Who Is Spanish Tony Sanchez?
February 27, 2013
Who Is Spanish Tony Sanchez?
A Review Of Up And Down With The Rolling Stones
Published In 1979 Spanish Tony Sanchez’ memoir is now thirty-four years old. Tony tanked it in the year 2000. Had he lived he might be surprised but gratified at the success his book is enjoying. According to reviews the book as been very well received by book buyers although there are dissident views by others finding the book unbelievable.
Part of the problem is that the book was co-written by a former journalist named John Blake who appears to detest Jagger, Richards and the whole scene they created. As a journalist he was privy to all the gossip about Jagger and Richards and so chips in with opinions of his own while also citing newspaper reports. Although written as a continuous narrative, with careful reading you can separate Blake from Sanchez.
After his journalistic career blew up Blake went on to publishing at which he has been successful. His collaboration with Sanchez was fruitful. The book is a great read anyway you look at it. The question is not what Sanchez tells us but what he doesn’t tell us.
Tony says that he was under he protection of a gang boss by the name of Albert Dimes who ran the West End apparently sharing Soho with the notorious Kray twins, Reggie and Ronnie and their brother Charlie. Sanchez then can be classed as a hoodlum. As Charlie Kray says his gang ran a bodyguard company it seems probable that Tony was employed by Keith in that function.
One of his chief functions for the Stones was as a drug supplier. Opening the book he says apropos of Brian Jones:
I’m not a pusher, but as a boy I’d worked in Soho, first as a night club bouncer, then as a croupier, so I know exactly where to go for anything from a lid of grass to a Thompson submachine gun. Consequently people in the rock world had come to me as a reluctant go-between in their flirtations with the London underworld.
That short paragraph says an awful lot. We know, according to Tony, that he was sufficiently well known in gangland to come under the protection of Albert Dimes, a gangster dating back to the early fifties. Tony says that he worked as a bouncer in gambling joints and that would require the attitude and the temper to use violence whether necessary or not.
And then he says he was a croupier. He later tells us that the games were rigged so that he was knowingly bilking his customers, a form of theft. He then tells us that he could get anything from a bag of grass to submachines guns. This would mean that he was very knowledgeable in criminal matters.
He repeatedly professes that he didn’t sell drugs for profit but apparently had access to commercial amounts. At the same time he is married with two children, dresses like a dandy and hangs out in pricey bars. At no time does he appear to be gainfully employed until for some reason Keith Richards puts him on the payroll at 16,000 pounds a year. Well in excess of the pay for a working stiff. Plus, as Tony never seems to visit the wife and kids, room and board. Kind of a dream deal, you might say. What’s up? We’ll have to guess because Tony and John kept it quiet.
So, how did Tony get so close to Keith? Well, this is fairly interesting stuff. The stuff Swinging London was made of. The story’s real beginning is on page 39 when Tony meets Groovy Bob Fraser who was his entrance to the rock world. Tony tells it like this:
Into this world of intrigue, sudden violence, and bitter feuds dropped Robert Fraser. We met as I sipped a solitary espresso at the Bar Italian in Soho’s Frith Street. It was afternoon and I was killing time before going to work at the club.
Robert sat next to me, and we fell into conversation. Robert mentioned that he had gone to college in Spain…I speak Spanish as fluently as I speak English. This excited Robert and he jumped at the chance to talk to me in his very erudite Spanish…
From there a friendship developed around Tony’s ability to score drugs. Fraser was a gambler who had lost 20K pounds to the Kray Twins and couldn’t pay. He asked and Tony offered to deal with the Krays. Tony approached Dimes who wasn’t willing to jeopardize his wicket for an impecunious gambler. Tony decided to approach the Krays on his own. Bold move. Now, two versions exist; the improbable one of the book and another version in what purports to be a chapter of the book deleted by the publishers that might be more accurate.
The story involves criminal attempts to take over the music business. Sanchez was in a criminal occupation within the underworld while he confesses to wanting to be a criminal. p. 37:
As a teenager my great passions were rock music and big-time villainy- roughly in that order. I had a cousin who had gone way, way off the rails and who had become deeply immersed in organized crime. While my parents complained about the shame he was bringing to our family, I could only look at his big car and beautiful women and pray to God he would show me how it was done.
So, his cousin got Tony a job as a croupier and Tony began to meet big time crooks like Albert Dimes.
Rock and Roll bands at that time played in clubs and clubs are almost universally under the control of the underworld. Thus band members of the Beatles and Rolling Stones are in much closer contact with the underworld than one might assume while that is very carefully obscured by their biographers.
