The Beatles: officially bigger than Jesus, according to Google

Forty-three years after John Lennon sensationally claimed that The Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus’, it finally came to pass.

For seven days in September, amid the hubbub surrounding the remastered CDs and the Rock Band game, The Beatles finally overtook Jesus as a search term, according to Google Trends.

Beatles/Jesus Google Trends results, September 2009

Lennon made his controversial claim in a March 1966 interview given to Maureen Cleave and first published in the Evening Standard newspaper. When his words were republished by Datebook magazine four months later it caused a storm of negative publicity, culminating in public bonfires of The Beatles’ records and a public backlash that at times made the group fearful for their lives.

Christianity will go. 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.
John Lennon, 1966

The protests were mainly in the southern US states. Lennon eventually issued an apology, and was reportedly shaken by the backlash.

I wasn’t saying whatever they’re saying I was saying. I’m sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologise if that will make you happy. I still don’t know quite what I’ve done. I’ve tried to tell you what I did do but if you want me to apologise, if that will make you happy, then OK, I’m sorry.
John Lennon, 1966

The devil may have the best tunes, but Jesus was back on top of the stats just a few days later.

Last updated: 8 June 2020
The Beatles' mono and stereo remasters are released
The Beatles break chart records around the world in 2009
Also on this day...

Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.

Latest Comments

  1. Steven Webb Tuesday 22 September 2009
    • Joseph Brush Tuesday 29 September 2009
      • Chuck Wednesday 14 October 2009
        • Joseph Brush Wednesday 17 February 2010
      • steelyglenn Monday 6 December 2010
      • Beatle Brad Saturday 22 June 2013
  2. Glenna Tuesday 22 September 2009
    • Chuck Wednesday 14 October 2009
      • Joseph Brush Friday 19 February 2010
  3. mike Sunday 27 September 2009
    • Epenguin Thursday 18 February 2010
      • Beatle Brad Saturday 22 June 2013
  4. Stollinger Sunday 27 September 2009
  5. Vlad Monday 28 September 2009
  6. Paul Wednesday 11 November 2009
    • Matt Friday 19 February 2010
      • Joseph Brush Friday 19 February 2010
      • benny Thursday 25 November 2010
        • Vonbontee Friday 26 November 2010
          • mr. Sun king coming together Friday 26 November 2010
            • Vonbontee Tuesday 7 December 2010
              • mr. Sun king coming together Tuesday 7 December 2010
  7. Dale Saturday 19 December 2009
  8. robert Tuesday 7 December 2010
  9. mark Friday 21 June 2013
    • robert Sunday 23 June 2013
      • Joe Monday 24 June 2013
  10. rjflores Wednesday 24 May 2017

Leave a Reply