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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Correspond via: kenwoodlennon@googlemail.com

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Kenwood: early 1966.

John back at the auld house, outside the front door, sometime around February or March 1966. No statues yet, or at least, not round his entrance. He's "rocking" much the same apparel as in Trinidad in January of that year (with the notable (and probably wise) addition of trousers):

All questions of schmuttah aside, the "new" pic of John at Kenwood is extremely interesting. Clearly, something happened to their songwriting in late 65/early 66... and the period from then until mid-1967 is miraculous. It's now impossible to hear their work of the time with the sensibility of the time, of course. The most you can do is try to recall how you felt yourself (missus) the first time you heard it. In my case, this was from a copy of Revolver filched from a neighbour, at the ripe age of 11 - my friends and I playing Tomorrow Never Knows repeatedly on a shitty little mono record player, and thinking "What in the name of Rick Astley is this?" (Well, that and playing Working Class Hero, because, thrillingly, it "featured" a bit of swearing.) I suppose I've never really gotten over it. (Piss off Greek chorus.) Anyway, there he is, having just got up, or having been up all night, this being when he was first knee-deep in they acidic tablets... but one thing is for sure, he's thinking about the next song, or the next album... and we know what they were, even if he doesn't quite.
A doff o' the cap to Meet The Beatles For Real for the pic.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Kenwood: attic plans, 1995.

Clicking on the above will provide, as usual, a better view. By 1995, the attic had seen some renovation, most notably the installation of a small bathroom in what had been John's studio (room S1 above), and the same at the other end, with the stairs covered over, and a bathroom and storage space replacing what used to be yet another bedroom. The tank room, home to John's cats, had also been shortened to allow for a new staircase at that end. Compare with 1964, when John first moved in:

As has been seen, the kitchen and bathroom (Bath no. 3 above) were turned by John into his studio - at first for painting, but then for music, as the various tape-recorders, weird keyboards etc etc began to mount. Subsequent owners have used this space as a bedroom. Joe's video showed the whole area gutted, with John's studio space still intact, but all other rooms gone. Clicking on "attic" in the label cloud will lead to more (and probably too much more).

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

A Brief History Of Violence part 1: MDO.

The eagle-eyed (and probably long-term unemployed) should be able to spot at least six Mad Day Out locations in the above St Pancras panoramathon, though I wouldn't recommend it. Better (and more pointless) to indulge in a bit of cud-chewing on the subject of the Mad Day Out itself, and its themes.
There are at least two (and possibly as many as ninety) themes running through the pics, the most obvious theme being the theme of the fighting theme:

Various people (but mainly lazy magazine editors) have noticed one or other of these pics before ejaculating thus: "Aha! An accidental but useful visual metaphor to illustrate the dissolution of the Beatles!" Maybe so.
However, it seems these pics were really a calculated move on the part of the Fabs: they asked Don McCullin to be principal photographer on the shoot precisely because he was best known for his war photos. Then, as now, as ever, war splatters on, to the horror of 99% of the human race (the ones not doing the fighting). Quoth Macca: "Don's a very cool guy. He is one of the great British photographers. We thought we've got to be the war. We'll provide the battlefield and it'll work. He'll just click into action."
Another theme, clearly related - John, "dead", twice:

(The same spot as above on the left, 43 years later, looking remarkably, and appropriately, like a barrow mound):

They pose outside the Coroner's Court (as above, except for the barrow mound bit):

John "pisses" on the church (and Paul's expression is funny - "Has he learnt nothing?!"):

And so on, and so forth. It seems from Paul's comments, and from what's there to be seen, that the Mad Day Out may have been another attempt to say something about their times, the times in 1968 being particularly dark, both intra and extra-personally (and I'm not sure if that's even a word... but you get the idea). How much more interesting if so (and it was pretty interesting to start with).
Thanks to Joe Baiardi and Tammy for "an" pic.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Twickenham Film Studios: 1969 & 2003.

