Brian Epstein holds a press conference

In an attempt to defuse the controversy surrounding John Lennon's comments that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus", the group's manager Brian Epstein held a special press conference.

Despite suffering from glandular fever, in the morning he had cut short his holiday in Portmeirion, north Wales, and flown from England to the US.

Epstein was fearful that The Beatles' imminent US tour might have to be cancelled, as by this point public outcry had grown to the extent that 30 US radio stations had banned The Beatles' records.

The press conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan, New York. Epstein began by reading a statement approved by Lennon, before taking questions from the press.

The quote which John Lennon made to a London columnist nearly three months ago has been quoted and misrepresented entirely out of context of the article, which was in fact highly complimentary to Lennon as a person and was understood by him to be exclusive to the Evening Standard. It was not anticipated that it would be displayed out of context and in such a manner as it was in an American teenage magazine.

Lennon didn't mean to boast about the Beatles' fame. He meant to point out that the Beatles' effect appeared to be a more immediate one upon, certainly, the younger generation. John is deeply concerned and regrets that people with certain religious beliefs should have been offended.

Q: We're wondering whether you're going to change the itinerary of The Beatles to avoid areas where the radio stations are now burning their records and their pictures?

This is highly unlikely. I've spoken to many of the promoters this morning. When I leave here, I have a meeting with several of the promoters who are anxious that the concerts should not be cancelled, at all. Actually, if any of the promoters were so concerned and wish that the concerts be cancelled, I wouldn't, in fact, stand in their way.

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