A Review

Wonderful Tonight:

George Harrison, Eric Clapton. And Me

by

Pattie Boyd

Review by R.E. Prindle

Boyd, Pattie:  Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, And Me.  Three Rivers Press, 2007

Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. The sixties fixation on young girls,

The darkest hour is just before dawn.

There’s one thing I want you to do

Especially for me.

And it’s something everybody needs…

Whisper a little prayer for me.

–Bass, Ralph. Pauling, Lawson

 

One needs a little encouragement in the black night of the soul.  One needs a little encouragement amidst the trials and tribulations of life.  The way is dark, the night is long and who knows what is waiting at the end of the road.  All the mythological heroes went through a period of madness.   Most likely at the mid-life crisis.  The greater the stresses the more difficult to avoid errors.  Why judge others so harshly when neither you nor I could have done better in the same circumstances.  If a person  is of good will and not ill why not be a little forgiving?  Especially if no crimes are committed.

As Pattie points out, when manager Brian Epstein died the Beatles were suddenly on their own.  To that time Brian had managed all the details, business as well as personal leaving the Beatles to do what they did best, write, record and perform songs.  The relationship had been perfect of its kind.  Given that the Beatles were now major successes rather than fledglings it would have been nearly impossible for them to put together a management team.

Of course, the Beatles were no businessmen.  In the attempt their musical skills were compromised while the business end could not prosper.  Cares such as they had not known descended on them.  Nor, did they understand that the smallest action or word of theirs would reverberate around the world.  They were no longer able to say or do what they pleased.  Millions of vulnerable young people and unstable adults hung on every word giving them whatever interpretation suited them best.  McCartney’s song Maxwell’s Silver Hammer did uncalculable damage.

When the Beatles closed their boutique waves of reaction crossed the world.  It was said they opened the doors and invited anyone to take what they wanted.  Away off in Keseyland on the West Coast of the US where I owned a record store a wave of kids descended on my store asking if everything was free.  These were zany times where everything was possible so, mystified, I asked why they would think that.   I was told the Beatles had just given away everything in their store and why wouldn’t I?  I became a bastard for not following the Beatles lead.

So, when Pattie noticed a change in George when they came back from India it was probably caused by business cares, a new reality that neither he nor the others knew exactly how to deal with, nor was there time to learn.  Those stresses, in the way of the human mind, are converted to sexual expressions.  In George’s case he began to mumble about having a lot of concubines.  A pretty normal reaction that he may never have acted upon.  I’m sure that when he showed up with Chris O’ Dell in tow it may have seemed like the first step. (See Chris O’ Dell’s auto for a fuller description.)  Chris became Pattie’s friend denying any relations with George, at least during her extended stay with the Harrisons, although after Pattie’s divorce the two came to terms.  But, for now she and Pattie became bosom buddies shopping and cavorting together.

What a wonderful time to have unlimited money and a huge mansion to furnish.

While the sixties are primarily thought of for the groups and records that was only one component of that truly wonderful and amazing time, at least looking at the bright side of  the penny.

P.F. Sloan, who penned Eve Of Destruction, titled one of his own LPs Raised On Records.  The title explained the generation.  Starting with perhaps Johnnie Ray leading on to Elvis the history of our generation was written by recording artists rather than novelists or even movies.  You might question starting with  Johnnie Ray but he was the first mind blowing departure from the norm.  Mind blowing explains the whole period.  Rock’s John the Baptist preceding the Jesus of Elvis.  A trail of great records led up to the British Invasion when the world tipped on its axis.  It was one mind blowing act after another.

First the Beatles upset the elders, long hair but clean  cut.  Then came the not so clean cut Rolling Stones with the weirdest thing you ever saw on stage, Brian Jones.  You couldn’t take your eyes off him.  Fantastic hair and the strangest clothes.  Mick probably had to get rid of the competition.   If the Stones weren’t bad enough they were followed by the appropriately named Animals.  The name said it all sending the old folks wild with gnashing teeth.  But backed up by Dylan and Peter, Paul And Mary the group mind was conditioned to move in the same direction in unison.

