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.
December 15, 2012
Marianne Faithfull: The Faerie Queene Of The Sixties
Chaps. 3, 4,5
Of all the performers of the Rock era Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney have been the most successful while I would give the nod of most successful to Jagger. One must admire the way he learned the ropes and then used them to strangle others as he had been strangled. Mick in his own way was the Midnight Rambler and the Street Fighting Man. Don’t think I blame him; you either rule or are ruled. But, one does have to live with the reputation one creates.
Mick began cultivating his image from the beginning. As this story concerns Mick’s relationship to Marianne I will concentrate on aspects of their sexuality. Andrew Loog Oldham made a movie of the Stones’ January 1965 Irish tour. Unfortunately he sold the rights to it along with the Stones 1963-70 master recordings to Allen Klein along with, by the way, the first Marianne Faithfull masters. Klein then became the Stones’ manager.
The movie disappeared into Klein’s archives to surface in November 2012 when the Klein estate released it to DVD. It can now be purchased as I did. The DVD features both the Abkco edit and Oldham’s original Director’s Cut.
Mainly a concert film it also features group member interviews and Richards and Jagger cutting up. While they were horsing around they appear to improvise a song with the lyric: I’d rather be with the boys than here with a stupid girl like you.
While Jagger has always cultivated an ambiguous image he has also announced a record of having had sex with four thousand or more different girls. That’s only eighty per annum over fifty years so I imagine that shows an admirable restraint. Yet, at the same time Mick has always been misogynistic while always seeking to emasculate or squash his closer women under his thumb. In fact Mick probably has a domination or emasculation complex. He may have rather been with the boys but in his competition with them he sought to emasculate or squash them too. One of the favorite forms of emasculation and domination is to take other men’s women from them.
Thus when he took Jerry Hall from Bryan Ferry he quipped he had to do it to save her from going through life as Jerry Ferry. One winces when one reads of Eric Clapton begging Mick not to take Carla Bruni from him. Mick even took one of Eric’s temps, Catherine James from him.
Mick And Chrissie
When Mick first enters the scene for Andrew Oldham he is in an alley fighting it out with Chrissie Shrimpton, the model Jean Shrimpton’s younger sister. If one reads more deeply into that situation it shows a very cruel sadistic streak in Mick, quite shameful in a celebrity of Mick’s first magnitude of brightness.
Chrissie began the relationship as a strong willed girl battered by and battering Mick. In that day before the change in sexual mores girls weren’t quite so sexually open so Chrissie didn’t want her parents to know she was shacking up with Mick. They insisted to Mick that they not. As a humiliation tactic to break the girl down he let it be known to her parents that in his eyes she was little more than a common whore and she and they should see it that way too as he was in fact shacking with her.
Gradually the monster beat her down completely destroying her self-respect then, more than publicly, he broadcast his triumph on records and over the radio with such songs as Stupid Girl and Under My Thumb which their whole circle knew referred to her. Dylan would later use the same tactic against Edie Sedgwick when he wrote Like A Rolling Stone to break her down.
Both Chrissie and her parents believed Mick and she were to marry but having crushed her beneath his thumb, as it were, with a toss of his curly locks Mick sneeringly walked away adding insult to injury. Cruel in this instance it became psychotic with repeated use.
Years after word got back to Mick that Chrissie had a bundle of his letters, and, now this is unforgivable, without a word to her he immediately set his attorneys on her threatening an expensive law suit while demanding she return his letters. Even though Chrissie had not intended to publish them, still shaking this long after Mick’s brutal treatment, Chrissie without delay forwarded her letters from Mick to him. Shameful.
Mick And Marianne
Mick then turned his attentions to the Guinevere, the Ophelia, the Faerie Queene of pop music, our own Marianne. While I’m sure Mick was somewhat enamored with Marianne I’m also sure he had a couple ulterior motives. Marianne was married to John Dunbar at the time while living with Mick so Mick had the pleasure of emasculating and humiliating Dunbar.
At the same time I’m sure he was envious of Marianne’s fame which was probably greater than his at the time. No room in the spotlight for two. He couldn’t stand that Marianne was getting even more press than himself. Thus he undertook to destroy her career. In the process he emasculated her and humiliated her to an astounding degree.
Marianne and Mick were playing with psychologies in a very destructive manner. The events I am going to describe did incalculable damage to their psyches while altering the direction of their subsequent lives dramatically, especially Marianne’s. Of course, few people seem to realize they have a psychology or how it was formed, what expectations they devised. Those hopes and dreams were more especially dashed when they turned to drugs. That was certainly the case with Marianne.
I don’t know how seriously Marianne took her Medieval interest and reading but she was influenced by her Arthurian studies. Like the most or possibly rest of the generation she was also influenced quite heavily by Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pan, probably both books and movies.
The key for the generation in Peter Pan was his refusal to grow up or accept adulthood. It was quite fashionable at the time to pretend that you would always be young, keep in contact with your ‘inner child.’ I was a victim of the psychosis myself.
At any rate Marianne was influenced by all three. Thus, when she and Mick met she quizzed him extensively on his knowledge of King Arthur to see how much he knew as though that litmus test would seal his fate. Mick passed and Marianne moved in still married to John Dunbar. Thus her life clashed with her Catholic upbringing. At first Marianne had royalties coming in from her records enabling her to maintain a certain independence but gradually the royalty checks decreased making Marianne financially dependent on Mick.
At the same time Mick was under no obligations to Marianne and observed none. How this clashed with Marianne’s Arthurian expectations in an atmosphere of Peter Pan and Alice she doesn’t go into but there must have been a severe disappointment as Mick treated her as a mere possession.
While in California he was the object of desire for all the groupies including the doyenne Miss Pamela- Pamela Des Barres nee Miller- of Frank Zappa’s girl group the GTOs (Girls Totally Ornery or else in reference to the hottest car of the period, the GTO). Miss Pamela as well as the rest of the California groupies studied to come up with better and better more outrageous sexual thrills with which to astonish the boys in the band which easily surpassed the imaginations of the boys in the band including Mick.
Mick returned home and demanded of Marianne that she perform these tricks which astonished Marianne no less than Mick had been astonished. However she believed the tricks degrading. Marianne quite rightly refused to perform them.
But the repertoire of the boys in the band kept expanding so that the home girls were led to view new horizons. Group sex and that sort of thing became the norm.
As with all loosely knit movements or phenomena this sort of reputation brought more and more of the sado-masochistic libertine drug oriented element gradually forcing out the less inclined to sexual erotica just as bad money drives out good money. Rock and Roll became progressively more degenerate from 1964-65 on until it was disgraceful to be associated with it.
Mick and the Stones were leaders of this degeneration whether the Stones embraced sexual sado-masochism personally their public persona was based on it making them leading corruptors of youth and society in general. They did as much or more to change the sexual mores of the present than anyone. Their LP cover for Black and Blue was the apex of this very sado-masochistic misogynistic persona. The cover caused me all kinds of trouble in running my record store.
As one presents oneself so must one be.
The Redlands Bust.
Many psychologically devastating events happened to Marianne in the years from 1967-70. It is very difficult from this perspective to evaluate some of them. One can’t tell how Marianne’s renunciation of her career affected her mind. After all in 1964-65 and 66 she went from just another teenager to superb success far beyond her expectations financially, while becoming the female idol of the youth of England and a phenom in the US- ultimately the Faerie Queen of rock and roll. That’s really only two short years until the Redlands bust.
In those two years she passed through several sexual transmogrifications. She went from virgin to the most outre of sexual practices. Its all very well to say that this was her decision but as Paul McCartney said of his own experience in Miles’ biography it was impossible for him to resist peer pressure, especially in the use of drugs. He was ‘forced’ to try heroin even though he was dead set against.
So peer pressure on Marianne and any young girl to be sexual ‘free spirits’ was impossible unless you were prepared to accept group rejection. The same with drugs that couldn’t be resisted so that when depression set in she ended up addicted to the greatest depression drug available- heroin. It was up to Mick to give what protection he could. Regardless of current sexual nonsense it us up to the man to guide his woman.
Now, the era began in relatively clean-cut innocence . It was never quite so white bread as it is depicted, trying to escape the sleaziness, even then, was no easy matter. Then as the decade wore on it all got worse, then it got disgusting. First pot, pills and amphetamines, then LSD that came on like a hurricane. LSD more than anything else conditioned you for cocaine that in at the end of the decade, at least on the West Coast where I was. Remember that there was no national consensus in the US
In 1964 or so when the ‘counter-culture’ hit in the Bay Area it was a very local manifestation not shared by the East Coast the Mid-West or even for that matter LA. LA was never hip in the way the Bay Area was. While the Beatles are credited with introducing long hair, when the Charlatans came down from Virginia City they had hair and they must have been growing it long before the Mop Tops showed up.
The West Coast could not tolerate New York groups. Mafia outfits like the Rascals nee Young Rascals and Vanilla Fudge made the West Coast puke. There really wasn’t any place for The Velvet Underground either. Of course the British groups that had their own sound that really couldn’t compete with that of say, The Doors, an LA group. The LA groups being more commercially oriented pretty much shoved the Bay Area groups aside, although were a couple of real successes. I don’t include freak groups like the Grateful Dead as commercial successes. Cults are cults.
But to the point, boy, LSD. Owsley Stanley kept the West supplied and how. By the time of Altamont and Stonewall the atmosphere was really foul. And then it got worse still.
About the time of the Redlands bust society and the police were losing their patience. Kesey and Leary had them terrified. The drug thing kept growing. When one says that marijuana was generational it is true only to the extent that a significant minority of the generation smoked it. The hippies were only a small and despised part of the generation but they, we, made a lot of noise and got a lot of notice. Without the radio, rock and corrupt record companies the Movement probably wouldn’t have broken the bounds of Bohemia. But, the time was ripe for the Bohemian conquest of America. That was led from New York, principally by Andy Warhol.
The records made the Bohemian life seem very glamorous. Thus the cops focused on groups where actually the greatest drug activity was located and the propaganda the strongest. As the groups began to make good and even big, very big, money they were the natural prey of the drug dealers. And don’t underestimate the role of LSD. The groups also chose to flaunt their drug use- ‘I’ve got to be free to put anything into my body and life I want to’, disdaining the law, the police and actually common decency. This was the case with the Stones and it’s the flaunting, not the use, that got them in trouble.
In 1967 they naturally were set up. Brian Jones in an interview, barroom chat actually, with News Of The World reporters boasted of his drug use. The journalists then attributed the statements to Mick, whether from ignorance or design I leave to your imagination.
When Mick read the article he was indignant. As I said, while Mick and the rockers thought they were big because of records, radio and TV they were actually socially marginal and not particularly appreciated. Musicians get no respect outside their own circle.
Rather than evaluate his situation, considering that he was doing drugs and everyone knew it thus making him an obvious target, he foolishly brought suit against the newspaper. You don’t have to be brilliant to know News Of The World wasn’t going to let that one fly. Hey! Hey! What’d I say! Mick was sleeping or day dreaming.
The police wanted to get England’s bad boys anyway. There may or may not have been collusion between the News Of The World and the police but the way the raid was conducted indicates there was.
Shortly before the bust some guy named Schneiderman drops from the sky with a brief case reportedly filled with whatever you required. Mick, Marianne and Keith and a couple others, I will mention in the next section, were having an LSD weekend at Keith’s house, the Redlands. Schneiderman insinuated himself into the party with his briefcase while probably being in the employ of the News informed them and they in turn notified the police.
For Schneiderman allegedly having a briefcase full of drugs there were remarkably few drugs in evidence at the bust. Jagger was booked only for possession of four pep pills bought legally in Italy, while Keith had no drug charges at all except for being charged with ‘knowingly’ providing a place where pot was smoked. Robert Fraser actually had heroin jacks of his own on him but Schneiderman produced nothing from his briefcase and indeed no drugs were visible in it when the police required him to open it. No drugs were seen only packaging that were assumed to contain drugs by the Bohemians. In any event he hopped the first flight to elsewhere.
While Marianne had no drugs concealed on her person her situation was the most tragic of all. The Faerie Queen would lose her official status.
When the cops came calling the crowd was of course flipped out on LSD but then that was always the danger; the cops would come calling when you’re least prepared to deal with them. Come on, this was just one of the hazards of using illegal substances. And naturally, you tend to be flippant, wise cracking and mocking. Very bad behavior in such a situation when maximum seriousness is the order of the moment. It’s not like everyone didn’t live in fear of being busted. They used to call it deep paranoia.
Marianne whose clothes had become wet from walking in the rain laid them out to dry dressing in nothing more than some sort of rug wrapped around her. Well, what is one to think of a nude woman amongst a bunch of men; what is this Dejeuner Sur L’herbe redux? Even if two thirds of them were screaming fairies as they were, how is one to know that and what to think?
It was said that Marianne let her wrap slip giving the coppers an eyeful. Of course the cops were square and the gang was hip but squares outnumber hips by a very large margin while as Roger Miller sings: Squares make the world go round. And a good thing too. Roger said that hips have too much water for their land; this was a gathering of pretty watery people. Oh, OK, my people, but folks you have to be realistic. That’s what hip means in my book.
And then someone probably at News Of The World concocted the story that Marianne had a Mars bar slipped between her legs and that Mick was grazing away at it. Preposterous, wouldn’t you think? Boy, now that was a blow that will getcha and you’ll be down for a long time too. As might be expected Marianne was devastated. Boy, that opened a lot of anfractuosities in her brain. A hit like two trains running in opposite directions at top speed on the same tracks over a two hundred foot high trestle. That’s a big crash and a long way to tumble, buddy.
It ended any hope Marianne may have had of appearing on a stage. Can you imagine stepping up to the microphone and being showered with Mars bars. Oh no, no,no, better to board a rocket ship for…oops…Mars.
Marianne and Mick may have thought they were handling it well but the bile and psycho-somatic reactions entering the sub-conscious aren’t so easily dismissed. This horror was merely added to their childhood fixations.
In the turmoil of the months succeeding this mind wrenching event fixations would only worsen. Of course the intent of the establishment was not so much to succeed in jailing them but making an example of them while hopefully destroying their careers. The bust should have been career destroying but for the generational gap. When a teacher chastises a student the other students smirk but don’t disown him. After busting Mick and Keith the establishment then went after the more fragile Brian Jones, the guy who got this whole thing rolling by shooting off his mouth. If the three could have been jailed they wouldn’t subsequently have been allowed to enter the US or so it seemed. No one could have forecast the incredible changes that were about to occur that essentially placed the Stones above the law.
Enter Donald Cammell And His Movie Performance
One reads many amusing reasons for the incredible social disintegration of the sixties. One of the most preposterous to come to my attention is the notion that it was caused by lead poisoning.. There’s a hobby horse for you. While I couldn’t rule it out I think lead poisoning would be among the most obscure of reasons. No, the sixties was no more an aberration than was Hitler’s Germany; like the latter it was the result of long historical development, a part of psychological history.
If one reads a good deal with the purpose of understanding the historical background of the sixties things begin to take form. Then if one tries to make one’s intellect rise and float over the information gleaned from that reading patterns will form, a map of the past will appear. Then of course one notes nodes and axons, connections that require further reading and rereading what’s already been read so that a fair approximation of what happened can be more or less confidently stated. Much of it will be subterranean history that doesn’t make it to the history books.
Such is the psycho-sexual mind set that began to develop oh, say, about from 1890 on which a key node was from 1900 to 1920. Western understanding of the human mind developed fairly rapidly from the mid-eighteenth century rapidly gaining momentum after say 1860 and the spectacular doings at Paris’ Salpetriere mental hospital under the tutelage of the amazing Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot.
