September 25, 2016
A Beatles Fantasia:
John Lennon In Leather
R. E. Prindle
Dizzy Dez, a fellow Beatles researcher and internet friend, recently wrote a piece ( https://thenumbernineblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/taking-the-world-by-hurricane/ ) about the strange story of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Rory Storm led the most popular Liverpool band of the period. He was more important in Liverpool and Frankfurt than the Beatles. Yet, as Diz points out, when all the shouting was over and the dust had settled, the Beatles went unto worldwide fame pulling the best of the Liverpool bands after them, Rory Storm was left out in the cold. He never knew other than Liverpool success.
Just an inconsequential odd fact (except to Rory) that I found interesting but also significant. It was good of Diz to dig this story up, but then, Diz left me with a thought: What if the Beatles’ success had nothing to do with their talent; what if the only reason they found success was a fact that had nothing to do with their musical skills; what if their success depended on a queer’s fascination with one John Lennon?
Consider that Liverpool was an English backwater, a tough , gritty town with little sophistication and small hopes. If you have ever been in the Liverpool/Bristol area you really know what depression is. I was never so happy to leave an area since. I had become acquainted with a bottom surpassing Philadelphia and that is saying a lot.
So, in 1960-62 what you had was a city full of louts, what the English call Yobboes, desperately trying to find some distinction for their lives by playing in rock bands. In 1960 that was a desperate hope indeed. The hope was so desperate that the bands ended up playing before a bunch of rowdies and prostitutes, the underbelly of civilization, in Hamburg’s red light district on the Reeperbahn. Not the place for refined cultured manners. More like changing you from a lout or Yobbo into a super Yobbo. The indications are that the Beatles became very rough. What the homosexuals call ‘rough trade.’
In any event the Beatles went to Hamburg where they refined their rock n’ roll skills coming back to Liverpool to take their place in the hierarchy of Liverpool bands where they were a sensation although lower in the hierarchy than Rory Storm and his Hurricanes. Still in their locality and in their age and social set they were prominent.
Now, the local record store, NEMS, was managed for the family firm by a young homosexual Jew, Brian Epstein. At the time it was a punishable offence to public morals to be a homosexual so Brian Epstein was quite repressed. Raised on all the Jewish holocaust nonsense he felt like a powerless oppressed Jew. Therefore as a homosexual Jew he favored the rough trade.
Probably having heard the Beatles talked about along their outrageous leader John Lennon, dressed all in black leather, Brian made it down to the local rock emporium, the Cavern, to have a look.
What he saw made his dick throb. There on stage was God’s own Yobbo, John Lennon resplendent in his leather while projecting confidence and totally outrageous. Rough trade on a stick. Gimme dat ding. So, totally smitten Brian has to figure out a way to realize his dream.
It is clear that Brian wasn’t on the make to find a band to promote; for Christ’s sake he had a city full of rock bands to choose from including Liverpool’s number one, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and he made no effort to sign any. But, suppose he heard of Lennon’s desire to be the toppermost of the poppermost. Perhaps, Brian thought, I’m in the record business, I know execs at the London labels, perhaps if I gave John what he wants he would let me make him mine. Sounded good.
Now, let’s be clear, when Brian approached the London labels there was no interest in the Beatles or any other Liverpool band. There was no reason for any exec to ever even visit Liverpool and perhaps none ever had. Regardless of any talent, that had not yet been demonstrated, the Beatles were not going anywhere. The execs even considered the name stupid; what in the hell does beatle mean? Can’t even spell it right. Brian persisted and if he hadn’t the Beatles would never have had a shot at the bigtime. They would have disappeared the way they came in, unnoticed. The Beatles were going nowhere.
But, and this is the important fact here, Brian had a hard on for John. Bear this in mind, Brian had a tin ear, he could have cared less about the Beatles as a band; he had a hard on for John. And hopefully by making John the toppermost of the poppermost, and this meant only the small market of England, it was inconceivable that any band, let alone an English band, could become a worldwide phenomenon. Whatever happened next was totally serendipitous. Who could have dreamed of worldwide fame and hundreds of millions of dollars.
So Brian signed his Boys, as they say in the managerial parlance, and left for London to put them in a recording contract. Of course NEMS was a major account in the retail record world so Brian got a polite hearing but no real enthusiasm. Probably to get rid of a pest who wouldn’t quit he was allowed an audition. But this was only after making the rounds.
The Beatle’s ended up at EMI’s sub-label Parlophone and had George Martin assigned to them as a producer. While the Beatles had been all the rage on the Reeperbahn of ill fame and the backwater burg of Liverpool, what set the four aflame in those two locations was not so evident in the London recording studio. It was like someone from Poughkeepsie showing up on the Great White Way. George Martin found their musicianship flimsy but something apparently appealed to him about them. Everything about them was off, they still had the aroma of the Reeperbahn, but, the story goes, George was a technical wizard, so somewhat in the way David Seville created Alvin and the Chipmunks George’s wizardry created the Beatles. This is the legend.
The label thought they were hopeless so perhaps as a joke they allowed the Beatles to make ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ as a first record. And as with Alvin and the Chipmunks they probably viewed the disc as a novelty record; something along the lines of Mrs. Miller the off key virtuoso.
They were surprised when the record took off. No less surprised than I was when the record was a success in the US. Why the hell does anyone like that I wondered. But I and we were witnessing several seemingly unrelated things: First the song was the first true teenybopper, bubble gum song that soon inspired groups like the Ohio Express and the Lemon Pipers. ‘Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy.’ Remember that inspired tune? A step up from, I Want To Hold Your Hand.
The social conditions were right for the Beatles innocent, probably tongue in cheek, song. The Fifties had been tense what with the Cold War and the Bomb and things were getting more tense. Nerves were frayed. Perhaps a return to innocent pleasures of the young were in order. At any rate after becoming the rage in England Brian had actually jockeyed the Beatles and John into the toppermost of the poppermost in that small sceptered island but after a terrific promo campaign in the US when their plane landed, they hit exactly the right insouciant note at the exact right psychological moment in time. You can’t plan this. Nobody, nobody, could have forecast that. Brian and the Beatle’s ship had come in.
John Lennon had realized his dream in a Spade Royal Flush. The Beatles, words fail me, were on top of the world. The planet’s first globally successful band. They were bigger than Jesus. Oops, when John said that all hell broke loose. Abashed, John announced they would tour no more. When it came to business sense John was lacking but he and the band were only musicians, a ‘hot little band’ as McCartney recently characterized them.
But what about Brian?’ What about Brians’s reward. He had little business sense too and hadn’t been working for the success that came or was prepared for it. Of course John and the rest knew Brian was a poof. Who didn’t except for those who chose not to see. Brian had always been attentive to John in that peculiar way, certainly that hadn’t escaped he leader of the band. He joked about how Brian and the whole record industry was Jewish and queer.
According to Peter Brown in his ‘The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story Of The Beatles’, Brian did get his reward. Brown says that Brian invited John on a holiday in Spain and there John gave him the reward he wanted.
What if the story of the Beatles success had nothing to do with their musicianship, their songwriting, their personalities or anything else but Brian Epstein getting a hard on for a bit of rough trade: John Lennon in leather.
Wouldn’t that make a fabulous movie? Wouldn’t that be as ironical as all get out? It might not be literally true but it can’t be too far from the truth. Forget about poor old Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, history’s forgotten band. Once again, what a movie.
Resolving The Paul Is Dead Controversy
Sometime around or after the death of Tara Browne in an automobile accident in 1966 the rumor that Paul McCartney of the Beatles had died being replaced by a double began to circulate. The rumor itself, of course, is a fact that has been a center of controversy since 1966 although it didn‘t bloom in full until 1969 when a Detroit DJ spread the rumor through the colleges via UofM.
For my part I dismiss the notion that Paul did die and can find no solid evidence that the post-accident Paul is a double. Still the rumor calls for explanation especially in connection with the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s that depicts the demise of the whole group while it is reborn as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The reborn group is surrounded by the pictures of, one presumes, the lonely hearts.
