The Beatles:

Resolving The Paul Is Dead Controversy

 by

R.E. Prindle

The Album Cover

The Album Cover

 Sometime around or after the death of Tara Browne in an automobile accident in 1966 the rumor that Paul McCartney of the Beatles had died being replaced by a double began to circulate. The rumor itself, of course, is a fact that has been a center of controversy since 1966 although it didn‘t bloom in full until 1969 when a Detroit DJ spread the rumor through the colleges via UofM.

For my part I dismiss the notion that Paul did die and can find no solid evidence that the post-accident Paul is a double. Still the rumor calls for explanation especially in connection with the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s that depicts the demise of the whole group while it is reborn as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The reborn group is surrounded by the pictures of, one presumes, the lonely hearts.

Paul: I'd Be Apprehensive Too

Paul: I’d Be Apprehensive Too

I can’t say that I have the solution for the rumor to be sure. What I offer here is a plausible explanation based on an interpretation of the social situation created by the phenomenal success of the Beatles. That success was too great a burden for the band members to bear. If anything caused the breakup of the band that overwhelming success was a principal cause. The success far exceeded the capability of any one of the members, in other words the whole was greater than its parts. But, to recreate the environment to some extent let us consider the members of the whole entourage.

At the base we find, I think, the notorious London criminals the Kray Twins,. Ronnie and Reggie. Their gang that they called The Firm terrorized the London of the Sixties.

The Kray twins were born in 1933 making them seven to twelve during the war years. They experienced all the bombing and hardship of the war years as well as the post-war deprivation of rationing through 1954. They came from London’s East End rising through the crime ranks in the fifties to finally come into their own from 1960 to 1968. A short reign but one that coincided with the golden age of English rock and roll. The rockers were born mainly in 1942-43 making them nine or ten years younger than the Krays but still close enough in age. The rockers missed the war but faced the deprivations of the post-war years. These were character forming years for both the Krays and the rockers, primarily for us the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The Krays were heavy handed protection racketeers moving into gambling. They, especially Ronnie, were enamored of the NYC and Philadelphia Mafia families. The Mafia families had many singers and performers under their control most notably at this time Judy Garland. When Garland performed in England the Mafia used the Krays for protection. Thus the Krays got used to associating with certain celebrities which they found exhilarating.

It was suggested to Ronnie by the Mafia that the Krays suborn English acts much as the Mafia had done with the US performers. For a good visualization of the process the 1958 film The Girl Can’t Help It is an accurate fictionalized account. The movie even features a couple of Mafia groups such as Teddy Randazzo And The Gumdrops. Right! We’d never heard of them either. Even the Mafia couldn’t promote them to fame.

David Baileys Portrait Of Ronnie And Reggie Kray

David Baileys Portrait Of Ronnie And Reggie Kray

Who better for the Krays to begin to build their stable than the premier English group, the Beatles?

The front line protecting the performers is always their management. The groups or singers themselves are artists not businessmen. As artists their concern is their art. They have to concentrate on their art to be successful. To realize the benefits of their art is a business. Hence managers who are businessmen enter in. The artists must trust the businessmen who are nearly all crooks so the artists were born to be fleeced. In the case of the Beatles producing all those millions and millions, they were a manager’s dream. Plus the hangers on.

Enter Brian Epstein, the manager and Robert Fraser, art dealer and hanger on.

Just as background the English managerial caste, as well as the US, were with very few exceptions Jewish and homosexual. In the late fifties and early sixties there were no groups, there were solo singer acts. These guys in most cases were not artists they were just kids off the street. Managers like Larry Parnes cast their eyes over good looking guys on the street and selected the ones that appealed to them such as Cliff Richard and the various Furys and Storms. They taught them a little stage presence, got them a good song, usually from a Jewish homosexual songwriter, put a band behind them and ballyhooed them into stardom.