While his investigations were of a psycho-sexual nature they were not perceived as such except perhaps by a transient student by the name of Sigmund Freud. Sometime after Charcot’s studies toward the nineties people calling themselves sexologists, sex therapists and sex magicians began to appear.
Along with Freud who might be called a sex therapist two leading figures slightly earlier than he were the German Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) and the Englishman Havelock Ellis (1859-1939). In the academic scientific or pseudo-scientific manner all three made their contributions although Freud managed to incorporate their discoveries or understandings into his system acquiring preeminence in the field.
Goerg Groddeck and Wilhelm Reich, two of Freud’s disciples also gained prominence in the sex therapist field.
On the religious or supernatural side the most prominent and influential of the sex magicians was the so-called Magus Aleister Crowley and his organization of the Golden Dawn.
With the exception of Krafft-Ebing all were out to overturn European sexual mores, designated disparagingly as Victorian. Of course there was never a time when men and women didn’t behave sexually because…well, how could they? The real goal then was to disturb prevailing sexual mores and replace them with sexual license. This essentially came to fruition in the 1960s when the influence of Freud and Crowley were at their peak. The two principal cultural nodes of the US, New York and Los Angeles, were flooded with European Jewish émigrés of the Freudian school while Aleister Crowley had established himself and his Golden Dawn in Los Angeles.
The corrosive sexual mores of Freud and Crowley were aided and abetted by the rise of the equally corrosive drug use and, of course, ‘lead poisoning.’
Our next object then is to discover who Donald Cammel might be.
Searching For Donald
Cammell is the central figure in this little drama so we will begin with him although even though the Stones biographers don’t delve into these other characters they are integral to the social scene of Mick, Marianne and Keith. It appears that Brian Jones, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts served a peripherals to Mick primarily and Mick and Keith secondarily. Oldham tried to make himself a third but apparently was incompatible or other interests pulled him in a different direction. By ‘67 he would be out of the picture.
In Marianne’s biography she makes it sound like Cammell was a stranger to the group while actually he was well known to Bob Fraser, and Chrissie Gibbs who were at the Redlands bust and quite familiar with Mick, Keith and Marianne. They all knew each other before the movie began to be filmed.
Cammell was older than the three being contemporary with the first generations of rockers; he was born in 1934 in Scotland. He came from a well to do family immersed in the occult; his father actually knew Aleister Crowley and wrote a biography of him. One may then assume that his father was something of a sex magician as Marianne’s father was a sexologist. It was impossible to escape Freudian influences from at least 1920 through the fifties. So some reference to repression and the unconscious is inevitable.
Cammell’s father was likely familiar with Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis with its emphasis on psychotic sexual practices. All the sexologists and magicians immersed themselves in bizarre sexual practices. If a reader counters that all sex is legitimate it shows how perverted he or she is. No argument from me, we know where each other stands.
As Cammell was born in ‘34, in ‘44 he would have been 10 and 20 in 1954. Thus he would have been aware of the war between the ages of 4, 5, 6, or so and 10 but perhaps in a muddled and uncomprehending manner but in ‘44 and ‘45 he would have been aware enough to partially comprehend. Certainly when the Big Baby turned Hiroshima to ashes in August of ‘45 something would have registered affecting his mind and outlook.
I was 7 in ‘45 and while I have a clear remembrance of VE Day I don’t have any recollection at all of the Bomb or if I do it had little or no significance to me. I have never had a horror of the A-bomb.
Obviously something other than lead poisoning affected the psyches of the crop of kids from ‘33-’34 to 1942-43. It may have had something to do with the total destruction of the world capped by the Bomb. What a terrific exclamation mark to the end of hostilities. What Cammell’s reaction to this destruction was isn’t clear to me while it probably wasn’t clear to himself.
After the war he experienced rationing during the whole of his teen years. He was probably less affected than others as he became prosperous in his teens on his own as a painter. He was successful as a portrait painter. From the pictures I’ve seen he was more than talented while possibly possessing genius. His mind already exhibited an extreme darkness with sexual confusion easily perceived.
Much of the following information comes from web sites such as the fabulous Another Nickel In The Machine that records the history of London, Sam Umland’s 60X50 and many others. I have not read Umland’s biography of Cammell as yet.
Cammell divorced his first wife and then married a very successful model, the American Deborah Dixon, moving to Paris where they both lived. Cammell apparently was supported by his wife.
Bored with painting, not unlike Andy Warhol, he began to take an interest in film. There is nothing like a movie to exhibit one’s sexual fantasies in real life; indeed a movie is a record of the unconscious. Cammell and Dixon were sexually compatible taking an interest in anything remotely copulatory. Cammell’s first few attempts at filmmaking were not successful or, at least, lacked box office magic.
Along with his lack of interest in painting and his attraction to the movies Cammell gravitated toward the pop world of rock and roll seeking out Jagger. Where was a sexual degenerate to turn? The bad boys of Rock, the Rolling Stones, Mick, Keith and Marianne at least. He found Mick and Marianne’s talked about sexual escapades irresistible. He was undoubtedly attracted by Mick’s dope legend also. Mick claims not to have been an excessive user of drugs, which may be true but I doubt there was anyone at the time who didn’t think he was a heroin addict and druggie par excellence.
As an artist Cammell was acquainted with Bob Fraser and that pop art crowd. Both he and Fraser were known to the infamous crime lords, the Kray Brothers. The Krays, of course, were homosexuals as were Fraser and Gibbs. Mick’s legend is that he is bi-sexual, at least, so there is no reason that he wasn’t sexually involved with the bunch in some manner.
Cammell and Fraser also knew the Satanist and sex magician, the American experimental film maker, Kenneth Anger, as did Mick and Marianne. Fraser introduced Anger to the underground film crowd.
In addition Anita Pallenberg knew Cammell from her pre-Brian Jones, Keith Richard days. She was shown the script in the south of France the year before filming began. So, unless I have seriously misread Marianne’s first auto-biography, Cammell didn’t just show up one day with a movie proposal; it was actually old home week.
Cammell did go on to make an additional three or four movies of which I have seen two, Demon Seed and Wild Side. The last movie has escaped my vigilance so far. Wild Side is a virtual remake or variation of Performance. Demon Seed that I will review in an addendum to Chapter 5 is actually a great movie handling a major sci-fi them to perfection.
Just prior to the beginning of filming in 1968 Mick impregnated Marianne. This is 1968 and if Marianne hadn’t been on the Pill she would have had a number of children now in addition to Nicholas her child by John Dunbar. The question then is why she allowed herself to get pregnant at this time. She was still married to Dunbar so one must think he must have suffered humiliation and emasculation to have another man impregnate his wife. Perhaps Mick’s emasculation genes or maybe just a drug haze.
At any rate Marianne was exiled to Ireland while filming was going on. One can only imagine the anxiety she felt separated from her lover in her condition. One doesn’t have to imagine; she suffered a miscarriage.
In 1967 the English director John Boorman had filmed a movie that took
Cammell’s mind by storm. The movie was Point Blank starring Lee Marvin as the protagonist Walker. Cammell recommended that all the cast see the move and bear it in mind. It might be advantageous to review the movie here.
Point Blank was only Boorman’s second effort. Unsuccessful on release it has apparently become a cult classic. His movie is obviously a dream sequence or nightmare. Nothing is real. This indicated by the hero’s name of Walker. He has only one name, no first. No one even knows what his first name could be. The name seemed significant to me but I hadn’t a clue as to what it could mean. Well, you know, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. While writing this piece I was also reading Denis Machail’s 1941 biography of J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. There on page 190 was the explanation of Walker. Barrie had written a play titled Walker, London. That was a telegraphic address. Quote:
Two impudent jokes in one, the second even more mysterious then as it is now. For the word ‘Walker’ is still in the dictionary- “interjection (slang) expressing incredulity and suspicion of being hoaxed” but when was it last used? Not during the present century, one would say; yet before that there was a time when it was the very crystalization of Cockney humor. “Walker!” you said, to show that you could never be caught with chaff. It was the standard answer to the attempted leg pull. It was also one of those blessed with with which any comedian could bring down the house.
So now the viewer knows he is being hoaxed and can suspend belief. The plot involves Lee Marvin as Walker who takes part in a heist then is shot by his partner who runs off with Walker’s share or 93,000 and adding insult to injury Walker’s wife. The rest of the story involves Walker trying to retrieve his money forget the wife. The story is told through a series of frustrations to a paranoid Walker. So, we have a dream study of a frustrated paranoid.
The opening and closing settings are the same; the walking or exercise area inside Alcatraz prison. The joke seemingly being that one walks around and around, never getting anywhere while returning to the same place. Cry “Walker” and then start laughing like a Cockney at the joke.
Alcatraz, the Rock, is of course a small island in the middle of San Francisco Bay between the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge. Established in 1934 it was closed in 1963, so the filming was done in a closed facility and before the Indians occupied the island claiming it as their heritage. The filming was done, then, in vacated premises.
As a dream story it concerns the psychic life of Walker. It’s all going on inside his head. The prison, castle or house represents the psychic the self so that Walker lives a bleak, barren, paranoid inner life.
A helicopter lands in the enclosure, picks up a package and leaves a bundle of money. Walker and his pal Mal (mal, French for bad) kill the messenger while robbing him. Walker is then examining an empty cell signifying his empty life when Mal with Walker’s wife looking on puts a couple bullets in him leaving him for dead while appropriating Walker’s share of the money and his wife. Thus we have some basic paranoia that, of course, might possibly be true. As his wife would say later, Walker just kind of left her cold.
Left for dead Walker somehow recovers while being compelled to take the only way off the island available to him- swim for it. Another grim joke as legend has it that no one who tried ever succeeded.
The rest of the story concerns surmounting the treachery and double crosses Walker encounters in trying to recover his money. He finds his wife, abandons her and takes up with her sister. While he seems a little obsessive-compulsive in the matter, the money in fact represents his lost identity, purpose in life or masculinity. The recovery of the money is central for his personality.
As in the Cockney joke whenever he shows up people exclaim “Walker!” If you’re in on the joke it might be funny. Angie Dickenson makes up the sex interest as Chris as there is no love interest. Just a four letter word in this movie. The three kingpins Walker must knock down are Carter, Brewster and Fairfax. Ironically Carter and Brewster are disposed of by their own team when Walker’s paranoia protects him while the others take the hit meant for him.
The actual climax takes place in Brewster’s house when Walker and Chris have spent the night together, the only consummated sex in the movie. As Walker is walking out the door Chris asks what her last name is. Walker doesn’t know and neither do we. Walker counters, seemingly weakly, does she know his first name. Either check mate or an uproarious joke to Cockneys. But as Walker in joke is a hoax or a put on then it doesn’t matter anyway. Dreams are like that, they follow a different logic than the waking mind.
The denouement returns to the opening at Alcatraz but now Walker is more canny staying out if sight. The drop is made, Brewster calls to him to come get the money. But, as when Walker was supposed to get the money from Carter, after he survived the assassination attempt, the bundle proved to be waste paper, Walker’s paranoia saves him again. A shot rings out and Brewster takes a long walk off a short pier never to return again. Now enter Fairfax who is the head man and the assassin who shot Carter and Brewster and would have shot Walker. Fairfax shouts Walker several times that in another century would have brought the house down.
Walker’s paranoia prevents him from taking what might be money in the bundle but is probably waste paper so that as the bundle of funny paper represents his ego he is left stranded in the haunted empty house of Alcatraz representing his mind for one presumes the rest of his life.
The movie was a box office failure, except for the few like Cammell but holds up well as a psychological thriller. That is what Cammell saw. So, now, he’s basing his own movie ‘Performance’ directly on Point Blank.
He gathers together essentially the ‘gang’ to make his movie. Even Deborah Dixon took part. He already knew and was friends with James Fox as was apparently Mick, cast as the criminal Chas. Cammell had known Anita Pallenberg in Paris where it is said she formed a brief menage a trois with Cammel and Deborah. Chrissie Gibbs was the set designer…Mick was an old friend, a few outsiders and Cammel had his movie.
Mick sent Marianne to Ireland for the duration. Keith who was shacking with Anita was so unhappy about Cammell’s pairing of Anita with Mick that he found it impossible to visit the set. Instead he brooded outside in his car sending Bob Fraser in to keep tabs until Cammell banned him from the set.
I can’t be sure that Cammell understood the Cockney meaning of Walker but he so admired the character that he based Mick’s role on Walker giving Mick the single name of Turner. No first name. Turner is also meant to be significant. A turner is a sort of acrobat. The word could also be used in the sense of changeling, or perhaps in the homosexual sense or turning a man gay. Turner does turn Chas. from a tough guy to a passive fairy, his sort of changeling. Turner changes the tough hoods into faggots. Probably then that is the meaning of the name. So maybe Cammell was in on the Walker joke.
As the movie is permeated by sex magic and sex as a sort of therapy the influence of Krafft-Ebing, Ellis, Freud and especially Aleister Crowley is very apparent. Kenneth Anger was around at the time while being known to all the participants thus reinforcing the Crowley connection.
All the sex therapists were concerned with aberrant sexual practices that the movie concentrates on. Cammell elaborates the sexual implications of Boorman’s Point Blank, while the decaying mansion obviously represent Cammell’s mind. In the end the sex therapy or magick doesn’t seem to work as Turner turns suicidal obsessed with a death wish.
Boorman’s crime angle comes in through Chas. In order for Fox to appear authentic Cammell actually required him to live the criminal life under the tutelage of a mobster, even to the extent of taking part in actual crimes. Of course, madness is the theme of the movie but even madness can go too far.
Chas. has offended the criminal chief, based on the Kray Bros., who has commanded a man hunt to track Chas. down. When he is located he is summoned to his execution. Turner says: Don’t leave me, take me where you’re going. Chas. says ‘You don’t want to go where I’m going.’ Turner: ‘Yes I do.’ Chas. then blows Turner’s head off, gets into the car and the car drives off, as he looks out the window we see Turners face. Thus the turning or change is complete as each becomes the other.
The version now available for purchase or rental is apparently much different from the original. While even the available version is violent and pornographic the original must have anticipated the current pornographic output of Hollywood . While I wouldn’t call Performance tame almost every movie you see today is as or more explicit. At any rate the movie has no redeeming moral value. If you want porn plain and simple, there it is.
The legend has it that the movie changed the lives of the participants. Perhaps so, but perhaps not. Michele Breton was already a lost child and stayed lost. Anita, no stranger to drugs moved into intense familiarity. James Fox, who was criminally mistreated by Cammell, gave up movies for ten years but he says he was already fed up with the seedy side of movie making so perhaps Performance just capped it. Keith? God, what can you say? Who was going to keep him from drugs? If Cammell was already inclined toward suicide he topped himself off in 1996 finally taking Keith’s advice.
But, now, Mick and Marianne. Mick was advised to play himself but Marianne wisely overruled that advice perhaps saving Mick’s sanity but still leaving him off balance. Marianne advised him to adopt some of the fey characteristics of Brian Jones’ character along with some of Keith’s tough guy stance. Not too difficult as that is the way Mick already appeared but it permanently shifted his personality in that skew. Nevertheless Mick has always remained supremely functional.
As to Marianne, how did she relate to Mick’s rejection of her by sending her to Ireland and the subsequent miscarriage of her child. That is a lot of psychological battering. I think that it is certain that as 1968 progressed she was already in a depression and sinking rapidly. While she was able to hold on for another year or so, by 1969 she would be spinning out of control as further events tested the strength of her mind.
January 14, 2010
One Giant Step For Somebody
Review by R.E. Prindle
Lennon, Cythia: John, Three Rivers Press, 2005
Remember what the door knob said…
We built this city on Rock and Roll.
