for THe Telegraph (UK) on April 14, 2010
The Beatles recorded most of their albums on Abbey Road.
At the height of their fame The Beatles enraged the Roman Catholic Church by famously declaring they were bigger than Jesus.
Their enthusiastic pursuit of the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle also did little to convince the Vatican they were anything other than a thoroughly bad influence.
But now in a move sanctioned by Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church has offered the Fab Four its official seal of approval, forgiving them their various excesses and even lauding them as a “precious jewel”.
In a front page article the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, offers a glowing assessment of The Beatles’ achievements 40-years after they split, heralding their “beautiful melodies” and begging the question “what would pop music have been like without the Beatles?”
In an astonishing turnaround the Church dismisses previous moral outrages including blasphemous remarks, drug taking and even the dissemination of Satanic messages through their music.
While recognising that John, Paul, George and Ringo, were no saints during their time in The Beatles, the Vatican assures followers they were by no means the worst behaved rock and rollers of their generation.
Offering the band complete absolution, the article, entitled Seven Years That Shook Music, L’Osservatore Romano said: “Its true they took drugs, lived life to excess because of their success, even said they were bigger than Jesus and put out mysterious messages, that were possibly even Satanic.
“They may not have been the best example for the youth of the day but they were by no means the worst. Their beautiful melodies changed music and continue to give pleasure.”
It went on: “Forty years later the Beatles still astound with their originality and they are a
consolation against the continual assault on music lovers by the record industry.”
And referring to the band’s acrimonious split in April 1970, the article added: “Rather then expressing regret at their break up perhaps the question should be what would pop music have been like without the Beatles?”
The glowing praise may come as a surprise to many Catholics, given the band’s very public attacks on organized religion.
John Lennon sparked international condemnation by Christians of all denominations when he famously declared in 1966 that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus.
In an interview he said: “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first rock ’n’ roll or Christianity.”
At the time Catholic church was at the forefront of the attacks on the remarks, but two years ago forgave Lennon for his comments, insisting it had merely been the “boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success”.
While Sir Paul McCartney and George Harrison were baptized as Catholics, neither followed the faith.
In the late 1960s all four members of the band became fascinated with Eastern mysticism and Harrison later became a devoted follower of the Hare Krishna movement.
Earlier this year Ringo Starr, who turns 70 in July, admitted he had finally found religion saying: “For me, God is in my life. I don’t hide from that. I think the search has been on since the 1960s.”