Over the gate...

Designed in 1913 by Victorian/Edwardian/other architect Theophilus A Allen; John Lennon's house between 1964 and 1968; sunroom, attic and prisco stripe hibernice; Mellotron and caravan; Babidji and Mimi; mortar and pestle; Wubbleyoo Dubbleyoo; curios and curiosity; remnants and residue; testimonials and traces; (Cavendish Avenue, Sunny Heights and Kinfauns); Montagu Square; various random shite now that Kenwood stuff has pretty much dried up; mock Tudor: Brown House: *KENWOOD*.

(Also available as a blog.)

Legal Blah: This blog is for historical research only, and is strictly non-commercial. All visual and audio material remains the property of the respective copyright owner, and no implication of ownership by me is intended or should be inferred. Any copyright owner who wants something removed should contact me and I will do so immediately. Alternatively, I would be delighted to provide a credit. The writing is by me, such as it is, unless otherwise stated, and this is the only Beatles related blog I am responsible for.

Comments Blah: Comments are moderated. Any genuine comments are welcome. Offensive comments/advertising/trolling/other moronicisms are not, and will be rejected. Due to the aforementioned, anonymous comments are no longer enabled. Comments are the responsibility of the individual commenter, and commenters' opinions do not necessarily reflect my own. (NB: This blog revels in flagrant trivia. If that's not yer "thing", this won't be yer "thang".)

Non-legal Blah: I am always happy to hear new stories, see new photos, or ramble via email about Kenwood and its history/Mr Lennon/and/or matters related/unrelated...

Correspond via: kenwoodlennon@googlemail.com

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

24 Chapel Street: internal layout.

As the old (and moving) trad. arr. has it: "Chapel Street, Chapel Street, Hard to walk to, Without any feet" (What is this drivel? - Podiatry Ed.). Number 24 was, o' course, Brian's final abode, a place of psychedelic high-jinks and not a little angst, as the repercussions of Brian's increasingly chaotic private life played themselves out. The plans here date from the late 1950s, and the eagle of eye will spot certain discrepancies (eg there are now 3 windows on the side wall, but only 2 at the time of the plan for the upper floors).
Nevertheless, this is more or less the layout as Brian would have known it. But enuff o' my yakkin'; for the BBC Arena documentary on his life, former PA Joanne Petersen drove back to Chapel Street and ran through the place (not literally) as she remembered it:

JP: "Downstairs was the staff quarters; this was where his housekeeper and her husband lived." ( ie Spanish couple Maria and Antonio, of whom little is so far known):

Joanne had nothing to say about the ground floor, but a small part of the hall (or vestibule thereof) could be glimpsed behind Ver Fabs on the night of the Pepper launch party. Note too the kitchen to the rear, from where Joanne phoned Kingsley Hill on the weekend of Brian's death to express her concerns to Peter Brown:

JP again: "You went upstairs to the sitting room, and behind the sitting room was Brian's study where he worked.":

So the area marked "Boudoir" on the plan was Brian's office, which explains why it is dark in the party photos:

JP: "The second floor was his suite... you went in through the double doors to his dressing room, and then into his bedroom and then through there into his bathroom. His bathroom was pretty unique. It was totally white... with a huge (photo of) El Cordobes all on one wall, it was very imposing."
El Cordobes was, as ye will doubtless know, a Spanish bullfighter who Brian had a "thang" about.  From the description, it's possible that the door to the bathroom on the plan here was blocked off, and another put in beside the chimney area in Bedroom 1. Said Bedroom 1 was, o' course, the place where, tragically, on 27th August 1967, Brian accepted a teaching post in Australia:

JP: "The rest of the top floor was two rooms knocked into one, and that was where I worked in one corner. It was the office by day and the playroom by night. It was where he had all his memorabilia, and the present that Elvis's Col. Tom Parker had given him. It was just full of treasures of Brian's. It was also where everybody went up at night to play, and at the weekend I used to put my typewriter under my desk because then it wasn't lost anymore."
Presumably the "two rooms knocked into one" were Bedrooms 4 and 5:

And there we have it. I haven't found any record of planning permission post-Brian, so presumably the house remains more or less the same. One day, no doubt, it will come on the market again, at which point we shall see.
Many thanks to Julian Carr for digging up (not literally) the plans, and grateful acknowledgement to James Boyles for taking the Chapel Street pic.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Kenwood: chess table.