If you want to be a girl of mine
You’d better bring it with you when you come,
Cynthia Lennon’s autobiography of her life with John Lennon opens the door to a number of possibilities of which I’ll explore one, at least, here.
Let’s begin with Lonnie Donegan’s 1955 hit The Rock Island Line. Lonnie was the originator of his own genre- Skiffle Music. Skiffle was all the rage in the British world from England to Australia to New Zealand while passing very lightly over the States except for the fortunate few of which I was one. Rock Island Line was a major hit in the US though.
Lonnie, may he rest in peace, was also the originator of the Big Beat. Of course Lennon and most of the young English rockers studied at Lonnie’s feet. The first band Lennon formed, the Quarrymen, was a Skiffle band. That was back in the fifties before the second stage of the big change kicked off. The first stage began about 1950 with Johnny Ray and his song Cry.
Eisenhower had the world pretty well organized in 1960 before John Kennedy stole the baton from the intended successor, Richard Nixon. With the accession of Kennedy the American personality or identity, such as it was, began to disintegrate- I mean in the psychological sense.
The Celts tried to establish Kennedy as the second coming of King Arthur and his Camelot. Not the smartest thing they could have done; a couple bullets fired in Dallas on November 22, 1963 put a period to that dream. By the then the sixties were fairly launched about to begin in earnest in January of 1964 when Lennon’s next group, the Beatles, hit.
The Beatles began as a Big Beat band rooted in the fifties. Seized by the avant garde they were made the avatar of the sixties. In their own way they launched the sixties although the makins’ were already out of the can. Kennedy was shot almost in December and in January the Fab Four washed his memory out on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Kennedy assassination was so then, then. The Beatles were NOW. IS in capital letters.
While the Beatles were revamping fifties music they edged into the future with modified Prince Valiant haircuts and collarless suit jackets. They were then NEW emerging into a brave new world.
Almost at the beginning of 1960 the art world was shaken by the emergence of Pop Art. Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and especially Andy Warhol with his Campbell’s Soup Can set the sixties on its ear. On
the film scene the James Bond series with its new sensibility began. Bond also was a revelation portending changes with unintended consequences.
Pop Art would figure signficantly in Cynthia Lennon’s life in a few years when one of its more laughable practitioners, Yoko Ono, would step into her life and filch her husband from her. In fact Pop Art would be inextricably linked with the record industry. All the pop motifs would find their way onto record covers with increasing frequency. Tiny Alice would have a cover that opened like a match book. Talking Head’s colored disc would even become a happening designed by Rauschenberg himself. The burgeoning poster business would find its way into record sleeves. Astonishing packages never seen before in the record business although perhaps anticipated by the experimental ESP label of NYC. Some interesting stuff. Perhaps Milton Glaser’s poster of Bob Dylan could run for the distinction of the most popular poster design of the whole era. It was innovation itself at the time although not quite so fresh today.
Now, all this was happening so fast and from so many directions that it was impossible to get it all or even keep up on what you did get; after all people had lives to live.
In the San Francisco Bay Area where I was during the sixties the Scene was especially heavy. I wasn’t in the thick of things but a little off to the side. Thus while the UC Berkeley Free Speech Brouhaha took center stage in the East Bay, Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters and the Acid Tests were simmering on the Peninsula, but actually invading the middle class especially at Stanford and UC Berkeley. The San Fransciso Mime Troupe was very important in the early stages while Bill Graham was commercializing the Trips Festival with his Fillmore shows and Chet Helms was organizing the Avalon Ballroom out at the beach. The posters for the ballrooms which epitomized the psychedelic was the first inkling I had that something ‘new’ was happening. I don’t know how quick on the uptake I was but the first inkling of New York Pop I had was 1966-67 when I opened a poster store soon to be a record store.
LA, always commercial, would nevertheless provide the great Ron Cobb political cartoons for the LA Free Press one of the best of the Hippie papers soon to degenerate into porn as did the Berkeley Barb and all the rest. R. Crumb in San Francisco became the king of Hippie porn which characterized the movement from then on. The scene was then set for George and Pattie Harrison’s famous descent on the Haight-Ashbury that disappointed them so.
This brief sketch only contains a few of the highlights of the period. It was into this world that John and Cynthia Lennon stepped unprepared. Both Cynthia and John came from a background of very low expectations. Cynthia’s dreams were very modest while per her John’s dreaming was no bigger than reaching the tops of the pops in England.
Indeed the much touted German clubs showed no promise of a future whatever. Essentially playing in brothels in Hamburg one wonders what the ‘lads’ were thinking of the whole process. The wonder is that they paid enough attention to hone their skills. One of those making lemonade from lemons situations.
Only the greatest good luck showed them to success and fortune. They would have labored in the vineyard for a while and then drifted off into jobs but for the fact that an entrepreneurial romantic by the name of Brian Epstein saw them as the vehicle to realize his own dreams. He had the direction and energy to galvanize their careers. Still they were rejected by all the labels until a producer, George Martin, apparently heard what the rest of the world would hear and agreed to record them. It was then that the unbelievable happened elevating the Beatles into the most successful pop group ever. It was success far beyond their imaginations. With that success came challenges that neither John nor Cynthia could meet. The fact that they failed is no reflection on either one; they came from very low expectations and having fallen down the rabbit hole they were slightly unprepared. ‘One side makes you larger, the other side makes you smaller.’
To this time in their lives neither had even eaten at anything other than the English equivalent of McDonald’s, fish and chips or whatever. Now in one great step they were introduced into the haut ton by their manager Brian Epstein. Cynthia leads us to believe that Epstein gave special attention to John over the other ‘lads.’ As Epstein was a homosexual and as other sources, Peter Brown, Goldman actually state that Epstein seduced Lennon he obviously had a crush on John seeking to mold him in his own image. Indeed, John may have been his incentive for taking the Beatles on. Lust at first sight.
John had an attractive flip attitude that left the impression that he was much better educated than he was. Actually he left Art School, already a step down from the top, flunked out or whatever preferring to devote himself to his guitar chords. Most of the rockers were in the same situation. It’s amazing that their fans looked to them for salvation. This was tragic, because the generation invested all their hopes and dreams in these muscians attributing universal knowledge and genius to them, each and everyone. While they all did changes on certain political and social themes there was an appearance of ‘deep’ knowledge. Being anti-pollution was a badge of authority. Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane made the mistake if, one hopes, jesting that one should never trust anyone over thirty; this while she, John and others were about twenty-nine.
The phrase stuck. Those under thirty trusted these youthful, perhaps well-meaning rock stars. Being somewhat older at the time I could only see some very ordinary boys and girls who were just youthful wiseacres as we all were in that phase of our journey through life. Give me a break.
The most revered of all were the three Beatles John, Paul and George with Ringo thought of more as the court jester. John seemed to take his role most seriously as the guru of the generation, especially after he abandoned Cynthia for, spare me, the psychotic Yoko Ono.
Her abandonment by John for Yoko Ono is of course the most traumatic incident in her story. One can only commiserate with Cynthia. Then one has to search for reasons why; there was certainly no physical attraction there. Lennon did release a solo album called Mind Games so perhaps the best place to look is the mental. Lennon’s success must have placed great stresses of various kinds on him. The transition from a fair degree of poverty to one of a very large income to great wealth under the management of Yoko Ono would be psychologically unsettling in itself. Cynthia was unable to transit from poverty to wealth always remaining a lower middle class haus frau while John appears to have lacked the social climbing instincts of, say, Mick Jagger.
Musicians in general are held in very low esteem by the social elite so without unbounded desire and chutzpah, an ability to endure slights of the most painful kind it is highly unlikely that a musician would ever find acceptance in society. The aristocrats, Marrianne Faithfull describes as associating with Jagger appear to me to be more of the Black Sheep variety. So, Lennon may have been experiencing some frustration at that level.
At the same time there are numerous flatterers who are adept at putting ideas of omnipotence into your head not only intimating but saying that you are godlike. Even though one rejects the notion on the conscious level still a feeling of super powers creeps into your subliminal mind. One feels invulnerable, that one can do what’s never been done, that one can do drugs with impunity. There was never a time when the availability of drugs was ever greater or more socially acceptable.
At the time rumors abounded which have since turned into facts. During the Kennedy administration there was one Dr. Feelgood operating in New York to whom the social elite went for their drugs. His name was Dr. Max Jacobson and he was your friendly amphetamine pusher. His speed cocktails were extraordinary and they lasted for days. It’s comforting to know that President John F. Kennedy was amphetamine fueled while he was making those difficult international decisions- like Cuba. Nothing like having an A-man on the job. He wasn’t alone, VP Lyndon Johnson, followed in his footsteps into the office of Dr. Feelgood. He would have found his place at the end of the line of the NYC elite.
One person who took the good doctor’s prescription said that he went blind for three days staying high for several. Max was the economic type, dirty needles too.
At the same time Dr. Timothy Leary was sending everyone from prison inmates to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg tripping into inner space with his free handed distribution of LSD. Kennedy was involved in that too.
Prior to their arrival for the Sullivan show we are led to believe that the Mop Tops had only used pep pills in Hamburg to fuel their twelve hour sets. We are told that Bob Dylan was the one who turned them on to La Cucuracha, the most mild of the intoxicants. From there the boys graduated to LSD through spiked drinks or food.
Just as Harrison’s wife, Patti, records a spiked introduction to LSD so does Cynthia Lennon. Cynthia quite properly was revolted by drugs having no use for them. John was quite the opposite. He embraced LSD apparently ingesting regularly for long periods of time. As he would describe it, thousands of trips. At that point in my estimation the marriage was over. There is nothing for which Cynthia has to reproach herself except for her small divorce settlement. Nothing disintegrates the personality like drugs.
The drug influence was followed by a change in their music patterned after Dylan. When I first heard the Rubber Soul album I found it extremely noisy and unpleasant. This album was probably influenced by the Band’s playing behind Dylan on the ’65-’66 tour or perhaps the Bringing It All Back Home and Highway ’61 albums. It seems p;robable to me that the song Norwegian Wood commemorated Dylan’s turning them on to marijuana. The girl obviously represents Dylan.
Succeeding albums would aim for a ‘heavier’ feel with more social significance. As Lennon said in his ’80 Playboy interview, I Am The Walrus was written in imitation of Dylan.
The cover of Rubber Soul was traditional uninfluenced by pop art trends. The succeeding cover in the US, the famous ‘Butcher’ cover would be widely interpreted in the US as a comment on the Viet Nam War. It may have been meant as a pun- prime cuts of both meat and record tracks, but I don’t know. Whether there was a Pop Art influence isn’t clear.
The cover for the following Revolver by Klaus Voorman seems to indicate an awareness of Pop. For a band that was thought to be on the cutting edge of everything there are only two covers very avant garde with neither being very satisfying to me.
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band that follows Revolver is a complete Pop Art package. A bizarre and macabre conception it does succeed. The grave in the foreground with the floral Beatles is chilling, perhaps a presage of the break up of the band. As Dylan said: If you’re not busy being born you’re busy dying.’ The Beatles are pictured in dead black and white looking down mournfully on their grave while the newly born Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band stand front and center in vibrant living color. Obviously the one has risen from the other.
Behind the band are row on row of ‘ancestors’ or, as was commonly assumed, influences. In fact members of the band contributed only a few of the names while the rest were contributed by others. Dylan is certainly among the pictures. The album comes complete with a childhood toy, a sheet of cut outs, making a complete Pop Art package. They could have had a designed inner sleeve but they overlooked that. Peter Blake, the main designer, is known as a Pop Artist.
The musical content follows the downer social significance motif with aural pyrotechnics such as had not been heard on record before. The release, as everyone is aware, was a complete smash, but it went beyond smash into realms not achieved until Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Thriller failed to excite as did Sgt. Peppers. That summer of ’67 was literally a surround of Sgt. Peppers. It was almost the only record anyone played. The Beatles easily trumped Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde of the summer of ’66.
The rest of the Beatles’ covers are pedestrian. The White LP probably influenced by One was trite at the time.
Cynthia seems to lack all understanding of what tremendous pressures the very unstable Lennon was subjected to , how his mind was being affected by adulation from the fans and respect from the world at large. Kid me, being named one of the three most influential men in the world wouldn’t have inflated the head of a Liverpool loser? My god, the Beatles even sung ‘I’m a loser.’ I couldn’t believe anyhone would sing such a song much less the Beatles who were clearly winners. How does one endure thinking of oneself as a loser on one hand and one of the most influential men in the world on the other?
At the same time that Lennon was enlarged Cynthia shrunk into the Liverpool realities of her youth. The couple had a mansion but unfamiliar with so much space Cynthia preferred to live in one small room! Clearly she was not equal to the demands of her situation.
The situation became critical when Lennon began mass consumption of drugs, including heroin, which Cynthia correctly declined to do while at the same time the poisonous Yoko Ono injected herself into Lennon’s life. There was no hope for Cynthia. Yoko Ono was a walking disaster looking for a place to happen- and then there was John.
Quite frankly Yoko Ono’s ‘career’ was going nowhere. Born in 1933 she was 33 in 1966 when she began her assault on John who was 25.
The sexual dynamic is that Lennon seemed to prefer older women than himself having a masochistic submission impulse. Cynthia herself was a year older. She too apparently sought security in younger men. Her second husband was two years younger and her third six. She seemed to lack the dominating impulse to make such marriages work. Ono had it in spades.
While John was by this time psychotic, Ono had been so from childhood, in addition she seems to suffer from extreme cognitive dissonance. Ono got the rock critic Robert Palmer to shill for her in her 1992 release, Onobox. In the essay Palmer states:
It is quite likely that having John Lennon fall in love with her was the worst thing that could have happened to Yoko Ono’s career as an artist.
Notice the lack of mention of falling in love with Lennon. This was written, I almost said, dictated to Palmer, in 1992 twelve years after Lennon’s death. No serious critic could have written that line so one must assume that it was dictated by Ono herself. The line shows how far she has distanced herself from reality.
Ono was in fact, a poor little rich girl. As a woman she felt inferior to the male writing such pieces as ‘Woman Is The Nigger Of The World.’ Once again cognitive dissonance. Yoko Ono was never in the position of being ‘a nigger in the world.’ It is true that her father advised her against attempting composing believing that women didn’t make good composers. How wrong was he, hey? Ono milked every man she was ever with before actually going into the dairy business herself. Secondly, having chosen to enter the Western world as an Asian she places her artistic neglect on the twin facts that he is a woman and an Asian. It never occurs to her that her art is unpleasing.
As an artist, whether woman or not, Asian or not, she had nothing to offer the art loving peoples of the world. In this increasingly globalized world of the sixties being Asian meant nothing while being a woman held no one with talent back. Indeed, male artists were increasingly being suppressed in favor of women in all the arts. If all girl rock bands isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is.
By her own admission she thought she was an influential person in the New York City art world of the early sixties after an apprenticeship of one year even gaining ‘an international reputation.’ As she told May Pang: I was famous before I met John. So, one asks how does one reconcile her imagined great success with the feeling of being held back as an Asian and woman?
She rented a loft for fifty dollars a month which she coyly implies that as a starving artist the money was not easy to find. Well, Daddy was only a phone call away, she should have reached out and touched him. You can be sure he wasn’t going to let his little girl starve. By comparison I was paying 125.00 a month for an apartment in the Bay Area. I think we can dismiss the impoverished struggling artist scenario as so much more cognitive dissonance.
Ono spread herself pretty thin apparently attempting to cover all aspects of the avant garde. She’s keen on belonging to the avant garde. In music she patterned herself after John Cage and that weird contemporary ‘classical music’ approach with perhaps more than a nod to the early electronic composers such as Robert Maxwell who she mentions. She began her career in 1969 between the end of the Absract Expression mode and the beginningof the Pop movement so she was too late for the one and too early for the other. She and Lennon would try to rectify this in 1971 by doing obeisance to the Pop guru, Andy Warhol.