I can’t say that I have the solution for the rumor to be sure. What I offer here is a plausible explanation based on an interpretation of the social situation created by the phenomenal success of the Beatles. That success was too great a burden for the band members to bear. If anything caused the breakup of the band that overwhelming success was a principal cause. The success far exceeded the capability of any one of the members, in other words the whole was greater than its parts. But, to recreate the environment to some extent let us consider the members of the whole entourage.
At the base we find, I think, the notorious London criminals the Kray Twins,. Ronnie and Reggie. Their gang that they called The Firm terrorized the London of the Sixties.
The Kray twins were born in 1933 making them seven to twelve during the war years. They experienced all the bombing and hardship of the war years as well as the post-war deprivation of rationing through 1954. They came from London’s East End rising through the crime ranks in the fifties to finally come into their own from 1960 to 1968. A short reign but one that coincided with the golden age of English rock and roll. The rockers were born mainly in 1942-43 making them nine or ten years younger than the Krays but still close enough in age. The rockers missed the war but faced the deprivations of the post-war years. These were character forming years for both the Krays and the rockers, primarily for us the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
The Krays were heavy handed protection racketeers moving into gambling. They, especially Ronnie, were enamored of the NYC and Philadelphia Mafia families. The Mafia families had many singers and performers under their control most notably at this time Judy Garland. When Garland performed in England the Mafia used the Krays for protection. Thus the Krays got used to associating with certain celebrities which they found exhilarating.
It was suggested to Ronnie by the Mafia that the Krays suborn English acts much as the Mafia had done with the US performers. For a good visualization of the process the 1958 film The Girl Can’t Help It is an accurate fictionalized account. The movie even features a couple of Mafia groups such as Teddy Randazzo And The Gumdrops. Right! We’d never heard of them either. Even the Mafia couldn’t promote them to fame.
Who better for the Krays to begin to build their stable than the premier English group, the Beatles?
The front line protecting the performers is always their management. The groups or singers themselves are artists not businessmen. As artists their concern is their art. They have to concentrate on their art to be successful. To realize the benefits of their art is a business. Hence managers who are businessmen enter in. The artists must trust the businessmen who are nearly all crooks so the artists were born to be fleeced. In the case of the Beatles producing all those millions and millions, they were a manager’s dream. Plus the hangers on.
Enter Brian Epstein, the manager and Robert Fraser, art dealer and hanger on.
Just as background the English managerial caste, as well as the US, were with very few exceptions Jewish and homosexual. In the late fifties and early sixties there were no groups, there were solo singer acts. These guys in most cases were not artists they were just kids off the street. Managers like Larry Parnes cast their eyes over good looking guys on the street and selected the ones that appealed to them such as Cliff Richard and the various Furys and Storms. They taught them a little stage presence, got them a good song, usually from a Jewish homosexual songwriter, put a band behind them and ballyhooed them into stardom.
Being Jewish they looked at the goi boys as so many cash cows and so they were. As Bob Dylan famously sang in Ballad Of Thin Man, ‘Give me some milk or go home.‘ However much was made from the singers efforts most went to the managers and pittances to the boys. But, then they were only created creatures, mere employees anyway.
The Beatles were dedicated artists who had a fairly long apprenticeship learning their craft in a tough environment in the red light district of Hamburg Germany. They not only developed a sound but Lennon and McCartney became a most prolifically successful songwriting team. That’s where the real money in records is and that’s where the Beatles got skinned the worst.
So they had talent but without management the talent would die on the vine. Enter manager Brian Epstein who saw their potential and acted. He was a Jewish homosexual flake but without him the Beatles would probably have become unemployed layabouts rather than wealthy rock and rollers. Brian Epstein’s rock and roll empire was born on the Beatles backs.
Brian had a couple weaknesses, drugs and gambling, other than his homosexuality that was then illegal, a crime, hence to be carefully concealed. Combined with the temptation of all those millions, there’s a recipe you’ll never find again.
Another character in the story is the avant garde art dealer Robert Fraser, also known as Groovy Bob, impeccably English but homosexual and a drug addict and, sure enough, an inveterate gambler. Fraser spent the first couple of years of the Sixties in the NYC art scene. There he was heavily influenced by Andy Warhol, less impeccably American, homosexual, but as far as we know free of the vices of gambling and drugs.
Fraser was also involved in the burgeoning Satanist scene that would take prominence beginning in 1966. He was involved with the American Satanist Kenneth Anger and through Anger the literary influence of the English Satanist Aleister Crowley and San Francisco’s Anton La Vey.
Wanting to be with it, Groovy Bob created a sort of salon for the young rock and rollers. Apparently the whole crowd, Beatles, Stones, Marianne Faithfull, Jimmy Page and the rest all hung out at Groovy Bob Fraser’s. Bob always had a plentiful supply of the best drugs.
To supply him with those drugs enter the young ambitious criminal, Spanish Tony Sanchez. Tony worked the gambling joints of the West End for the early fifties criminal Albert Dimes, an Italian. Dimes was a huge man, a fearsome enforcer, who successfully weathered his times until he died in his nineties. Either no or little jail time too.
Spanish Tony recorded his life in the Sixties in his two books, Up And Down With The Rolling Stones and I Was Keith Richards’ Drug Dealer. The latter is an updated edition of the former with additional material so the two are similar but not identical.
Tony met Groovy Bob in a bar before going to work his shift. The friendship developed and Tony began to hang at Fraser’s becoming acquainted with the Beatles, Stones and Marianne. Tony had access to drug suppliers.
Groovy Bob Fraser was the frivolous sort who found the minor details irrelevant. Thus while losing heavily in the Kray’s West End gambling joint, Esmeralda’s Barn, he paid for his losses with checks drawn on air. Any check may bounce once but Groovy Bob’s were the super balls of checks, they just kept bouncing.
I don’t have to tell you this irritated the Krays. They threatened grievous bodily harm. Bob appealed to the incipient criminal Spanish Tony to try to straighten things out. Dimes was Tony’s introduction to the Krays and according to him he worked out an agreement but Groovy Bob, well, honestly, just couldn’t find the money.
At the same time Brian Epstein had gambled and lost, gambled and lost, gambled and lost. One surmises that he made inroads into those Beatles millions that would have been difficult to explain in court. His contract with the group would expire in 1967 at which time it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for the Boys to call for an audit of the books. Not being businessmen and trusting Brian implicitly they probably wouldn’t have but the guilty Brian couldn’t count on it. Under pressure from the Krays to turn the Beatles over to them, probably suffering the pangs of guilt and befuddled by drugs, Brian either committed suicide in the summer of ‘67 or he was erased by other interested parties.
In the interim the Krays were increasing the pressure to get the Beatles from him. They had a sit down with Brian in a homosexual bar to force the issue. Brian patiently tried to explain to them that management was no bed of roses; there were a million nagging little details, heartbreaks and frustrations.
Maybe so. The Krays had earlier broached the subject of taking over the Beatles to the UK crime kingpin Arthur Thompson of Glasgow. He had advised them against it pointing out they were criminals who as a caste gave little thought to business details as did Groovy Bob Fraser and besides when it got out that the Beatles were criminally controlled it might kill their popularity. The Krays brushed the latter objection aside but paid attention to the former.
Now, the Krays had an associate named Laurie O’ Leary who had a clean record and could therefore function above ground and obtain licenses to manage clubs and an older brother Charlie who also had a clear record who could learn the management skills and establish a talent agency. That should take care of both of Arthur’s objections.
Bear in mind that part of the deal Tony worked out was that Groovy Bob was to work to bring the Beatles over to the Krays. There was a large homosexual ring recruiting young boys from orphanages for their criminal pleasure. This ring involved some notorious people of the period. One was the homosexual Tom Driberg. Driberg had made himself familiar with Mick Jagger who he tried to recruit as a politician. A fellow called Lord Boothby seemed to be the guiding light of this group. The group also included Ronnie Kray and members of the so-called Music Mafia including disc jockeys and many of those presiding over the music scene. As events have recently shown those involved in the music industry were heavily into pedophilia. How they link up to the Krays’ invasion of group management isn’t clear but I’m sure there is a connection.