The Beatles played for months in the red light district of Hamburg one of the toughest criminal areas in the world. They witnessed much crime and mayhem. They were no angels. Albert Grossman in his biography gives examples while Andrew Oldham in his latest effort, Stone Free, tells of the time John and Paul dressed as priests and while so posing anointed communicants with their own piss, for which Oldham says they were arrested. At any rate they were under the protection of the crime lord of all Europe. The Krays of England would have been old hat to them.
Tony’s relationship with Keith then is suspicious.
The Kray Twins, who were England’s most prominent villains, as the English say, had taken over a prominent West End gambling spot called Esmeralda’s Barn. Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein gambled here, losing heavily so that the enormous amounts of money the Beatles were generating came to the attention of the Krays. They also knew that Epstein was gay. As they had made the previous owner of the Barn the irrefusable offer they believed they could do the same with Epstein. This aspect of the story is detailed in Colin Fry’s book, The Krays: A Violent Business so the account is not dependent on the missing chapter.
The Krays arranged a meeting with Epstein in a homosexual bar. That it was a homosexual bar indicates nothing to me as gay bars aren’t in the habit of hanging signs out saying: Gay Bar. I have been in several gay venues without knowing where I was until I was being served. The question is, would one go back?
Epstein patiently explained that managing bands was not as easy and effortless as it looked. The Krays then consulted the alleged godfather of British crime Arthur Thompson of Glasgow who as Epstein pointed out indicated to the Krays that managing the Beatles would require sustained effort and concentration to which criminals are not accustomed. Fry says the Krays thought it over, deciding to blackmail Epstein instead which they did collecting a sum every month for years.
Now to the Antiphoney’s missing chapter. Tony says, if the chapter is authentic, that Robert Fraser owed the Krays 20K in unpaid gambling debts. Tony says in Up And Down he tried to arrange a deal in which Fraser paid 30% or less thus freeing him and making him grateful to Tony.
According to the missing chapter the Krays showed him a sheaf of bounced checks and suggested that perhaps Fraser could clear the debt by delivering the Beatles into their hands, apparently not having given up their desire for the Beatles. When Tony told Fraser the idea he says Fraser embraced it setting about to woo the group. Fraser was fairly tight with McCartney to whom he sold a lot of artwork but not so much with Lennon.
In order then to co-opt Lennon, this sounds like a stretcher, he enlisted the aid of Yoko Ono who had arrived from NYC. As an avant-garde personality cum artist she would have looked Fraser up on her arrival so it is at least probable that she knew him. Yoko according to this account had been hanging around Paul who was the Beatle she wanted. Whatever the intent she did besiege John relentlessly until she got her entry and then she seduced him baffling his mind with all that avant garde BS and heroin.
If Fraser had his agenda Yoko had her own. Having conquered John she used his fame to pull off the Performance Art project of the century when he and she staged the Bed-In For Peace.
While all this was going on the Guiness heir Tara Browne entered this scene when he and his friend, , opened a night club called Sybilla’s. George Harrison of the Beatles was a significant investor. You can’t operate a club without dealing with some Mob. Perhaps the Krays saw Sybilla’s as a chance to co-opt the Beatles. Although the story is not yet clear I imagine that the Krays put pressure on Kevin MacDonald and Browne to sell their interest thus giving them direct access to Harrison as a partner. The two apparently refused so MacDonald was thrown off a roof to his death which left Tara Browne to deal with.
Bearing in mind that Paul had been under the protection of the European crime lord and one doesn’t receive favors without returning them, for that or some other reason Paul was probably compelled to lure Browne to his death. It is said, perhaps conjectured, that on that night Paul challenged Tara to a high speed auto race through London. The object being to draw Tara to a certain intersection where he could be caused to crash his car, a little flimsy Lotus. The crash ruse succeeded and Browne was killed although his supposed passenger, Suzy Poitier survived in a demolished car without a scratch sans seat belt or air bag. Doesn’t seem likely.
Browne’s death left Harrison as the sole surviving investor. I have no information as to his reaction but the club was closed and Harrison went his way. Harrison and Browne had been enough of an attraction to make Sybilla’s a hot spot with the In Crowd. That kind of lightning can strike many times.
Subsequently then, Tony, so he says, conceived the notion of opening his own club that he called Vesuvio. As he seemed to be very tight with the Stones and the Beatles he was able to feature them as attractions for his grand opening that was attended by them and the Rock establishment including Eric Clapton who was also a habitué at the Krays’ gambling club, The Barn. According to Tony the club was a stellar success but then he discovered he wasn’t the type to enjoy sustained business activity so his partner, the one who fronted the money took over management putting him on a stipend. Sanchez doesn’t say who his partner was but it surely must have been either Albert Dimes, or…the Krays.