In 1961 she threw a party and was devastated that a snow storm discouraged the uptown crowd she had invited from coming. At least she said there was a snow storm. This may be another instance of cognitive dissonance. As she was an actual nobody she had no reason to expect society people to attend, snow storm or no snow storm. Nevertheless she was devastated, leaving town for Japan shortly thereafter. One may question where she obtained the fare for that flight when she had difficulty of meeting a fifty dollar rent bill.
In Japan she acquired her first husband simultaneously being committed to an insane asylum. As difficult as it may be to believe, her soon to be second husband, Tony Cox, heard these marvelous things about Ono in NYC deciding to fly to Japan to look her up. He found her thoroughly doped staggering around the halls of the asylum. He succeeded in getting her released then he, Ono and her first husband formed a menage a trois. The first husband wisely was the first to leave so Cox claimed the prize and the couple returned to NYC in 1964 so she is having an eventful four years. Shortly after their arrival they pulled up stakes and headed further East to London. Of the move Ono says:
I thought (the) avant garde world in New York was still very exciting but that it was starting to become an institution in itself, and there were rules and regulations in an invisible way, and I just wanted to get out of it. I never considered myself a member of any group. I was just doing my own thing.
That is just another way of saying that the art scene was a cliquish group in its terminal stages that was difficult or impossible to break into so unable to do so Ono was ‘just doing her own thing.’ It might be noted however that the NYC art scene was or was in becoming a nearly totally homosexual affair. At any rate we have evidence of sour grapes- I never considered myself a member of any group. And the result of rejection- I was just doing my own thing.
After her rejection she ‘composed’ a musical piece called Wall Piece For Orchestra in which she knelt on a stage and repeatedly banged her heard on the floor. Today that would be called ‘acting out.’
Off to new worlds to conquer in London and at the Indica Gallery of John Dunbar, the resident ‘head’ art gallery. Now, at this point she ‘ruined her career’ by pursuing John Lennon until he caught her. I imagine that she had been shrewdly observing his career and undoubtedly came to the psychological conclusion that he was a dependent personality who could be easily manipulated by the older maternal type with the right touch. That John Lennon could be made dependent on this woman eight years his senior is proof positive. Indeed, John even referred to her as Mother.
Cynthia for whom the role was impossible correctly assessed the situation noting the influence of Lennon’s Aunt Mimi who brought him up. Ono courted Lennon, interfering directly in his marriage. Ono was quite willing to drug herself along with Lennon so that both were heroin addicts. Ono thus established a sado-masochistic control over Lennon that Cynthia had no chance of breaking.
Rather than ruining Ono’s career the ‘third most influential man’ in the world gave her a stage on which to perform that she could never have found on her own. She now considered herself a collaborator with the Beatles. The injection of the Cage and Maxwell garbage combined with Lennon’s erratic behavior produced the nonsense of Revolution #9 on the White Album.
Lennon on drugs and under the influenceof Ono, who had her motives, according to Dire Corrector’s blog quoting the biographer of Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now, says:
The meditation had essentially precipitated a nervous breakdnown which was not helped by John’s tremendous drug intake. On May 18, 1966 he summoned a meeting of the Beatles at Apple and announced to them that he was Jesus Christ…the night after he told the other Beatles that he was the Savior, he finally called Yoko Ono and told her to come over.
Quite obviously Lennon was either teetering on the brink or had fallen over the edge. If he hadn’t broken with Cynthia by this time it is quite clear that apart from a certain inappropriateness of being wed to the Savior she was quite innocent of causing the break in any manner and should have a clear conscience.
Lennon’s state of mind would explain the insensitive manner in which he broke with Cynthia and its aftermath. The man must not have been in his right mind. While easing Cynthia out was relatively easy, from Ono’s end Tony Cox to whom she was still married was not such a simple matter. One wonders why he would fight so hard to keep a women who was so psychotic. Perhaps it was their daughter who he later took into hiding to keep her away from Ono. Justly so, it seems.
At any rate by ’69 Ono and Lennon were free to marry. Definitely by this point Lennon had all but surrendered his identity to Ono. She was now in possession of the reputation of one of the three most influential men in the world. Blending her identity with his she was about to become hermaphroditic. Perhaps Lennon was overawed by her avant garde credentials, such as they were, as well as whatever passed for her musical sensibilities.
She became Yoko Ono Lennon while he legally changed his name to John Ono Lennon so they both became Ono Lennons. After a number of happenings which one must believe were entirely Ono’s conceptions, such as the ‘bed in’ in Holland and the organization of the Plastic Ono Band, the pair settled in New York in an apartment building known as the Dakota. The Dakota was a connection to Ono’s past fulfilling an old desire to surpass those uptown types who she felt had slighted her.
In that connection also the cover of the Plastic Ono Band is a fulfillment of an old desire of Ono’s. While a child she witnessed the fire bombing of Tokyo in the US attempt to bring an end to the war. The blue sky was obliterated by the billowing clouds of smoke. While she didn’t witness Hiroshima yet she imagined the same sky as that over Tokyo. She then developed a blue sky obsession. If you notice the cover of the Plastic Ono Band is just a blue sky. One assumes then that Ono’s plans were coming together.
The NYC art world of 1960-’61 had shifted totally, the Abstract Expressionists she had tried to piggyback on were gone having been replaced by Pop Art of which Andy Warhol was the reigning doyen. If the Abstract Expressionists had been exclusive Warhol was nothing if not inclusive. He worshipped celebrities and Lennon was the number one celebrity. Himself a groupie and maximum social climber he welcomed an association with the Onos. For Yoko Ono the association with the leaderof the NYC art scene was her dream come true. Nothing but blue skies from now on.
In the accompanying picture you will notice that Warhol is seated in between a standing Yoko Ono with one hand on her right tit while his hand is on a drugged out looking John Ono with his hand on Warhol’s crotch. The symbolism is quite clear. The standing Yoko
is the master of two emasculated males who happen to be two of the most influential men in the world. She ain’t no nigger no more, Maggie’s Farm is a thing of the past, yes, men are now niggers in relation to herself. Warhol as an artist takes precedence over the disposable oafish John Ono. Yoko is tallest and standing, Warhol is second tallest and sitting while the now disposable John is lowest, lying on his back. The future is clear. Study John’s face; study all three faces.
The sexually besotted John Ono has surrendered his entire identity even as a musician allowing Yoko Ono to usurp his place by putting out those horrid hideous LP musical montrosities. Robert Palmer aside, with song titles reminiscent of her head bashing days: What A Bastard The World Is, I Felt Like Smashing My Face In A Glass Window, Woman Of Salem (Witches), Coffin Car, Hell In Paradise and Walking On Thin Ice. Clearly this woman had an unsettled, disturbed mind.
Having usuped Lennon’s role and identity he became expendable. Her problem now was to transfer his past and his wealth to herself thereby becoming Yoko-John Ono, Double Fantasy. Two fantasies melding into her one personality.
John Ono’s finances were, of course, in complete disorder. As Yoko was soon to show billions of dollars were disappearing down a sink hole. She rapidly organized his finances turning his money green. Within short order the Onos were worth a hundred million or so which she would swell to a billion or more after John’s death.
I imagine it was fairly easy to have John Ono give her a power of attorney, indeed he forked over his identity allowing her to function in his stead as himself. An awesome abdication. A POA would negate the need for a will, and indeed having made herself not only co-owner of John’s assets as well as his identity Yoko Ono would merely acquire full ownership leaving no assets to be willed. Indeed, she could have turned him out penniless at any time. When Cynthia was clamoring for a reading of the will she was wasting her breath; if a will existed, unlikely in itself, there would have been no assets to bequeath.
Yoko Ono having now incorporated John Ono’s reputation and identity into her own had also incorporated the assets and with the assets the legacy of all copyrights held by John Lennon as the double fantasy melded into one fantasy. The only obstacle to Yoko’s apotheosis into man-woman was John himself as he was alive. However John was only thirty-five. To wait thirty-five years or more with a man she didn’t love or even like would be unbearable. Some hard thinking was in order.
She manipulated the poor dolt into thinking he was a boorish oaf who needed to go off to get himself together. Rather than just sending him off she chose an employee, May Pang, an Asian like herself, to be John’s consort while away.
In reading May Pang’s book, Loving John, it becomes clear that Yoko Ono was a master hypnotist. She knew how to make suggestions and have people act on them. Acccording to Pang she fixed an hypnotic glare on one, assuming an authoritative posture while intoning her suggestion. She had the reputation of always getting her way.
Of course her version of what happened is different than Pang’s. Yoko having suggested she go off with John, the act was soon consummated. Pang insists she and John were in love, yet a year and a half later when Yoko called John back he came running.
Thus, from 1975 to Double Fantasy in 1980 Yoko and John Ono were out of public life living as a double fantasy of Howard Hughes. Then in 1980 Mark Chapman became the man who shot John Lennon. There have been speculations that Chapman was hypnotized when he committed his deed. Conspiracy theories therefore have sprung up.
One must ask who the death of John Lennon benefited. Two possible people. Yoko One on one hand and possibly Chapman on the other. On the one hand Yoko Ono achieved the psychotic desire to escape being the ‘nigger of the world’ by becoming John Ono Lennon while physically remaining the sweet little girl she had been before the fire bombing of Tokyo. She was unable to manage the memory of that transformative experience. In her mind, then, she became the prominent artist-musician of the world.
I don’t believe the government had anything to do with the assassination.
As we know Yoko Ono was a master hypnotist; the question is how did she find Mark Chapman and how did she hypnotize him?
Earlier in the day Chapman had approached Lennon for an autograph. He can be seen worshipfully smiling beside his hero in the picture. There appears to be no indication he meant to harm Lennon. He might easily have shot him point blank at the time, yet when he came back in the afternoon with a voice in his head insistently saying: Do it. Do it. Do it. he gunned his hero down.
At the time Yoko Ono had dropped a few steps behind John. In similar murder attempts, people step away from the intended victim so as not to be caught in the line of fire. This may have been the case with Yoko.
Certainly Yoko is opposed to Chapman’s release from prison even though he has fulfilled the twenty year requirement of twenty to life. I doubt if he is a threat to society however he may be a threat to Yoko Ono if he were to remember or reveal the details leading up to his shooting of John Ono Lennon.
Of course, I don’t know why Chapman shot but I do know that Yoko Ono Lennon was the sole beneficiary. She left Cynthia holding the bag while she realized her double fantasy.
Dandelion: Memoir Of A Free Spirit
I looked at the sea and it seemed to say,
“I took your baby from you away.”
I heard a voice cryin’ in the deep,
Come join me baby in my endless sleep.
Ran in the water, heart full of fear,
There in the breakers I saw her near.
Reached for my darlin’, held her to me,
Stole her away from the angry sea.
-Jody Reynolds- The Endless Sleep
Des Barres, Pamela: Let’s Spend The Night Together, Chapter- The Elusive Miss James, Chicago Review Press, 2008
James, Catherine: Dandelion Memoir Of A Free Spirit, St. Martin’s, 2007
Dandelion by Catherine James is an excellent read whether you consider it a memoir, a novel, or based on a true story. As a memoir it is a little too sketchy, while as a novel it is a charming read with some effective, real touches of pathos. The tenderly related death scenes of her Grandmother and mother may not rank with the passing of Little Nell but they do choke you up a bit.
Dandelion was apparently written by Miss James unaided by a co-author. When one considers that she had no schooling beyond the seventh grade this is a remarkable achievement. In the explanation of her skill, apart from a native intelligence, at a rather advanced age she returned to Jr. College where she took a writing class apparently with good effect. After a remarkable childhood and youth she is now entering an equally remarkable old age, uh, maturity.
Miss James had a childhood a bit out of the ordinary in its horridness, a crazy mother, and a succession of housing changes including a stint in a reformatory and a couple years in an orphanage. My own childhood experiences parallel those of Miss James to some extent so I think I can write of her situation with some sympathy.
Miss james’ narrative is a coherent psychological whole progressing from beginning to end in an impressive manner, but I am only going to deal with the first half of her memoir.
I understand the following: Catherine’s mother, Diana, was vain of her appearance while aspiring to a recording and performing career. She did succeed in recording an LP titled Dian And The Greenbrier Boys. I’m guessing that she had no intention of having children but as she married at seventeen on an impulse Catherine is probably a result of that impulse.
Diana probably then resented her daughter for inhibiting her ability to realize her ambitions. She then took her frustrations out on her child. She apparently developed a Hydelike personality in relation to her child. Mad to the nth degree. On her death bed she c0nfessed to Catherine that ‘the witches got her.’ One assumes then that Diana was what in the old days was known as being ‘possessed’ by the ‘witches’ when she was around her child. In a manner of speaking she wasn’t responsible for her actions toward her daughter. She was severely psychotic.
By all rights Miss James should have developed into a schizophrenic. That she didn’t is the result of peculiarity of mind that I share. Like Miss James I had some difficult years and like her I was able to maintain a separate identity in a world seemingly insane.
When Catherine’s mother divorced her father she was placed in a high class orphanage, call it a boarding school perhaps, for a period of time. Understandably Catherine’s notion of time is hazily remembered at this period although she seems to have retained startlingly clear memories beginning from about the year two. Catherine has no memory of an explanation being given to her for the removal to the boarding school. It just happened one day. She was inexplicably dropped off where she remained uncontested by any of her family until one day Grandmother Mimi picked her up from the home. Catherine lived for perhaps two years with her grandparents without any communication from mother until for some reason her mother reclaimed her. Perhaps because she had remarried. The marriage flopped and after some time her mother took up with Travis Edmundson (deceased this year) of the Bud and Travis folk duo. Her mother had aspirations to be a folksinger having, as mentioned, actually recorded an album as Dian And The Greenbrier Boys. Dian was shortened from Diana. More exotic.
According to Catherine Travis was as bizarre as her mother with the result that at the tender age of ten or eleven she left the house. The police picked her up but she refused to give them any information. Stangely they sent her to Los Padrinos Girl’s Reformatory in Downey, California. She either was or believes she was committed until she was eighteen. This seems extraordinary to me, although stranger things have happened I’m sure. But to lock a very young girl up without charges, trial and sentencing for six or seven years boggles the mind.
With her child safely behind bars, Diana renounced her daughter making her a ward of the State. Good God! Talk about cruel and inhuman. One can’t be sure exactly what Catherine knew of what was going on but Diana and Travis refused to allow the girl to be released to her grandparents care. Since her mother had made the girl a ward of the State it isn’t clear what she would have had to say about it. Her grandparents now sought to reclaim her but after legal maneuvers the best they could do for her was to get her released to an orphanage. Orphanages are slight improvements over lockups.
Here Catherine becomes intentionally vague. Her grandfather was named Al Newman and he wrote musical scores for the movies. The only Al Newman who wrote for the movies I have been able to locate over the internet is Alfred Newman. Alfred Newman wrote scores for about a hundred movies receiving an incredible amount of awards. Catherine mentions that when she was staying with her grandparents a large number of Hollywood film people visited the home including Harpo and Chico Marx. I would assume that she is coyly indicating that her grandparents were the Alfred Newmans.
If that’s so then her mother’s maiden name was Diana Newman and Randy Newman must therefore be Catherine’s cousin. Now, she was placed in a country club Jewish orphanage. Her grandfather Al Newman, she tells us, was a benefactor of the orphanage, so she assumes that is what got a Catholic girl into a Jewish orphanage. If Al Newman was a benefactor then whether he was the famous Alfred Newman who was Jewish or not, Al Newman must have been Jewish. In that case it shouldn’t have been that difficult to place her in the Jewish orphanage. Even so, she says, she was not allowed to visit her grandparents on weekends. An inexplicable lack of clout, but this is Catherine’s story.