Beardsly  Nineties decadence meets the sixties

As Pattie says, she found the most wonderful art nouveau artefacts.  Indeed, Aubrey Beardsley, Alphone Mucha, Toulouse Lautrec, god, even the names, whoever heard of anyone named Aubrey?  The art focus shifted from that NY art junk.  Travel posters had been a staple for several years but now other posters began to augment them, Peter Max, East Totem West, the Fillmore and Avalon posters and the most spectacular of all- the giant personality posters.  Originally the posters were blown up real grainy so that if you stood close the picture wasn’t visible but stepping back and then back further the portrait emerged.  Drove the old folks wild, mytified the less hip; minds weren’t prepared.  Although by that time Telstar was old hat, and men had walked on the moon.  The impossible was no longer impossible, anything was possible and it kept happening.  Andy Warhol and his Campbell Soup can.  Good god.  Remember the Robert Indiana LOVE poster with the lopsided O?

Robert Indiana- Love

In the US the tax laws were such that you could make money on records and books without turning a profit.   Publishing exploded.  Nifty expensive art books of the strangest and most outre artists were available.  Virtual toys like the works of Victor Vaserelly.  It was incredible, it was magnificent, it was mind candy as never seen before.

I hope Pattie with all that coin took advantage of it.  There was a canchre in wonderland though.  Pattie didn’t keep her hand on the throttle but let her attention be diverted by sex.  Some reviewer said that Pattie wasn’t the brightest bulb.  Hmm.  I do wonder what she was thinking.

Now comes the part difficult of analysis.  Pattie, like all women portrays herself as an innocent, the helpless beauty in the clutches of two beasts who refuse to turn into princes when kissed.  I defend n o one but like a clear picture.  It was clear that Pattie is haunted by her parents relationships as she always mentions them at critical points.  She perceives her mother as a victim so it is possible that she was seeking revenge for her.

The time sequence Pattie presents is inadequate to follow the actual course of the relationship’s deterioration.  It is possible that Pattie decided to turn the tables and become polyandrous first.  She did conduct herself in that manner or, at least, try to.  The information is insufficient to determine the actual sequence of events.  She appears to always have been flirtatious with other men.  In reference to Clapton she says she allowed him to seduce her.  This implies volition and that she encouraged his attentions.  One might say she almost solicited the famous letter from Clapton she showed George.  It wouldn’t have taken a genius to figure out  the small e it was signed with referred to Clapton.  George was no dummy.  Pattie blithely passed it off as from an unknown fan.  Then she innocently expresses surprise when Clapton called that evening and asked if she had gotten his letter.  Oh please, Pattie.

George unable to take it anymore invites Clapton over, gives him one guitar, takes another engaging in a guitar duel with the prize being the fair lady.  Well, George found her, raised her up to where she was and then let Clapton take her.

Now, this is fairly reprehensible I think, Pattie left, but rather than seeking a divorce she lived with Clapton for two years while married to Harrison.  Affairs of the heart are beyond me so all I can say is that Harrison was too kind hearted, Pattie callous and cruel and Clapton a simple cad.  George always  did the honorable by Pattie and she should have done the same by him.

Forty Years Of Hard Travelin'. Lost innocence.

One questions Clapton’s motivations.  Clapton had a housefull of women when he professed his great love for Pattie; a nice girl I’m sure, but not to die for.  Pattie cagily put Clapton off so his threat was to become a heroin addict unless she came with him.  He was only snorting the heroin not shooting it.  Pattie let him, she says, for three years.

The only reason I can see for Clapton’s wanting her is emasculation games.  George was a Beatle with a guitar reputation therefore above him.  When  the two had their guitar duel, by consensus, George lost thereby losing status.  Clapton then took the woman thereby emasculationg the man he had made his rival.  But now he was stuck with this woman he didn’t really want.

In an interesting twist in the contest for supremacy both Clapton and Pattie were put down by the redoubtable Mick Jagger.  Pattie and Clapton had been married and threw a huge bash with mega fireworks, everything.

Mick Jagger came with Jerry Hall, who had been engaged to Brian Ferry but had left him for Mick.

So Jagger is leaving no stone unturned in his quest for supremacy even putting down a weak rival like Brian Ferry.

Jerry Hall and Mick

The party started in the afternoon and ended in the dawn.

By the time Eric and I went upstairs to bed it was daylight.  We were ready to drop- but Mick and Jerry were tucked up and fast asleep in our bed, with little Jade, his daughter with Bianca Jagger sleeping sweetly beside them.  Trust Mick to have found the best bed in the house.