Being Jewish they looked at the goi boys as so many cash cows and so they were. As Bob Dylan famously sang in Ballad Of Thin Man, ‘Give me some milk or go home.‘ However much was made from the singers efforts most went to the managers and pittances to the boys. But, then they were only created creatures, mere employees anyway.

The Beatles were dedicated artists who had a fairly long apprenticeship learning their craft in a tough environment in the red light district of Hamburg Germany. They not only developed a sound but Lennon and McCartney became a most prolifically successful songwriting team. That’s where the real money in records is and that’s where the Beatles got skinned the worst.

So they had talent but without management the talent would die on the vine. Enter manager Brian Epstein who saw their potential and acted. He was a Jewish homosexual flake but without him the Beatles would probably have become unemployed layabouts rather than wealthy rock and rollers. Brian Epstein’s rock and roll empire was born on the Beatles backs.

Brian had a couple weaknesses, drugs and gambling, other than his homosexuality that was then illegal, a crime, hence to be carefully concealed. Combined with the temptation of all those millions, there’s a recipe you’ll never find again.

Brian 'Eppy' Epstein

Brian ‘Eppy’ Epstein

Another character in the story is the avant garde art dealer Robert Fraser, also known as Groovy Bob, impeccably English but homosexual and a drug addict and, sure enough, an inveterate gambler. Fraser spent the first couple of years of the Sixties in the NYC art scene. There he was heavily influenced by Andy Warhol, less impeccably American, homosexual, but as far as we know free of the vices of gambling and drugs.

Fraser was also involved in the burgeoning Satanist scene that would take prominence beginning in 1966. He was involved with the American Satanist Kenneth Anger and through Anger the literary influence of the English Satanist Aleister Crowley and San Francisco’s Anton La Vey.

Wanting to be with it, Groovy Bob created a sort of salon for the young rock and rollers. Apparently the whole crowd, Beatles, Stones, Marianne Faithfull, Jimmy Page and the rest all hung out at Groovy Bob Fraser’s. Bob always had a plentiful supply of the best drugs.

To supply him with those drugs enter the young ambitious criminal, Spanish Tony Sanchez. Tony worked the gambling joints of the West End for the early fifties criminal Albert Dimes, an Italian. Dimes was a huge man, a fearsome enforcer, who successfully weathered his times until he died in his nineties. Either no or little jail time too.

Spanish Tony recorded his life in the Sixties in his two books, Up And Down With The Rolling Stones and I Was Keith Richards’ Drug Dealer. The latter is an updated edition of the former with additional material so the two are similar but not identical.

Mick And Marianne- Happy Days

Mick And Marianne- Happy Days

Tony met Groovy Bob in a bar before going to work his shift. The friendship developed and Tony began to hang at Fraser’s becoming acquainted with the Beatles, Stones and Marianne. Tony had access to drug suppliers.

Groovy Bob Fraser was the frivolous sort who found the minor details irrelevant. Thus while losing heavily in the Kray’s West End gambling joint, Esmeralda’s Barn, he paid for his losses with checks drawn on air. Any check may bounce once but Groovy Bob’s were the super balls of checks, they just kept bouncing.

Groovy Bob At His Grooviest

Groovy Bob At His Grooviest

I don’t have to tell you this irritated the Krays. They threatened grievous bodily harm. Bob appealed to the incipient criminal Spanish Tony to try to straighten things out. Dimes was Tony’s introduction to the Krays and according to him he worked out an agreement but Groovy Bob, well, honestly, just couldn’t find the money.

At the same time Brian Epstein had gambled and lost, gambled and lost, gambled and lost. One surmises that he made inroads into those Beatles millions that would have been difficult to explain in court. His contract with the group would expire in 1967 at which time it wouldn’t have been unreasonable for the Boys to call for an audit of the books. Not being businessmen and trusting Brian implicitly they probably wouldn’t have but the guilty Brian couldn’t count on it. Under pressure from the Krays to turn the Beatles over to them, probably suffering the pangs of guilt and befuddled by drugs, Brian either committed suicide in the summer of ‘67 or he was erased by other interested parties.