She implies that efforts were made to convert her from Catholicism to Judaism which she stoutly resisted. This all requires some clarification here. She nevertheless learned Hebrew and could at the time recite some Jewish prayers in the language. She was in the orphanage for about two years from eleven or twelve to fourteen.
Once agains this seems odd. Things are done differently in different places no doubt but I also spent a couple years in the municipal orphanage which was much less posh than the place she describes. She says they gave her good food; the food in our place was so execrable that I virtually didn’t eat for the two years. She implies she had rather been in a Catholic orphanage but I do believe I can disabuse her of that notion. An orphanage immediately declasses the inmates placing them outside society so that upon entry a child becomes a societal outcast.
In the municipal orphanage we were pretty free to come and ago as we chose provided we were back for dinner but even if we hadn’t I’m not so sure anything would or could have been done about it. We were a coed facility but the kids were moved out into foster homes at ten to avoid the inevitable sexual problems of old boys among younger girls and boys so I’m surprised Catherine was allowed to stay until she was fourteen.
I have a little experience with a Catholic orphanage. There was one down the street from our place. This place was a hell hole. The municipal orphanage had a chain link fence around it but the Catholic place had a ten foot high brick wall. The difference between that and Los Padrinos was non-existent. Los Padrinos guards probably were more lenient than the nuns and priests. The latter were not lovely people. We used to be invited to the Catholic home for special occasions like Catholic movies and other events. They used to show the Catholic kids what the world outside their institution looked like through the movies. Like they say, no matter how bad off you are there are others worse off but of course that doesn’t improve your own situation. I was very happy to return to the municipal home after visiting the Catholic home. I think I ran all the way back.
Theirs was a rough life. I’ll tell you a little story.
Catherine mentions that kids at the Jr. High she attended didn’t want to have anything to do with orphans. True in spades all over the world. We had this kid, all this happened to him in one year, who began the school year with the Catholics. Those kids were schooled on premises, I’m not kidding you, they never saw the outside world, never. His parents transferred him to the municipal home where he had to try to fit into the public school we were abused at. Then he was transferred back to the Catholic home. I was never so happy to see anyone leave as I was him. He was already stark raving mad. Then they transferred the kid back to the municipal home. Barely holding unto to my own sanity the bastard was pushing me over the edge when fate intervened once again and he was sent back to the Catholic home. I have no idea who or what he imagined he was by that time. I had enough trouble surviving in the public school without switching back and forth. Of course, with the right attitude it would have been a real learning experience but I hadn’t learned to dissociate like that yet. I lived in total fear he would return.
A couple years later after my mother remarried and we moved into a garage I was reading the paper where I read that this kid, having returned to his parents from the Catholic home, locked all the doors of the house one night and torched it incinerating parents, siblings and himself. I was shocked when I recognized who they were writing about. I understood the situation expliclitly. I had to keep my mouth shut of course but I lustily cheered what he had done although I certainly would not have burned myself up. What could they do to you that already hadn’t been done? It would just be a move from one institution to another. I’m sure this kid was thought of as the ‘monster.’ Nobody knew the trouble he’d seen, man’s inhumanity to man. Well, we all have our crosses to bear.
He was an extreme case but not that far gone compared to the rest of us. Getting to my point with Catherine. The boys in the orphanage tended toward violent reactions, rebillion as it was amusingly called. I would imagine most of them became criminals of one stripe or another. The girls on the other hand responded to their emotional neglect by offering themselves to anyone who would give them seemingly tender attention. And there were a lot of them waiting to do that. The fence of the orphanage was lined with perverts hitting on their preference- either boys or girls eight to ten years old. Cops said there was no way they could run them off. Free country. Whoever said this wasn’t a great country, right?
So, at puberty, Miss James fled the orphanage, unchaperoned, into the great wide world with an instiable desire to be loved and somehow regain her social status as provided by the Al Newmans. She fled into a world of rock ‘n roll where unlimited opportunites with guitar ‘gods’ existed. This was a unique historical opportunity to realize her desires. A couple years earlier…?
The story she tells must be a severely edited and corrected version of the reality. One wonders what really happened.
Let me explain the genesis of this review. I wrote a review of Miss Pamela’s ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ in which I was critical of Miss James’ claim that she met Bob Dylan while in an orphanage. She appended a comment to the review suggesting I reread Miss Pamela and then read her own book- Dandelion. As she said, she doesn’t make things up. All right. I did both. As I say, I am sympathetic to any former alumnus of Orphanage U. but you don’t want to drift too far off the band in your reminiscing; that way lies madness. Who wants to burn their own house down except for the irretrievably damaged- destroyed.
Miss James’ book of adventures is very tightly edited to produce a certain effect or opinion of the author while not all her memories check out. Not terribly unusual in itself but she tries very hard to convince you that she is absolutely truthful and accurate. I will say I’m getting a heck of an education checking her stories out though. As they fit in with my agenda I have no problem with that. The extension of my folk knowledge through the investigation of Bud and Travis has been very beneficial.
Miss James career was essentially from 1965 (possibly very late ’64) to 1970. That’s five years more or less. She managed to live two or three lifetimes in those years. Ah, the sixties, weren’t those the times though?
Her mother’s agent who was hot after a ten, eleven or twelve year old Catherine was named Jim Dickson (Catherine says some names have been changed so…but then there was a Jim Dickson, talent scout and producer who helped work up the Byrds around LA at that time.) He was working with the Byrds in ’63-’64 and he had something to do with Dylan according to Miss James. The orphanage would barely allow Al Newman, a large benefactor of the home to visit his grand-daughter and yet they allowed an adult unrelated male to pick a 13 year old girl up and drive away with her. Well, OK, if Catherine says so…
Dickson then took her to a Dylan concert. Dylan was in LA in May and/or June of ’63 for a short time according to biographer, Sounes, and again in ’64. In ’63 Catherine, who certainly must have looked young, if Dickson hadn’t told Dylan that she was 13, says that Dylan asked her to a party where he spent, she says, several hours sitting talking to her while ignoring the big girls and execs. Well, I don’t know, but I doubt it. I can’t imagine how Dickson explained things to the orphanage when he brought Catherine back in the wee small hours of the morning.
Dylan was interested in her, she says, to the extent that every time he came to town he called on her at the orphanage. These were in addition to the ’63 and ’64 visits so it is difficult to account for them. Hard to believe, but as we’ll see she says all these famous rock musicians beat a path to her door, she didn’t pursue them.
Al Newman’s influence with the orphanage notwithstanding his large contributions was pretty limited so that he would have been unable to prevent Catherine being sent back to the reformatory which was then proposed. One night she scooted out the back door to take her chances. Brave girl; I shudder to think of it.
She says she took two hours to hoof it down to the Troubadour Folk Club at the junction of Melrose and Santa Monica. Doug Weston founded the club in ’57 and this was early ’64. Catherine is usually shy about identifying the seasons so one can’t pinpoint time within any given year. She says because her step-father Travis of Bud and Travis was a performer there she was also allowed to perform at the troubadour as a twelve or thirteen year old. Seems like a trifle of a stretch; she gives us no idea of her repertoire, Mary Had A Little Lamb or whatever.
In two short hours the orphanage had missed her presence, not very likely in my experience, divined that she was headed for the Troubadour, called the plice who were already on the spot passing her picture around: Seen this here thirteen year old around here, anywheres? OK. Sure, why wouldn’t the cops have her photo already on file? Handy.
Rather than turning tail she slips into the club ascending the balcony to the right rear seat that just happened to be the only seat left. I didn’t get to the Troubadour until the early seventies. Saw Pentangle there. I din’t go back. The club was already on the way to becoming the rough place it became. Anyway I know where she’s talking about.
This girl cannot possibly have looked, spoken or acted any older than she was. She tells the guy next to her to pretend he knows her. She later describes this guy to be in his early twenties although he was only nineteen. He obligingly wraps his arm around a 13 year old. Alright! That’s a chance I wouldn’t have taken. Probably worth twenty to life in California and we had been terrorized at the prospect of statutory rape. That was when you looked cross eyed at underage which was against the statutes.
Catherine tells him all those cops swarming the place are after her. Can he get her out of there? Nothing daunted by anything like a statutory rape charge he throws his jacket over her shoulders and he and 13 year old Catherine stroll out right under the noses of the coppers. I think I saw that movie.
The Good Sam turns out to be the brother of John Stewart of the Kingson Trio, Michael. In 1964 he was up at San Francisco State where he was forming the We Five but at the time he hadn’t. You Were On My Mind was a year in the future. He first drops her off at a house with a whole bunch of guys way back in the hills but she was not afraid. Michael then drives her North to Mill Valley, remember those statutory rape laws if caught, and brother John’s house where she is taken in as a nanny, and California’s Most Wanted Child, for his kids. The Stewarts want to adopt her which is her cue to split. It is amazing how lovable this troubled child is.
As I say, I’ve been researching these astounding stories. The problem with this one is that John Stewart was single at the time not marrying until 1968 when he wed Buffy Ford. This story is definitely on the shaky side so that affects Catherine’s credibility a little more than somewhat.
Traveling to Berkeley with some ‘hippie’ kids she hit the high spot of fabled Telegraph Avenue. Hippy kids seem a stretcher in ’64. Now, we’re on home ground though. I was around Berkeley a bit from ’64-’66. she appears to be describing a later edition of Telegraph. In ’64 the street was in transition from trad collegiate to what it later became. It was the first time I had ever been panhandled. Some girl wanted 3.98 to get her dog out of the vet. Could have been Catherine for all I know. Naw, this girl was well past 13.
On Telegraph she chances into the son of Barbara Dane and Rolf Cahn. Cahn, a guitarist, is living up at Inverness on the ocean side of Marin County. The younger Cahn puts her up at a sorority, which might seem plausible unless you’ve met some of those stuck ups. To get her over to Inverness he invents the story that the police are passing pictures around. Well, they couldn’t find Patty Hearst a couple years later either. Not to worry, his bed in Inverness awaits. Just one look was all it too, having his fill of her he splits the next morning with no intention of returning. His dad also splits leaving her alone in the house. A different world than I grew up in, no offense. These things can happen, I don’t say they don’t, but ten or fifteen in a row is worthy of Guiness.
The next day this guy from Boston shows up looking for Rolf, he’s a music lover. Likes the stuff, flew out from Boston to listen to Rolf for an afternoon. He is vastly amused at this endlessly charming 13 year old offering to fly her back to Boston with him which offer she accepts.
Once in Boston she’s hot to get to NYC so someone going that way offers to drive her down to the East Village while Dr. Cummins, for that was his name, gives her a twenty for bus fare back. Am I going too fast? Catherine tells a fast paced story.
Now, in NYC where Dylan mostly hangs out she has to locate this lad who found her so charming in California. We’ve moved up from ’63 to very late ’64 or early ’65 so Bob is heading into the thick of his ’64-’66 epiphany. Thanks to Peter Paul and Mary he is now – Somebody. Things are rollin’ for Bob.
At this point Catherine tells two different stories. In her memoir she calls Woodstock where she says a woman answers and informs her that Dylan has gone on tour. In Miss Pamela’s book she says she asked some kids where to find Bob Dylan. Dylan obligingly pulls to a stop in front of her, slow moving traffic. She runs over to say hi. Dylan rolls down the window, coldly says he’s on his way to a concert, driving off. She made no further attempt to contact him and he would have been easy to find.
Alright, I read and reread. What am I supposed to believe?
So, this is 1965, the next five years are truly spectacular. Unlike any other groupie I’ve ever heard of the rock stars gravitated toward the now fifteen year old Miss James with no effort on her part. She doesn’t have to shriek for their attention or bare her boobs, she’s stunning and they come running. Here she makes another minor error. She says she sees Morrison and The Doors performing Light My Fire in NYC. A couple of years ahead of the facts. A small error doesn’t mean much but what about the rest.
From this point on in order to create an impression of herself Catherine severely edits the facts distorting the reality at the least, what one puts in, what one leaves out.
In ’65 she met Denny Laine, make-up naturally fooled him, although still young she is now 15. Close but still statutory. I’m surprised the Moodies were in the US in ’65 because Go Now, their first hit, didn’t make that big an impression. Still, on their website the Moodies describe themselves as part of the British Invasion. In my experience they didn’t hit until ’68.
The two met more or less formally at a party so the meeting was formalized rather than a groupie-star existential encounter. Catherine always wishes to create a meeting Southern Belle style where the stars are impressed by her as much as she is by them. “Oh, Rhett, you don’t mean it?’
Laine forms the central theme of her groupie years. She has a child by him which carries her into seventeen and 1967. It isn’t easy creating a time frame or setting for her cast of characters. During the three years 1967-1970 she has relations of some sort with the following without mentioning Bob Dylan who dropped off the radar in 1965.
Geno, partner in Granny Takes A Trip
+ Denny Laine
As you can see it is a regular A list. George Harrison could be included but she had no relations with him, just a friend.
Catherine doesn’t mention Geno or David Gilmour herself. Miss Pamela provides that in Spend The Night. The gig with Geno and Miss Pamela also took a couple months. Miss Pamela came to England with Geno’s partner. The four then took up residence together all sleeping in the same bed with baby Damian in a crib in the corner. He must have a Freudian memory or two.
Catherine artfully tells her groupie career bringing the story to a grand climax before she throws in the towel and tries to establish a life as a respectable hausfrau. The apex of groupiedom was Mick Jagger. A story made the rounds at the time of a groupie who finally made it to the bed of Mick. When asked how he was the next day, her reply was: Well, he was OK, but he was no Mick Jagger.
Catherine characteristically was wooed by Mick, herself doing no chasing. She was staying at Eric Clapton’s when Mick came over for a party. Catherine tells it this way:
I remember being engrossed in a book in the study when he peeked in and said: “You’re pretty.” With a blush, all I could think to say was a faint “thank you”, and went back to reading my book.
Just like a debutante Catherine was engrossed in her book. As the party got into swing and as the mescaline punch was about to hit Catherine thought to call Denny Laine while still coherent.
As I was speaking with Denny, Mick came into the room and closed the door behind him. I was seated at the desk in a regal, antique high-back chair with ornate carved arms. Mick walked up next to me and just stood there. He was wearing these delicious black-and-white checkered houndstooth wool trousers with a soft cotton white shirt. When I looked over, all I could see was the undulating moving pattern of the houndstooth. Mick didn’t say a word, but I felt the electricity. He was clearly waiting for me to get off the phone.
I think that’s pretty effective writing for a girl who barely finished grade school. Obviously she put her time to good use after giving up the life. Just picture sweet Lady Catherine sitting there as her Prince Charming came into her life, ‘regal, antique, high backed chair with ornate carved arms!’
The above passage is for the girls who never made it with Jagger. You can just hear Miss James cooing: Eat your hearts out girls.
Catherine not only has one night with Mick but moves into the mansion for ‘a couple of months’. The absolute untopable climax comes next.
For the event I wore my long, whimsical, gypsy dress from the posh Ozzie Clark’s boutique. The velvet bodice was formfitting, buttoning down to a billowing skirt of colored silk layers. My pale pink platform boots with appliqued silver cresent moons and stars from Granny Takes A Trip went perfectly with my outfit. Stevie Wonder was the hottest ticket in town, and I felt like a female divinity sitting between Mick and Eric, taking in Mr. Wonder’s stellar performance.