More from the Tracks auction. Pete Shotton has several lots in the sale, including this - what's left of the chess table from the lounge at Kennie. In his own words: "This table was made specially for John when he moved into his house on St George’s Hill, Weybridge in 1964. It was the centre piece and focal point of his enormous lounge. Many of the world’s most famous musicians and rock stars sat at this table with John, including, of course, The Beatles. John loved this table, not only for its unusual design and beauty, but also because it served a very practical purpose for him. When he invariably used his guitar to compose a song he loved to sit on the floor with his legs crossed with the guitar in his lap, and sitting by this table was his favourite position because it was just the right height for him to rest his paper on to write the lyrics. My association with John is well documented. As his closest and lifelong friend I spent a great amount of time staying at his house and over the years up till 1968 when he met Yoko and moved to London. I sat with him many times at the table while he created some of his greatest compositions. Unfortunately my memory is fading these days regarding all the songs he wrote in my presence, however, the specific ones I do remember were I’m Only Sleeping, Ticket To Ride, Day Tripper, Sexy Sadie and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. I had been living at his house for about 6 or 7 months when one evening in 1968 he said he fancied a bit of female company and would I mind if he asked Yoko Ono over. We had stayed up all the previous night and all day as I told him I didn’t care what he did as I was going to have an early night. He told me that there was something about her that he liked but would I stay up till after she arrived in case he wasn’t comfortable with her. When she arrived by taxi, the first place John took her was into the lounge where the three of us sat round this table. I made some tea for us, and then after about half an hour John gave me a pre-arranged signal that he was ok, so I got to bed at last! That was the night that they fell in love! When John and Yoko moved to London and he put the house up for sale, he moved some of his furniture including the ‘chess’ table to a house he owned in nearby Esher. I moved into this house shortly afterwards and eventually bought it from him, including the contents, which is how I came to own the table. Unfortunately a number of the tiles got cracked and discoloured over the years so I had to have the tiles replaced in order to restore it to its original condition. However, the cast iron frame is the original one and I consider that what I did was the same thing as a car being restored from its chassis. This table would not only be a beautiful addition to any home but would also be a wonderful ‘conversation piece’ with its amazing history."

I wonder if the house in Esher is Quill Cottage.

Sandbanks & the Tip: Tracks goodies.

Tracks have just published full details of their latest auction, and, as ever, it is full of fascinating bits unt bobs, including these rare pics: above - John and extended family on the balcony at Mimi's place in the summer of 1966. Below, John plus trusty Raleigh Lenton, by the Tip off Menlove Avenue:

Both of these, and lots more, can be found at the dedicated site. I'd recommend scooting over there tout suite.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

April, 1969: John & Yoko.

Be honest, now: have you actually listened to the whole (or even any part) of The Wedding Album? If not, ye should, particularly side 1's opus "John & Yoko". Judging by comments on YouTube, this 22:44 gauntlet throwdown of a recording tends to elicit responses in individual listeners (occasionally participants) that run the gamut from extreme boredom to utter, eye-swivelling fury, via a brief detour down the (if you'll excuse the expression) cul-de-sac of sexual arousal.
Avant it may be, but not as much as it appears; the whole thing is actually an extended take on Stan Freberg's 1951 comedy single John And Marsha. John and Yoko never took themselves as seriously as others did (and, indeed, do).(Go HERE to hear.)
Now compare unt contrast. Above, the titular pair recording John's heartbeat in EMI's Studio 2, c. April 1969. The backdrop to John & Yoko is provided by the sound of their twin, errr, throbbers, sometimes galloping, occasionally almost faltering, over which John does Yoko, and Yoko does John, possibly literally (I hope that's an Apple he's eating).
Parts of it, no doubt, are silly/boring/etc. Yet there are also sections which, to use John's own words, can indeed seem almost "hair raising", if not downright harrowing in the light of the marriage's tragic demise.
Take the passage around 7:30, for instance, where a distraught Yoko cries John's name. Or, even more so, the section c. 12:30 - John appears to breathe his last as Yoko sounds like nothing so much as a flat-lining EKG machine. Palpable nonsense.
Of course, the effect is punctured shortly thereafter when they both get the giggles.
Nevertheless, if you've never heard it, here it is.
You're so very welcome.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool: for a kickoff.