At this point a group including Kevin MacDonald and Tara Browne along with George Harrison decided to open a club for the ‘hipoisie’ that was called Sibylla’s. It doesn’t seem like it was a coincidence that the club was located on Swallow St. in Piccadilly. On this same street were three clubs patronized by the mob figures and an infamous clip joint so that the Krays would be rubbing shoulders with the rockers. Furthermore the club was managed by Kray associate Laurie O’ Leary fresh from managing the bars of the Krays’ gambling joint, Esmeralda’s Barn. The opening night crowd of the club is said to have been attended by many mob figures using aliases.
Thus the club MacDonald conceived was called Sybilla’s named after the socialite Sibylla Edmonstone. That’s the way she spelled her first name. Kevin MacDonald and Associates comprised himself and George Harrison’s photographer Terry Howard and a guy named Bruce Higham. While this area is still a bit sketchy one assumes that Howard brought in Harrison.
As the Associates had no money their principal investor was a Sir William Piggott-Browne. Amember of the aristocracy, as a youth he had declassed himself enough be a jockey. He contributed 60% of the approximately 150K pounds. A disc jockey named Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman also invested. I imagine there were a few other small investors.
MacDonald was interviewed by a reporter for the Evening Standard apparently in the club. The interview appeared in the 7/23/66 edition. Macdonald’s picture and news clip were provided by email from a former girl friend of Kevins. I quote from the article.
But the ultimate fascination of Sibylla’s lied in its interest to the amateur sociologist. The three founders Terry Howard, Kevin MacDonald and Bruce Higham, all young professional men in their twenties who arranged bankers and backers to support their dream, claim that their club symbolizes a social revolution personified by the linkup between Marshall Field’s great grand daughter, Miss Sibylla Edmonstone and Beatle George Harrison whose respective spheres of fashionability assured the club’s success, if it needs an explanation it gets one from the most eloquent of the founders, 28 year old advertising executive Kevin MacDonald, a great nephew of Lord Northcliffe, who was lyrically evangelical on what Sibylla’s is doing for Britain when he told me using finger clicking [snaps in US] for punctuation:
“Sibylla’s is the meeting ground for the new aristocracy of Britain (click) And by the new aristocracy I mean the current young meritocracy of style, taste and sensibility (click) We’ve got everyone here (click) The top creative people (click) The top exporters (click) The top brains (click) The top artists (click) The top social people (click) and the best of the PYPs (swingingese for pretty young people). We’re completely classless (click We are completely integrated (click) We dig the spades man. (click)
Relationships here go off like firecrackers. Everyone here’s got the message (click) Can you read it, Man?
I confess to having originally looked upon the above as complete gibberish. However, although it may be due to the heady atmosphere of Swallow St., after three nights of Sibylla’s I now admit to being converted to something near to Mr. MacDonald’s doctrine.
So Kevin considers himself a revolutionary. The concept of a new meritocracy was shared by the fashion photog David Bailey who in a collection of portraits of the movers and shakers dismayed the more staid by including Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
The Kray twins did consider themselves as part of Swinging London along with the rest of the glitterati. That may partially explain why the club was located on a notoriously Firm street with three clubs they frequented. Just as Bailey was fascinated by the Kray Firm so were a lot of the fashionistas. Still, the fact that Laurie O’ Leary was named manager points to a larger Kray involvement along with the whole Boothby homosexual clique Ronnie was involved with.
While O’ Leary professes a sort of innocence in regards to his connection to the Krays he quite clearly was functioning under the Kray umbrella. It It seems probable that the club was formed and the ownership group was gotten together to put pressure on the Beatles through Harrison who was drawn in by MacDonald and Browne. Further research is necessary to discover how Browne became involved.
Probably pressure was put on both to force them to work on Harrison to bring the Beatles in. MacDonald took the quick way down from the 10th floor. The fact of the matter is that Kevin was precipitated from the 10th floor of the King Charles House on Wanda Road eighty feet down to the carapace over the entrance.
Scotland Yard’s finger printers found only Kevin’s and those at the top of an open window to which he had obviously been clinging.
There were obviously no witnesses so one is reduced to speculation. There were alternate entrances that
allowed Kevin and his conductors to enter unobserved. It seems equally obvious that Kevin was defenestrated. A favorite trick of the Krays was to dangle their victims out the window held by the ankles
That seems like the most obvious solution to the problem to me, else why would O’ Leary be advised to keep mum over the incident. When that warning was ignored Tara Browne died in an equally suspicious way in a late night car crash. This is important because Lennon and McCartney wrote A Day In The Life included on their Sgt. Pepper’s album to describe it. It was probably this song that gave some sort of credence for Browne replacing a dead McCartney.
The only witness to the crash was Browne’s companion in the car, a tiny Lotus, a girl named Suki Potier. While there are a plethora of details circulating about the accident such as Browne was racing McCartney down the street at 106 miles an hour, there would have been no witnesses to confirm this save McCartney and Potier and neither have anything substantial to say.
The Lotus is said to have hit a van. The wreck of the Lotus certainly indicates a very high speed yet we have no picture of the van to indicate how the crash occurred. By van is meant I suppose what we USers would call a panel truck or something equivalent to a SUV.
While Browne was killed Miss Potier escaped the really horrendous looking crash with nothing but a few bruises. This seems incredible. As the picture shows the roof is torn off the car while the hood or bonnet is driven up. The window on her side is intact. At the very least her head should have broken the windshield. It would seem probable that she would have been thrown through it or over it. The timing of the roof ripping off would have been important there.
The question is, was there an accident or was Browne killed and the accident staged. The intent of his death may have been meant as a second warning to the Beatles to surrender. So, now, why was the Paul Is Dead rumor circulated. Perhaps the first two warnings having failed Paul was targeted as next. Of course that would have been counter productive.
But if one connects the Paul Is Dead rumor to the Sgt. Pepper’s cover a possible Kray involvement through Groovy Bob Fraser is possible. The cover of Sgt. Peppers had been assigned to a Dutch commune called The Fool and had actually been completed, but Fraser persuaded the ‘Boys’ to switch to a group of his friends who then came up with a cover depicting the whole group as dead and buried.
The symbolism of the cover had never really engaged my attention till recently. On the lower right corner is a rag doll wearing a Rolling Stones sweater. The aspiring gangster and Fraser friend Spanish Tony Sanchez now indebted to the Krays through his association with Fraser had been hired by Keith Richards of the Stones as his factotum and drug procurer at a salary of 250 pounds a week as recorded in his Up And Down With The Rolling Stones and I Was Keith Richards Drug Dealer thus putting a Kray agent in the Stones. A coincidence perhaps but a mighty good paying job. I have no evidence but it is likely that Tony was forced on Keith by the Krays.
At any rate on this bizarre, less than hip cover, the Beatles are dressed in their Sgt. Pepper’s garb standing looking down at a grave labeled Beatles. Surrounding them are pictures of a band of lonely hearts, mostly dead people. So, what is the message? Join up or your group will be dead for real? In fact Paul’s Mini was involved in a crash but it was being driven by his factotum while bringing drugs to a party Paul was attending. It was likely thought that Paul was driving.
What is clear is that Fraser was unable to pay his gambling debts and had to make some move to show he was cooperating. The cover could be a very discreet attempt to show the Krays he was working on it. As he was involved in the Redlands bust of 1967 and sent to prison that at least got him off the street for a period of time. Then the Krays were busted in May of 1968 perhaps removing an immediate threat. Fraser chose the time after his release to vanish in India perhaps to avoid punishment.
Brian Epstein, dazed and confused, by his drug taking, continuing to rack up gambling debts was making his situation worse. He was probably deep into money that contractually belonged to the Beatles. In other words he had embezzled or misappropriated vast sums.
In a desperate move to generate more cash, perhaps, he had opened a Fillmore type rock emporium that would be competing with the Roundhouse. He also apparently attempted to sell his firm NEMS to RSO the Robert Stigwood Organization. As he was giving NEMS up for the fire sale price of 500,000 pounds it would seem that he was desperate for a way out.
