In Memoriam|

Maureen Cleave (87) (10/20/1934 – 11/06/21) was a British journalist. She worked for the London Evening Standard from the 1960s conducting interviews with many prominent musicians of the era, including Bob Dylan and John Lennon. Over 40 years, she continued as an interviewer of people in all walks of life, in the Standard, the Telegraph Magazine, Saga magazine, Intelligent Life magazine, and elsewhere.
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After graduating, Cleave first worked as a secretary for the Evening Standard. She convinced its editor, Charles Wintour, to make her a show business correspondent and to let her write a pop music column called “Disc Date”. She traveled to Liverpool to interview the Beatles in January 1963 after a tip from a friend from Oxford. In her Standard interview with Lennon on March 4, 1966, titled How does a Beatle live?, she quoted him as saying that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus now”. Five months later, on the eve of a 14-city US tour, an American magazine reproduced the remark, which led to a wave of anti-Beatle sentiment in many parts of the US, especially the South and Midwest.

[COMBO Editor’s note: Unbeknownst to a lot of people in America, most of the people in the world had never heard of Jesus as many other religions were in practice. Lennon discovered that so many of the Beatles’ fans did not practice “Christianity”. Therefore, the Beatles were more popular than Jesus!]

According to the Bob Spitz biography of the Beatles, Lennon claimed a liaison with Cleave, inspiring the band’s song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. Pete Shotton, a friend of Lennon’s, also suggested Cleave, though Cleave has said that in all her encounters with Lennon that he made “no pass” at her, and Lennon later said he could not remember who the song was about. … Cleave later ended her association with Lennon in 1966, the same year she married.

In addition to the Beatles, Cleave interviewed Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones during the 1960s. She favored talking to individuals who were not celebrities and avoided actors and politicians “because they’ve said it all before”. She went on to interview Aileen Plunket (1983), Little Richard (1985), and Donald Maclean, who was chairman of the National Vegetable Society. She later wrote a warm tribute to Lennon in The Telegraph Weekend Magazine a decade after he was murdered in December 1980.
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Cleave was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome shortly after collapsing on the platform of Tottenham Court Road tube station in August 1992. She died on November 6, 2021, two weeks after her 87th birthday. She suffered a short illness prior to her death.

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Other Notable Musicians’ Deaths…

Sadly, more deaths from COVID. Please get vaccinated – not so much for you but for your loved ones – or for that older stranger that you may have accidently exposed ‘cause you’re a “carrier” and don’t know it. Truly may save your life – and theirs. If you want to know more about any of the musicians we lost this past week, please check out

November 2021

10: Margo Guryan, 84, American singer-songwriter (“Sunday Mornin'”) (death announced on this date); Miroslav Žbirka, 69, Slovak singer and songwriter (Modus), pneumonia.

9: John Kinsella, 89, Irish composer.

8: Edgardo Gelli, 86, Italian singer, traffic collision; Franck Olivier, 73, Belgian composer and singer, liver cancer.

7: Bopol Mansiamina, 72, Congolese musician (Les Quatre Étoiles), stroke.

6: Astro, 64, British singer and musician (UB40); Andy Barker, 53, British musician (808 State); Evette Benton, 68, American soul (“Games People Play”) and disco singer; Maureen Cleave, 87, British journalist, conducted John Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” interview; Barry Coope, English folk singer (Coope Boyes and Simpson); Marinko Rokvic, 67, Serbian folk singer, pancreatic cancer; Petrica Mâlu Stoian, 61, Romanian folk singer, complications from COVID-19.

5: Diana Anghel, 35, Moldovan singer, cancer; Marília Mendonça, 26, Brazilian singer, Grammy winner (2019), airplane crash.

4: Mario Lavista, 78, Mexican composer and writer.

3: Joanna Bruzdowicz, 78, Polish composer; Georgie Dann, 81, French singer, complications from surgery.

2: Sabah Fakhri, 88, Syrian tenor singer; Declan Mulligan, 83, Irish-born American rock musician (The Beau Brummels); Ernest Wilson, 69, Jamaican reggae singer (The Clarendonians); Ronnie Wilson, 73, American R&B musician (The Gap Band).

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