In The Lost Weekend: A Love Story, May Pang tells the fascinating and touching story of her whirlwind romance at age 23 with John Lennon. It was the mid-’70s and a turbulent time for the legendary artist. Unmoored by his split from Yoko Ono, he was partying heavily. But he was also making music — putting out three albums and working with Elton John and David Bowie. The documentary illuminates it all with archival footage and Pang’s personal photos and home recordings. It’s a feast for fans of Lennon and the Beatles.
That’s why the Independent Picture House is marking its arrival on the big screen with a special live event. Following the July 15 screening will be a panel discussion featuring Jay Bergen, Lennon’s friend and lawyer; Daniel Coston, a legendary music photographer; and Lindsay Planer, a musicologist and radio host and producer.
Helping organize it all is John Tosco — Charlotte musician, teacher and founder of Tosco Music and FabFest — who will be playing Lennon songs live before the screening. Here he answers our questions on the Beatles, Lennon’s legacy and this special IPH musical event.
What is your history with the Beatles and John Lennon?
They are the biggest musical influence in my life. My earliest childhood memory is seeing them on The Ed Sullivan Show. I was five and a half years old. My next-door neighbor and I would strum cardboard guitars, put the 45 [rpm] single She Loves You on the record player and sing along. My mother saw that and bought me their album Meet the Beatles. I started taking guitar lessons when I was eight, and I never looked back.
How do you rank the Beatles as songwriters and musicians?
They are like modern-day Mozarts. I believe their songs will last for generations. Their music is more than just rock; there are a lot of facets and complexities to it. It’s music that appeals to boomers and to their kids and grandkids. Some of the greatest jazz musicians as well as rock players will talk about their influence and the complexity of their songwriting. It just lends itself to so many different interpretations.
What is John Lennon’s legacy?
The thing about John and Paul, as many people know, is that they were so complementary. They were both brilliant composers on their own, but as a songwriting team, they brought different perspectives. There was a yin-yang thing going on. But John was also a peace activist. He took what they were doing and elevated it beyond just the music. He took it to another level of influencing us as a culture, as humanity. Bringing us all together is so powerful. You know, Give Peace a Chance, All You Need Is Love. We’re going to play John Lennon’s songs live the half hour before the screening, and the final song will be Imagine, which we will do as a sing-along with the audience, with the lyrics up the screen. It’s such a beautiful message. The power of music is how it unites us. And he tapped into that tremendously.
Have you seen The Lost Weekend: A Love Story yet?
I have not. I can’t wait to see it. I don’t want to see it until I’m in the theater with other people there. I think that experience of seeing it with everyone is going to be an exciting thing.
What are you curious to learn from the movie?
I’m interested in learning more details about [that period of his life] and seeing possibly some behind-the-scenes footage that I haven’t seen before. And I’m excited about partnering again with the Independent Picture House. This is going to be cool and fun to play live music and have the discussion. Jay Bergen will have a table in the lobby and will be signing copies of his book [Lennon, the Mobster & the Lawyer]. We’ll have raffle prizes, and we’re going do trivia right before the screening with prizes from IPH and FabFest ticket giveaways. It’s going to be lots of fun.
Tell us about the upcoming FabFest: Charlotte’s Beatles Festival.
We started doing a Tosco Music Party that was all Beatles music, and it became our most popular event of the year and still is. So we expanded it into a full weekend festival, and this is our fourth year doing it. We have had the Beatles A&R man and producer Peter Asher. We have had Joey Molland of Badfinger, who signed with Apple Records and recorded and performed with John Lennon and George Harrison. We’ve had Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees. This year we have Gregg Bissonette, who is Ringo Starr’s drummer in his All-Starr Band. It’s the only Beatles festival in the Southeast. It’s growing, and it’s amazing how it’s multigenerational. And the Beatles have a wide reach. I mean, their music lends itself easily to someone doing a jazz version of a Beatles tune or doing it in Spanish or in another genre. It could be bluegrass — we have the Charlotte Bluegrass Allstars performing this year!
Join us Saturday, July 15, for The Lost Weekend: A Love Story special event!
And check out FabFest on July 21-22! You can find more info here: https://fabfestcharlotte.org/#tickets