Local Couple Recall Life with John Lennon | NBC 6 South Florida

Local Couple Recall Life with John Lennon

Cuban and Mexican immigrants revealed an unlikely relationship with a former Beatle -- and his rock 'n roll friends

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    NEWSLETTERS

    For a brief period in 1974, a Southwest Miami-Dade couple were at the center of what former Beatle John Lennon called his "Lost Weekend." (Published Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011)

    Maria and Armando Ontivero are Cuban and Mexican immigrants living in Southwest Miami-Dade, who just so happen to have an unlikely rock 'n roll past: the pair once lived in the same house as John Lennon.

    "When my husband said, 'this is the Beatles,' I said, 'Oh my God!" I didn't believe it," Maria recalled.

    In 1974, Lennon and his girlfriend May Pang rented a beach house in Santa Monica, California and moved in with fellow former Beatle Ringo Starr, The Who drummer Keith Moon, and other famous musicians.

    The Ontiveros were hired as caretakers. In a period of less than four months, they witnessed wild parties and rare post-Beatles jam sessions that included a fellow called Paul McCartney.

    "Every day they played in the living room," said Armando. "Paul played the piano, John played the guitar."

    The Ontiveros say the house played host to stars like Elton John, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Goldie Hawn, and Harry Nilsson. And while they were originally there just to cook, clean and watch the house, they ended up doing and experiencing much more.

    "We became family, like we were part of the group," said Armando.

    These days, you'd never guess that this retired couple living in Southwest Miami-Dade shared historic moments with music legends. The only evidence in their home is a few pieces of framed memorabilia, like Lennon's favorite cowboy shirt that he gave them as a gift, and a rare Beatles t-shirt that Lennon got from Capitol Records, but didn't like.

    However, the memories are far more valuable to the Ontiveros.

    "I remember saying to my husband, I'm sorry, but tonight I'm not taking a shower because Ringo gave me a kiss!" said Maria.

    Armando still has a t-shirt given to him by Lennon, but he'd rather tell you about cooking for him.

    "He loved my food, oxtail, shredded beef, ropa vieja, black beans. Yeah, John loved Cuban food!" Armando said.

    Their stories are so outrageous, even their own children didn't believe them at first.

    But if the photos, including a Polaroid with Ringo that was taken by Lennon isn't enough, the Ontiveros are also mentioned by name in both of May Pang's books. And they recently reunited with her in Miami, for what else: Cuban food.