Post-Sgt. Peppers the Krays seem to have been no closer to annexing the Beatles than before. Epstein died on August 27, 1967 from an apparent drug overdose. He intended to spend that weekend with friends at his home but suddenly changed his mind and left to return to London. No one knows what happened in London or who he may have met. It’s possible the Krays called him and commanded a meeting. A sort of now or never thing. He returned home, locked himself in his room and died in bed. Never. The door was broken down the next morning when he was found dead in his bed.
The Krays themselves were arrested in May of 1968 and never released spending the rest of their lives in prison, or, in Ronnie’s case, Bedlam.
Prior to the Krays’ arrest in May the Beatles chose February of that year to visit the Maharishi in India thus out of the country for those months.
Spanish Tony continued with Keith Richards after the Krays were sentenced although his relationship became more strained. The Krays are said to have had influence in the underworld from prison so Keith may not have thought it wise to dismiss Tony at that time. The relationship was ended in 1976 when Tony was refused backstage entry at a concert.
When Reggie Kray died at the end of the century thus leaving Tony without any protection Tony is said to have died in 2000 also.
There is a chance his death was merely rumored. There are people who think he is still alive. I have comments from a T. at the end of my essay Who Is Spanish Tony Sanchez. The email address purports to be from Spanish Tony. My email to the address went unanswered. You may read T.’s comments and see what you think. I think it is likely that Tony is still out there. Maybe actually in Spain where all good English criminals seem to go.
If anyone has definite proof of Tony’s demise don’t hesitate to communicate the fact.
There you have it. To my mind there is no question that the man killed in the car crash was Tara Browne. I find it improbable to impossible that McCartney died somehow or was killed with his being replaced by Browne after plastic surgery while the Paul Is Dead story didn’t actually gain credence until 1969.
The murders of MacDonald and Browne have to be explained. The above is my attempt to do it. More information is certainly a desideratum.
April 23, 2013
Searching For Tara Browne:
The Testimony Of Laurie O’ Leary
O’ Leary, Laurie: Ronnie Kray: A Man Among Men, 2001, Headline Book Publishing
A key event in British rock and roll history was the death of Tara Browne on 12/18/66 in a car crash. The death was memorialized by the Beatles in their song A Day In The Life on the Sgt. Pepper’s album. This coincided with the Paul Is Dead rumor. It has been suggested, not very plausibly, that Paul McCartney died in the Browne crash and that after a little face lifting surgery Browne took his place in the band and subsequent career.
It has been said that on the night of the crash Paul challenged Tara to a race through the London streets that resulted in the crash. Rather thin story. Paul is supposed to have fled the scene of the accident. There is no doubt that there was an accident, and a spectacular one, and that presumably Browne died. I don’t think there can be much doubt that Tara Browne was the one who died but the accident does raise questions.
Browne along with the Beatles’ George Harrison was involved with the night club Sibylla’s that opened its doors on 6/26/66, six months previous to Tara’s demise. The club that attracted the cream of the rock world was extremely successful. The club was managed by Laurie O’ Leary. O’ Leary was already connected to the notorious Kray Twins having formerly managed aspects of the Krays’ West End gambling joint Esmeralda’s Barn. After Sibylla’s was closed O’Leary would move on to the very important Speakeasy Club.
In his 2001 biography of Ronnie Kray, Laurie gives the most extended account of
Sibylla’s that I have come across. While it may not solve any problems concerning Browne’s death, in its account the book does put Sibylla’s into perspective.
Laurie O’ Leary grew up in the East End not too far from the Krays. He was friends with them from early childhood maintaining a close relationship with them all through the years until Ronnie Kray’s death in the Broadmoor Mental Hospital (insane asylum, loony bin) in 1995.
While a ‘business’ associate he claims never to have been a member of the Krays’ criminal outfit, The Firm. O’ Leary was careful never to have become involved in overt criminal activities, although there was criminal involvement, instead becoming involved in the music business from the promotion and management side. It is not impossible that he participated in the negotiations of the Krays with Brian Epstein to take over the Beatles. As one writing of sensitive matters it isn’t so much what O’ Leary says as what he doesn’t tell us; so while we learn a great deal O’ Leary carefully conceals leads to the whole story.
The Krays, for whose who are unfamiliar with them, were twin brothers, Ronnie and Reggie, who were acknowledged as the kingpins of the British underworld during the 1960s. Their older brother, Charlie Kray, while not part of their Firm, participated in schemes and benefited from the relationship. Charlie Kray too, not surprisingly, got into show business management.
Originally from the East End the Krays made an entrance into the West End of London when by dubious means they acquired a Kensington gambling joint called Esmeralda’s Barn. This was a building of three floors of which the top floor was occupied by the gambling joint while the first floor was made into a private club and the basement was what in the US would be called a bar. O’ Leary managed the lower two floors. The Kray’s were reluctant to pay their taxes thus an un-understanding Inland Revenue closed their doors. Enter Sibylla’s.
O’ Leary says of this stage of his career: p.168
By this time I was managing the society club Sibylla’s for an elite group of directors that included Beatle George Harrison, Sir William Piggot-Brown, the top amateur jockey, and the evergreen disc jockey Alan (Fluff) Freeman.
The club attracted a high profile clientele, which was cleverly orchestrated by one of its directors Terry Howard who worked in advertising.
O’ Leary does not mention two other participants in the directorship Tara Browne and Kevin McDonald. These two are the only ones who figure in the commentary from the rock and roll side. Through O’ Leary, connected to both the Firm and the Charlie Kray Agency he contracted the talent for the club. We are beginning to see a closer connection between the rock scene and the Kray led underworld.
Now, you couldn’t run a club without ‘protection’ and the protection would have to have been provided by the Krays’ Firm as well as the talent by the Charlie Kray Agency and Kray associate O’ Leary.
Ronnie and Reggie Kray
Further, the location was on a Firm controlled street, flanked by gang controlled clubs. A question then would be, who selected the site and why? O’ Leary describes the location: pp 108-109
Sibylla’s was a small restaurant discotheque situated in Mayfair’s Vine Street, a narrow, winding cobbled road suitable only for the width of one vehicle….
Entering from Regent Street, Vine Street already had three established night clubs. Al Burnet’s Stork Rooms was the most famous. Directly next door was the less famous but well-run Hirondelle. Both were used by the Twins. At the same time, a few doors along, was Bill Bentley’s Oyster Bar, which was frequented by many a celebrity….
On the other side from Bentley’s was a rather infamous clip joint called Pipistrello’s…
Just why the directors of Sibylla’s had chosen this site for their exclusive club was actually beyond belief. The other clubs were frequently used by London’s gangsters. This kind of passing trade would have been difficult to eliminate.
So, the high flying music trade was placed cheek by jowl with the London underworld. The whole directorship must have been high on drugs while feeling immune to any threat from the Kray gang. As I stated the club would have had to have been paying protection. Tara Browne already worked for and or was associated with a car dealership and the dealerships were all ‘protected’ by the Kray gang.
A month or so previous to Browne’s accident his friend and business associate Kevin McDonald fell to his death from a high building. Kevin was either carelessly walking the ledge, high enough to think he could fly, purposely jumped or was thrown to his death by unknown parties.
Concerning McDonald’s death O’ Leary says: p. 171
Sadly after about three weeks, news drifted through that Kevin McDonald had died. I was told to keep quiet about the tragedy, and that the news would finish off Sibylla’s. Nobody ever explained to me just what had happened to Kevin, of whom I had grown very fond. It appeared that he had leapt off a roof in, I think, Chelsea or Fulham while under the influence of something or other.
O’ Leary doesn’t indicate who told him to keep quiet or who failed to tell him what happened but I think the influence is clear that it was the Krays. Laurie doesn’t even mention Tara Browne’s death.
Perhaps, or probably, McDonald objected to some demands from the Krays while feeling beyond any threats because of the popularity of the Beatles through Harrison so that he ignored his danger. I suspect the situation was the same with Tara Browne who probably had a cognitive disconnect because of his social status.
Another jump would have been highly suspicious so an auto accident was determined. Possibly it was meant to only scare Tara but resulted in his death. If McCartney was used to lure Browne into a race through the streets then it is possible to create a scenario resulting in the Paul Is Dead rumor but, at this point it would be pure speculation.
