Kolya Vasin - a shrine to Peace and Love

Lennon's Temple Of Love

by Olga Barishnikova

One of Russia's most knowledgeable fans on the Beatles is to set up a shrine to his idol -- John Lennon.

Kolya Vasin's idea has been three years in the making and he believes he is the only person in Russia let alone St Petersburg, to come up with the idea of "John Lennon's Rock and Roll Temple."

He has already drawn up a quasi-religious list of "holy" days in a Beatles and rock world calendar to celebrate the phenomena of rock, celebrations he himself terms as joyous and fun holidays.

"I want every day to be a holiday and I have spent much of my time in tireless pursuit of this temple idea which came to me in a vision.

"Since then I have been linking up every event connected with rock and roll and the Beatles into cultural events which will support the temple project," he said.

This Saturday it's George Harrison's birthday and Kolya has invited a group of Russian rock groups to give a round of concerts to support the project.

Kolya Vasin, self-styled Beatles preacher, said, "We have drawn up a whole list of temple rock music holidays including all the Beatles' birthdays. October 5 is the Day of Love and Peace -- John Lennon's birthday; January 19 is Rock Womens' Day in honor of Janis Joplin's birthday and Blue Suede Shoes day is on April 9.

"The calendar reflects one of the temple's main aims. It should be a home for music and people, a retreat from the outside world where those who haven't sung their song to the end can come and sing it," Vasin added.

Many people, he says, believe the temple project is some kind of new rock club in the making but he stresses this is far from true.

"It is a shrine to rock and roll, to that magic that has always linked different countries and generations. Above all it is a shrine to John Lennon's philosophy of love and peace."

Vasin said, "St Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great as a window to Europe and I want to make this a door to the world by constructing a temple which will be the center of music, love and peace," he said.

Kolya Vasin has come a long way down the road towards his project. He remembers the days when Communist censure meant he had to listen to underground bootlegs recorded on X-Ray plates!

"The Beatles have always been worshipped here in Russia and these prohibitions served to make them more popular influencing a great number of underground rock musicians," he said.

Vasin also recalls the beginnings of the underground rock movement in St Petersburg during the 1960s and he sees this temple as crowning the pinnacle of his life, a life devoted to everything about the Beatles.

So far he has been able to attract quite a bit of media attention and has set up a committee and appealed to rock stars and organizations abroad.

The majority answered the letters, stating the idea was a good one but they were unable to offer either financial or practical advice on the project.

But Vasin isn't about to give up. In his leaflets he calls for "action" and says that his temple can only be built through free will donations from around the world.

"We don't need that many people to build the temple, we must work with joy and all come together," he said.

So far he has set up an office and a special committee where fans and guests and anybody wanting to know about or support the idea can come along and talk or simply see his extraordinary collection of '60s and '70s memorabilia which has turned his room into a museum.

Among his collection are posters, albums, a gold record of "Revolver," one of Lennon's T shirts and a record which he received from Lennon himself and is autographed by the singer and Yoko Ono.

He has also worked out two models of the temple which would be constructed on the Gulf of Finland and "would be reminiscent of Sergeant Pepper's last chord," he added.

A massive structure of crystalline forms emerging from bare rock by the water, the temple would be topped with two revolving glass balls each inscribed with the words Love and Peace.

Having worked out a business plan the whole scheme would cost $12 million, which he believes is attainable.

"I believe he is a man who has become part of God and so if we want to build the temple with all the honesty and love in our hearts the money will come somehow," Vasin said hopefully.