Muhammad Ali and The Beatles
Friday, boxing legend Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay) left this planet, at 74. Ali was a major icon when he was alive, not only because of his victories in the boxing ring, but also for his memorable quotes, a number of them in lyrical verse form, and his political and religious convictions.
Meeting The Beatles in 1964
The Beatles met up with Muhammad Ali at a photo opportunity when he was still Cassius Clay, during their first U.S. visit in February, 1964. Clay was in Miami, in training for the fight that would bring him the world heavyweight championship when he beat Sonny Liston – also known from the Sgt Pepper album cover. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Ringo remembers their intitial meeting.
For consciousness reasons, Ali refused to be drafted during the Vietnam war, and lost his title in 1967. He appealed and the High Court suspended the sentence in 1971.
Muhammad Ali had a well known nickname: “The Greatest”, which must have been on John Lennon’s mind when he penned “I’m The Greatest”, which Ringo sang on a record, John and George participating.
When Paul McCartney’s band Wings was touring USA in 1976, at every town or city they visited, he was always asked about a possible Beatles reunion. Tired of this after a while, Paul came up with a Muhammad Ali-type verse:
The Beatles split in ’69
And since then they’ve been doing fine
And if that question does not cease
Ain’t no one gonna get no peace
And if you ask it just once more
I think I’m gonna break your jaw!
Beatles reunite for Ali
A comic book, “Superman vs Muhammad Ali” was published by DC Comics in 1978. On the front cover, several famous people are drawn into the crowd watching Superman fight Ali, among them are some familiar faces.
Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame
When The Beatles were inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Muhammad Ali was one of the people present, and in his thank you speech, George Harrison mentioned Ali. George had been thanking all the musicians who inspired The Beatles, singling out Little Richard, who also was present, when he was interrupted by Ringo.
Ringo: Don’t forget Muhammad Ali!
George: We won’t forget Muhammad Ali, he picked us up in Miami Beach one day.
Paul and Ali
In 2002, Paul McCartney and Muhammad Ali were two of the recipients of the UNA-USA’s Global Leadership award in New York, and the two met up again. Paul published this statement when notified of Ali’s death: “Dear Muhammad Ali. I loved that man. He was great from the first day we met him in Miami, and on the numerous occasions when I ran into him over the years. Besides being the greatest boxer, he was a beautiful, gentle man with a great sense of humour who would often pull a pack of cards out of his pocket, no matter how posh the occasion, and do a card trick for you. The world has lost a truly great man. Love Paul“