So Jagger put down both Clapton and Pattie.  Childless herself she saw Mick’s child.  They could have turned Jagger out of the bed appearing boorish but if they had, dog tired, they would have had to change the sheets then crawling into a bed warmed by Jagger.  Mick aced them both demonstrating his supremacy.  Ah, those emasculation games.

Now, Pattie left George, supposedly because, or after, Clapton wrote Layla, but she didn’t divorce him for two years.  Thus as another man’s wife she was living as Clapton’s concubine.  Call me old fashioned but I can’t endorse such behavior.  Amazingly George didn’t press for a divorce letting Pattie divorce him on the grounds of lack of cohabitation for two years.

Perhaps she was avenging her mother’s treatment when her father carried on with the wife of an intimate friend for some time, perhaps two years, before divorcing the mother.  Obviously some psychological end is being served.

Clapton was no where near as generous monetarily as Harrison.  Pattie describes it as keeping her on a tight leash.  Nor did this man who professed to love his Layla so deeply then marry her.  No, they shambled along in his loose situation.

When they did marry it was under the most humiliating situation for Pattie.  We have only her side here but she says that Clapton and his manager had a bet that the manager couldn’t get a story about Clapton in the papers.  The manager without Clapton’s knowledge invented a story which was printed that Clapton would marry Pattie the next Tuesday.

Pattie had just walked out on Clapton and was in LA.  On the Friday before Clapton called her and said he needed an immediate answer.  Marry him by Tuesday or forget it.  Pattie folded.  After the I do-s Clapton left on an extended tour leaving Pattie to find her way home.

Amazingly she stayed with him for some time.  Even so she had not severed emotional ties with Harrison who remained unmarried.

Clapton was still playing money games with her.  One Christmas she went shopping running up a 5,000 pound tab at Harrod’s expecting to charge it to her Harrison account.  Surprise! The account had been closed.  Not having enough money in her checking account which Clapton apprently wouldn’t let her have she had the effrontery to ask Harrison who gave her a five thousand pound check.  Apparently Pattie misunderstood the meaning of the word divorce.

For whatever reason she showed the check to Clapton who, realizing he had been aced in the emasculation game, refused to let her cash it.

Now tiring of the games with Clapton Pattie sought a divorce.  More money games.

With Harrison, as a divorce settlement after abandoning him and cohabiting with another man, Pattie received 120,000 pounds.  In the circumstances I would see that as very generous.  She doesn’t say exactly what she received from Clapton but it was enough to provide her with a very sufficient investment income.

Not content with that  while apparently assuming divorce or no that Clapton owed her more she demanded he buy her a million pound house as he had spent that much on one for himself.  She was denied but it was agreed to buy her a 300,000 pound house although title would remain with Clapton.  She found one for approx. 350,000 pounds and was allowed to live in that.

Subseqently Clapton remarried.  The canny Pattie realizing that if Clapton died his wife would turn her out attempted some successful maneuvers.  She asked for 40,000 pounds for some remodeling.  Clapton refused but replying that he wasn’t aware that he was her landlord he deeded the house to her so she came out very well indeed.

During this time she was living with her third man named Rod.  He was nine years her junior.  Tiring of him she cruelly told him that his life as a ‘toy boy’ was up and to move on.

The inevitable conclusion is that Pattie viewed her mother’s relationships with men as she was growing up and came to some conclusions.  Although neither Harrison or Clapton were perfect men I am convinced that whatever their shortcomings Pattie was not an innocent victim.  She actively encouraged Clapton while married to Harrison, abandoning George for Clapton.  She knew Clapton’s attitude toward women and stimulants, both drugs and alcohol before she ‘allowed herself to be seduced’ so his addictions came as no surprise.  She has no complaint on that score.

Pattie made the remark in closing that if the right man came along she would snap him up in a minute.  Having lived every groupie’s dream of snaring a Beatle and Clapton the only eligible rock star to complete her trifecta would be the Man himself- Mick Jagger.

I would be interested to see that combination.  The odysseys of this simple Kenyan girl from Harrison to Clapton to Jagger would certainly equal the odyssey of her fellow Kenyan, Barack Obama.

Pattie today. Further down the road.

End.