If the end of the Beatles was, as John characterised it, a "slow death", then here was where the patient really started vomiting uncontrollably. There had certainly been a fair bit of puke in the preceding months, and Ringo may have lost control of his bowels on a couple of occasions, but... no, I've completely lost control of this metaphor.
Let's begin again: Stage 1 at Twickenham had seen plenty of Fabs action over the years (HDN, Help!, the Intel promos, and, perhaps best of all, the promos for Hey Jude and Revolution), all of which yielded more or less pleasant memories/results. So it would have seemed like a reasonable idea to return for the Get Back sessions in January, 1969.
Unfortunately, partly due to the stripped back ethos behind the exercise, and partly because 3/4 of them didn't give much of a shit anymore, little effort was made to actually construct a set, and thereby ameliorate the ipso-facto depressive-fug-inducing effects of being stuck in what looks like a huge garage with no natural light, in the depths of a British winter, when 3/4 of you don't give much of a shit anymore.
Still, there they were for the fortnight in 1969 which broke the band (more or less). And here is how it looked in 2003: much the same.
In the film, you can occasionally see beyond the screen (which served as a set), to the bare studio walls beyond: the same corner 34 years later:

Here's said screen during the filming in '69, and the wall behind in 2003:

...and again, both sides:

Little wonder they got a bit narked, when you get a glimpse of the darkness beyond. (Take that as another stupid metaphor if ye must.)
I am indebted, as are we all, to Christopher Bourke for the very interesting 2003 pics.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sunny Heights: July, 1976.

A couple of photos of Sunny Heights, former abode of the "Schnoz", taken by Guus Limberger in the summer of 1976. Not sure who owned the place at this time, or how much reconstruction had gone on:

Many thanks to Guus for these.

Sandbanks: Poole, Dorset.

Some photos of Mimi, taken in and around Sandbanks, and mainly dating from the 1970s.

Mini was usually good for an amusing quote or two about John. For example:"I've just quit reading the papers these days. Apple sends me his records, but I won't play them. And I've asked my friends not to tell me about them. The shameful album cover and that [erotic] art show of his. He's been naughty and the public doesn't like it, and he's sorry for it. Now he wants sympathy. That's why he's come out with all these fantastic stories about an unhappy childhood. It's true that his mother wasn't there and there was no father around, but my husband and I gave him a wonderful home. John didn't buy me these furnishings, my husband did. John, Paul, and George wrote many songs together sitting on the sofa you're sitting on now, long before you'd ever heard of the Beatles. Why, John even had a pony when he was a little boy! He certainly didn't come from a slum!" A pony, indeed. Also note the picture, obscured by camera flash, hanging on the wall below:

Mimi:"Everytime John does something bad and gets his picture in the papers he rings up to smooth me over. See that new color television? It was a Christmas present, but he had it delivered early. A big present arrives every time he's been naughty. I usually have a huge photograph of John hanging in the lounge. When he's a good boy, it'll go back up again!"
Errr...quite so.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Kenwood: Wood Lane and "ting".

Blog "readah" D Aston had business in the St George's Hill area last year, and couldn't resist a visit to the titular pile. He also got a photo of the sign for Wood Lane, upon which Kenwood squats, though whether there was a sign there in the shikshtiesh I know not.
Further evidence of the work that's been going on in the house and grounds for the last couple of years, and strange to think that, although it's certainly Kenwood, none of the portion of the house visible here existed in John's time:

The photographer is standing on the exact spot once occupied by the gypsy caravan; compare with the pic HERE.
I wonder what they are up to on the site of the old swimming pool. Maybe Joe Baiardi's latest video will shed some light:

Thanks to Mr Aston for sending his pics in.

50 Supermarkets Associated With The Beatles:...

No 50: Marks & Spencer, Marylebone Station. Right, this is getting absolutely stupid now. Nevertheless, if you ever find yourself in the aforementioned shop, buying sugar in one form or another, you might be surprised to realise that this is the very spot where the phone booth bit in the title sequence of A Hard Day's Night was shot. Or you might not.

