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

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Kenwood: awning (possibly yawning).


Yawn if ye will, but the above represents the first half (or quarter) decent look at the garage entrance, as was, and that curious (if functional) awning:


Presumably there to provide additional cover for the collection of cars at Kenwood, it was of a fair length, as is clear from the aerial shot:


Here's the same spot now, from Joe Baiardi's most recent video:


As readahs will know, John was responsible for building that whole end of Kenwood, and it's all now gone (everything re-built in the mid-90s). But I wonder who the architect was back then. Presumably the construction was handled by Brickey Builders, though as John seems to have gone ahead without planning permission, no records are in the public domain (as far as I can gather).
At any rate, the "new" pic does exist in much better quality, if in private hands and unlikely to be more widely seen.
This, however, whets the appetite even more for Lizzie Bravo's photos of Kenwood, taken at the time, which apparently cover the exterior from every conceivable angle. She's very kindly offered to scan them for us as soon as her much-anticipated book is published.
Thanks to Mark L and Joe B.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Kenwood: September, 1967.


John's "lucky dips" into the mail bags at Kenwood would occasionally encourage him to actually respond, as in this example, post-stamped "Weybridge 6 Sep. 1967". The recipient got John's address via her employer, apparently, who was the florist contracted by Brian to supply his offices.
Clearly, John was still in full-on evangelical mode re. TM (Pete Shotton recounts an amusing tale in his book related to this).
Something else which may be of interest is a PDF of one of Maharishi's publications from 1967, which John would almost certainly have had a copy of. In the Q & A section, the answer to the question about Mantra is almost exactly the one that John gave to David Frost in 1968, post-India, on a theme of "vibrations".
You can get it HERE.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Kenwood: yet more pool.


More uncropped June 29th 1967 "action", poolside.
Plus a couple of fan photos taken beside the garage, looking down on said "item":


Bangor: yet more Bang.


Further Bangor "items". First, some interesting uncut footage of them leaving Euston can be seen HERE; the film captures the famous moment when Cyn missed the train (in many ways).
The pics above from the Saturday, and below from the Sunday, as George strums his sitar (missus):


Note the presence of Paolo Ammassari of film fame. Of course (and as usual) I'm guessing (and reiterating), but I do think these pics must have been taken in the morning before they received the bad news about Brian:


Compare the general mood with the clearly "very stunned" expressions during the post-news press conference. Incidentally (or not), here are a couple of Mark Lewisohn's "nows", taken at the very spot:


There are tomes that claim, in ludicrous fashion, that the Beatles went out to meet the reporters with smiles on their faces: completely untrue. Look at John and Ringo as the microphone is off them:


Finally a shot which apparently shows John and Cyn leaving to head back to Kenwood. Why has Cyn changed her clothes? I dunno:


Many thanks to Mark for his photos.

Permutit House: HDN bit part.


If you're a regular readah of this dribble, then you will doubtless be able to recite large sections of the script for a Hard Day's Night verbatim. The film, a canny move whether by luck or design, represents the first real point where "serious" critics began to catch on that there was more to all this than just piss-covered seats in provincial auditoria.
Anyway, the bit where they break free of rehearsing and, to be blunt, tit-about in a field to the strains of Can't Buy Me Love, is a zeitgeist defining bit o' celluloid. That being so (and it is), I finally made it down to Hounslow, resolutely non-piss-covered copy of the Beatles' London in hand, to see what remains of one of the principal locations for that sequence: Thornbury Playing Fields.
The answer, at least as far as the HDN locale goes, is not a great deal (predictably). Click on the pic above for a better look: housing now covers the area.
Luckily, the iconic (in this context, and this context only) Permutit House still looms over the location, and thus makes orientation fairly easy. Here's Permutit (as it is apparently called) close up:


The mock heli-pad, upon which they titted, was situated somewhere near the last little bit of remaining green:


Apart from this bit, that is:


Speaking of the "white heat of Beatlemania", anyone with an interest in such things should see the following footage HERE: proto HDN (note the way John snarls at the reporter who isn't listening to his answers) and fantastic performance footage from Cheltenham towards the end of 1963. Fookin' FAB! (And yet another doff o' the cap to the Beatles' London - also fookin' FAB!)