 

https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/a-review-wonderful-tonight-by-pattie-boyd-i-of-ii-famous-groupies-of-the-sixties-series/

 

Pattie & George

A Review

Wonderful Tonight:

George Harrison, Eric Clapton, And Me

by

Pattie Boyd

I of II

Review by R.E. Prindle

Boyd, Pattie: Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, And Me, Three Rivers Press, 2007

 

I don’t believe in boogie bars,

Macro biotics or souped up cars.

I don’t believe the price of gold;

The certainty of growing old,

But, I believe in you.

–Don Williams.

 

     Perhaps it’s because I lived through the era experiencing what I did and vicariously the rest that I was thoroughly charmed by Pattie’s autobiography.  I hope I will be excused for calling Pattie by her first name throughout but Boyd sounds so brutally unisexual eliminating amything but female sexual aspects that it doesn’t  seem fitting and I don’t wish to sound formal otherwise.

     This part of the review will cover pretty much Chapter 3: Modeling, 4: George and 5:  Mrs Harrison.  The chapters brought back the glittering memories of the sixties, memories created more by magazines and television shows than reality for most people but perhaps more or less real for some.  If it wasn’t real for Pattie than it probably wasn’t real for anyone.  But then it’s hard to tell where you are at any given moment in time.

     She was there in what was called ‘Swinging London’ at the time.  From a distance it was just dazzling.  We were entranced by the possibility.  As the late great Roger Miller put it:  London swings like a pendulum do.  By the time I got there in the seventies the pendulum was stationary.  Pattie herself began life as a hair stylist but in a top notch salon.  While there she was given an intro to a modeling firm and was lucky enough to catch on.  From the looks of the photos whe was in the Twiggy line.  She could have become a high fashion queen.

     And London was a place where staying on top of fashion was a full time job.  The scene was perhaps best captured by Ray Davies and the Kinks  in their song: Dedicated Follower Of Fashion.  If memory serves it was written about Marc Bolan.

…his clothes are loud but never square

It will make him or break him

So he’s got to buy the best

‘Cos He’s a dedicated follower of fashion.

He does his little rounds

Amongst the boutiques of London Town

Eagerly pursuing all the lates fads and fashions.

     Pattie was in the thick of it mentioning the people she associated with,  mere names to us, like Ossie Clarke, Twiggy, Mary Quant, David Hockley, photographers, artists, fashion designers who  were realities to her although the glitter is brighter than the shabby fabric beneath.  But then, how else could it be?

     One feels envy at her luck.  I was on the West Coast viewing it all from a distance with wonder, but owning a record store.  By the time I got to London in the early seventies the swing had swung.  Carnaby St. was deserted when I strolled down it all alone past the shops empty of customers.  What sounded so good in song looked effete in reality.  Of course I was straight Beverly Hills, dressed completely Eric Ross, quite a standout, but strange and exotic to Londoners.

     Oh well, there were always the great book stores.

     Pattie had begun her career as a fashion mdoel when she received a call to appear on the set of the Beatles movie in progress, A Hard Day’s Night.  I suspect that George Harrison had seen her about town and requested her by name, only a guess, but he certainly glommed on to her when she arrived.  Honorable intentions too.  The couple got together and it was on.  Thus she entered the charmed circle of the Beatles.  You couldn’t get no higher.

     The Beatles?  Who cared really? other than the millions.  Whatever was happening there passed me flatter than the Grateful Dead, and that’s flat.  I was cool to both the Beatles and the Stones.  I wasn’t really a dedicated fan of anybody; I liked certain records- Superlungs by Terry Reid.  The first Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart when he still had intact pipes, the second with Bob Tench  wasn’t bad either, lousy cover.  Beck  apparently hated vocalists because he played so loud, on purpose, I was backstage once and watched him do it, that he blew out their pipes.  Donovan’s Sunshine Superman was tops, Procol Harum’s first, Alan Price’s This Price Is Right, stuff like that. Dillard and Clark, Flying Burrito Brothers’ White Line Fever, some Johnny Rivers.  Nice stuff.  Two or three Byrds.

     But, the Beatles were gods and here were George Harrison and Pattie Boyd trying to fashion a normal lower middle class life in a hundred room mansion.  The Beverly Hillbillies in London.  Good luck boy and girl.  And that was not taking into account drugs.  Pattie’s story of the maniac dentist sends a chill through the marrow; a real demon dentist, the Sweeny Todd of the profession.  Lord, deliver us from evil.  It was he who introduced Pattie and Harrison to LSD, surreptitiously of course.  Spiked their coffee just as they were about to leave his house.