50 Pubs Associated With The Beatles:...

No. 48: The Shakespeare's Head. Oh go oooon then. This pub, on Carnaby Street, served as an evening opener for John on at least a couple of occasions in 1963, according to Tony Bramwell in the book what he "wrote".

No. 47: Pizza Express. Not even a pub. What a ridiculous parcel of nonsense this is. On a theme of nonsense, it doesn't get more so than John's "I am Jesus" malarkey. To recap briefly - John, up for 3 days on speed 'n' acid, as you do, finally and comprehensively jumps that shark by deciding he is Jesus. Convening a meeting at the Wigmore Street Apple office, he (sorry, He) informs the others that this is his "thing". Non-plussed, the Fabs proceed to go for a meal, where someone or other approaches the Messiah and says "You're John Lennon". The big C responds "Actually I'm Jesus." Said bloke: "Really? Well, I loved your last album. Thought it was great". Tittersome stuff, no doubt.
This anecdote first saw the light in Pete Shotton's excellent autobiography. Interestingly, he's recounted the tale on at least two other occasions, both of which paint events slightly differently. In Spitz's error-fest, it sounds like John was actually experiencing some kind of mental/nervous breakdown, rather than a ridiculous, but essentially amusing acid inspired palaver. In the version recounted in Spencer Leigh's also excellent Tomorrow Never Knows, they don't go to a restaurant post-revelation, but rather to the pub. (You can see where I'm going with this, can't you?)
Tragic hairy palmed obsessive that I am, I couldn't help wondering where this restaurant or pub might have been. One contender, if it was a restaurant, might be Genevieve, a French establishment a couple of streets away from the Wigmore HQ. According to the Beatles' London, they came here in 1966 during a break filming the promos for Paperback Writer. It's now...you guessed it...the above Pizza Express (mmmmmmmm pizza).
But what if it was actually a pub? Eh? Well...

No 46: The Devonshire Arms. Withing stumbling distance of the Apple office, and a regular haunt of the "moptops" in 1963, this has to be a contendah.

No 45: The Pontefract Castle. Again, within stumbling distance, on the same block as the Wigmore Street office, and, fairly crucially, there in the 1960s. At the very least, this must have seen the arses of Apple employees on a goodly number of occasions, possibly literally.
Finally, there are those who now think that the following familiar pic, taken outside Kenwood, was actually captured on the very day of the Jesus incident, and shortly before Yoko arrived for the Two Virgins evening. Close scrutiny may provide some supporting evidence. Ahem:

I'm off for a stiff drink.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Kenwood: more entrance hall.

Always "n-n-n-nice" to see new pics o' Kenwood back in the day...and here are a couple hitherto not widely seen. These were taken, as regulah readahs will know, in the entrance hall (dark, "bok"-lined, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc...). Note the "boks":

...and, more interestingly, that guitar again...:

The pic of Julian was used (I think) to sell the table visible behind him at auction not that long ago. More on that, inevitably, to follow.
Huge thanks to Mark Jones for sending the pics.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Mercury Theatre: then & now.

Above squats The Mercury Theatre as it was in the 1950s, and how it looks now in its present guise of unaffordable housing. Opened in 1933, the place was a small but venerable thesp-cranny, frequented by the likes of Eliot, Auden and O'Neill. But you don't care about all that, do ye? Oh no. And, I'm afraid to say, neither do I, because the most interesting thing about this place is, of course, that the Beatles fannied about with a parrot here during the Mad Day Out:

Having bade the bird and its wrangler a teary farewell, they proceeded to go berserk, smashing a sign off the wall and taking it outside, for some reason (or something):

The drainpipe remains:

...as do one or two other things.

More guff to follow, at some point (some of which may even be related to the ostensible subject of this blog).