Whatever, but Fraser was still not delivering and the Krays were getting pushy. Here comes a real leap of belief. Fraser could deliver neither the Beatles nor the money owed so, says Tony, he conceived the notion of going to prison to escape the Krays. An odd choice as the Krays had as many men on the inside as on the outside. But if you’ve snorted, puffed dropped and shot enough stuff I’m sure anything can seem like a reasonable plan.
Thus Tony says in the deleted chapter it was he, Fraser, who tipped the News Of The World to the Redlands bust which sent him to prison for six months. During that time the Krays murdered Jack McVitie, for which crime they were finally nailed. They went in as Fraser came out thus freeing him of the threat although Tony says prison was a life changing experience for Bob who became a less groovy Bob.
Alright. That makes a good story, doesn’t it?
Nor was the above the only contact of the Krays with show biz and Rock
It may be time to give a little perspective to the arch-criminals, The Krays, for those who may be unfamiliar with them, at least in the US, the English underworld reformed after WWII, a whole new cast of characters emerged formed by the wartime experience. The Kray twins were born in 1933 while their brother Charlie was a few years older. Ronnie and Reggie, the twins, began to emerge after 1954 becoming powers as the sixties began.
Perhaps their main racket was Protection of which providing bodyguards was a sub-division.
As the sixties progressed and their fame grew the Sicilian Mafia of the US began to take notice of them. The Mafia had always had a stable of singers, actors and performers they controlled for their nightclubs, such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Judy Garland et al. They suggested the Krays do the same.
In that manner the Krays provided bodyguards for visiting Mafia acts in England. When gambling became legal in England during the early sixties the US Mafia opened casinos installing such as the ex-actor George Raft as front men. The Krays were flattered by the attention showered on them by Raft.
Thus the Krays moved in on the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks and others. While the Beatles Brian Epstein was paying large monthly there was probably a connection to group members also. If McCartney was used to lure Tara Browne to his death, and maybe it was only intended as a scare and a few bruises, then there was mob influence at the personal level.
As I have implied if not stated, Spanish Tony was foisted on Keith as a bodyguard and minder.
The Krays also made a move to co-opt the Kinks but that deal is said to have fallen through. Ronnie Kray as part of the deal wanted to date Kink drummer, Mick Avery. Very flattering to Mick, I’m sure.
Later, when the Sicilian US Mafia wanted to launder money they offered the Krays 2,000,000 dollars to set up a label. The Krays went about it signing a few acts including Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. Kramer was spared further indignities when the money was withdrawn and the deal fell through.
And then in Prison after 1968 Reggie Kray decided he wanted to be a songwriter so his songs were foisted on groups who were required to record them.
Much has been made of the homosexual Communist MP Tom Driberg trying to lure Mick into politics. In point of fact Driberg was well connected with Ronnie Kray and part of ring that borrowed boys from an orphanage for their sexual deviance.
This then is quite involved and while Mick was probably not lured into this pervert scene with the Krays it would seem that there was some attempt to draw him in thus co-opting him into the underworld. The scene and Redlands situation needs a little in depth investigation to clear up details of what might have been going on behind the scene of the Bust.
And then there was Tony’s ongoing relationship with Marianne Faithfull. No one associated with the Stones has anything positive to say about Tony. But, listen to Marianne, autobiography, p. 162:
…(Tony) was a dreadful person. You only had to see him eat to know how loathsome he was. He was a lowlife, a small-time spiv, but a weakling at the same time. He was as enchained as anyone else, completely hung up on his particular sickness.
…I was getting deeper and deeper into drugs…I was also getting involved in a long affair with Tony Sanchez, dealer by appointment to the Stones. I can’t believe I did that! I didn’t get enough pocket money fom Mick and I didn’t have any money of my own, so how else would I have been able to get my own drugs?
There’s a problem. And then:
It’s odd to realize that the person you’re sleeping with is there only because you’re Mick Jagger’s girl friend. Or were.
This was as Marianne moved into her lost years during the seventies. During this period she makes it sound as though she were sitting on her wall over the bomb site beyond the ken of the world. It makes a good story and it drew me in. But, she says she never resorted to prostitution. Well, maybe.
While in France with Keith Tony met a woman named Madeleine D’Arcy for whom he fell hard, ditching the wife and kids. Love of his life, he said. She returned to England with Tony where Marianne apparently fell for her as hard as Tony. Sanchez came home one day to find Madeleine and Marianne getting it on. He blamed Marianne.
As all three were heroin addicts with pretty good habits; one wonders where Tony got the money if he wasn’t dealing. He was not closely associated with Keith after Keith fled the Riviera a step or to ahead of the cops so Tony may then have been off the payroll.
He would have had to be hustling something.