     Then the stuff came on, a little like the Airplane’s song, White Rabbitt- one side makes you larger, one side makes you smaller.  Pardon me for writing myself into the story but the pen is in my hand:

     Happened to me once.  I was down in Berkeley at what was supposed to be a party.  Pot parties in that time and place meant everyone sat around self-absorbed looking out vaguely at what could possibly have been you, or possibly just empty space.   This particular set played draggy jazz so possibly they weren’t even looking out, their eyes were just open.  As I was to learn  it wasn’t pot.  I had never smoked before anyway.  Nobody could have ever been busted for whatever it was I smoked.   Nothing was happening except the draggy jazz, maybe John Coltrane going around in fifths, and I was getting bored so I said I was leaving.  As with the dentist of Pattie’s experience I was abjured not to leave.  I never knew really what it was until I read Pattie’s story.  It hit me a couple blocks down the street. The  ‘tobacco’ must have been laced with acid.

     Getting out of the maze of streets of Berkeley always required a little concentration on my part anyway and now I didn’t have any.  I didn’t even know where I was or where I was going.  Fortunately for me the car drove itself.  I did have to keep my hands on the wheel though it wasn’t always uppermost in my mind.  The car did strange things when I took my hands off the wheel, wandering here and there.  A voice spoke saying:  Keep your hands on the wheel.

     The car found its way to the MacArthur Freeway which, although it was a road I knew by heart I couldn’t recognize.  Plus everything had turned a shiny patent leather black, the highway just glittered and shown so.  Colors had disappeared; the lights of the cars shot through my eyes to the back of my brain.  They were all driving very slowly it seemed but passed me going very fast.  Of course I was driving about twenty-five per which was as much as I could handle.  I got in the slow lane.  A good thing because it seemed like I was going around this curve for twenty-five minutes.  Everytime I looked it seemed like I was in the same place.  I decided to put my foot back  on the gas.

     The next problem was that the sky and highway were bonded together.  Fortunately the car was able to separate them and they moved apart before us- the car and me.

     My next big problem, after a seeming eternity, was that in order to make a left exit to Castro Valley I had to cross three lanes dotted with cars moving at varying speeds in different lanes.  I had to time it just right to get in between cars in two different lanes.  Sort of a Rubiks Cube kind of problem.  While I was dithering my car changed lanes for me and I was on the off ramp with a smile.

     An underpass lay before me where the most miraculous event in my life took place.  As I began to enter the underpass this set of ram’s horns, you know, like a male sheep, began to grow from my forehead.  Great white curling things they were, magnificent.  It was at that moment I realized I was Master Of The World.  Just as I was about to assume the mantle I came out the other side losing my spectacular rack and my crown.  While I was pondering the imponderable my car finding its way back gliding noiselessly up the street into the driveway where it pertly came to a halt.  Heaving a sigh of relief I got out and entered the house.

     I don’t know what I looked like, perhaps fierce because of the loss of my horns, but my wife and mother-in-law seemed to run from me.  Entering the kitchen I saw my brother-in-law about to have some tacos he’d cooked up.  The guy was a wizard with hamburger; he could do things with hamburger than no chef had ever done.  I had issues with him which I won’t go into.  When I saw the tacos I became ravenous and wanted them.  He was experienced.  He took one look at me and realized the situation his hand stopping before his open mouth.

     I didn’t hesitate, I remembered being Master Of The World.  I snatched his tacos from his hands saying:  I want those.  He was knowing.  He made no resistance, just said, sure.  Smart move because I wouldn’t have taken no for an answer while still feeling superhuman.  I wolfed those suckers down; best tacos I ever ate.  But now there were fireworks going off in my head.  I got in bed and watched the light show going off behind my closed eyes for a couple hours.  I woke up grouchy and ragged.  I took care in the future to make sure that never happened again.  Wherever I had been I didn’t want to go back.  I sure missed those horns though.

     Apparently Harrison and his band mates liked it going back repeatedly.  But then Pattie discovered that old fraud the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation.  What a fraud.  She turned Harrison on and the band followed.  First it was Bangor, Wales and then on to the big temple in the Himalayas of India.