In the interim the Krays were increasing the pressure to get the Beatles from him. They had a sit down with Brian in a homosexual bar to force the issue. Brian patiently tried to explain to them that management was no bed of roses; there were a million nagging little details, heartbreaks and frustrations.

Maybe so. The Krays had earlier broached the subject of taking over the Beatles to the UK crime kingpin Arthur Thompson of Glasgow. He had advised them against it pointing out they were criminals who as a caste gave little thought to business details as did Groovy Bob Fraser and besides when it got out that the Beatles were criminally controlled it might kill their popularity. The Krays brushed the latter objection aside but paid attention to the former.

Now, the Krays had an associate named Laurie O’ Leary who had a clean record and could therefore function above ground and obtain licenses to manage clubs and an older brother Charlie who also had a clear record who could learn the management skills and establish a talent agency. That should take care of both of Arthur’s objections.

Bear in mind that part of the deal Tony worked out was that Groovy Bob was to work to bring the Beatles over to the Krays. There was a large homosexual ring recruiting young boys from orphanages for their criminal pleasure. This ring involved some notorious people of the period. One was the homosexual Tom Driberg. Driberg had made himself familiar with Mick Jagger who he tried to recruit as a politician. A fellow called Lord Boothby seemed to be the guiding light of this group. The group also included Ronnie Kray and members of the so-called Music Mafia including disc jockeys and many of those presiding over the music scene. As events have recently shown those involved in the music industry were heavily into pedophilia. How they link up to the Krays’ invasion of group management isn’t clear but I’m sure there is a connection.

At this point a group including Kevin MacDonald and Tara Browne along with George Harrison decided to open a club for the ‘hipoisie’ that was called Sibylla’s. It doesn’t seem like it was a coincidence that the club was located on Swallow St. in Piccadilly. On this same street were three clubs patronized by the mob figures and an infamous clip joint so that the Krays would be rubbing shoulders with the rockers. Furthermore the club was managed by Kray associate Laurie O’ Leary fresh from managing the bars of the Krays’ gambling joint, Esmeralda’s Barn. The opening night crowd of the club is said to have been attended by many mob figures using aliases.

Thus the club MacDonald conceived was called Sybilla’s named after the socialite Sibylla Edmonstone. That’s the way she spelled her first name. Kevin MacDonald and Associates comprised himself and George Harrison’s photographer Terry Howard and a guy named Bruce Higham. While this area is still a bit sketchy one assumes that Howard brought in Harrison.

As the Associates had no money their principal investor was a Sir William Piggott-Browne. Amember of the aristocracy, as a youth he had declassed himself enough be a jockey. He contributed 60% of the approximately 150K pounds. A disc jockey named Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman also invested. I imagine there were a few other small investors.

MacDonald was interviewed by a reporter for the Evening Standard apparently in the club. The interview appeared in the 7/23/66 edition. Macdonald’s picture and news clip were provided by email from a former girl friend of Kevins. I quote from the article.

Kevin MacDonald

Kevin MacDonald

But the ultimate fascination of Sibylla’s lied in its interest to the amateur sociologist. The three founders Terry Howard, Kevin MacDonald and Bruce Higham, all young professional men in their twenties who arranged bankers and backers to support their dream, claim that their club symbolizes a social revolution personified by the linkup between Marshall Field’s great grand daughter, Miss Sibylla Edmonstone and Beatle George Harrison whose respective spheres of fashionability assured the club’s success, if it needs an explanation it gets one from the most eloquent of the founders, 28 year old advertising executive Kevin MacDonald, a great nephew of Lord Northcliffe, who was lyrically evangelical on what Sibylla’s is doing for Britain when he told me using finger clicking [snaps in US] for punctuation:

“Sibylla’s is the meeting ground for the new aristocracy of Britain (click) And by the new aristocracy I mean the current young meritocracy of style, taste and sensibility (click) We’ve got everyone here (click) The top creative people (click) The top exporters (click) The top brains (click) The top artists (click) The top social people (click) and the best of the PYPs (swingingese for pretty young people). We’re completely classless (click We are completely integrated (click) We dig the spades man. (click)

Relationships here go off like firecrackers. Everyone here’s got the message (click) Can you read it, Man?