Yes, there was the fairy princess sitting with not one but two Prince Charmings watching Stevie Wonder. There was no way to top that so apparently Catherine’s philosophy was quit while you’re on top. I quite agree with her if you know when that is. And thus perhaps after having gratified one compensatory fantasy she returned to the US to begin her redemption by hard work. As she has written this book she apparently did that too.
After knowing all those rock gods so intimately I think it noteworthy that only Roger Daltrey deigned to write a blurb for the jacket. He and Miss Pamela.
The book was a very interesting read leading me to some other interesting discoveries that added substance to my understanding of the era. I have Miss James to thank for that.
As an alumnus of the orphanage, and believe me orphanages are all one form of horror story or another, I have solidarity with Miss James and wish her well. I’m sure everything she wrote was based on the facts but I still want some corroboration for the Dylan bit.
Miss James’ book has enjoyed some success. My copy is of the second printing so she sold out the first. At the last check the title was listed as about the 100,000th best seller on Amazon. I’m not sneering, mine is at about 5,500,000.
If anyone likes horror stories of this nature may I direct them to my description of an orphanage- Far Gresham Vol. I- that can be found at reprindle.wordpress.com. May I also direct your attention to my The Sonderman Constellation by R.E. Prindle published by iUniverse available through alibris, Amazon etc. I need some readers and sales too. I probably don’t need more than two sales to jump up to the 1,000.000th best selling. C’mon help a fellow out It’s a good book, you won’t regret it.
Here is corroboration for Catherine’s liaison with Mick Jagger. The following quote can be found on pp. 223-4 of the Tony Sanchez/John Blake memoir Up And Down With The Rolling Stones, 1979, John Blake Publishing (6.95) originally published as I Was Keith Richard’s Drug Dealer. Reprint 2010.
While I have no reason to doubt Catherine, corroboration is always a good thing. This corroborates both Mick and Eric Clapton. Quote:
Then along came Catherine. She was an exotic-looking Californian who’d enjoyed a brief affair with Eric Clapton. Eric introduced her to Mick at a party, and a couple hours later Catherine was tucked in Mick’s huge three-hundred-year-old bed in Cheyne Walk. The two of them stayed in bed for the next twenty-four hours, and after that, Catherine moved her things in.
Jan was piqued. She seemed to have fallen in love with Mick. Next to him other men lacked imagination and energy. I had seen other girls, even tough little groupies, entranced in much the same way, Jagger’s feminine qualities seem to give him an unusual insight into women, and he uses that insight to give him total power over them. But Jan said nothing- to do so whould be un-cool, and Mick hated uncoolness in women. Besides, she was a paid employee- no strings attached.
The friction between Jan and Catherine sent sparks flying almost every day. Jan hated Catherine because she had won Jagger’s body. Catherine hated Jan because she seemed to have captiviated Jagger’s mind. The situation was untenable, and when Mick was out, the girls would have bitter, screaming arguments. In his presence they attempted to feign sycophantic devotion. For Mick it was a perfect set-up. He had all the sex and company he wanted without involvement. Neither girl was secure enough to dare complain….
Mick loved to set them against each other until they were at the screaming point. It was as if he had become the person he pretended to be on stage, he needed his fans fighting over him, even in his living room. He was so egocentric now that he couldn’t love anyone except himself. He was emulating mad, debauched , oversexed Turner, the character he had played in Performance. With Marianne gone, Mick’s last link to earth was severed and his image swallowed him up. Michael Philip Jagger had ceased to exist. Now there was only Mick Jagger, Superstar, twenty-four hours a day.
The farce at Cheyne Walk couldn’t drag on forever. Mick’s cosy menage a trois came to a stormy close when he announced in August that the Stones were off on a tour of Europe and that Catherine would not be coming. “Sorry, darling.” he told her. “It’s a band rule, always has been, I don’t take my old lady on the road.”
…Catherine wept for days. She knew it was over. Jagger wanted her out of the house by the time he returned from the tour. All her dreams of being the next Marianne Faithfull were flying out the window. When the final explosion came she lashed out at Jagger, kicking, spitting, scratching and trying to tear his hair out by the roots. It was, of course, a very uncool thing to do. Catherine left quietly that night.
A slightly different version than Catherine’s which was ultra-cool.
By the way, disregard any negative criticism of this book. It is authentic. Sanchez was inside and his co-author, John Blake, was a very well informed, intelligent journalist from an outside perspective. Essential for Stones’ fans.
Another version of Catherine’s stay with Mick comes from Christoper Andersen’s Mick, Gallery Books, 2012. Anderson does not give his sources.
(Mick) preferring instead to amuse himself by rotating among the members of his floating harem. Among them: Janice Kenner, a stunning blonde from LA, ostensibly hired to be a housekeeper cook and “personal assistant”; New Yorker Patti D’Arbanville, a nineteen-year-old model and actress; another leggy California, Catherine James and Brian’s ex-girlfriend Suki Poitier.
Even for these women, there were limits when it came to sharing Mick. When one girl came upon Catherine James in bed with Mick at Stargroves, he merely suggested a menage a trois. James, furious, stormed out. After hastily making love to the interloper, Jagger spent the rest of the evening trying to talk James out of catching the next flight home. He succeeded, but it wasn’t long before James decided she “definitely wasn’t the right girlfriend for Mick. “Eventually I would have killed him in his sleep. I’ve a jealous nature.”
A different version than that of either Catherine or Sanchez. Anderson goes on to provide corroboration for Catherine’s account in which she called Mick after Bianca moved in. This paragraph refers to the account of Miss Pamela but is nevertheless confirmatory:
Now ensconced with Mick at Stargroves, Bianca began cleaning house. One by one, she ordered the other women in Mick’s life to stay away from her man. When Miss Pamela called, she was surprised when a husky voiced woman answered the phone. “You are never, ever, under any circumstances to call Mick, ever again.” Bianca said. “Get the picture.”
So, we acquire richly varied accounts of Catherine and Mick.
Ronnie Wood, Ronnie, 2007, St. Martin’s Press. This from Ronnie Wood page 69:
On the subject of women, on another Beck tour I fell for Kathy James, who is famous in rock and roll mythology because she was the original groupie. And absolutely gorgeous woman, believe me, she had a special feel for special musicians.
Philip Norman: Mick Jagger, Harper Collins, 2012 pp, 402, 405
For a time, just like Performance’s Turner, he had two live-in female companions, albeit in this case both Californian rather than French and polyglot Danish. The first to be installed, a bubble-haired blonde named Janice Kenner, had found herself alone with Mick in the back of his car and received a well-tried Jagger line: “Do you like waking up in the city or the country?” Replying “the country,” she had been spirited away to Stargroves, there acquitting herself well enough to be asked to wake up in the city with him as well. Soon afterward, he also brought home Catherine James, a solemn-looking twenty-two-year-old who had taken the same roundabout car ride via Berkshire. The two coexisted in Cheyne Walk without rancor, each fixing on a distinct role for herself” Catherine was Mick’s girlfriend while Janice was his cook, but available for the occasional “romp.” In fact, their easy relationship rather irked Mick, who preferred the women around him to be at loggerheads for his attention. One day, to their bemusement, he got them to plaster each other with strawberries and whipped cream like a polite English garden-party version of mud wrestling.
As further proof of his rather lonely state, he also asked “Miss Pamela” on the tour (she decided to return to her boyfriend, however) and took along one of Cheyne Walk’s two resident houris, his “cook” Janice Kenner. The other, Catherine James, was dismissed as she lay in bed, with a farewell kiss and instructions to lock up the house before returning home to California.
From Scaduto, Tony: Mick Jagger, Everybody’s Lucifer, David McKay Company, Inc., 1974. pp. 348, 349, 350.
Eventually, however, Catherine came along- introduced to Jagger by Eric Clapton- and she moved in, a replacement for Marianne in a way. Catherine is a Californian, outstandingly beautiful, but Janice didn’t think she was especially sophisticated. Catherine is a super-groupie, the elite of the groupies: Instead of flying on her own to meet a superstar, the superstars send her plane tickets so she won’t forget to come to them. Jagger impressed on Catherine the fact that she was living in a grand house, had a lot of money to spend on it, and must learn to be a real English lady, Janice recalls. But Catherine seemed to have no idea how to be a lady: she took to flickering her cigarette ashes on the floor because there was someone around to clean them up, Janice felt. Catherine appeared to be trying to play the role Jagger was forcing on her, telling Janice it was all so romantic to be Mick Jagger’s lady and how madly in love she was with him. And Janice thought: Mick’s not in love with you, he’s just interested in fucking you and having a good time. He’s fucking around with your head, and you’re going to be terribly hurt when you wake up. Jagger’s games made Janice angry, and she tried to warn Catherine about it, gently. Catherine refused to permit reality to get in the way of romantic dreams, Janice felt, and the two women started getting into arguments over it. Janice later said: “Mick knew it and loved it. he played it up and instigated arguments between us. I remember thinking: “The guy is fantasizing that we’re fighting over him.”
The Stones were going off on tour again- a month in Europe through September and part of October. Catherine appeared furious because she was being left behind, and even Janice was being taken along, a last minute assignment to help Anita take care of her baby because Shirley Arnold had sprained her ankle and couldn’t go. They were up in Jagger’s bedroom, packing his clothes for the tour. Catherine sat on the bed crying that she was being left behind, and Jagger seemed to be feeling sorry for her. He leaned over and stroked her hair very lightly. “Let’s go downstairs to the other bedroom,” he said. Turning to Janice: “Finish packing this shit.” They left the room, and Janice sat on the bed, lit up a huge joint, and thought: He’s giving her a farewell fuck. She sat there a long while, smoking, getting too stoned to finish packing. And she thought: I’m really glad he took her downstairs because it’ll make her feel a lot better; she’s done nothing but cry for days.
Suddenly, Jagger came rushing back into the bedroom, shouting: “I don’t understand her,” followed by a tall, willowy and very exotic woman, a friend who had dropped in to visit. She also shouts: “I don’t understand.” Catherine rushes in, screaming: “I hate you, I hate you.” And Janice, stoned, sits there thinking: It’s like a fucking movie comedy. When everyone quiets down, and the woman goes home, and Jagger leaves the room for moment, Catherine explains what the commotion was all about:
“We’re in bed, fucking.” she tells Janice, when in walks this bitch and makes some remark, and Mick invites her to get in bed with us. I guess I just got hysterical and I started screaming and kicking Mick and scratching. My last night in bed with Mick, and he wants another chick to join us.”
Hodkinson, Mark: Marianne Faithfull, As Tears Go By, 1991, Omnibus Press
On his visits to England, Jagger began sleeping with a succession of girls, and Stargroves, the grandiose emblem for Jagger and Marianne’s love, became the setting of his numerous one night stands. He had a longer romance with Suki Potier, a former girlfriend of Brian Jones, and spent several weeks in the company of a Californian girl called Catherine James.
Eric Clapton: The Autobiography, 2007, Broadway Books
On the first day, while I was sitting in the theater during rehearsals, watching the various acts do their turn, a very beautiful blond girl came and sat next to me. We struck up a conversation, and at some point she asked if I would like to stay with her while I was in town. She was gorgeous, and seeming to sense my shyness with women, did her best to put me at ease. Her name was Kathy, and she took care of me the whole time I was in New York.
She had her own apartment, and I moved in with her. She showed me around, taking me to the various places where I could tick off the list of things I wanted to experience. I remember her taking me to various coffee bars in the Village, and we went to one or two music stores, like Manny’s on Forty-eight Street She also took me to a big saddler’s called Kaufman’s which sold western gear, where I bought my first cowboy boots, and with this beautiful girl on my arm, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
December 1, 2008
Exhuming Bob XVII
A Napoleon In Rags
Hoffman, Michael, Judaism Discovered, 2008
Jay Michaelson: http://www.nextbook.org/cultural/feature.html?id=1725
Cornyn, Sean: http://www.rightwingbob.com/weblog/archives/1850
How does the ‘Napoleon in rags’, Bob Dylan, conceive himself in his role as a reformer of Judaism because that is what Messianic Judaism is. What does this believer in the Bible as the literal word of God see as his mission? One should note that as Dylan places the Bible above the Talmud he is a Rabbinical Judaic outlaw as Michaelson says. Did Dylan really just wake up one morning and say: ‘Oh L-ordy, I have crashed. I need the crutch of Jesus’ as Michaelson, Cornyn and Hartley suggest or was there an ulterior motive? Perhaps a conceptual idea if not a well thought out program.
Jay Michaelson, claiming to be a ‘secular’ Jew takes exception to ‘Messianic’ Judaism. What exactly is Messianic Judaism? The notion may take many readers by surprise; those who are only familiar with mainstream Judaism and Christianity. Most non-Jews don’t realize that Judaism has as many sects as Christianity.
For instance Dylan’s stance smacks of Karaitism. the Karaites are a Jewish sect that denies the authority of the oral law or Talmud and hence the Rabbis. They are outlawed as a cult. Messianic Jews accepting Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and hence the New Dispensation are and always have been by definition Outlaws, being outside THE LAW.
The Rabbi David M. Hargis of The Messianic Bureau International is quoted by Michael Hoffman in his Judaism Discovered p. 844:
“Messianic Judaism” is a means for subverting Christianity by incorporated reverence for the rabbis who are heirs to the religion and customs of the ancient Pharisees as recorded in the Talmud. The claim of Messianic Judaism is that historic Christianity is “pagan” and imbued with “gentile culture” needlessly alienating and offending Judaics who might otherwise convert to Jesus Christ. Their “solution” is to fashion a supposedly pagan-free form of Judaism that allegedly believes in Jesus. ‘We believe it would be the best and is ultiamtely necessary for all Jewish people to know their Messiah Yeshua, but we do not believe that God has called any Jewish person to become Gentile or Western Christian in custom. Rather, we believe it would be best and is ultimately necessary for Christianity to remove its pagan influences and return to the roots of Judaism, that is, to return to the way of Yeshua as He walked by example and set forth in His entire Word….However this does not mean that Modern Rabbinical Judaism does not have truth within it.”- Rabbi David M. Hargis & Messianic Bureau International, “Basics of Messianic Judaism.” www.messianic.com/articles/basics.htm (as of Feb. 25, 2008; it may be altered after that date.)
So it would appear that Messianic Jews want a return to pre-Pauline Jesusism deleting all non-Jewish influences in Christianity. These would include Platonic influences, the Dionysian Kyrios Christos, the Persian influences, Gnostic influences and the Egyptian influence that made Mary the Mother of God as patterned after Isis. In other words the Messianic Jewish Jesus would be one that Christians would scarcely recognize.
As can be seen by the title of Rabbi Hargis’ organization that it is an international one; indeed, Dylan’s outfit Jews For Jesus is international in scope. You can call that a conspiracy if you like as Cronyn and Hartley do.
It would be fair to assume that Mitch Glaser’s and Al Kasha’s organization, Jews For Jesus, also an international organization, is affiliated to, or at least is associated with the Messianic Bueau International in some way or other as like minded organizations. We know for certain that Dylan was and is associated with Jews For Jesus. A purpose of Messianic Judaism is to strip Western, that is to say “pagan” influences from the figure of Jesus returning him to the status of ‘pure’ Semite.
That is to say that the Greek cult of Kyrios Christos is to be abstracted so that Jesus is no longer The Christ. So the purpose of Messianic Judaism is to take back Jesus from the Christians while reuniting Messianic and Rabbinical Judaism. The messianics are willing to concede that there is some ‘truth’ in Rabbinical Judaism.