The Cosmic Joker

     There are many wondrous stories of their Indian sojourn at the ashram.  The upshot was that the holy man liked girls as much, perhaps more, than the rest of the fellows.  This tore a rent in his spirituality and disillusioned the group who left in a huff.

     Pattie does tell a good story about Ringo who was wary of spicy Indian food having had digestive problems as a youth.  He took along a suitcase full of Heinz Baked Beans.  Imagine going through customs with that.  Imagine watching the guy in front of you opening a suitcase full of  cans of Heinz Baked Beans.  US Customs would have made him open each can on the spot.  I’d be laughing yet.

     After their marriage George wanted her to give up the job of modeling.  she had regrets but as far as modeling went she was getting old.  Younger women were pushing up.  The Twiggy look was dated from the start anyway.  She might have been near the end of her career whether she liked it or not.

Mick & Marianne

      Couple intesting points before this idylic phase of  her life and life with George Harrison ended.  Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull came to their house one night.  Jagger wrote on the Harrison’s wall:  Mick and Marianne were here.  Strange action for guests.  The only thing I can figure is that Mick was marking out the limits of  his territory like one of the big cats who go around peeing on bushes to set up their territory.   As a Beatle and tops of the pop world it was incumbent on each Beatle to establish their priority, their dominance over the lesser princes.  When Mick wrote that on Harrison’s wall without demurrer he was establishing  dominance over his superior.  Eric Clapton would later do the same when he took Harrison’s wife while defeating him, as some say, in a guitar duel.

     If you watched the 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show you saw Jagger and Bono dueling it out for the crown.  A very haughty Jagger beat Bono into absolute submission having him groveling before himself worse than Obama before the Emperor of Japan.  Jagger was so taut that after he flipped off Bono he almost dismissed the audience but then caught himself and gave a dismissive back hand wave in acknowledgment.   That was somethin’ else man.

     Jagger as leader of the Rolling Stones also foisted Allen Klein on the Beatles also demonstrating the priority of the Stones over the Beatles.  And lastly Jagger, how shall I say, induced Bob Dylan to open a show for the Stones placing Dylan therefore beneath the Stones.  I would have to say that the Stones have finished as the undisputed Kings of Rock of Roll.  There’s always more going on than you think.

     And then Pattie and Harrison were in attendance at the famous first drug bust of Jagger, Richards and Marianne Faithfull.  As Pattie tells it she and her husband left the party at 3:00 AM.  Immediately after they left the police raided.  She believes the fuzz waited until they left as they were Beatles.  The Beatles were thought of as clean at that time while the Stones and Marianne were monsters.  She may be right.  If the type of glamour achieved by the Beatles and Stones was new to them and difficult to manage perhaps the same was true of society.  The Phenomenon of the British Invasion was so spectacular that you just had to stand back and ask:  What’s this?  So maybe the cops did honor The Top Of The Pops.

     Whether she was slapping back at Mick for writing on her wall by the observation I can’t tell although both stories found a prominent place in her narrative.  High school never ends.

     The contest for her favors by Harrison and Clapton is very complex, a lot of psychology involved.  I’ll have to work on it some but that will be covered in my review of the second half of the book to follow.

    https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/a-review-ii-of-ii-wonderful-tonight-by-pattie-boyd/

A Review

Chris O’ Dell

Miss O’ Dell:

My Hard Days And Long Nights With The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton

And The Women They Loved

by

R.E. Prindle

Miss O’ Dell

     As Chris says, she wasn’t famous but she was in the thick  of things.  Worth a lot.  She disapproves of being called a groupie but I would say that she was the most successful of all.  All the groupies would have snapped up Chris’ life without a dare.

     Chris did have somewhat of an advantage in being twenty when she went to work for the Apple.  She had some skills and maturity rather than being underaged jail bait.  Boy, the Federales could have had these guys anytime: drugs and teenage girls.

     Chris soon fell into the booze and drug trap.  The most tedious part of the book is that of booze and drugs.  Of course her co-author, heavy on the co-, Kathleen Ketchum’s previous writings have been about drug rehabilitation so she flogs the drug issue into oblivion.  Hard to believe any one took drugs back in those happy uncomplicated days.  Alright!  Surprise, surprise, the middle name of Rock n’ Roll is Drugs- Sex, Drugs, Rock n’ Roll.  Yes, it is also true that Chris engaged in some hanky panky too.  Gosh, she bedded down with a couple Beatles, Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan.  I suspect those revelations are more for the groupies than the general public.  Eat your hearts out, kids.  Clapton wouldn’t have anything to do with her by the way.