A number of readahs have written to ask if this nonsense is finally, and not before time, over. The answer is no, but it is on hiatus, as I put what little energy I have into other stuff for a while. When will it re-start? I know not, but rest assured if I receive anything sufficiently interesting in the meantime I'll be sure to post.
In the mean-meantime, here's a little pic of where, for our boy at any rate, it all began: the kitchen at 9, Newcastle Road, near Penny Lane.
I was lucky enough to visit this place when it was for sale recently, tagging along with an interested party (ahem). The house was atmospheric in the extreme - refreshingly unrefurbished, vintage wallpaper, bare floorboards etc. And the kitchen, where one day Fred and Julia utilised the floor for a spot of you know wot, with the result being you know who, likewise.
Anyway, not with a whimper, but a bang, I leave ye for now.
Thanks, as ever, to Mr L for the pic.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Kenwood: summer, 1968.

Too busy to post recently, but I'll gladly make time for these rather wonderful pics. This must be pretty close to the Two Virgins night - there are other photos circa then showing John in almost identical garb, post-India, happy/sad, who knows? These girls got a glimpse of Kennie, went inside, and particularly remember the smell of the place - John burnt incense non-stop, and would have returned from the sub-continent laden with the stuff.
But here they are outside the front door, a fantastic little moment in time:

Huge thanks to Christine (whose pictures these are) for her generosity in allowing me to post, and to Trish, and Julian Carr for sorting it out.
(These haven't been seen before, and are used with permission - please don't re-post without it. I just know I can trust you people!)

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Tittenhurst: ca. 1969.

More from Bravo: Tittenhurst shortly after John & Yoko moved in. Above, the front door (later famously featured in the Imagine promo), below a detritus laden ground floor room:

Regulah readahs will no doubt spot a few familiar items. I can only be arsed to point one out, in case the former receptionist at Apple to this day wonders who nicked that painting:

Many thanks yet again to Sara from MTBFR.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Kenwood: Les Anthony.

Ah yes. Kenwood. The ostensible subject of this blog. Remember, anybody? Anybody? Anybody?
A splendid shot of Les Anthony, Lennon chauffeur, as ye will surely know, in front of Kenwood "mit Ringo's Facel Vega", apparently.
And here is that very "auto", then unt nau:

The new Kennie pic from the pages of Bravo, courtesy of MTBFR's Sara Schmidt. Thanks Sara.

Kingsley Hill party: 27th/28th May, 1967.

Kenny Everett's contemporary account of the fabled housewarming/Pepper launch party at Kingsley Hill is laced with fascinating detail, not to mention sly references to "joss sticks". It also throws up (and I use the term advisedly) a couple of questions. The schwing-ding is famous in Beatle-watching circles for (at least) 2 reasons - Cynthia's nightmarish acid meltdown, culminating in an aborted suicidal leap from a top floor window, and Paul's non-appearance, causing Brian to drape himself over a piano (or some such), declaiming melodramatically,"That he didn't come, on this day of all days." Palpable nonsense.
Actually, at least one of these may in fact have been palpable, as I say, etc.. The party has hitherto been dated Sunday 28th May, thus explaining Paul's absence: on that date he had to pick Jane up from London airport, returning as she was from her State-side theatre run.
Now, Kenny (and let's not forget this was written shortly after the event) explicitly contradicts this: he not only dates it to Saturday 27th, but also places Paul very much at the party, clad in "wild ascot tie" amongst other things.
I dunno - maybe there was another party that Paul didn't attend, and memories of the two have somehow become conflated over the years. Maybe Paul really didn't appear, and his absence was covered up (ie someone asked Ken to pretend that Paul had been there (which seems far-fetched)). Or maybe someone mis-remembered Paul's absence, and this is another example of a "fact" that never was.
It should be noted that, with it being a Beatle party in the summer of 1967, almost everyone was toasted on Owsley, amongst other things; it's amazing that anyone can remember anything whatsoever about goings on, so perhaps the last explanation makes most sense.
Kenny later went into rather more explicit detail regarding events, including the, frankly, excessive quantities of puke involved. Lovely stuff indeed.

It's also "innaresting" to note the references to "Cynth", who not only displays an "acres-of-teeth" smile, but also manages to make chit-chat about ongoing renovation at Kenwood (which needn't, of course, contradict her account of events). At one point, too, it's John who appears at a top floor window. Palpable etc.

From the pages of quarterly publication Teen Datebook, published November 1967. As usual, scanned in hi-res, so download and zoom to read.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Derek Taylor: More Degs and Jack.