At any rate O’ Leary’s account makes clear the Krays’, both twins and Charlie, underworld connection to Sibylla’s, McDonald and Browne. It opens an avenue to further speculation.
Sibylla’s Entrance from Sara’s blog, Sara in picture.
February 1, 2013
Who Is Groovy Bob Fraser?
While writing my biographies of Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull it has become apparent that some persons seemingly peripheral are more central to the story than one may at first have thought. One of these is the art dealer, Robert Fraser or Groovy Bob as he was known.
However, behind the scenes underlying all the action are the two Kray Twins, Ronnie and Reggie. As with underworld figures in the US little is going to happen in which their presence is completely absent. Ronnie and Reggie were two Jewish homosexuals. They thus had as much protection as Jews can provide for their own. On the homosexual front the Krays were procurers of young boys for members of the above ground establishment, men prominent not only in government but in the music business.
At the same time the brothers owned, or possibly fronted, prominent gambling establishments, thus people like Fraser and Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein who gambled heavily losing large sums came under their influence or control. Robert Fraser and the Krays thus became intimately connected.
Now, what about Robert Fraser? Fraser is the link between many participants in the 60’s drama. He befriended Richards, Jagger and Faithfull. He was close to Paul McCartney of the Beatles, who is somewhat of a mysterious figure in the drama, as well as being familiar with their manager Brian Epstein among many others of the rock musicians. And then he was linked with artist/film maker, David Cammell as well as arch Satanist, Kenneth Anger, and the main American link to these people, Andy Warhol. He brought Tony Sanchez to the Stones as well as the rock community while Sanchez was his link to the Kray brothers. Fraser’s friend Chris Gibbs is a shadowy eminence grise of this situation. So far, I’ve gotten little other than he was and is an antiques dealer who helped establish the Bohemian tastes a la Oscar Wilde of the rockers.
Fraser himself came from a moneyed family who financed his ventures. He was a public school boy, Eton. He served in the African Rifles in Uganda. There, as a homosexual he says he buggered a young Idi Amin. I have no doubts. Returning from the African happy hunting grounds he promptly left for the even happier hunting grounds of New York City, the sybaritic capitol of the world. There he soaked up the art scene where he learned the ins and outs of being a gallery director. He was in New York during the seminal years from 1960-62 just as the pop art scene was taking off. There he met Andy Warhol who would be the outstanding pop artist. As they were both homosexuals and revolutionaries they bonded.
Fraser, Warhol, Epstein, Gibbs, the Kray Twins and most of the cast were all homosexuals. Jagger was at least ambiguous so sexual lines blurred and those who may not have been homosexual by nature may have found it convenient to act like one. Certainly after Stonewall in 1969 the music scene became predominantly gay.
There are pictures and videos of Fraser on the internet so that we can gauge his appearance and manner. His manner was very engaging and while fey, not exceptionally so. He wasn’t camp, at least not in public.
What exactly his role in the scene was is less than clear. While apparently an excellent pop art gallerist his role among rock musicians while prominent is not clear. He frequently had large parties in his apartment attended by the cream of the rock community. Of course he sold them art work but perhaps through his drug connection Tony Sanchez he also dealt on the side to augment his income. Drugs were always prominent at his parties. Paul McCartney bought many artworks from Fraser which all appreciated significantly although Fraser is accused of overcharging. But then, why not, a collector always thinks he’s being overcharged as he buys one of a kind items.
Perhaps also Fraser was indoctrinating the musicians in tolerance for gays and other political matters. Perhaps he was seeking homosexual alliances from among these yobbos. Certainly after Stonewall it seemed that everyone in rock was fruity. It was then that Rock and Roll began to lose its appeal. When the homosexuality became so obvious rock declined in interest to non-gays leading it further into a gay audience that augmented by the evolution into all-gay Disco. YMCA and all that, and then the end.
Whatever his political intent the goals were subverted by personal defects. Of course drugs will reduce your effectiveness by a little more than somewhat, but gambling and its resultant debts were much more deleterious of personal autonomy. While gambling has never been mentioned in connection with the rockers one wonders whether McCartney and others didn’t become involved.
Now, the record business in both the US and Britain was in the hands of homosexual Jews. The British groups, especially the Beatles and the Stones were god’s gift to his Chosen People. Between the Beatles and the Stones probably a billion dollars was generated in just four or five years including ongoing royalties and residuals. The entire billion was siphoned off by the Jews in both the US and Britain with only tip money going to the musicians.
Brian Epstein was the chief beneficiary. It was perhaps through his gambling debts, described as enormous, that the extent of the cash being generated by the Beatles came to the attention of the Kray brothers. Epstein apparently lost and owed a fortune to them. The only way he had to pay his debts was the Beatles which with his contract expiring in 1967 he was afraid he would be dismissed leaving him without that extraordinary income.
The Krays conceived the idea of taking over the Beatles from Epstein. At this time Robert Fraser had gambling debts with the Krays for which he had no available resources. The Krays put the squeeze on him. Fraser didn’t know what to do but he did know a man about the scene named Tony Sanchez, the Spaniard in the works, who did. Sanchez was nicknamed Spanish Tony. He would soon figure in as Keith Richards’ factotum and bodyguard. Spanish Tony is an interesting character meriting much more serious attention. As a connection between the underworld and the above world one would like to know more about his associates both under and above. He certainly used his underworld persona to threaten Marianne Faithfull into bed.
At any rate Sanchez told Fraser that he had underworld connections and might be able to resolve Fraser’s problem for him. As usual with Fraser he only fed Sanchez half-truths and when Tony contacted the Krays he got the other side of the story. Bear in mind that the Krays were crazy. They were pimping boys from the orphanage to social figures of the status of former Prime Minister Edward Heath. I mean, the moral state of the British upper class was beyond questionable. I would like to hear what the boys who were so used have to say now that they are men. Where are those memoirs anyway?
The Krays showed Sanchez a pile of Fraser’s bounced checks they had received which made Tony reconsider his position. Whatever bargaining chips he may have had were nullified. However the Krays had a proposition. Conversant with all the gambling characters they thought that Fraser might have some influence on Epstein so that if Fraser could arrange the transfer of the Beatles to themselves they would forgive Fraser’s debt. Who wouldn’t?
Negotiations and time dragged on and 1967 appeared at the top of the calendar with nothing accomplished, no debts settled. 1967. A big year in our story. That was the year that Brian Epstein supposedly committed suicide, the year his contract with the Beatles expired. We know for certain he left this sportin’ life. And 1967 was the year of the Redlands bust in which Fraser went to prison.
Sanchez gives conflicting stories of what took place. In his published memoir Up And Down With The Rolling Stones of 1979 he says the Krays amiably reduced the amount owed by Fraser and Groovy Bob gave them a good check for it. Problem solved. Tony says in his memoir.
Improbable as that seems, a missing chapter of Tony’s book has surfaced. Apparently many of his revelations were deemed too controversial and deleted. In this missing chapter Tony says that Fraser, unable to deliver the Beatles, set up the drug bust at Redlands in order to go to jail where for some strange reason he thought that he would be beyond the reach of the Krays.
In any event he didn’t seem to resent going to prison. Shortly after he was released from prison the Krays were arrested in May of 1968 while being sentenced to life on 3/5/69.
Presumably Robert Fraser escaped payment of the debt, however with the stigma of a jailbird his career as a gallery operator drew to a close after his release. He ended his life as a casualty of AIDs in 1986.
In his prime one wonders what he was doing. He seems to have been closely connected to Warhol and his crew. Andy himself seems to have been the center of what appears to be a political conspiracy. On their trip to Paris they made a Bee line to visit Fraser. So there is probably a strong political bent to Fraser’s activities.
Much more research is needed on Groovy Bob as well as his underworld connection Spanish Tony Sanchez.
March 13, 2010
Mourning Becomes Yoko
The Passing Of John Lennon
This magic moment
So different and so new
Was like any other
Until there was you.
To understand the sixties one has to go back in time to the foundation of Astrology. In Time beyond Ancient, Astrology and Astronomy were one. The very old gods and the sky were one. It was only when science, a more clear understanding of ‘creation’, if you will, removed the sky from the gods’ purview that Astronomy and Astrology separated. Astrology in those days had meaning that is not apparent today when the sky is just part of our natural surroundings.
