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.

 

 

Exhuming Bob XVIII:
My Son, The Corporation
by
R.E. Prindle
Texts:
Goodman, Fred: The Mansion On The Hill, 1997
Russo, Gus: The Outfit, 2001
Russo, Gus:  Supermob, 2006

Electrified Dylan

1.
Andrew Krueger from Duluth unearthed an interesting article from the archives of the Duluth News-Tribune dated October 20, 1963.  ( http://www.areavoices.com/attic/?blog-35238 )  The article is entitled ‘My Son, The Folknik’  by one Walter Eldot.
Mr. Eldot was apparently a longtime reporter for the newspaper.  He as well as the Zimmermans was Jewish.  For whatever reason he writes derisively of Dylan even belittling to some extent his parents.   Robert Shelton notes and quotes Eldot in his own No Direction Home as one who habitually wrote sarcastically of Dylan.
This may have been because he perceived Dylan as a ‘folknik’ or Bohemian, both derogatory terms in his lexicon.  Especially in 1963 Beatniks, Folkniks and oddities in general were well outside the pale of  ‘polite’ society.  People like Eldot would have had no use for them.  Maynard G. Krebs of Dobie Gillis would be a good example of what they saw.
Quoted by Shelton in No Direction Home Eldot says that the Iron Range had produced some strange characters over the years including Bob Dylan and Gus Hall.  Hall was the leader of the Communist Party.
Eldot in his short article does answer a few questions while raising a few more.  His tone is prejudicial so that one has to take his opinions with a grain of salt.  Still, I think they reflect generally accurately the impression Dylan made at the time of this outrageous oddball who had somehow, against all expectations, made it big.
…Bobby stems from a middle class background in which much emphasis is placed on education and conformity and plans for a respectable career.
Bobby didn’t quite fit into that framework and preferred a more bohemian type of life.  His parents say he frowns on being called a beatnik, and they don’t like that designation for him either.  But he was in fact adopting some of the manners associated with beatniks- or folkniks- in an area where that makes a person stand out as a strange character.
That may explain some of the apparent hostility between Dylan and his hometowners.  The town geek had become more successful than they.  Hibbing would have been no place for him.  Most people of his temperament, like myself, have found it preferable to move to the coasts.
Once in New York Dylan invented his persona attempting to assume it completely.  Eldot obviously thinks this is living a lie.