From the pages of Cheetah magazine, January 1968. Degs is held in high regard round these parts, and it's always great to see some "new" Fabs-related verbiage from him; so, a couple of pages and a long lost night from the first US tour, scanned by Richard Morton Jack of most excellent Flashback/Galactic Ramble fame, and all thanks to him for so doing. D & z, friends, d & z.

Friday, 21 February 2014

24 Chapel Street: Sgt Pepper shindig.

19th May, 1967: 24 Chapel Street. The evening party for Pepper chez Eppy was a two-part affair - first, assorted photographers were given some time to do their respective thang as ver Fabs posed with and without a handy copy of the new album. After a bit, the snappers were ushered out (pausing to take a few shots by the front door), and the Beatles returned to eat, drink and chat with various journalists.
To wit, Ray Coleman's contemporary piece, bits of which I've seen quoted before, but not the whole caboodle. Ray felt that John was out of it, and yer know wot? He might just have been right.
Download and zoom in to read:

Brian was, in fact, mid-way through a stay at the Priory, attempting once again to dry out, but made it to the party all the same. Other contemporary reports have him leaving early in order to head down to Kingsley Hill (see posts passim), but in fact it was back to the clinic. However, his famous eye for detail was clearly still intact; the story goes that he had 100 1oz solid silver coins cast to hand out at the party, and also to give to Nems employees and other favoured folk. One of these was found amongst his personal effects in the immediate interval post mortem:

George too left early - some scribbler pissed him off. Grumpy.

Monday, 17 February 2014

321 West 44th St NYC: Record Plant East, 1974.

¿Qué pasaba New York? In the good old 1970s, the Record Plant East at 321 West 44th Street was what was happening; it was John's studio of choice for much of his solo career. When the weather was clement, up on the roof he'd scoot, and so these splendid (and little seen)(by me at any rate) pics came to pass.
The studio itself is long gone, of course, but the building remains, having been recently recast as an office complex (and thus affording the opportunity for a spot of "then unt nau").
In the 40 years since etc, Midtown has become ever richer, with the "3-R's" (re-development, re-re-development and re-re-ohshutupimmediately) much in evidence - note the Uris Building (now the Paramount Plaza) looming in 1974, a little dwarfed cum 2014 (if you'll excuse the expression)(also note the also re-developed roof):

Another angle...:

...this time with the huge Milford Hotel as a backdrop; again, here's almost the exact same spot 40 years on:

Tammy's ever excellent blog featured the colour variant a while back, but I hadn't seen the black and white one before:

Likewise with these; the right hand John was on Tammy (as it were), but etc.:

Of course, the Record Plant East was also John's final studio - he overdubbed guitar for Yoko's Walking On Thin Ice here on the evening of December 8th, 1980.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Kenwood: December 2nd, 1968.

The Hard Rock Cafe has (or should that be have?) put up the complete unedited tapes of the December 2nd 1968 interview done at Kenwood, together with a fascinating audio reminiscence by Maurice Hindle (the interviewer) in which he recalls in detail the circumstances of his meeting with John at the titular abode, together with transcripts and a couple of explanatory essays.

Lovely stuff indeed. Go HERE to gerrit.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Beatles: 160 Intimate Questions.

A word to the wise: though these date from early '64, and are therefore more likely to have some authentic Fabs input, fan mags were churning guff out at speed in vast quantities during the peak years of worldwide mania, often by making little or nothing go a very long way indeed. As Alan Partridge might put it, a lie is a lie.
However, there is enough authentic detail (e.g. the names of John's half-sisters) sprinkled throughout these questionnaires to allow that, give or take some translation into Americanese for the "market", ver lads did indeed respond thusly. Note, amongst other things, John's Kenwood-anticipating response to the question re. where he'd like to live, and George's description of first meeting Paul.
Download 'em for a readable view (you'll need to zoom in), and, for once, no further guff from me, thank ye very much.

The Magickal Childe: 35 West 19th Street, Manhattan, NY.