Dylan was not merely preaching Messianic Judaism to Jews but whiffing it past Christians also. It is true that he thinned out his audience rather quickly having apparently misjudged the religiosity of his following. As a Jew of Orthodox sensibiities Dylan, in his mission as Messiah, or King of the Jews as Michaelson styles him, would have to learn something of Christian beliefs and sensibilities. It would seem likely then that he approached Dwyer of the Vineyard Fellowship to pick his brains. The question then was Dylan exploited by the Christians as Michaelson believes or was Dylan exploiting the Christians?
A question then arises as to whether Dylan wasn’t ‘speaking falsely now’ when he said ‘he never wanted to be the voice of his generation, and he certainly never asked to be ‘King of the Jews’ or a vessel for our hopes and dreams.’ Can we believe the denial of this self-styled ‘Napoleon in rags?’ If Napoleon wasn’t a ‘leader’ who demanded following who has ever been? How mistaken could his contemporaries have been in taking this ‘Napoleon in rags’ as their spokesman. Can Dylan have changed direction in 1979 when he wanted to become a great Messianic spokesman leading his people to some Promised Land? What else could have been his intent in becoming a Jim Jones style religious preacher? ‘There’s something happening here and you don’t know what is, do you Mr. Jones?’
Dylan definitely confuses Michaelson who opines ‘his latest incarnation, as a mustachioed journeyman musician, is made of equal parts of authenticity and con’ and ‘Dylan, who always seems to be in on the con when he’s not perpetrating one himself.’ Indeed. Dylan does project a duplicitous character; speaks out of both sides of his mouth at once. Or once again as Michaelson understands it: ‘…like him, I think I can understand the appeal of authentic religious experience in the context of superficiality and doublespeak.’ Uh huh!
Thus Dylan’s double edged mission was and is to strip ‘Christians’ of their ‘pagan’ sensibilities- i.e. Western culture- while converting Rabbinical Jews to Messianism or Jesus. So, whether Cornyn and Hartley believe it or not, yes, there is a ‘Great Bob Dylan Conspiracy.’
It is embarrassing that at this late date in the evolution of human consciousness that Bob Dylan believes the Bible to be the literal word of God. Consciousness has evolved to that level that the sham of the Religious Consciousness should be apparent to all. Both Science and Communism have been proclaiming the falsity of the religion and extreme Jewish nationalism that Dylan affects for a hundred years or more.
I certainly have to reject the Religious Consciousness. As such I feel defrauded by Dylan’s early career and my attachment to it. Dylan willfully misrepresented himself, doublespeak, and cheated me as well as all his fans who thought he was enlightened. I was misled.
Sorry Bob, but you’re a fraud.
November 27, 2008
Exhuming Bob XVI
Bob Dylan’s Dream or…Nightmare?
I’ll let you be in my dream if you’ll let me be in yours.
When Dylan wrote those words, was he sincere or was it just part of the con? I was recently asked not ot contribute anymore to expectingrain.com by person or persons unknown. The webmaster refuses to identify he or them to me. Too ashamed to let their names by known, I guess. Or chicken. I know I’d rather not be known as a rasty, nasty censor.
I was ejected for voicing pretty much the same sentiments as Jay Michaelson does in the above referenced review of Joel Gilbert’s The Jesus Years. Maybe the difference between Jay and me is that I don’t think Dylan is such a mysterious elusive guy. Anybody with a little Freud under his belt has got Dylan pinned.
He suffers from a fairly severe depression while being very emasculated. He is so emasculated he can’t even fix on an identity for himself. His natal Bobby Zimmerman failed him so he apparently attempted to become Elston Gunn which he wasn’t able to sustain so he then became Bob Dylan which also became too much of a burden to him so he threw that identity up for grabs saying anybody can be Bob Dylan who wants it, then he became Masked and Anonymous eschewing any identity whatever. An empty suit.
If that isn’t clear to you then there is no reason for you to tackle Freud or psychology now.
So, what was the conflict? Duh. Could it have been that between his Jewish upbringing and his Christian milieu? Gosh, I don’t know, do you? Is there anything in his subsequent history that would suggest such a conflict? Let me think. I think there is, therefore I am.
Is there a conflict in the minds of Dylan’s disciples. Well, now there we’re on firm gound. Just listen to Jay:
There’s a telling moment in Joel Gilbert’s new (?) documentary Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus Years: an interviewee says that when Dylan became a born again Christian, he went, in two short years, from being an American Jewish hero to the “greatest apostate of the twentieth century”… But worse, because Dylan embodied a specific kind of liberal American Jewish hope that someone would speak truth to power, and that the world would listen. These were very Jewish dreams, and Dylan fulfilled them for awhile.
Damn, then it wasn’t anything I said as the messenger. I guess it was just not being Jewish that I shouldn’t have attempted to deliver the message. Right message, wrong face. Gee, I guess I can’t be in Dylan’s dream because I’m not Jewish. Whatever happened to One World, One Dream? Everybody being brothers? The Global Village? They didn’t think there wouldn’t be variations on the theme I hope. Well, no matter Dylan and his People can still be in my dream. I’m inclusive.
But Jay and his People themselves apparently feel excluded from Dylan’s dream also. Jay says:
Dylan never wanted to be the voice of his generation, and he certainly never asked to be King of the Jews or vessel for our hopes and dreams. (My italics.)
Wow! King of the Jews, Jesus Christ. I may have thought it but I didn’t have the cojones (My italics), Jay does and actually says it. Jesus, I’d be running for my life let alone being kicked off expectingrain.com.
Jay and his People just can’t seem to get it. Dylan never became a Christian, he became a Jew For Jesus. Jay even has the answer before him but his religious bigotry won’t let him see it: “Why did Dylan…record two religious albums proclaiming the word of G-d?” There you have it Jay. Dylan was conflating Jesus and God into one and then substituting G-d for Jes-s. Jesus is Christian, God is Jewish. Duh. For Christ’s sake, c’mon Jay.
Well enough of that. I’m sure you can’t stop laughing. Jay is supposed to be reviewing Gilbert’s documentary. Michaelson; is not either well read on his subject of Dylan or well researched. Maybe he smoked enough dope that he thinks he automatically knows everything about Dylan. I’ve seen it happen.
As far as the film goes, it may not be a particularly good movie but then it is a documentary and has to judged differently. As documentaries go I found it more than satisfactory. The clip art was an unusual special effect but I actually found some of them humorous. I wouldn’t have done it that way myself but Gilbert can do as he pleases and did.
Gilbert doesn’t mysteriously look like Dylan as Jay says. There is no mystery involved. Gilbert is trying to clone himself as Dylan; does a good job. He has a good understanding of his subject, after all he’s trying to be Dylan. His selection of subjects provided enough penetrating information that I have to think they were well chosen. Perhaps they were all that Gilbert could get, in which case the film maker drew them out well. Rob Stoner was the key. He was intelligent, understanding, and well informed- he knew what he was talking about. Kasha and Glaser gave you all the information you needed to understand the Christian-Jews For Jesus scam. Come on Jay, open your eyes.
Weberman has been saying that Dylan was a heroin addict since Christ was a baby. At least from 1964. It may have been true, I don’t know, but it didn’t have anything to do with Dylan’s crash. If Jay knew anything about his subject he would realize that the divorce was the key. Dylan had finally, after a life time of trying, become so defiled that he had to turn to God/Jesus to lead him back. I hope he found the way. Freud again.
For Michaelson who can’t separate his Jewishness from Dylan the problem is a paramount betrayal because ‘We’re (Jews) scarred and traumatized by two thousand years of Christian hegemony… So, there you have it, the cat’s out of the bag, couldn’t have said it better myself. Jay and his People thought Dylan was the Messiach who was going to establish a Jewish hegemony over ‘Christians,’ ‘speak the truth to power.’
I’m not so sure Dylan won’t still try but that has little to do with the documentary. The con and exploitation was not that of Dwyer on Dylan but Dylan over the Vineyard Fellowship. Dylan was using them to try to reach his fellow Jews in his faith of Jews For Jesus. As we are never tired of being told: Jes-s was a J-w. Case closed. Forget hegemony.
In summation Gilbert, in my estimation, did an excellent job for what he set out to do. I was properly instructed and…I got it. But, I was still kicked out of Dylan’s dream. He conned me too. What a nightmare!
November 26, 2008
You Really Turn Me On
Review by R.E. Prindle
Whitcomb, Ian: Rock Odyssey, 1973
I don’t suppose too many people today remember Ian Whitcomb. He surfaced in 1965 with his hit song
‘You Really Turn Me On. In 1965 I was a very old twenty-seven but getting younger every day. I saw Whitcomb once while visiting my wife’s relatives. Her young cousin was watching the Lloyd Thaxton show out of LA. I’d never heard of Lloyd Thaxton either but according to the cousin he was the hottest thing on TV. If I remember correctly the Kinks had just sung Dedicated Follower Of Fashion that I thought was very OK. The Ian came on and did his breathy falsetto androgynous song: You Really Turn Me On. At one point after suggestively fondling the microphone stand he shot down out of sight like a tower from the World Trade Center resurfacing moments later. Pretty startling stuff at a time when nearly every new group was an actual mind blower- The Rolling Stones, Animals, Dave Clark Five and this was just the beginning. More and even stranger and stronger stuff was to follow quickly only to begin a slow fizzle even as it peaked ending in the Rap and stuff that passes for music today. A very old Bob Dylan trying to bring light into the heart of his growing darkness. After the startling sixties came the sedentary seventies. But then Whitcomb disappeared like his fall from the microphone stand and I never saw or heard of him again. A true one hit wonder.
Years later I came across his LP Under A Ragtime Moon. Then I knew why he had disappeared. He was into that English music hall stuff. But then, I didn’t mind that. He sounded quite a bit like one of my personal favorites The Bonzo Dog Doo Wah Band. Of course they didn’t really get that far with that stuff either. You have to be a member of the cult to really dig it. In order to like the Bonzos you have to have a fairly eccentric side to your musical taste. A little out of the mainstream which is where I preferred to live my life. I thought the Bonzos were wonderful, still do. But I was pretty much all alone out there. I liked and like, Neil Innes and the late great Viv Stanshall, two of the Bonzo stalwarts. ‘Legs’ Larry Smith. Ragtime Moon lacked the modern rock foundation the Bonzos infused into their music but to this day I couldn’t tell you whose version of Jollity Farm I’m familiar with. Anyway I have a soft spot for this sort of thing so over the years I’ve played a side of the Bonzos fairly often and dusted off my copy of Ragtime Moon occasionally.
You Really Turn Me On always stuck in my mind, great song. Kinda struck my lost chord and made it gong into the distance. If you’re only going to have one hit you might as well make it a good one. And then for some reason, I don’t know, I googled Whitcomb and saw that he’d written a few books, including this autobiographical sketch cum pop history so, as it was cheap on alibris, I sent for a copy. I was delighted with the volume as I read it through. As biographies go this is one of the better ones, right up there with Wolfman Jack’s not to mention that of that phony Jean-Jacques Rousseau although I stop short at Casanova. Casanova is one hard one to top. As a history of the period it is more balanced and beats the hell out of that crap from the Boys Of ’64.
Ian took offense at being a one hit wonder; he really wanted to be up there with, say, Jim Morrison of the Doors, Mick Jagger, people of that ilk. I have to believe that stories Ian tells are true although some are stunningly improbable but then those things can and do happen that way, you know. It’s all in how you see what goes on around you. Toward the end of the book he’s pondering on where he went wrong, he’s sunk into a fair depression over this, he flees from his apartment in his pajamas one early morning to take a stool in a coffee shop. That’s depression. But, let Ian tell it in his own inimitable fashion. As improbable as it may seem he took a stool next to Jim Morrison who recognized him first.
When ‘Light My Fire’ had reached number one, Jim had gone out and bought a skintight leather outfit. At the Copper Skillet, it wasn’t so skintight anymore.
“How do you do it?” I asked.
“I never dug Jerry And The Pacemakers. How do I do what?”
I wanted to kick myself for bringing up my obsession with pop success, but I plowed on: “How do you stay intellectual and still be a hit with the kids, the masses?”
“You could have done it. You were into the theater of the absurd. I saw you on ‘Shindig’ and ‘Lloyd Thaxton’ goofing off and telling the audience that rock n’ roll was a big joke. That the whole of existence is a big bad joke. You were too comic. Tragedy’s the thing. Western civilization is ending and we don’t even need an earthquake; we’re performing crumble music for the final dance of death and you know what? Truth lies beyond the grave. I’ll pick up the tab.”
I couldn’t have put it better. Ian’s problem was that he was working from a different ethic. He didn’t understand that the singer and the song was the show, the whole show. Nothing else was needed. We were only there to see the singer sing his song. It’s nice to know that Jim and I were watching the same Thaxton show together. If I hadn’t seen Ian on Thaxton I wouldn’t have been as impressed because on that show singer and song were a single projection.
Due to the wonders of the internet I was recently able to catch several versions of Ian’s song but not the Thaxton one. One had him and a half dozen other guys charging around a series of pianos. Completely missed the point of the singer and his song. Not even good entertainment. Ian considered himself an entertainer bacause of a childhood encounter with a music hall comic named O. Stoppit. Fateful encounter. Because of it Ian wanted to be a comic, ended up a singer and as Morrison noted the two were too dissimilar to work.
Ian was probably headed for depression from the age of five or six or so as he came to terms with bombed out London in ’46 or ’47. His biographical sketch is a wonderful tale of a seemingly cheerful man’s descent into a deep depression. By book’s end Ian is nearly out of his mind.
He quotes a psychoanalyst for his definition of depression:
It was the great Serbian psychoanalyst Josef Vilya who concluded that chronic depression is the result of a head on collision between dream and reality. The patient dreams of becoming King but goes on to become a member of the tax paying public.
That’s probably what Morrison meant by tragedy. Life always fails to meet our expectations so that humanity responds by assuming at least a low grade depression that makes comedy an adjunct to tragedy. Thus in the Greek theatre there was a terrifically depressive tragic trilogy followed by some comic relief. The burlesque of an Aristophanes.
Ian’s problem was as Morrison noted that he saw the absurdity of the human condition but was too jokey about it. Absurdity is a serious thing and has to be so treated. O. Stoppit taught Ian a silliness unmixed with tragedy. A tragedy in itself. When silliness such as You Really Turn Me On met the tragedy of a one hit wonder Ian began his descent into depression as Vilya suggested.
I’ve never been depressed myself, never had the blues, but I have visited the lower depths as a tourist so I have some notion of what Ian’s talking about. Dirty Harry in drag. I just never got off the bus that’s all, except once, to walk through Haight-Ashbury where I saw first hand how horrible true depression could be. Boy, did Ian find out about that. Good thing he never found his Debbie.
In his narrative combining grim humor with his developing depression Ian gets off some rippers. I had a good many uproarious belly floppers. Try these few lines. Two good ones in succession. You do have to have the same sense of humor. The North and South are those of England.
These frightening stories of Southern travelers stranded in woebegone depressed cities and suffering under the rough natives. For example a well known Shakespearean actor, having missed the last train out of Crewe, knocked on the door of a hotel. “Er, do you have special terms for actors?” the traveler asked. “Yes- and here’s one: Fuck off!”
And if they weren’t being aggressive, the Northerners were acting daft. One heard of a Lancashire lad down in London demanding another helping of dressed crab (in the shell): “Give us another of them pies- and don’t make the crust so hard.”
Of course Ian can’t do that on every page but laughs are liberally sprinkled throughout the underlying depression.
Ian’s book opens with his youthful encounter with O. Stoppit and ends with another unifying his theme nicely.
In between Ian enters the world of rock almost serendipitously with his one hit song: You Really Turn Me On. After that his story is a search for a sequel that he can never find but which he pursues somewhat as Alice down the rabbit hole. He loved his one brush with fame so much that the clash between his cherished hopes of finding his sequel and the grim reality of not being able plunges him deeper and deeper into depression. Personally I would have gone out and found a songwriter. There were thousands in LA.