Madeleine was hooking. Marianne pp.225-26:
I hadn’t heard from Madeleine for several days. Her phone was off the hook and I suspected the worst. I had a feeling she’d OD’d, and I might have to smash down her door, so when I went over to the flat in Maida Vale I took with me as muscle a burly Maltese drug dealer and a lowlife friend…Eventually the boys broke down the door and in the bedroom we found Madeleine lying fully clothed in a long gown on the bed. She was obviously dead and looked bruised and bloody…By the time of her death, she had gone back to turning tricks at Brighton for fifteen pounds a night.
The Maltese gangs in London were known both for drug dealing and running prostitution. That Marianne contacted a Maltese and ‘a lowlife friend’ might point to prostitution. I saw a clip on the internet in which the photographer was hidden in a sort of alcove shooting through an opening. Marianne walked in front of the camera obviously dressed as a hooker but very classy in her mini skirt and jacket. She spotted the camera, looked alarmed, and quickly ducked around a corner looking back to ascertain what was going on.
There are numerous pictures of her during her lost years so that when the record producers went looking for her she wouldn’t have been as hard to find as she says.
And then, this: p.221:
I was constantly reminded during these years of my parasitic status in the pop world. I remember once going out dancing to a club and Rod Stewart came home with me. He thought I was just one of those girls that sort of floated around pop stars and tried to put the whole thing across like that… (Pop stars) are looking for their particular type, a girly sort of woman with pretty underwear and frocks and the whole female fantasy….I laughed and threw him out.
Sort of a hard Marianne. The other side of the Faerie Queen.
In 1976 Tony was cut loose by Jagger and Richards for good. I presume he passed out of Marianne’s life at that time. In any event she met her second husband, Ben Brierly, in 1976 and began a different, if not a new, life.
Tony’s primary job after securing drugs was to look after Keith. Keith needed some serious looking after. As Keith says Tony’s facts are straight then the only disagreement would be that Tony mentioned things Keith preferred not be mentioned. Indeed, when a London newspaper was going to publish an excerpt concerning Marianne she got an injunction to prevent it.
If the incidents are true as Keith attests then the evidence is that Keith was, at the very least, off the rails, carefree and reckless. He seemed to be conducting a vendetta against society attempting to see how many rules and laws he could break with impunity not unlike the Droogs of A Clockwork Orange.
Unable to pass the driver’s license test Keith had someone else take the test for him. Although, test or no test, practice should have made perfect. Keith was a slow learner cracking up car after car. As he was usually carrying, he grabbed the dope then ran off leaving Tony to deal with the police. Rather annoying from Tony’s point of view who must have been on the police radar himself.
I’m sure that Tony considered himself more than a minder or drug procurer, thinking of himself as more of a member of the group, especially as he was a friend of Robert Fraser’s before linking up with Keith.
The Redlands drug bust is far from cleared up. There is no certainty as to who alerted the News Of The World paper that drugs would be at the party and where the party was. The drug dealer Schneiderman may have been the one. His presence is certainly suspicious. I am going to suggest another possibility, admittedly a conjecture, that Tony himself might be the culprit. Sanchez ran a lot of risks for Jagger and Keith while being included in most things. Then, he wasn’t invited to the Redlands party at which he knew the regulars well. To be excluded is often considered an insult for hangers on for which vengeance is due. It is possible, then, that to wipe the perceived insult Tony himself alerted the News Of The World. It would certainly have avenged a number of indignities he had suffered at the hands of Keith.
It might have been Fraser who alerted the News as the missing chapter asserts, it might have been Schneiderman or, perhaps, it was Tony himself.
At any rate it appears that Tony was tolerated by Keith but not really welcome. As he was linked to London’s underworld it is possible if not probable that there was some link between it and Keith and Mick. When the Krays were sent up for thirty years in 1968, probably freeing Mick and Keith from their influence Tony’s days were probably numbered.
He was still useful in France but when Keith overplayed his hand finding it necessary to leave France and unable to return to England, he became a man without a country of sorts, the connection with Tony was broken, it being only necessary to sever the relationship.
Tony tells it in the brief epilogue to his book:
I had been running from death too long, knew that I could not live this life much longer. But I wasn’t ready to draw completely away. Keith still called me occasionally asking me to get drugs for him, and usually I would cooperate. It had become my way of life. It was on August 21, 1976, that the Stones were playing an outdoor concert at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, and Keith and Mick asked me to bring some cocaine to the dressing room for them. I was given the wrong type pass, however, and in the midst of a wrangle with a security man I suddenly realized it was all over. I turned on my heel, walked away and the next day reserved a room at Bowden House for a cure.
And so Tony was eased out. I have found nothing that mentions his last twenty-five years. However he died in the year 2000 short after Charlie, Ronnie and Reggie Kray had all passed away. It may have been coincidence or as some suggest…