Hey Dullblog-ite Michael Gerber recently expressed the desire that someone dig a little deeper into John's NYC, getting beyond the quotidian (yer Dakotas and Bank Streets) to some of his lesser known hangouts. In so doing, he suggested a couple for starters, which (leaving Korean brothels to one side for the mo) brings me to The Magickal Childe shop on W 19th street.
According to Michael Lloyd's biography of Eddie Buczynski, this place was frequented not only by John and Yoko, but also Paul and Linda, and George too.
John's interest in the occult is fairly well documented (e.g. mentioning Crowley's Book Of Lies as a personal fave in the March '74 Crawdaddy interview, taking "destiny-altering" clockwise (or was it anti-clockwise) round the world trips etc), and Fred Seaman's book (which should, admittedly, be treated with a spoonful of sodium) has several passages on this topic, e.g. John's cynicism-tinged fascination with Theosophy and the like.
The Magickal Childe was Manhattan's main repository and purveyor of Neo-Pagan/Wiccan/etc goods, a by all accounts bizarre, claustrophobic, cluttered mish-mash of all things occult, from rare herbs and incense ingredients stored in jars along the walls, to books, apparel, ritual swords, a human skull in a case...you name it.
The shop's owner, Herman Slater, dubbed "Horrible Herman" due to his habit of shouting at irritating customers, catered for all those of an occult-minded bent from the mid-70s on. The place finally closed in 1999, a few years following Herman's death.
T'ínternet being what it is, however, some traces remain. Above, on the left, the shop frontage as John would have known it (decidedly subfusc), and a later incarnation as featured in the Nicholas Cage film Vampire's Kiss (another truly extraordinary performance by NC).
A video produced by Herman (find it on YouTube ye seekers) allows a glimpse of the interior. Those jars of incense and spell-making ingredients:

Bits and pieces (which remind one (or at least me) of the shelves in the sunroom):

The building remains, though, and it's now a tapas place called Sala One Nine:

It is intriguing that, apparently, all the ex-Fabs bar His Schnozzness were moved to investigate The Magical Childe... but then again, Crowley was probably on the cover of Pepper for a reason. So mote it be. (Or summat.)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Kenwood: if the face fits.

Back to that "French seamstress"; regulahs will be bored to discover a name attached to these familiar photos, namely "Simone".

The jacket itself pops up again at Sotheby's NY in 1990 - John had given it to an assistant in 1970, who in turn sold it at the aforementioned auction (see above, right). Described as a "Pocket Coat", they weren't kidding, featuring as it does 10 pockets - and a lining of gold brocade, no less.

The "innaresting" thing though, is the label - "Simone//June '67". Which begs the questions, who and whither "Simone"? The catalogue is convinced that said Simone was a member of The Fool, but there was no-one of that name in the collective. There was, o' course, Simon Posthuma, and The Fool were resident at Kenwood painting John's piano when the above "fitting" photo was taken. So might the "French seamstress" actually be Marijke? No - unless everyone was joining John in swapping clothes with the gayest of abandons, then these (taken on the same day) are of two different people:

So, in conclusion, I dunno. On which note, belated Season's Gratings to all readahs.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

3a Seymour Walk: St Dunstan's Priory.

Pete Shotton picks a party chez Lionel Bart, held on 9 October 1965 and attended by all four Fabs, as the epitome o' Shwinging Shixties shiznizzle. Bart, extremely successful songwriter that he was, owned "the Priory" (pictured above) in Seymour Walk from 1964-1968, and here it was that the aforementioned wing-ding shwinged. (Get togethers round Lionel's were a regular occurrence, and featured all the accoutrements one might expect. For related reasons, Brian Epstein was both good friends with Mr Bart and a frequent attendee.)
Here Lionel is in the first floor drawing room:

In Pete's book, a couple of Polaroids show Cyn, Patti and Beth Shotton reclining on the remnants of some poor beastie in this very locale:

Bart's piano can just about be discerned:

A couple more "areas":

John apparently loved this place. Quoth Pete: "Much to John's amusement and delight, our gracious host had also contrived to turn his house into a veritable labyrinth of trapdoors, hidden stairways and secret passages. Wandering about the house, John and I were constantly colliding with walls where, but a moment earlier, there had most assuredly been corridors or rooms."
Now. A couple of plans exist, dating from early 1964 and March 1965, and these show the alterations that Bart made to the Priory - here is a bearings-getting red arrow:

Funnily enuff, said plans show no evidence of jiggery, or indeed, pokery of the type that Pete mentions. A couple of doors get altered, the odd window is fiddled aboot with, but that's about it:

However, the ground floor was a rabbit warren (not literally - that would have been ridiculous), and this fact, combined with the freely available substances that were a mainstay of such festivities, might account for etc.:

Lionel 'n' John, John 'n' Lionel:

And that's yer lot.