The Zodiac was divided into twelve periods of roughly 2000 years each which formed the Great Year. The periods were called Ages with each Age having its own avatars. The avatars of the current Piscean Age have been Jesus the Christ for the first thousand years, and for the succeeding thousand years Artemis or Diana in northern Europe and Mother Mary to the south. Sometime within a few hundred years near the end of an Age a new avatar begins to form.
The first intimation of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius that I am aware of occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century. While not the first, the chief proponent seems to have been Edgar Rice Burroughs and his creation, Tarzan The Ape Man. Not one to
be dogmatic Burroughs left his intent open only to, dare I use the word again, the initiated.
Tarzan is timeless, he represents the past, being associated with the Atlanteans and the range of evolution, the present and, as the exemplar of the perfect man, the future. While rejecting organized religion Burroughs also rejected the Piscean avatar, Jesus The Christ in favor of the coming man-god. Thus the coming man-god must be a projection of the Aquarian avatar. Tarzan, a magnificent specimen is both physically and mentally the perfect man and hence representative of the future Aquarian man-god. Do not confuse the movie Tarzan with the literary creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The longing then for a new messiah had been developing for half a century, at least, when circumstances came together for the appearance of a new avatar pointing toward the Age of Aquarius. This manifestation appeared on the stage of Ed Sullivan, in of all places, New York City. It was the Tupelo Mississippi Flash himself, Elvis Presley. In that brief magic moment on Sullivan’s stage he revealed himself and was recognized by his people.
Interestingly the appearance on 10/9 coincided with the birthday of John Lennon.
In that moment Presley’s future was cast. Whether the old order recognized who he was they knew how he was perceived and made every effort to slander, denigrate and destroy him short of actual murder. All to no avail. They might have been able to kill him, murder him, but he was inviolable to any defamation. It made no difference that they ridiculed him in a couple dozen fatuous films, he was the man-god. People endured his humiliations with bowed heads and resentful miens.
From him succeeding generations have taken their guidance. The first awe struck generation took the stage in direct emulation of him. While many had better songs (Gene Vincen’ts Be-Bop-A-Lula) none of the generation were anointed thereby developing a devoted following in the magnitude of Presley.
Elvis was not the last word but the first in what will be a procession. While the American Pharisees persecuted and scattered the faithful a new, younger generation was growing up in Elvis’ shadow. Their epiphany, that Magic Moment, would take place on the same Ed Sullivan stage in that same strange city of destiny, NYC, nine years later.
The gestation of this second manifestation of the godhead would take place in Liverpool, England. Inspired by Elvis Presley four young men of the second manifestation would be filtered through the persona of a young Scottish musician named Lonnie Donegan
When the settlers from the British Isles settled America they brought their musical traditions with them, most prominently to the Southern tier of States. Thus both the White and Black musical traditions of America stem from essentially the Celtic peoples. In the mid-fifties Donegan brought this music in the form of American Folk back to England in a form he named Skiffle Music. It swept England and its youth up being combined with Presley. Donegan added a ferocious beat to the music that evolved into the form termed the Big Beat. Thus the British musicians were schooled in American music as it had evolved from their own.
Now, the Magic Moment requires the man who has been prepared for the moment. If all goes right he is equal to his destiny, if not the moment fails.
While Presley was the man, the second avatar would be four men seemingly acting as one. The four men seemed to represent four archetypal personalities as in the four faces of the godhead. Those of us who didn’t ‘get’ them, of which I was one, were mystified by their apotheosis.
Just as Elvis had his unique preparation so did this fabulous foursome. Raised as four ordinary kids from varying levels of poverty and varying psychological backgrounds they were united by the music of Presley and Donegan.
They began a grueling and astonishing apprenticeship in the red light district of Hamburg, Germany. Unable to speak German they were thus compelled to rely on each other for companionship which created a unique bond. They were required to be on stage for up to twelve hours at a stretch for weeks at a time thus honing their musical skills apparently to perfection.
Thus the four aspects of humanity, one might say, were placed in a unique situation creating a unique combination of personalities seemingly as one. In those circumstances they were forced to be able to communicate instantly with their audience night after night. Valuable training.
Returning to Liverpool with their abilities seemingly uniquely developed they were adrift with no direction home and no other future than earning their livelihoods as best they might. But then, as by a miracle, a man appeared with no managerial experience who said he could take them to the top. Amazingly he got them launched. Even more astonishing they were assigned to perhaps the only record producer in the world who could bring out their unique talents. Thus this Fab Foursome took their home British Isles by storm succeeding as no other had succeeded before them but their Magic Moment, that lunge for the Golden Ring had not yet arrived.
The Magic Moment was awaiting them in NYC. A big jetliner brought the foursome to America’s shores in January of 1964 to appear on the Ed Sullivan show where they were to stand in Elvis’ footsteps so to speak. The difference in presentation between the two is interesting. With Elvis, he and his backing duo were standing in front of the drawn curtains on the edge of the stage, no set, his two band members were huddled behind him while the guitar player is turned sideways not even facing the audience. Presley is directly in front of them cavorting on a minuscule part of the stage. Mort Sahl would do his standup routine a few years later in the same manner with a newspaper as a prop.
In contrast the Beatles were given an open stage with decor behind them while the group was spaced dramatically and attractively. A very positive image which from long experience they knew how to take advantage of . But the appearance on the Sullivan stage merely confirmed their Magic Moment placing it indelibly in the American psyche.
The actual Magic Moment occurred when the Beatles announced themselves on the tarmac. Gods descending from the skies. For
whatever reason there were thousands of screaming girls awaiting them and a battery of newsmen and photographers. Some say the girls were bussed in, it isn’t unlikely that the astute promotion men of Capitol had a hand in the arrangements, but on the receiving end of the tube it looked genuine. Mystifying but genuine.
Posed a bunch of questions by the news cameras all four Beatles fielded them with aplomb, the cheekiest and most confident acting was John Lennon himself. All four personalities established themselves at that time as one- the Beatles. In that little flash of time the role of the Beatles was established for all time.
While each individual Beatle was adored for the face of mankind he presented each had only an identity as an aspect of the Beatles. When they split they became merely humans rising or falling based solely on the musical merits. Of the four, Lennon adopted the messianic mantle, was accorded it, and took it when he left. In one sense the Magic Moment had been his.
There would be argument about when the Beatles began to break up over the years but the when was coincidental with their annunciation. John Lennon was the weak link in the chain. Having now won what he had been struggling for for so long John Lennon discovered he wasn’t worthy. Incredibly he wrote, and the Beatles recorded his song, ‘I’m A Loser.’ He was a loser, not the winner he appeared. Now conflicted he tried to both accept and reject the role of ‘messiah.’ He was well on his way to losing the role two short years later in 1966.
The course of his career was affected by two people, Bob Dylan in 1964 and Yoko Ono in 1966. Historical ifs are difficult. It seems impossible that Bob Dylan’s career would have been possible without the overwhelming success of the Beatles. Dylan lacked commercial appeal then as he does now. He appealed to a minority audience- as opposed to the majority audience of the Beatles. Dylan lacked universal appeal then as he does now.
While the Beatles were one as a group they were two as the songwriting team of Lennon-McCartney. Since 1962 they had been turning out a steady stream of million sellers both for their own use and that of others. They were catchy tunes in the Tin Pan Alley manner that could be sung and whistled but very introspective at the same time. Dylan on the other hand wrote tortured introspective lyrics that resisted anything close to whistling or a Mitch Miller singalong.
Dylan considered his stuff amazingly thoughtful and profound. He apparently put himself in the same class as Elliot and Pound. He fooled most of his audience for a long time too. The Beatles for whatever reason became the top news story of the day; for months they either were, or seemed to be, on the news every night. Seriously, one had to ask: What’s Going On?