I confess to having originally looked upon the above as complete gibberish. However, although it may be due to the heady atmosphere of Swallow St., after three nights of Sibylla’s I now admit to being converted to something near to Mr. MacDonald’s doctrine.

So Kevin considers himself a revolutionary. The concept of a new meritocracy was shared by the fashion photog David Bailey who in a collection of portraits of the movers and shakers dismayed the more staid by including Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

The Kray twins did consider themselves as part of Swinging London along with the rest of the glitterati. That may partially explain why the club was located on a notoriously Firm street with three clubs they frequented. Just as Bailey was fascinated by the Kray Firm so were a lot of the fashionistas. Still, the fact that Laurie O’ Leary was named manager points to a larger Kray involvement along with the whole Boothby homosexual clique Ronnie was involved with.

While O’ Leary professes a sort of innocence in regards to his connection to the Krays he quite clearly was functioning under the Kray umbrella. It It seems probable that the club was formed and the ownership group was gotten together to put pressure on the Beatles through Harrison who was drawn in by MacDonald and Browne. Further research is necessary to discover how Browne became involved.

Probably pressure was put on both to force them to work on Harrison to bring the Beatles in. MacDonald took the quick way down from the 10th floor. The fact of the matter is that Kevin was precipitated from the 10th floor of the King Charles House on Wanda Road eighty feet down to the carapace over the entrance.

Scotland Yard’s finger printers found only Kevin’s and those at the top of an open window to which he had obviously been clinging.

There were obviously no witnesses so one is reduced to speculation. There were alternate entrances that

Tara Browne

Tara Browne

allowed Kevin and his conductors to enter unobserved. It seems equally obvious that Kevin was defenestrated. A favorite trick of the Krays was to dangle their victims out the window held by the ankles

That seems like the most obvious solution to the problem to me, else why would O’ Leary be advised to keep mum over the incident. When that warning was ignored Tara Browne died in an equally suspicious way in a late night car crash. This is important because Lennon and McCartney wrote A Day In The Life included on their Sgt. Pepper’s album to describe it. It was probably this song that gave some sort of credence for Browne replacing a dead McCartney.

The only witness to the crash was Browne’s companion in the car, a tiny Lotus, a girl named Suki Potier. While there are a plethora of details circulating about the accident such as Browne was racing McCartney down the street at 106 miles an hour, there would have been no witnesses to confirm this save McCartney and Potier and neither have anything substantial to say.

The Wrecked Lotus

The Wrecked Lotus

The Lotus is said to have hit a van. The wreck of the Lotus certainly indicates a very high speed yet we have no picture of the van to indicate how the crash occurred. By van is meant I suppose what we USers would call a panel truck or something equivalent to a SUV.

While Browne was killed Miss Potier escaped the really horrendous looking crash with nothing but a few bruises. This seems incredible. As the picture shows the roof is torn off the car while the hood or bonnet is driven up. The window on her side is intact. At the very least her head should have broken the windshield. It would seem probable that she would have been thrown through it or over it. The timing of the roof ripping off would have been important there.

The question is, was there an accident or was Browne killed and the accident staged. The intent of his death may have been meant as a second warning to the Beatles to surrender. So, now, why was the Paul Is Dead rumor circulated. Perhaps the first two warnings having failed Paul was targeted as next. Of course that would have been counter productive.

But if one connects the Paul Is Dead rumor to the Sgt. Pepper’s cover a possible Kray involvement through Groovy Bob Fraser is possible. The cover of Sgt. Peppers had been assigned to a Dutch commune called The Fool and had actually been completed, but Fraser persuaded the ‘Boys’ to switch to a group of his friends who then came up with a cover depicting the whole group as dead and buried.

