Get a KLUE

True story.

In an interview in the London Evening Standard on 4 March 1966, John Lennon of The Beatles compared the band's popularity to Christianity:

Experience has sown few seeds of doubt in him: not that his mind is closed, but it's closed round whatever he believes at the time. "Christianity will go," he said. "It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." He is reading extensively about religion.

In 1966, there was no Twitter to flash headlines around the world, making stories go "viral" in 20 minutes. It took months for those comments to be published widely in the U.S., even though the band was already famous here -- they had been on the Ed Sullivan Show two years before.

But when news finally did spread here, some were (shall we say?) peeved. The Rev. Thurman H. Babbs of the New Haven Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, called for churches to excommunicate all Beatles fans.

Some protests were a bit more ...well... typical. Time for an update on book burning! "We are inviting local teenagers to bring in their records and other symbols of the group's popularity to be burned at a public bonfire on Friday night, August 13," said the station manager of KLUE radio (1280 AM) in Longview, Texas.

The next day -- a Sunday -- a bolt of lightning hit the radio station's transmission tower. The station's news director was rendered unconscious, and damage to broadcasting equipment was so extensive, the station was off the air for months.

The station eventually lost its KLUE: those call letters are now assigned to an FM station in Missouri.

Posted March 19, 2012

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