Just as mysteriously Dylan began getting the same treatment. Now, the Beatles were selling unprecedented millions of records on both sides of the Atlantic, at one time occupying the top five spots of the Top 10. Dylan was doing diddly squat with his tortured lyrics. He wasn’t selling records in any quantities while having essentially a cult following. Now, mysteriously he began to be given the same treatment as the Beatles. Time Magazine sent a reporter to interview him on camera. Dylan imitated the Beatles by giving smart ass answers. The Time reporter took his jibes seriously. Sitting out in front of the tube my eyebrows shot up. What is this? The rest of the world went wild in their applause of the Beatle’s and Dylan’s cheekiness. God, they were giving the finger to the Greatest Generation. The latter may have crushed Elvis but these boys were getting their own back.
Maybe Dylan got the attention because he was the only American act available, to balance the relative status of Britain and the US. Perhaps in the emerging racial politics of the time he was offered as Jewish competition to the great goy champions of Elvis and the Beatles. He entered the Beatles’ life in August of ’64 when the Jewish journalist Al Aronowitz took it upon himself to introduce him to the four-in-one. The meeting was more momentous for the Beatles than Dylan.
The story goes that Dylan introduced the boys to marijuana at that meeting. More importantly he lectured Lennon-McCartney on songwriting. Dylan told them in effect that they should stop writing hit songs and write the pretentious crap he did. Now, consider, the Beatles were incredibly successful at what they wrote, Dylan couldn’t do what they did and what he did do couldn’t compete in the marketplace with the Beatles. I mean, they should have been lecturing him, but they didn’t while accepting his viewpoint at the same time. They listened to the little twerp and fell under his infuence to begin trying to imitate him.
The imitation was not very good but as the current avatar of the messiah the Beatles were industructible, as the leader, for whatever reason, John Lennon was accorded the role of messianic leader, a role that he took quite seriously.
While the Beatles had always used various pill forms of speed or amphetamines after Dylan’s introduction to pot they quickly expanded their repertoire to include Acid or LSD. The other three seem not to have been so conflicted in their personalities not becoming as drug dependent as Lennon. He claims perhaps with exaggeration, perhaps not, to have taken LSD thousands of times in the next few years. Under the influence of LSD his personality already distressed by the transition from failure to success disintegrated completely. As he says, he lost his ego totally.
If so, adrift, he was open to a strongly directed personality to manage his. This personality appeared in 1966 in the person of Yoko Ono. She quickly commandeered his personality displacing his British wife, Cynthia. It would be two years before Lennon divorced Cynthia but he left her a year earlier.
Since signing with Brian Epstein as their manager the Beatles had had an ideal artists arrangement. Trusting him they left the business details to him which allowed them full time to devote to their creative efforts. If they needed money they asked for it while all business details such as negotiations, titles and even check writing were handled by Epstein so that the Beatles had no worldly business experience. In 1967 Epstein died.
With Brian gone the Beatles were left rudderless with no one they could trust to manage their corporate and personal finances. Forming Apple as their business alter ego they attempted to manage their affairs themselves resulting in a business regime of such dissolute ineptitude that it has been referred to as The Longest Weekend.
Having attached herself to Lennon, Yoko Ono now tried to insinuate herself into the group as the ego of John Lennon. Thus the group would have been comprised of McCartney, Harrison, Starr and Lennon-Ono. A clear impossibility, the Beatles would be dissolved. As the avatar of the sixties the era had no choice but to disappear along with them.
This was now the late sixties. The world as it had been , the world that gave birth to the Beatles c. 1960 had all but disappeared. Blown away in the wind, so to speak. Just as the sixties called for the Beatles as the messiah of the period so it called forth its anti-messiah of satanism. In 1966 Time Magazine’s cover story was Is God Dead? A title that offended Bob Dylan who petulantly asked: How would you like to be talked about like that? Right.
In 1966 Roman Polansky began filming a movie titled Rosemary’s Baby that actually portrayed the birth of Satan’s child. The story took place in the future home of the Onos- The Dakota Apartments. And then the Rolling Stones released their rather bizarre record, Their Satanic Majesty’s Request with its famous song Sympathy For The Devil. Right about then the Broadway musical Hair was staged that celebrated the Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius. Synchronicity? Not a bit.
As the messiahs had abdicated it remained for the anti-messiahs the Rolling Stones to place the epitaph on the period which they did in 1969 at Altamont.
However John Lennon as the messianic figurehead was rescued by Yoko Ono. As an unsuccessful performance artist now with Lennon’s audience and financial clout to realize her wildest fantasies she, using Lennon, organized some of the most outrageous extravaganzas that catapulted she and Lennon onto the world stage playing messianic figures. The Bed-In was the most jaw dropping stunt since flag p0le sitting.
Part III will consist of the career of the Ono-Lennon’s to John Lennon’s death in 1980 and perhaps a little beyond. There’s some really interesting stuff involving John Green and a possible associate, Sam Green. The latter is an interesting story.
October 19, 2008
Exhuming Bob 13
Bob As Messiah
Are you that Man Of Constant Sorrow
Of whom the authors write-
Grief comes with every morrow
And wretchedness at night?
Source of quotes: Scott Marshall, Bob Dylan’s Unshakeable Monotheism- downloaded from Jewseek.com but no longer available. The site is no longer functioning. Roughly the same material can be found in Scott M. Marshall with Marion Ford, Restless Pilgrim: The Spiritual Journey Of Bob Dylan, Relevant Media, 2004. No longer in print new copies may still be obtained for under three dollars at Alibris.com for any who are interested.
In the dead of winter in 1961 Bob Dylan, ne Bobby Zimmerman, left Minnesota to try his chances in New York City. At this point he must have realized that his better chances lay with Folk Music than Rock n’ Roll. Indeed, upon his arrival in New York he realized that Tin Pan Alley had the recording world sewn up except for the ‘race’ musics of Country And Western and R&B, and the Alley was already fairly tight with R&B. He quickly and astutely realized that whatever he intended to do would find no home on the Great White Way.
While Bob traveled light as far as material possessions went he brought a lot of psychological and religious baggage with him. The kind of stuff you can’t leave in a locker at the bus station. As his whole career has been an unfolding of this religious impulse it would behoove us to examine it somewhat closely.
Bob received intense religious indoctrination in his youth until the time he left home in the Summer of 1959. This religious education was of an intense Orthodox Jewish kind. He recieved this from his family, both parents were deeply religious in the Orthodox mode, although the Hibbing syngogue was more often without a Rabbi of any kind than not. Perhaps of premier importance was his Bar Mitzvah indoctrination in 1954 from a Lubavitcher Orthodox Rabbi direct from Brooklyn. That combined with four years of extended stays at the Zionist summer camp, Camp Herzl in Webster, Wisconsin.
In speaking to Paul Vitello of the Kansas City Times after announcing his call to Jesus/God, Bob told him:
I believe in the Bible, literally. Everything in it, I believe, was written by the hand of God.
That is the statement of a religious fundamentalist and one without much sense or discernment. If Bob doesn’t know the the ‘hand of God’ has written nothing then he can be written off as a rational human being. Bob in the same interview went further:
Everything that’s happening in the news today is prophesied in the scriptures. It’s all in the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelations.
For myself, I begin to run when I hear some Christian fundamentalist bring up the Book of Revelations. It has the same effect on me as anti-Semite has for the Jew.
We can assume therefore that upon his arrival in New York in 1961 Bob was a card carrying Biblical devotee. This religious baggage for the time being took a back seat to Bob’s psychological baggage but was absorbed into it. Hence the Biblical sounding ranting of Like A Rolling Stone.
At the same time as with most young people Bob was in rebellion against his upbringing. That is to say he was trying to find his own place in life while reconciling his upbringing to the emerging realities presented to him by life. As his line from his song My Back Pages would seem to indicate: I become my own enemy when I begin to preach. he realized that his religious beliefs would alienate any listeners and abort the possibility of establishing his career and reaching them later.
Indeed, the sixties, and expecially the New york fold crowd was intensely anti-religious. It was about this time that Bob read a headline on a Time Magazine cover asking the rhetorical quesiton: ‘Is God dead?’ Bob was extremely offended by it dating the decline of Western Civilization from that headline.
From 1961 to 1966 then Bob wrote mainly of his psychological problems and frustrations. His dream life, which is to say, subconscious, received a lot of attention during this period as well as later in his career.