Zimmerman as Dylan

People who knew him before he set out to become a folknik chuckle at his back country twang and attire and at the imaginative biographies they’ve been reading about him.  They remember him as a fairly ordinary youth from a respectable family, perhaps a bit peculiar in his ways, but bearing little resemblance to the sham show business character he is today.
Obviously Eldot expected Dylan to present himself as a well scrubbed, middle class lad the Range could be proud of instead he essentially disowned Hibbing claiming a fanciful pedigree that bore no relation to Hibbing or the facts as they knew them.  There is no reason Dylan shouldn’t have adopted a show biz name and perhaps a stage persona.  After all short punchy names work better than the polysyllabic ones that may confuse the audience.  Even Ethel Merman changed her name from Ethel Zimmerman and to good effect.
Dylan took it a step further.  He tried to hide the fact that he was Jewish.  He didn’t just invent a stage persona for himself but he tried to invent a whole new persona for himself based on false information that could be seen as actual deceit that he tried to pass off as true.  (Abe said it was all an act.)  Dylan went so far as to deceive his girl friend, Suze Rotolo, who only found out the truth when Dylan came home stumbling drunk and the  secret fell out of his pocket.
That seems a bit extreme and perhaps psychotic.  Indeed the psychological stresses were so great that Dylan’s personality seemed to split.  He began to live two different lives.  While apparently on the closest terms with his parents, in constant contact, he let on that he was an orphan and his parents dead.
In itself the latter is fairly common.  Jim Morrison of the doors let on his parents were dead but then he had nothing to do with them.  He rejected them completely.  Dylan being at the same time dependent and estranged makes him a special case.
Abram Zimmerman is quoted by Eldot:
“He wanted to have a free rein.” says Zimmerman.  “He wanted to be a folk singer, an entertainer.  We couldn’t see it, but we felt he was entitled to the choice.  It’s his life, after all, and we didn’t want to stand in the way.  So we made an agreement that he could have one year to do as he pleased, and if at the end of that year we were not satisfied with his progress he’d go back to school.”
That’s sort of possessive.  Obviously there were heated discussions between son and parents.  Dylan obviously didn’t want to make a clean break or he, perhaps, wanted financial support and could only get it that way.  I mean, at eighteen you’re on your own.  At any rate while claiming his parents were dead Dylan was in close phone contact all the while.  Now, this is a betrayal of who we were led to believe he was at the time.
“It was eight months after that, says (Abe)  Zimmerman, that Bobby received a glowing ‘two column’ review in the New York Times.  So we figured that anybody who can get his picture and two columns in the New York Times is doing pretty good.  Anyway it was a start.”
So Robert Shelton’s article had the effect of buying Dylan’s parents off.  Indeed, who wouldn’t be impressed?
The question is why Eldot chose this moment to write about the Folknik.  I think that can be explained by “his Carnegie Hall debut next Saturday.”
In the Midwest, at least, we were raised to reverence both New York and Carnegie Hall.  We were led to believe that only the greatest of the great and then only as a reward for lifetime achievement were granted the privilege of playing SRO at Carnegie Hall.  Our teachers were adamant about this.
I was shocked when relative nobodies began playing Carnegie.  It required a major adjustment in my attitude.  Eldot is apparently stunned that Dylan, not only from small town Hibbing on the Iron Range but a Folknik to boot, I mean, you know, a Bohemian, a mere boho, was playing the Hall.  One can also understand better the effect on Abe and Beattie Zimmerman sitting in the audience in Carnegie Hall, the proud parents of the Star.
Eldot also says:
His rise in barely three years has been almost as impressive as the fortune he has already amassed…
As Dylan had done very little in the way of touring and had few record sales as of 1963, while he hadn’t received any royalties from PPM recordings yet, the mention of a considerable fortune raises eyebrows as does this quote from Father Abe:
My son is a corporation and his public image is strictly an act…

Hard to follow this act.

