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*.

(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.

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Monday, 16 August 2010

Kenwood: footage - ca. 1984.

Footage of Kenwood is, as ye know, rare as the teeth of elderly "Scotch"men. There is the Reporting '66 film, where, thrillingly, they chose to film the gate, and the home movie footage (and actual footage) from the Smile and Two Virgins films. Plus, o' course, Joe Baiardi's fantastic video from a couple of years back, not to mention the unseen BBC clip from 1968. Or the Austrian TV footage from December of that year. Also John's home movies.
Actually, come to think of it, there is an enormous quantity of Kenwood film, and here is some more.
A news report from the mid-1980s, Kenwood resplendent on a rare sunny English summer's day, and more or less unchanged since John's time, blue window, Psychedelic Eye and all (give or take a re-modelled sunroom or one). The focus is the pool, as the Eye was being removed, heading northwards to go on display at the Liverpool Garden Festival in 1985.
The eagle... err... eared amongst you will notice that the soundtrack to this clip has been removed, due to copyright related paranoia. Nevertheless, this, once again in the context of all this pish, is as good as this pish gets, in this context.
I think I shall now give up.
Thanks to the wonderful KB, without whom...

Alma Square: Heroes Of Alma.

The latest installment in an occasional series Places They Got Pished; the Heroes Of Alma pub, just round the corner from EMI (or Abbey Road) studios, and thus a natural tippling destination (and looking none-more-Yellow-Submariney in these vintage pics):

Before the Beatles changed all that, sessions at EMI were strictly regimented on a shift basis; artistes would be told to go to the pub for lunch, or during any part of the recording process which didn't directly involve them. This place was a favourite of the studio engineers, and so, pre-Beatlemania, by osmosis (not literally), the Fabs came here too.
Naturally it's not there anymore, having been converted into a flat a few years back:

Many thanks to the City of London, London Metropolitan Archive for permission to use these pics, and to Julian Carr, both for his ever-sterling research, and for the up to date image.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Kenwood: sales particulars - January 8, 1969.

The sales particulars for Sunny Heights have already been on here (hence two important properties for sale); now comes the corresponding ad for Kenwood, from the pages of Queen magazine, January, 1969. I'd say the pictures were probably taken in the summer of 1968, at roughly the same time as Cathy's photos (see posts passim).
They don't show anything particularly new, but Kenwood pics of whatever hue are always welcome round these parts. Again, these likely date from the period when Cynthia, Julian, and Lil were occupying the house, whilst John and Yoko were living in Montagu Square. Note the blue attic window to the right; more on this to follow:

Another good shot of the sunroom end, taken from one corner of the swimming pool area:

And the pool itself, Eye in place:

There was an owner between John and Bill Martin, though details are sketchy. Bill bought the house in around 1970, and owned it into the 1980s.
Many thanks to our old buddy Mark Lewisohn for digging this one out of the archive.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Edinburgh: Ormidale Terrace, Gorgie Road & Shandwick Place.

Och! As anyone who regularly reads these haverings will likely know, John had a large soft spot for Scotland, and Edinburgh (pronounced Edin-burra (for any non-UK readahs), so now ye ken, and thir's nae excuse) in particular. His Aunt Mater lived at 15 Ormidale Terrace, and thus so did cousin Stan, someone who John always held in high regard. Young Master Lennon stayed here many a summer as a youth, and also visited at least a couple of times after the Beatles became mildly successful. Coincidentally, when the Kenwood address book was auctioned off, the promo pic happened to show the very entry for number 15:

The house is still there, and likely more or less unchanged since John knew it, strutting aboot in his tither. In his last letter to Stan, written in 1980, John talked about buying Ormidale Terrace (presumably just the house, and not the whole street, though who knows). It's odd to think that had he lived, the landlord of this gaff might just have been one J.W.O. Lennon:

A slightly closer view:

The terrace winds up a slight hill, at the foot of which squats a church:

I vaguely recall reading in some or other tome that John and Cyn once visited Edinburgh, but upon arriving at Ormidale Terrace, found no-one home. It being a typically dreich day, they took shelter in the doorway of this church, awaiting Mater's return:

The view from the door. Note the pterodactyl, which are becoming a real nuisance in Edinburgh these days:

Before the limiting effects of almost unparalleled fame kicked in, John was a cinema goer of the avid variety, and not just for those perv-related reasons outlined in Mr Shotton's book. His favourite cinema in Edinburgh, where he whiled away many an hour doing God knows what, was the Roxy on Gorgie Road. This closed down in 1963, first becoming a Bingo hall, and then falling into disrepair. It was more or less demolished a few years back, before being re-built using part of the original facade. These days, it's a shed o' beds:

John's final visit to Edinburgh was in 1969, accompanied by Yoko, Kyoko and Julian. At some point they all took a stroll along to Princes Street (Edinburgh's main drag), and were photographed several times so doing. The first port of call was photographic supplier Lizars, where, apparently (and appropriately), John was pictured in the process of buying some binoculars for Mater. (I've never seen this pic, so if anyone has it...) Lizars recently shut up shop in this location, but the premises are still there:

Inside is now a shell:

Next door stood the Shandwick Place branch of RBS (bastids that they are). John (newly purchased binoculars over shoulder) et al were also photographed here, heading onto Princes Street itself, where they ended up with tartan outfits for ver kidz, as you do. But here they are outside RBS (the bastids)(RBS that is, not ver kidz), plus the same spot now:

So there it is. A wee doad o' Lennon's Edinburgh for ye. Och! Etc.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Kenwood: summer, 1967 - part 2, interview.

Here, as promised, is Swedish schoolboy (that's him in the above pics) Richard Mühlrad's interview with John, at Kenwood, in the summer of 1967. John's answers were apparently captured on a tape recorder (manned by Richard), and then transcribed and translated into Swedish. As far as I am aware, this is the first time the interview has appeared in English. (It should probably also be noted that this is a re-translation out of Swedish and back into English; luckily, most of the language is simple enough, and it is likely, therefore, to be a pretty accurate representation.) No revelations, or anything, but another little slice of time and place, all the same:

RM: Are you tired of pop music?
JL: No, why do you ask?

RM: Well, the Beatles have changed their style.
JL: It's still pop music.

RM: What will you do when you quit playing music?
JL: I don't know. Many people have asked me that question. I guess I'll just stop playing.

RM: What are the Beatles doing this autumn and winter?
JL: We're making a new film.

RM: Will you be travelling abroad?
JL: We haven't decided yet.

RM: Is it fun or tiresome being idolized?
JL: It's both fun and tiresome.

RM: Are the Beatles coming to Sweden this or next year?
JL: I don't think so. We've stopped touring. We might come as tourists on holiday.

RM: For how long will the Beatles keep on playing?
JL: I don't know, hopefully forever.

RM: But the papers keep writing that you're breaking up.
JL: You should never believe what the big papers say.

RM: Do you like the Monkees?
JL: Yes, in fact I met them last night. (John is referring to a big party at the Beatles favourite club which pop stars like the Rolling Stones, Monkees, Jimi Hendrix and others attended.)

RM: When will the new film be finished?
JL: November.

RM: When is the next album due?
JL: Soon I think. We have been writing and recording new songs continuously after finishing Sgt Pepper, so a new album should probably be out by September.

RM: Do you think you will release more records in 1968 compared to 1967?
JL: Oh, I really don't know you know. Everybody asks us about that.

RM: Do you like opera?
JL: No I think it's horrible! The music is alright, it's the singers I can't stand listening to.

RM: Have the Beatles managed to travel abroad much without the press finding out about it?
JL: Sometimes. They always know when any of us travel somewhere, but they don't always know where to.

RM: Do you think pop will last another five years, and if so, do you see yourselves topping the charts at that time?
JL: Yes, we hope so. Pop music will only become better and more like fine art over the next five years.

RM: Do you still enjoy playing before big crowds?
JL: No. It's too tiring.

RM: Is that why you stopped touring, unlike the Monkees who carry on?
JL: Well, we've already done that. What the Monkees are doing now is what we did for five years. You can't just repeat yourself over and over. We can't stand on stage and sing "She Loves You" anymore, that would just bore us. If we were to tour again we would need a full orchestra, and then no-one would listen.

RM: Do you prefer short or long hair?
JL: Well it's short at the moment, but I prefer long hair.

RM: Do you think having short hair has lost you any fans?
JL: I don't know.