It was precisely the speaking from his subconscious to the subconscious of his audience that drew this specific type of person to him.
Phil Ochs, a contemporary Folkie of Dylan, recognized what he was doing in stirring up deeply held resentment and thought he was brewing trouble for himself. However Dylan, while hating, did not necessarily stir up emotions that would lead to violent actions. Instead his hate was characterized by self-pity and resentment that would be satisfied by showing people how wrong people were in their judgement of him. Thus he would accentuate his God as a god of judgement. He left the actual judgemental punishment of them up to his god. Thus those of us in his audience who linked up were also characterized by self-pity and resentment but not violent.
For instance, in a 1983 interview with Martin keller he was quoted:
My so-called Jewish roots are in Egypt. They went down there with Joseph, and they came back out with Moses- you know, the guy that killed the Egyptian, married an Ethiopian girl, and brought the Law down from the mountain. The same Moses whose staff turned into a serpent. The same person who killed 3,000 Hebrews for getting down, stripping off their clothes, and dancing around a golden calf. These are my roots. (My italics.) Jacob had four wives and thirteen children, who fathered thirteen chiidren, who fathered an entire people. These are my roots, too. Gideon with a small army, defeating an army of thousands. Deborah, the prophetess; Esther the Queen, and many Canaanite women, Reuben slipping into his father’s bed when his father wasn’t home. These are my roots.
Delilah tempting Samson, killing him softly with her song. The mighty King David was an outlaw before he was king, you know. He had to hide in caves and get his meals at back doors. The wonderful King Saul had a warrant out on him- a ‘no knock’ search warrant. They wanted to cut his head off. John the Baptist could tell you more about it. [That’s a joke in this standup routine, Son.] Roots, man- we’re talking Jewish roots, you want to know more? Check up on Elijah the prophet. He could make rain. Isaiah the prophet, even Jeremiah, see if their brethren didn’t want to bust their brains for telling it right like it is. Yeah, these are my roots, I suppose.
Now, those are extremely violent, murderous roots but they form the staples of Bob’s conscious and unconscious minds. The selected examples, all from the Old Testament, are revealing in the Freudian sense. Vengeance dominates.
Nor are these ‘Jewish’ roots in any exlusive sense. These actors were Hebrews and not Jews. I know all this bullroar from Christian (Methodist) services. I was repelled at once and rejected this crap when I escaped the stultifying influence of my childhood. This crap is unworthy stuffing for human minds.
This mean spirit is felt throughout the whole of Bob’s corpus from 1961 to 1966, more especially in that most puerile of all his songs: Masters Of War.
Significantly Bob mentions nothing about Jesus or the New Testament; his roots are all Old Testament. This raises the question of whether his embracing of Jesus in 1979 was calculated or not. There is in fact little differentiation between his conception of jesus and the Jewish Yahweh. Indeed the idiot church I attended as a youth seemed to accentuate the Old Testament Yahweh over the New Testament Jesus. I have a much stronger conception of Yahwey over Jesus so one might say I share ‘Jewish roots’ as much as Bob does. I am as much a dual citizen as Bob is except more American/Ancient Hebrew rather than Israeli/American.
As of 1964 Bob Dylan wasn’t really going anywhere. True, his manager Albert Grossman was busy promoting his songs to others whose recordings then inflated Bob’s reputation but that didn’t necessarily translate into big sales for his own albums.
Then in 1964 Bob had a stroke of luck, the Beatles came to America. There had been a massive promotion along the lines- The Beatles Are Coming, The Beatles Are Coming. No one had ever heard of them but when they appeared on Ed Sullivan everyone was tuned in to see what the fuss was about. After it was over, other than the screaming girls in the audience, that, I might add, was a new phenomenon, few of us still knew what the fuss was about.
Nevertheless it seemed that from that point on the Beatles were on the news nearly every night. This was unprecedented attention for a mere ‘pimple’ music pop group which is all the Beatles were at that time.
Why the Beatles received this attention has never been clear to me. However these were four goi musicians although their manager Brian Epstein was Jewish. In the inter-cultural competition a Jewish super-star was now required. After all the first of the superstars Elvis Presley was an all-American hillbilly. Fabian the last before the Beatles was Italian. These four English kids then came up and so a Jewish kid was required to keep up the Jewish image. The only real alternative was Bob Dylan although few or any of us knew, or even suspected he was Jewish. Bob had sure worked hard to keep that a secret. Even his girlfriend Suze Rotolo was slow to find out.
Bob then was given the big media buildup also being on the news frequently, also being given the star treatment in the big national magazines. While the Beatles handled their fame with chipper aplomb Bob approached it with negative depression. But, it worked just as well. The pressure was enormous, plus Albert Grossman was pushing him too hard, working the kid to death. Literally according to Bob.
Whether there really was a motorcycle accident or Bob had a nervous breakdown from contemplating the next killer tour his manager had arranged may never be known for sure. After completing Blonde On Blonde that filled out his core oeuvre Bob went into seclusion for a period.
He put this seclusion to good use. Although his premier creative period was over, his golden age so to speak, he succeeded in a magnificent Silver Age. He and the members of his backup band, later known simply as The Band, created a huge and significant body of work. Dozens of songs, some of them really good while most of them were good. It was here that Bob perfected the technique of clothing his religious thoughts in Amerian indigenous Folk forms. This ability was exhibited on his next LP, John Wesley Harding, that was released not that long after Blonde On Blonde.
In one of this period’s songs, You Ain’t Going Nowhere, Bob had this to say: ‘Find ourself a tree with roots.’ Thus the cover of the Harding album showed Bob standing next to a tree with roots dressed in Jesse James era Western foul weather gear. Now, Bob had also sung: ‘I may look like Robert Ford, but I feel just like Jesse James.’ This guy looked like the Minnesota Northfield raid while the tree with roots reprsented his Jewish affiliation.
Now Bob was on track for his Jewish liaison and subsequent demonstration of his Jewish Lubavitcher roots. Those who follow Bob’s religious odyssey, and there have been several books written on this topic, all call attention to the close relation of Biblical topics to his lyrics from 1961 to the present. If you have the backgound and take both a broad and narrow approach to looking for them you will find that they abound. The method becomes second nature for Bob so that he may not ever be aware of many of the references himself until they’re pointed out to him; or he may be conscious of them all.
What is clear is that Bob views his career as a religious calling; that is to say a messianic mission to bring the word of God to as many people as he can. In May 1980 he told interviewer Karen Hughes:
He was disarmingly honest with Hughes about his sense of God’s call: “I guess He’s always been calling me. Of course, how would I have ever known that, that it was Jesus calling me….
So now we have the anomaly of God calling to a Jew through Jesus. While both Christians and Jews who now view Jesus as a Western and not a Jewish figure had trouble accepting the fact that a Jew could accept Jesus and remain a Jew nothing is more reasonable. That Bob, a Jew living in a Christian country, could amalgamate Judaism and Jesus wasn’t even all that odd.
Jesus himself was a Jew while the early Christians were all Jews who accepted every Jewish rite including circumcision and the dietary laws. It was only when Saint Paul separated Christianity from these Judaic laws that Christianity succeeded.
As Marshall’s interviewees point out, the New Testament is a Jewish novel in which 25 out 27 books were written by Jews. John and Revelations being the exceptions. Even as Bob embraced Jesus, the Jews for Jesus, based in San Francisco, who themselves did not convert to Christianity were active. Just as the Jews persecuted the early Jewish Christians even to death so they put the screws to Jews For Jesus and have at least destroyed their effectiveness.
Thus in 1983 the Lubavitchers re-entered Bob’s life when as they thought they attempted ot reconvert him. As Bob had never left the faith, he has said in effect, I am a Jew of the Jews, I suppose he played along until they were satisfied then went along his way as a Jewish Christian. Makes perfect sense to me, I don’t have a problem with the manner in which Bob expresses his religiosity.
I have a problem in that he expresses it at all. I find it incredible in this this day and age of scientific reallty that anyone can make the statement that the Bible is the actual word of Yahweh or any other god.
Goodness gracious, Bob, shape up before it’s too late. We’re almost down to that last grain of sand. The lights are beginning to dim. It is getting dark.