May Pang Said John Lennon Was Embarrassed by Joni Mitchell’s Flirtatious Behavior 

Joni Mitchell and John Lennon were two of the most celebrated artists of their time. They crossed paths several times, but they didn’t make the best impressions on one another. Mitchell said Lennon seemed intimidated by her level of intelligence. According to Lennon’s girlfriend, May Pang, the former Beatles musician was uncomfortable with some flirtatious behavior by Mitchell. 

John Lennon, May Pang, and Joni Mitchell | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images; Roy Jones/Getty Images

He once said Joni Mitchell came across as over-educated

In 1974, Mitchell released her groundbreaking album Court and Spark. Over the years, it has been on many Top Albums of All Time lists, but Lennon said it was a product of “over-education.” Mitchell responded to his remark in 2014.

“That’s a class difficulty he had,” Mitchell told Maclean’s. “He’s a working-class lad. I’m sure he had that same fight with [producer] George Martin because he was afraid that he was betraying his class. I know I’m going to get into hot water if I get into this but I have controversial opinions about him. I watched this [English film], which was a roundup of the best musicians of the 20th century. As soon as it hit my era, the intelligence of it dropped considerably. When it came to me, this guy folded his arms and crossed his feet and said, ‘I never liked Joni Mitchell — she’s too twee.’ Well, that’s what John Lennon was like. It was that fear working-class people have of middle-class people.”

Despite this, Paul McCartney said Lennon was the wealthiest member of The Beatles.

“His [upbringing] was richer than mine,” McCartney told The Washington Post in 1984. “Nobody knows that. John made himself out to be the big working-class hero, but he was the least working class in the group. John had an auntie who gave him a hundred pounds one birthday; that’s still something I wouldn’t give my kids.”

May Pang said Joni Mitchell flirted with John Lennon in the studio

While Lennon was recording with Phil Spector, Mitchell stopped by because she was working next door. 

“Spector was still working with the saxophonists when Joni Mitchell sauntered into the studio,” Pang wrote in her book Loving John. “She was recording in the next studio and decided to pay Spector a visit. She sat down next to the producer and watched while he worked.” 

According to Pang, Mitchell was shooting flirtatious looks in Lennon’s direction.

“Occasionally, she looked at John and smiled languidly,” Pang wrote. “It was clear that she was flirting with him and he was embarrassed by it.”

After a bit, Mitchell left, and the recording session continued. 

John Lennon and May Pang left the room the next time the Canadian musician arrived

Later, Mitchell visited the studio again, and Pang, frustrated, left the room.

“When I saw Joni Mitchell arrive, I got up and went back into the studio,” she wrote. “John followed after me. Neither of us was in the mood for her.” 

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Pang said that Mitchell kept her eyes on Lennon as they waited for Spector. While she might have been flirting at the time, it doesn’t seem that Mitchell maintained any kind of attraction to Lennon.