     For me the real story that unfolded slowly and inconspicuously was the changing relationships between the Beatles and their women with Chris in the middle.  Chris was friends with Harrison and Ringo Starr having little to do with John and Paul.

      The first 100 pages are the most interesting of the book.  They detail her actual working activies at Apple from the bright days of  total indulgence to the takeover of Apple by Allan Klein.  After Klein the fun stopped as Klein set about plundering Apple.  Not before Chris had established a sterling relationship with George Harrison himself.  As time and drugs wore on the youthful relationships came apart.  These people were so into booze and drugs that their subconsciouses overwhelmed the conscious- I’m sure that at some point they wandered into a drug and alcohol induced haze.  The good thing was that they didn’t have to worry about money although they sure went through it.

     Chris’ description of the evolutions and transitions of the relationships of these key people of the musical era then forms the most interesting part of what is, frankly, a fairly boring story.  The background story of Harrison, Boyd, Clapton didn’t exactly happen as it looked to us on the outside.  We thought at the time that Clapton recorded Layla and Boyd came running but such was not the case.  As Chris tells it Harrison, if he didn’t drive Boyd away neglected her and allowed her to drift away.

 

Eric Clapton

    Clapton, says Chris, was a total junkie although he’s still hanging in there today.  His records had no appeal to me so I could care less.

     Uncertain of her precarious standing as either an employee or freeloader Chris drifted back and forth from LA to London while still apprently being part of the gang.  The breaking point was when she was visiting Ringo’s ex-wife Maureen and took a tongue lashing from Ringo.  Moving away she took up with a German promoter she knew through a large part of the eighties.

     Part of her concern was hitting bottom, the rebound point when you know you have to change your life.  From my observation point that happened in two stages.  the first was when her German boy friend’s promotion company could no longer stand the ravages of drug and alcohol induced incompetence and Chris violated all the rules of  friendship with Harrison.  Something she thought she’d never do.

     Her boy friend’s company bankrupt she asked for money from Harrison.  George was a brick and handed over six thousand pounds without a murmur.  The money of course went down the drug drain.

     Now, Chris had developed sterling credentials as a tour organizer for various groups.  She was with Dylan and the Rolling Thunder tour for instance.  That is what she was doing with this German fellow.  After the Beatles, Stones and Dylan the crowning indignity was when she was assigned to tour Echo And The Bunnymen.  These guys are still going so what can you say.  But, you know, time had rolled along under the bridge and Rock was becoming a shadow of its former glory.  Who really cared anymore?  I mean, you know, I’ve never listened to Echo And The Bunnymen and you can be sure I’m not going to buy their latest effort which is out now. 

     She then married an English aristocrat, had a baby and a divorce and went back home to Tucson.

     End of story.  Oh yeah, she’s now a rehab counselor.

     The main interest is the level of rock society she moved in.  The hand of Ketchum is too obvious.  One had the feeling one was reading a novel of O’ Dell’s life rather than a living memoir.  Wrong voice.  Probably a must for the cast of characters and inside information but the drug and alcohol stuff is too, too boring.  For Christ’s sake, who didn’t do drugs?  Everybody’s got a million drug stories.  Let it be.

George Harrison, Patti Boyd, Sixties Style

 

A Review

Catherine James

Dandelion: Memoir Of A Free Spirit

by

R.E. Prindle

James

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

Texts:

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

https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/a-review-pamela-des-barres-lets-spend-the-night-together/

     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.

James 2

     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.

Roger Daltrey

David Gilmour

John Mayall

Jimmy Webb

Roman Polanski

Jimi Hendrix

Jimmy Page

Eric Clapton

Jackson Browne

Ginger Baker

Mick Jagger

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.

7/27/12 Update.

The Book

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.

Update 8/11/12

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.

Update 9/13/12

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.

Update 10/4/12

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.

Update 1/22/13

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.”

Update 3/29/13

Hodkinson, Mark: Marianne Faithfull, As Tears Go By, 1991, Omnibus Press

p. 136

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.

Update 4/21/14

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.