Maureen Cleave, former Evening Standard reporter famous for interviewing The Beatles


Maureen Cleave, a music and cultural journalist best known for her Beatles coverage, has died aged 87.

Cleave is hailed as one of the first journalists to seriously cover music and pop culture.

Charles Wintour, his first publisher (and father of Anna Wintour of Vogue glory), credited Cleave as one of his two favorite writers. Writer James Campion described her as an “icon of the sixties”.

The play that would go on to become Cleave’s claim to fame was published in March 1966. In the article, John Lennon was quoted as saying his band was “more popular than Jesus.”

The play didn’t make much noise in England, but later that year when the band toured America.

Both the Ku Klux Klan and the Vatican have made known their opposition to the commentary. Lennon finally apologized at a press conference. But it is now widely accepted that the comments had been taken out of context in a larger discussion of Christianity’s disproportionate relevance.

Cleave developed a strong bond with the group, and while she was all too familiar with the effect they had on adoring fans, felt that in some ways they were underestimated.

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“Surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of attention paid to them writing their own songs,” she once said.

Cleave even gave Lennon constructive criticism of the lyrics to “A Hard Day’s Night”, which resulted in changing the phrase “When I get home I find my fatigue is over” to “When I get home.” you, I find the things you do will make me feel good ”. Lennon wrote the lyrics on a birthday card a fan sent to his son Julian, which is now kept at the British Library in London.

Cleave also interviewed music greats such as Little Richard and Bob Dylan, although, according to one of her colleagues, she found it more interesting to talk to ordinary people.

Cleave was born near Delhi in India while still under colonial rule. John Cleave, his father, was English and a major in the British Army. His mother Isabella (née Browne) was Irish.

She pursued graduate studies at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, where in 1957 she graduated in history.

But despite her high level of education, when Cleave entered the workforce, women were expected to take up secretarial positions. So that’s what she did, starting her career as an editorial secretary at London’s Standard Evening in 1958.

The following year, with the newspaper under new editorial management, Cleave managed to secure a page devoted to young people. She was still responsible for writing in her seventies.

His personal life has not been without difficulties, however. She has been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease over the years.

Cleave is survived by her three children, Bertie, Dora and Sadie.

Maureen Cleave, journalist, born October 20, 1934, died November 6, 2021

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