However his odyssey, as he calls it, Brave Ulysses ne Ian, led him through the heart and soul of the Golden Age of Rock And Roll from the Beach Boys and Beatles and Rolling Stones through Morrison and the Doors, Procol Harum, Cream, Pink Floyd, Donovan, you know, like that. After that crescendo followed the diminuendo ending in Rap and the current rather laughable music scene.
Ian has encounters with the aforementioned Morrison, Mick Jagger and others. His observations of the social scene are trenchant. He makes an acute observation do in place of a couple hundred pages of twaddle a la Todd Gitlin and Greil Marcus.
Along the way he sprinkles the little known odd fact:
Procol Harum is Latin for ‘beyond these things.’ Have no idea what that has to do with Procol Harum’s music.
…the name Pink Floyd was taken from a record by two Georgia bluesmen named Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Amaze your friends with that one.
And in conversation with Bobby Vee he confirmed a question about Bob Dylan that I needed confirming:
The afternoon I taped “Hollywood A Go Go” a syndicated TV rock n’ roll show that’s allegedly seen as far away as Rhodesia and Finland. The set was sparse- cameras, lights and a few rostrums. The empty spaces were filled with boys and girls who danced or gazed. All the acts had to lip synch their records. Chubby Checker (the Twist King) was on the set and, when he heard my record he pronounced it “bitching!” Bobby Vee was a special guest and looked every inch a star in his sheeny silk suit. He really had his hand movements and head turns down to an art. We chatted during a break and I brought up the subject of Bob Dylan and my concern about him. To my amazement, Vee told me that Dylan- before he got into the folk kick and when he was plain Bobby Zimmerman back in Minnesota- had played a few gigs with Vee’s band- as pianist! Vee said Dylan was very good, in the Jerry Lee Lewis sytle, but he could only play in C. He said he knew a lot about country music, too. As it was hard to find pianos at their gigs Dylan didn’t play with Vee very long. But as he has fond memories of him and said he was really well versed in current rock n’ roll at the time of their meeting. He had the impression that Dylan was very hip to whatever was happening. ;I wondered if the young Zimmerman had ever been a Bill Haley fan.
So, that would confirm that Dylan did play with Vee in the summer of ’59 after his graduation.
The book is a great read, a very good book, as Ian struggles and fails to find success. In a fit of depression he returns to the seaside pier on which he had seen O. Stoppit. An old poster is hanging that he secures then finding his model’s address he visits him to present him with the poster. O. Stoppit tells him bluntly to stop living in the past. A fine thing to tell a historian but Mr. Stoppit was apparently a blunt, unfeeling brute. Also well past the sunny side of life.
Has Ian ever adjusted to his being a one hit wonder? I’m afraid not. It still rankles. As late as December 1997 in an essay written for American Heritage Magazine Ian quotes a letter from fan Arlene:
Dear Mr. Whitcomb:
I have watched you several times now and I want to say that sure you have talent and you’re magnetic, but why, oh, why, do you screw it all up by horsing around, being coy, by camping, as if you’re embarrassed by show business? You could be great if you found your potential and saw it through, but that would take guts. Instead you mince, and treat it all as big joke. Come on now!
Well, that was the same thing Morrison told him thirty years earlier; the vaccination didn’t take then either.
I think Ian entered his depression early in life, as many of us do. Then one has to face it. Some become phony chipper optimists in their attempt to overcome the conflict between expectations and reality. Some become goofs and jokers. Something I fought for years. Some like Ian become silly. The most extreme type of this I ever saw was Red Skelton the ‘great’ clown who was painful for me to watch. In fact I couldn’t do it. I saw too much of myself in him and ended up hating the bastard.
If Ian wants that second hit and more he has to master his silliness. Weld the singer and the song like greats like Jagger and Morrison. Be to some extent what his fans want. A good sense of humor on songs done with respect for the song, himself and his audience. Scratch Red Skelton. People want to love Ian, just as Ian wants to be loved, but as the saying goes, he won’t let ’em. I’m not criticizing or demeaning, I know where that’s at too. I am recommending the course of action however. I, Arlene, Jim of blessed memory and others want a sort of closure that has been left hanging.
The book is a great one through Ian’s struggles to come to terms with his times, himself and the future.
October 12, 2008
Fits 1 & 2:
Bob As Messiah
The scientist who yields anything to theology, however slight, is yielding to ignorance and false pretenses; and as certainly as if he granted that a horse-hair put into a bottle of water will turn into a snake.
– H.L. Mencken
I had planned to write further on Bob’s religious development after ‘Lubatitcher Bob’ at some time but the row caused by Sean Curnyn of Right Wing Bob has focused my mind wondrously.
Before getting to Bob per se I will have to discuss the flap caused by Curnyn who is something of a sidewinder. Basically this is a contest between religious superstition and scientific investigation. Facts conflict with belief and in the resolution one or the other has to give. Since superstition cannot stand up to fact religion has to be the loser whatever name it goes by. No matter how many violent names you call the scientist the facts remain the same.
Curnyns vitriol can be found in full at his site: http://rightwingbob.com.
I quote relevant parts below:
I didn’t happen to notice it yesterday (no date but probably 10/10/08) but it was brought to my attention in an email last night by reader Dovid (Dovid not David) Kerner, who tells me that he sent the following to the webmaster of ‘Expecting Rain’, Karl Erik Andersen.
Regarding your printing the link to Exhuming Bob X: Lubavitcher Bob.
I love your website but this one shouldn’t have been printed- it’s really written with an violent anti-Jewish slant. Here’s the reply I left on the site.
<<Is it true that as you say there is “a Jewish world organization” which realized they had something in Bob Dylan and gave him maximum publicity?
And are the Jews taught, as you write, that they “are to rule the world and the peoples?” Or does the biblical term “chosen people” mean that Jews are to set an example for the rest of humanity? (I just finished a whole day in synagogue (Yom Kipper) and I don’t recall praying for Jews to rule the world.)
Your claims sound vaguely familiar- The Protocols ring a bell here.
Shalom and Happy New Year.
I think you (expectingrain) should put an apology/warning to your readers regarding the matter.
Otherwise, thank you and keep up the great work.
As of this time of writing, the gjy who posted the orignal article hasn’t published Dovid’s comment (which really doesn’t suprise and the guy deserves to be ignored) and Karl Erik has not either taken down the link to the anti-semitic article, nor added any note about it. This disappoints.
Well and good. But this Dovid Kerner fellow, if there is one and he isn’t Sean Curnyn, lied about making a response on my site, I, Dynamo. He didn’t do it, hence no reply.
Sean Curnyn did leave a cryptic comment on my site that said nothing. I decided to check into his site. Lo and behold I found the above denunciation. When I checked Curnyn’s site for a response box I found to my dismay that there wasn’t one. Curnyn is apparently so insecure that he doesn’t welcome comments. Might be critical of him, I suppose. However, I did find an email address tucked away in an obscure place with a warning that he might publish emails. I had no choice but to ignore the warning and send him an email.
My first follows:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I received your cryptic message to my posting, Lubavitcher Bob, and have permitted it as I do all postings. You say that your reader Dovid Kerner left a comment on the LB posting. Maybe he thought he did but yours is the first notice I’ve received.
My suggestion is that you leave a response on the LB posting so that it can be responded to and that the readers may be informed of the dialogue rather than this sort of sneak email attack you’re undertaken.
I will say at this time that you apparently know nothing of either religion or Judaism or you wouldn’t make the silly comments you’ve posted on your website Right Wing Bob.
If it is any help to you I have sat through many hours of synagogue and am quite familiar with the content of the sermons.
The purpose of my essay that expecting rain courageously, apparently, published, is an attempt to get to the bottom of Bob’s career and what it means. If you disagree with me and wish to start a dialogue respond in the comments to my posting. If you don’t post I will have no choice but to think you are a coward and obscurantist. Your reader Dovid Kerner is welcome to join in if he has the courage. So far he has misrepresented to you and you have misrepresented to your readers that I have refused to reply to him.
I demand an apology and retraction which I know your kind never gives.
Thank you for time and attention.
As you can see I openly challenged Both Kerner and Curnyn to respond and that I would reply.
Naturally neither did. I received no apology or retraction. I sent a second email:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I have just rechecked your site and find no apology or retraction and you have left the false posting on your site.
I’m tapping my foot, Sir or Madam. My patience is wearing thin. Get on it.
Still no response. I sent a 3rd email:
Dear Sir or Madam:
You have now had several hours to apologize, issue a retraction and remove the slanderous post from your site. As you apparently refuse to right your wrong that you have committed against me I have no choice but to believe that you and Dovid Kernen are in collusion to defame me.
Your characterization of Lubavitcher Bob as ‘a piece of screwball Jew-hating screed’ is offensive and unintellectual in the extreme. Such filth is apparently characteristic of you and your site. As usual with those of your ilk you refuse to answer to the content of my essay and resort to ad hominem defamation.
Your kind disgust me.
I now feel free to write a rebuttal and expose you for the anti-social left-wing bigot that you are.
You are a disgrace to the internet.
As of this date (10/12/08) I have received no reply from either party. I don’t expect to. That is the background. I will now attempt to refute Kerner and Cronyn’s defamations.
The boys from Right Wing Bob seem to have been expecially offended by my notion of an International, world, or global Jewish organization. I am absolutely astonished that they think, or pretend to, that one doesn’t exist. All religions have a central authority.
Let us consider the Moslems first. Mecca is the world center of Moslemism to which all Moslems are expected to make a pilgrimage to look at the meteorite at least once in their life. While unity is not conspicuous in developed religions, yet the Arabs of the Arabian peninsula generally have charge of the Moslem religion. The Saudi Princes are directing the worldwide proselytization efforts of the religion.
Now as to Christianity in its two forms with which we are most familiar, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. I am not well informed on the conditions or intent of the Greek or Russian Orthodox churches.
Roman Catholicism like Moslemism is a global organization exercising some sort of authority over the faithful in all its dominions from its global administration center in the Vatican near Rome. Like the Moslems its goal is to convert all people of whatever relgious stripe to its faith.
The Protestants while splintered have their various administrative headquarters from whch they seek to proselytize the world.
The parent organization for Moslemism and Christianity is Judaism. Together these three religions form the Semitic group of religions.
If the former two didn’t borrow their organizational ideas from Judaism that would be odd indeed. Failing that one would think that Judaism would conform to its offspring and organize internationally along the same lines. if fact, they always have. Why Messers Kerner and Curnyn are offended by the notion and wish to deny the obvious baffles me. That they should respond to the innocuous suggestion by defaming me as an anti-Semite does not speak well for either their breeding or intelligence.
Judaism’s two sister religions are intent on proselytizing the world. Once completed the Moslem Arabs would be the directors of the theocratic state as a superior people. Christianity’s Roman Catholic priesthood would enjoy the favored position if it achieved its goal. Under Judaism the reward for having brought mankind to thier vision of God would also, as a nation of priests, be to administer the affairs of mankind. What could be more obvious? That is the meaning of the phrase, a nation of priests. That is what it means to be ‘the Chosen People.’ What else could it mean?
Moslems and Christians wish to proselytize while Jews don’t. I hope Messers Kerner and Curnyn won’t disagree with that and won’t call me all the terrible names they can imagine because I point out this obvious fact. Therefore the Jews have to establish their priestly dominion by other means. They must persuade in some form or manner the peoples to accept their leadership or dominance. this has always been the thrust of Messianic Jewish politics.
In 1972 Naomi Cohen published a history of The American Jewish Committee entitled; Not Free To Desist: The American Jewish Committee 1906-66. The meaning of the title is that Jews are Not Free To Desist from the task of achieving the goal of establishing the priesthood over the peoples. No one individual is expected to complete the task in their lifetime but none are free to desist from moving it along.
Messers Kerner and Curnyn can deny this if they wish but to do so is to be merely perverse.
Now, to be the Chosen of God must necessarily imply that the Chosen are better people than the rest and are therefore entitled to rule. Indeed, Even Kerner admits this when he says: ‘Or does the biblical term ‘chosen people’ mean that Jews are to set an example for the rest of mankind?’ To set an example is to be better so Dov defeats his criticism of me.
The Rabbi who instructed Bob was undoubtedly a Lubavitcher from Brooklyn. The leader of the Lubavitchers was a man named Rabbi Schneerson. We are informed that Rabbi Schneerson in addition to being a great religious Rabbinical scholar also had scientific degrees from secular universities. Back in the forties of the last century genetics seemed to have been his forte because he asserted with great confidence that Jews had a special gene that made them more intelligent than any other people in the world. Undoubtedly that was how they intended to set an example for the rest of humanity. Thus Jews were singled out not only by God as the Chosen of Heaven but by evolution right down here on earth.
So, while I appreciate that Curnyn may believe my essay ‘a piect of screwball Jew-hating screed’ I have to say that Sean Curnyn is an ignoramus of the first water without either the background or education to understand what I am saying. Indeed, as the Bobber says: ‘don’t criticize what you can’t understand.’ Kerner and Curnyn should heed the Bob’s advice.
But as to Bob and Rabbi Reuben Maier who as a Lubavitcher was educated by Rabbi Schneerson.
Fits 3 & 4 follow in another posting.
August 9, 2008
Exhuming Bob 12:
Bob And The Middle Class
I was rewatching Martin Scorcese’s No Direction Home today. I was struck by the various reporters’ insistent demand to know what Bob was trying to say in his music. Bob seemed genuinely mystified at the time being apparently no more enlightened at the time of Scorcese’s interview.
I offer a suggestion, no more. Bob, says in the interview that he had slipped through the net meant to keep he and his ‘type’ out and now it was too late to do anything about it. I know what he meant. He and his style, viewpoint, were antithetical to everything acceptable in culture. The later TV creation of the Monkees that imitated, and in its way mocked, the Bohemian Dylan style was the acceptable pop mode of ‘protest’ songs.
Whether Dylan realized it or not he, in his songs, said everything the middle class did and thought was wrong, and further that they were all ‘assholes.’ Something happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you? I’m smart and you’re dumb. Whether he meant it that way or not, that was what they heard. That is what I heard but I didn’t disagree with him I wanted to be in the chorus and sing along. I knew exactly what Bob meant even if I couldn’t articulate it any better than he could.
Bob, in his arty way put things in such terms that so disguised what they believed was his real intent, they did understand, that he left them no convenient handle to denounce him. So what they wanted Bob to say when they asked ‘What do you songs mean?’ was ‘Well, all my songs mean I know better than you all do and besides you’re all assholes.’
At that point they would no longer have to take him seriously and could denounce him. ‘Oh, so YOU think YOU know more than the rest of us, do YOU? Well, there’s something happening here and YOU don’t what it is do YOU, Mr. Dylan? Well, let us tell YOU Buster…etc. etc.’
When people say that something new was introduced into pop music it wasn’t necessarily the ‘poetry’ or oddball language but his reviling of how the conventional mind works.
Bob said he slipped through. He could never have passed vetting for pop stardom by Tin Pan Alley so he managed to slip through anyway and destroy those who would never have given him a chance.
From his cornucopia sprang the ‘singer-songwriter’ genre that completely bypassed Tin Pan Alley. From his condemnation of the middle class sprang the rancorous Punk music of the seventies. From his denunciation of ‘a world gone wrong’ sprang the Negro rap music.
Call it a revolution if you want but it was just an underclass by some sort of heat convection bubbling to the surface. The sounds were commercially viable meaning that they made money for the labels. CBS could happily sell the ‘revolution’ on one hand, Johnny Mathis on the other and classical music strapped to its back.
I hope this makes sense to you.