And neither do I. Many thanks again go to Bruno for unearthing the Swedish fan mag from whence it came, and to Lonedrone for the re-translation.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Kenwood: June 29, 1967.

Is there no end to these June 29, 1967 Kenwood pics? It would seem not. John and Julian, on the diving board. Actually, I think this one may have been on here before, but in appalling quality.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Abbey Road: studio 2 creep-fest.

I made a vow to the pagan God of fermentation never to include a picture of myself on this blog; a vow I must now, with profound regret, break. However, in order to appease, I have taken the liberty of Photoshopping out my face (thus making this pic even creepier than it already is), and adding several pounds to my beergut (in reality, my stomach is a finely honed testament to a life well lived).
And so to business. When I visited Abbey Road a couple of years back, a conscious decision was made not to take then & now shots; after all, where does one start (or, more pertinently, stop)? That way madness lies.
Instead, I concentrated on downing as many pints of overpriced lager from the basement cafe/bar as possible in the alloted time, annoying staff with inane questions about ludicrous Beatles trivia, and generally having a whale of a time running between studios 1 and 2, talking utter pish all the while.
That being said, there was one "then & now" that I couldn't resist: probably my favourite pic of John in studio 2, staring down from the control room in 1967, looking both weird and menacing.
So, here it is, numpty years later.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Kenwood: then & thens.

Some new perspectives on '80s-model Kenwood. (Plus, with stultifying predictability, some "thens" from 1967.)
The above shows the view down to the pool, from the steps beside the sunroom, just before the Eye was removed in the mid-1980s. At that point, Kenwood (and this view in particular) was still remarkably similar to you know when (with the exception of a bit more "bush").
Below, a bit closer. Note both that the pool has been emptied to allow the removal of the Eye, and the difference that viewing it through water makes (as in the '67 shot).
Very clever, that. (Possibly.)

Next up, John's fabled "perch", where he spent much of 1967, staring into space. Sitting in an English garden, waiting for blah blah etc etc. By the mid-'80s, this view had hardly changed at all:

Finally, the garage "end" - John built this (not literally), and it is all gone now. But back then, the only real difference was the sunroom. It's a moot point whether that is a completely new structure, or simply John's one modified. I reckon the latter, for what it's worth:

The more or less eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted that the '80s pics aren't photographs at all, but screencaps, taken from video footage.
Watch this space.
(Or not.)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Kenwood: summer, 1967 - part 1.

Bruno Dupont has sent more pics and information regarding the visit of Swedish schoolboy Richard Mühlrad to Kenwood in the summer of 1967. The new material comes from an old Scandinavian fan mag, and whilst not of the greatest image-quality, the latest photos are, nevertheless, fascinating.
I've used one of the (admittedly imperfect) online translators to decode the original Swedish captions, and fairly amusing reading they make too.
In the above pic, you can just see John and Terry Doran sitting in front of the dining room window, John (on the left) with meisterwerk-in-progress on lap, drawing away. But what is that black shape in front of them? According to the original caption...
"John Lennon's house, typically English, in a suburb of London. Richard Mühlrad found the house while strolling around the town." (Oh really??) "He went in and knocked. No one answered. But John Lennon's cat strolled leisurely by. Richard followed - and found John sitting with his gardener, drawing."
His gardener? I must admit (assuming the translation is correct) that raised a chuckle round these parts. (Mind you, Terry Doran did pretty much everything else at Kenwood, so he might as well have done a spot of weeding too, I suppose.) Presumably, this misnomer was down to John, being "foony".
But getting back to the above photo, and yes, that does indeed look like a cat, leading the way round to where John and the green-fingered Mr Doran were sitting. As we've seen before, here's what Richard found:

The following pic, showing Richard and John, has also been on these pages before. According to the caption, it was taken by that trusty gardener:

This pic, however, is new - and very interesting it is too. A look over John's shoulder at what he was working on that day:

Note the Vogue tea-tray (at least, I think that's what it is). I've previously guessed that the drawing was probably the charity Christmas card that appeared at the end of 1967; but I can't see anything in the new pic which exactly matches. However, that doesn't neccesarily mean this is a different drawing: John worked on this quite complex piece over several days, and it seems to be at an early stage in the over the shoulder shot. You can see several faces; stylistically it is similar. So I'd say that it is probably the same picture, though re-worked considerably before completion. (Unless, o' course, anyone out there recognises it as something else...):