Yeah.  He’s more middle class and respectable than he looks.  Well, the public image wasn’t strictly an act but I found the information that Dylan had incorporated himself very interesting.  That means he was two separate legal entities while being an employee of his corporation and therefore on salary.  That brings to mind the movie ‘Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying Terrible Things About Me.’  The movie was loosely based on Dylan.  It opens in the penthouse of the skyscraper that hero, Georgie Solloway, owns.
2.
Dylan was obviously getting advice from his manager, Albert Grossman.  Let’s think about Grossman for a minute.  There hasn’t been a lot written about Grossman.  Here are the bare facts as recorded by wikipedia:
Albert Grossman was born in Chicago on May 21, 1926, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants who worked as tailors.  He attended Lane Technical School and graduated from Roosevelt University, Chicago with a degree in economics.
After university he worked for the Chicago Housing Authority, leaving in the late 1950s to go into the club business.  Seeing folk star Bob Gibson perform at the Off Beat Room in 1956 prompted Grossman’s idea of a ‘listening room’ to showcase Gibson and other talent, as the folk movement grew.  The result was The Gate Of Horn in the basement of the Rice Hotel, where Jim (Roger) McGuinn began his career as a 12 string guitarist.  Grossman moved into managing some of the acts who appeared at his club and in 1959, he joined forces with George Wein, who founded the Newport Jazz Festival, to start up the Newport Folk Festival.  At the first Newport Folk Festival, Grossman told New York Times critic, Robert Shelton:  “The American public is like Sleeping Beauty, waiting to be kissed awake by the Prince of Folk Music.
Grossman obviously considered himself that Prince while being unaware of the obvious fact that the Kingston Trio had already kissed the American public awake and were the Princes of Folk Music.  Now let us flesh out the facts with what must have been.
Grossman was a Chicago native born and bred.  Chicago is a tumultuous  city; the criminal ethic rules both the underground and the overground.  They are joined at the hip.  The underground is known as The Outfit being ruled by Sicilians in conjunction with Jews who act as semi-legit facilitators.  Grossman was Jewish.  The location in Chicago where he was born isn’t available to me but I would guess the Jewish areas of Maxwell Street or Lawndale.
Born in 1926 Grossman was able to evade World War II, although Robert Shelton born in the same year did serve, while Grossman was also the too old for the Korean War.  Missed both.  A fortunate child.
He graduated College possibly in 1949 or ’50 taking a job in the public sector at the Chicago Housing Authority.  Whether he used his degree in economics isn’t clear but in 1956 at the age of thirty he saw Bob Gibson perform and realized that he could cash in on Folk Music while pursuing social and political objectives.  He immediately opened what became the premier Folk club in the US,  The Gate Of Horn.  Legendary.  I always regret never having been able to attend.
Contrary to what seems to be the prevailing opinion today Folk music throve throughout the fifties from beginning to end.  Grossman could open a club because there was a thriving Folk scene.  The Gateway Singers, Bud and Travis, Gibson, Odetta, Josh White and many, many others  Black and White toured and performed.  So when the Kingston Trio scored on the pop scene in 1958 they didn’t come out of the blue but Folk music began to explode.  The Brothers Four appeared at about the same time.
When Grossman went into the club business he must have inevitably been drawn into contact with the Chicago Outfit as the Chicago version of the Mafia is known.  All the suppliers and unions he had to deal with were mobbed up.  As a Jew he would have had an entree to what Gus Russo calls the Supermob.  The Jewish lawyers and politicians who acted as facilitators.  Thus Grossman must have established connections.  Not because he necessarily wished to but because it was necessary to survive, let alone prosper.
As lawyers and politicians the Jews always played by their own rules bending and distorting the rules everyone else was taught to play by.  Grossman would learn his lessons well changing the rules dramatically when he hit New York.
It would seem likely that Grossman would have learned the attitude from these very monied, devious and powerful men.  The word scrupulous had a very different meaning for them.  Chutzpah was more useful.  It would be interesting to know exactly who Grossman came into contact with.
As Wikipedia notes he managed ‘socially conscious’ performers like Odetta but none of the people he handled were capable of breaking out of or changing the folk format into pop stardom.  Where the money and influence was.  The money and the influence to move society in the directed he wanted it to go.
Taking his lesson from the more pop oriented groups like Belafonte, the Kingstons and Chad Mitchell Trios, The Brothers Four and The Highwaymen, in 1961 Grossman assembled a folk trio of two men and a woman.  A slight variation on the proven formula.  Grossman was no innovator.  But he had his social and political agenda.  He called the group Peter Paul And Mary giving it a subliminal Judaeo-Christian religious tinge.