The symbolism of the cover had never really engaged my attention till recently. On the lower right corner is a rag doll wearing a Rolling Stones sweater. The aspiring gangster and Fraser friend Spanish Tony Sanchez now indebted to the Krays through his association with Fraser had been hired by Keith Richards of the Stones as his factotum and drug procurer at a salary of 250 pounds a week as recorded in his Up And Down With The Rolling Stones and I Was Keith Richards Drug Dealer thus putting a Kray agent in the Stones. A coincidence perhaps but a mighty good paying job. I have no evidence but it is likely that Tony was forced on Keith by the Krays.

Spanish Tony The Aspiring Gangster

Spanish Tony The Aspiring Gangster

At any rate on this bizarre, less than hip cover, the Beatles are dressed in their Sgt. Pepper’s garb standing looking down at a grave labeled Beatles. Surrounding them are pictures of a band of lonely hearts, mostly dead people. So, what is the message? Join up or your group will be dead for real? In fact Paul’s Mini was involved in a crash but it was being driven by his factotum while bringing drugs to a party Paul was attending. It was likely thought that Paul was driving.

What is clear is that Fraser was unable to pay his gambling debts and had to make some move to show he was cooperating. The cover could be a very discreet attempt to show the Krays he was working on it. As he was involved in the Redlands bust of 1967 and sent to prison that at least got him off the street for a period of time. Then the Krays were busted in May of 1968 perhaps removing an immediate threat. Fraser chose the time after his release to vanish in India perhaps to avoid punishment.

Brian Epstein, dazed and confused, by his drug taking, continuing to rack up gambling debts was making his situation worse. He was probably deep into money that contractually belonged to the Beatles. In other words he had embezzled or misappropriated vast sums.

In a desperate move to generate more cash, perhaps, he had opened a Fillmore type rock emporium that would be competing with the Roundhouse. He also apparently attempted to sell his firm NEMS to RSO the Robert Stigwood Organization. As he was giving NEMS up for the fire sale price of 500,000 pounds it would seem that he was desperate for a way out.

Post-Sgt. Peppers the Krays seem to have been no closer to annexing the Beatles than before. Epstein died on August 27, 1967 from an apparent drug overdose. He intended to spend that weekend with friends at his home but suddenly changed his mind and left to return to London. No one knows what happened in London or who he may have met. It’s possible the Krays called him and commanded a meeting. A sort of now or never thing. He returned home, locked himself in his room and died in bed. Never. The door was broken down the next morning when he was found dead in his bed.

The Krays themselves were arrested in May of 1968 and never released spending the rest of their lives in prison, or, in Ronnie’s case, Bedlam.

Prior to the Krays’ arrest in May the Beatles chose February of that year to visit the Maharishi in India thus out of the country for those months.

Spanish Tony continued with Keith Richards after the Krays were sentenced although his relationship became more strained. The Krays are said to have had influence in the underworld from prison so Keith may not have thought it wise to dismiss Tony at that time. The relationship was ended in 1976 when Tony was refused backstage entry at a concert.

When Reggie Kray died at the end of the century thus leaving Tony without any protection Tony is said to have died in 2000 also.

There is a chance his death was merely rumored. There are people who think he is still alive. I have comments from a T. at the end of my essay Who Is Spanish Tony Sanchez. The email address purports to be from Spanish Tony. My email to the address went unanswered. You may read T.’s comments and see what you think. I think it is likely that Tony is still out there. Maybe actually in Spain where all good English criminals seem to go.

If anyone has definite proof of Tony’s demise don’t hesitate to communicate the fact.

There you have it. To my mind there is no question that the man killed in the car crash was Tara Browne. I find it improbable to impossible that McCartney died somehow or was killed with his being replaced by Browne after plastic surgery while the Paul Is Dead story didn’t actually gain credence until 1969.

The murders of MacDonald and Browne have to be explained. The above is my attempt to do it. More information is certainly a desideratum.

 

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

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.