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; mock Tudor: Brown House: *KENWOOD*.

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Friday, 1 January 2010

King's Road: a short stroll - May 22, 1968.

The events and chronology pertaining to the beginning of John & Yoko's relationship remain murky, but one thing the tomes seem to agree on is the date of the Two Virgins night at Kenwood: May 19, 1968. Earlier that day, John, still reeling from the previous evening's speed/Mandrax/acid fuelled Messianic meltdown, had convened an emergency meeting at Wigmore Street. The inner circle duly shuffled in, were informed that John was now Jesus...and shuffled out again. Back at Kenwood, John invited Yoko round, and the rest is distorted piano and slowed down bird noises.
Three days later the Beatles hold an afternoon party at Club dell' Aretusa, though only John and George attend. The party is intended to launch the latest Apple retail outlet - Apple Tailoring, a collaboration with 60s fashionisto John Crittle.
The club is situated at 107 King's Road, Chelsea. Here's how it looked then:

It's still a club, though obviously not the same club, and the entrance has been completely redone:

Many photos of this event exist. At one point, John and George were captured deep in conversation, and it's tempting to imagine that John was explaining the new situation vis-a-vis Yoko. Meanwhile, Derek Taylor looks like he is contemplating the best way to deal with the latest shitstorm (something he was going to have to get used to):

Yoko doesn't seem to be present in the photos taken in the club - it's possible she was keeping a low profile, or else came along a bit later. What's sure is that she and John left together, and made the short walk up the King's Road to Apple Tailoring at no. 161, so that John could be pictured outside. The following pic (all these date from either 1970 or 1975) shows the way - past the Chelsea Potter (still there) and the Pant House (sadly, not still there). The site of Apple Tailoring is just outwith the perspective of this pic:

The first picture showing John and Yoko as a bona-fide couple (though few knew it at that point) was captured just past one of the King's Road antique markets. Here's the same spot from across the road a couple of years later:

...and how it looks today:

The Apple Tailoring shop itself, basically a makeover for Crittle's Dandy boutique which had occupied the same site, was in a church building which is still there:

He's not the Messiah - he's a very naughty boy:

A week later sessions for the White Album commenced, and the wheels began to come off.
Many thanks to Julian Carr for finding the old pictures, and taking most of the new ones, and to the City of London, London Metropolitan Archives for permission to use the vintage images of King's Road.


  1. I think George is wearing a jacket from Granny Takes a Trip, designed by John Pearse with (curtain?) fabric from Liberty of London.

  2. Very cool. Thanks for posting minutae like this. :)

  3. I read in more detail than I ever have before about the Apple Tailoring dinner at the club in Chris O'Dell's book. Here is what she says about John and Yoko

    "Photographers and journalists were swarming around the table, taking pictures, asking questions, lightly nudging themselves into position as John and Yoko arrived at the table. Two chairs were hurriedly added to the table, and Yoko sat down next to me.

    "This is their first public appearance together," Derek whispered to me, which explained why the press was all over them. John fielded the questions, while Yoko appeared to cling to him even as she sat straight backed in her chair, still as a stone; never saying a word. Her long black hair was parted in the middle and looked as if it were charged with electricity. I had the feeling that if I reached out and touched her, I'd get shocked.

    "....She looked so tiny and helpless, with that deer in the headlights look. Maybe she needs a friend, I thought. 'You're doing great,' I said, leaning over and whispering to her. She turned her head slowly, a curious expression on her face, and gave me a vacant smile. Then she turned away from me to focus on John, giving him that adoring look that we would all come to know so well."

    There is much more she has to say about that day if you are interested in reading more.


  4. Sare, sure, I`d love to hear more!

  5. Btw 161 Kings Road is now the Proud Galleries Chelsea shop and has artwork on display and for sale in both the main shop and basement.

    When walking round it's difficult not to be reminded that according to Pete Shotton's book, the seedy sounding John Crittle (rip) of Apple Tailoring had installed a two-way mirror in the ladies changing room, and one of the changing rooms featured a trap door which opened onto a little cubicle equipped with a mattress used for liaisons with chelsea dolly birds by Crittle, Shotton and Lennon...

  6. This week is the launch of Tom Hanleys black and white photographs of John Lennon at Prouds. All the prints are vintage and printed within a year of being taken. The show includes some really nice images of John and Yoko, which is amazing because, as you say, the building was Jahns tailer/hairdresser! Well worth checking out!


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