immigration status’.
John Lennon lived in New York with his family after the break-up of the Beatles. Lennon biographer Tim Riley said that Nixon regarded the Liverpudlian as ‘dangerous political leader’
The former Beatle and his wife Yoko Ono raise their fists at a protest in New York in 1972
In the documentary Riley says: ‘They considered him a dangerous political leader, and that one way they could get rid of him was to simply report him’.
Adding to Nixon’s anxiety was that 1972 election was the first election that the voting age in America was lowered from 21 to 18.
Journalist Chris Epting says in the documentary: ‘Richard Nixon and his administration were petrified by that.
‘They look at John Lennon as this lighting rod of sort of youth movement, leadership, where he can steer 18-year-olds to the polls.
‘So they wanna eliminate Lennon from the picture. They’ve identified him as kind of a counter-culture enemy’.
In the end Nixon won re-election in 1972 but the Watergate scandal consumed his administration and he resigned in 1974.
Lennon was murdered outside his Manhattan apartment by crazed fan David Chapman in 1980.