Finally, Richard got a quick look in the sunroom. The caption states that he didn't get to see any of the rest of the house, but that John didn't mind him taking a snap in here. Interestingly, the caption further identifies the guitar that can be seen (side on) as being John's "first". Hmmmm:

Now, all that is great enough. However, not only did Richard get the above photos, but John also agreed to an interview, which Bruno has found too. I'm going to have this properly translated by a Swedish friend of mine, and will post it when I've done so; it's not that long, but it does put words to these fantastic pics.
Huge thanks to Bruno yet again for uncovering and sharing this material.

Tittenhurst: the Wibbly Wobbly Way.

The final round of Thomas Rhyner's summer 1977 Tittenhurst pics, captured whilst legging it round the grounds in an attempt to avoid a potentially irate Richie. The above shows the arch over the "front" door (actually round the side), behind the bush. In '77, the This Is Not Here window remained in situ; I very much doubt it still is:

The gazebo, which will be familiar to viewers of the splendid Gimme Some Truth documentary:

In said doc, John & Yoko were seen choosing, placing, and ultimately, as you do, consuming chess pieces in the diminutive "dwelling" (or whatever a gazebo is):


Finally, to end at the start, the Lodge House which sat, and may even still sit, at the entrance to the grounds. Note the "amusing" signs. Tragically, no pictures exist of the Wibbly Wobbly Way:

Many thanks again go to Thomas for letting us see his shots (and apologies that it has taken so long to post these final ones).

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Kenwood: attic - June 29, 1967.

Yawn. Yet another June 29, 1967 attic shot... and this time in colour. How tiresome.
Seriously though, any "readahs" in the States should keep an eye out for pishy 60s fan mags; some of these, as the above shows, have fantastic unseen Kenwood "shittle". OK?

West Malling: then & now.

Ah, West Malling: We hardly knew you, too.
"Chosen" by the Beatles as a primary location for Magical Mystery Tour, largely due to gross incompetence (they hadn't bothered to book a proper film studio, thus everywhere was taken and it was all they could get), the airfield represents, in excelsis, another one of those happy accidents that occur at almost every turn where these four "shit-kickers" (Ringo's words, not mine) are concerned; it proved ideal.
That MMT is a load of pish is an almost universally accepted "fact". However, having recently viewed it again after a gap of around 20 years, with lowered expectations, I'd take issue with the consensus. Parts of it are (and I'm struggling to find a better term, so I won't bother) a load of pish; the "wizards" are to be regretted, and the title sequences and intermittent explosive "special" effects have aged less than well... but beyond that, I can't really find much to dislike. It veers (wildly) from the silly (though charming) to the scintillating. I do wish they would release it in a properly re-mastered version on DVD.
And so to a little wittering about West Malling.
Assuming you have functioning eyes, the aerial pic below is self explanatory. Nevertheless, clockwise from top left: the main hanger where the finale was filmed, the blast shields (two locations) which served as backdrop to the Walrus sequence, and, finally, at the bottom, the patch of ground once occupied by yet another blast shield - this one used by the Rutles (they couldn't find the right one - and neither could I when I was there in the 1980s):

Speaking of the Walrus areas, it's now very hard to identify precisely where these points were; as regulars will know, the airfield is long gone, and the whole place is gradually being eaten by a large modern housing development called Kings Hill. However, too much time poring over Google Earth and the like leads me to believe (quite possibly wrongly) that where the Walrus blast shields once stood is now a street called Durello Avenue. You can see it below, to the right. This satellite image is at least a couple of years old; I'm pretty sure that the waste ground has been covered in new houses in the interim. If I'm right, then someone's front drive now sits where the Walrus once sat:

Lastly, some charming home movie footage, showing West Malling airfield in the late 1970s, around 10 years after the MMT cast and crew packed up and left; filmed by glider pilots, and therefore not of a specifically Beatles bent, glimpses of those blast shields can nevertheless be seen, amongst other things. Three more parts are to be found on YouTube.
Thanks to Nernie, E. and Christopher "I'm not drinking today" Stewart for "input", and to The Beatles' London (Schreuders, Lewisohn & Smith), without which West Malling MMT topography would have been forever lost.