In their heyday, the Beatles may have been, as John Lennon famously put it, “more popular than Jesus.” Now, a dentist wants to put that comparison to the test in a different way—he wants to clone John Lennon, with the eventual hope of bringing him back.
Back in the 1960s, Lennon, aware of his god-like status, had a rotten molar pulled and gave it to his housekeeper to give to her daughter. While I’m tempted to make jokes about what a shitty gift that was—I mean, how about an autograph? A back-stage pass? A roach?—this gift fetched $31,000 when it was auctioned to Michael Zuk, a Canadian dentist, back in 2011. You knew that guy would be Canadian, didn’t you? Unfortunately, the housekeeper didn’t get to keep the cash—she had already given the tooth to Alan McGee, former boss of Creation Records.
Zuk, who collects teeth, plans to team up with scientists at Penn State University and try to sequence Lennon’s genetic code. Zuk believes that if scientists can figure out how to clone a Woolly Mammoth, they should be able to clone a dead rock star. “To potentially say I had a small part in bringing back one of Rock’s greatest stars would be mind-blowing,” says the dentist. I wonder what Mark David Chapman thinks about this. Or Yoko for that matter.
Human cloning is illegal in many countries, including Canada, but isn’t quite explicitly illegal—yet—in the U.S. Given the numerous health problems of animals that have been successfully cloned, I shudder to imagine a cloned Lennon. Perhaps looking like a bizarre version of his former self could boost his fame. Who knows? But it’s possible that this experiment could force the issue.
Zuk is also considering a Beatle DNA sculpture and, if the genetic sequencing is successful, a documentary. The project has farther-reaching implications, the cloning of the rich and famous among them (though I’m still hoping aliens find Arthur Clarke’s DNA and work wonders with that).
Lennon’s molar, which has already been busy making appearances at charity events and on TV, has its own website where you can follow its adventures, genetic and otherwise. In the meantime, Elvis is pissed. Zuk bought one of his crowns for 10K, but not the whole tooth. Good thing Elvis is still alive.