His key member was Peter Yarrow, a Jew with a degree in psychology.  Apparently both he and Grossman were simpatico.  The other male was another Jew named Noel Stookey who performed as Paul.  The female was a shiksa named Mary Travers.
The group as well as Grossman was political and subversive from the start.  As the PPM website says: ( http://peterpaulandmary.com/history/bio/htm )
In the decades prior to the 60s, through the work of such avatars as Woody Guthrie, the Weavers and Pete Seeger, folk music had become identified with sociopolitical commentary, but the notion had been forced underground in the Senator Joe McCarthy witch-hunting era… Peter Paul and Mary came together to juxtapose these cross currents and thus to reclaim folk’s potency as a social, cultural and political force.
In other words Grossman and PPM would renew and reinvigorate the Communist offensive providing a foundation and incentive to the Boys of ’64.  Of course the Communists were the witches McCarthy was hunting.
‘If I Had A Hammer’ and all that Communist junk was alright for one time around but when Dylan made the scene with a fresh departure on traditional political folk Grossman saw the future.  PPM’s third LP in 1963 had three songs by Dylan.
Dylan’s career was effectively launched by Robert Shelton’s astonishing writeup of Dylan in 1961.  As Wikipedia notes Grossman had known Robert Shelton since at least the ’59 Newport Folk Festival.  It is possible that Grossman knew Shelton from Chicago in ’57 or ’58.  Robert Shelton himself, was from Chicago, graduated from the Northwestern School of Journalism.  He left Chicago for NYC in 1958 to become the music critic of the paper of record, the New York Times.  How lucky can you get.  Of course, the Times itself was and is owned by Jews.  As he was a folk critic in New York, practically living in the folk clubs, there seems little reason to doubt he was a habitue of the Gate Of Horn in Chicago.  As a  journalist it would be probable that he introduced himself to its owner, Albert Grossman.  There may be articles filed by him in Chicago.  So when Shelton interviewed Grossman in 1959 it is likely that he already knew him.
Why Shelton gave Dylan the incredible boost isn’t clear.  The entire folk community was astonished.  It may be that Grossman had already fixed on Dylan and he may have begun a buildup before he even signed him.  Shelton’s review of Dylan in the New York Times seems to be too incredible to be true, not that things like that don’t happen, but they don’t happen often and seldom without cause.
Still I find it difficult to believe those people thought Dylan was that talented a performer.  After all every folk label in the Village rejected Dylan from Vanguard and Elektra to Folkways.  They didn’t hear it, and those labels had some pretty lousy singers on them.
Perhaps the review in the Times was a signal to John Hammond at Columbia.  Imagine being refused by Folkways and being signed by Columbia.  Think about it.  One has to suspect the reason Hammond signed Dylan.  I don’t have tin ears and I can’t see why the LPs, Bob Dylan and Freewheelin’  are anything to shout about.  I can sure see why they didn’t sell.
Dylan began to really demonstrate his song writing prowess in early ’62 when Blowin’ In The Wind was first performed.  The song caught on quickly while Grossman who had been watching him decided to make his move.  He became Dylan’s manager in August of ’62.  Possibly he had asked his Chicago pal Shelton to write Dylan up earlier.  At any rate sometime between August ’62 and September ’63 Dylan incorporated himself most likely on his manager’s advice.
PPM had been a hit out of the box.  Both their first two albums without Dylan songs were mega hits as was their third with Blowin’ In The Wind  and two other Dylan songs.  In November ’63 all three albums were in the Top Ten so that Grossman’s two money machines were working in synch.
If Dylan hadn’t amassed the fortune Eldot mentions he soon would.  Eldot published his Duluth article on October 20, 1963.  It is difficult to believe Eldot’s statement that Dylan ‘had amassed a considerable fortune’ at that time.  Perhaps Papa Abe was gilding the lily to justify his son being a corporation.
I have never seen the fact mentioned before.  If Dylan did incorporate himself there should be a public record.  This is all the more remarkable as Dylan is universally portrayed as having been naive to the point of simplicity in business matters.  Can’t be quite true.
As the corporation has never been subsequently mentioned to my knowledge one wonders for how long it existed or if it still exists.  One wonders what the assets were and if dissolved in what manner the assets were distributed.  One thinks of Georgie Solloway of  Who Is Harry Kellerman.
Dylan’s father died in 1968 ending that influence on his life.  But Dylan had already been granted his own head by his parents.  Abe is quoted by Eldot:
“We have absolutely no part in his affairs.  Those are his own operation.  He’s a corporation and he has a manager.”
Being a corporation and having a manager…what more is there to life?

The Burden Of Being Cowboy Bob Dylan