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Kenwood: June 29th, 1967.


Both of these have been on here before, but somewhat cropped; here are the full (or at least fuller) versions, with the above providing a thrilling full-colour look at the garage roof, and the below not:


Saturday, 27 August 2011

Sibyllas: November 1st, 1967.


The various "swinging" clubs the Beatles frequented are truly fascinating, aren't they? Aren't they? Aren't they? Aren't they? Aren't they? Aren't they?
Well, aren't they? Aren't they? Aren't they? Aren't they?
No, they are not.
Or are they?
No.
But...etc.
Actually, they are. It's perhaps unsurprising that so few photos exist of "Oor Fabs" (as they are generally known on Scottish council estates) in among the pish. But of course, they were unable to attend pubs, for reasons of prodding/dribbling upon Fabs. (We can all sympathise, one deeply feels, with these.)
Anyway, the actual reason so few pics exist, despite the fact they spent more time getting pished in these places than they did adding flange to Ringo's backing "vox" on etc. was as follows: these clubs were not pubs - they were playgrounds for the "cool", and the "cool" doth not take photos of the "cool", for fear of seeming "uncool".
Here's how the entrance looked in '66, and how it looks now:


By far the coolest thing is that the door remains the same, as John Bonham might have etc.
In the first pic, John and George are there to see Family, a band John admired due to the "LOVE"/"HATE" tattoos on Roger Chapman's knuckles.
And Normans rocks. Yes?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Bangor: August 25 - 27, 1967.


44 years ago this weekend, the Beatles plus entourage boarded the "Mystical Special" (actually the rather more prosaic 3.15 Stopping Train to Bangor). Thus, it seemed like a good idea at the time to have a look at some related "shizzle" which has arisen of late.
To begin with probably the most interesting: the above screen-cap from home movie footage of breakfast or lunch on what I think was probably the 27th (ie very shortly before they received the news of Brian's death). If you haven't seen it yet, you'll no doubt wish to do so immediately, and don't let me stop you. It can be seen HERE. (We'll return to this later.)
Now, you'd think it would be possible to impose some order on the many photos taken that weekend, via the medium o' fash... and this is what I've attempted to do (emphasis on attempted). So:
AUGUST 25th:
Having arrived and settled in at Normal College, the Beatles (plus all important entourage) head over to the John Phillips Hall for an introductory Mantra (or something). Jagger is made to sit with the WAGS:


The central pic above is the hall as it looks now. The Beatles took their place on stage beside Maharishi:


Following this, they went for a meal at the Senior Chinese Restaurant in town. (Not sure where that was.)
AUGUST 26th:
The Beatles and the Maharishi were housed in student halls known as Dyfrdwy - two almost identical buildings that faced each other then (and still do now). They are currently part of the Bangor Business Centre, and you can stay there for around 60 pounds a night - something I intend to do before too long, in order to get a more substantial shufti. But I digress.
The all important entourage was lodged in another building called Alun. Interestingly, it's in Alun that Paul took the call about Brian (or so it is said).
On the Saturday, the Beatles walked across to the Maharishi's room, and received a flower each for their trouble:


Inevitably, the press were waiting, and so captured them walking back across to their own rooms:


The same spot now:


AUGUST 27th:
Judging by the clobber, these pics were taken in Maharishi's room on the morning of the 27th:


Once more, they were photographed leaving the Maharishi, and crossing the short space to their own rooms:


It must have been around about then that the alarm was being raised in London re. Brian. Upon receiving the news, Paul seems to have left almost immediately (and the same spot now):


John, George and Ringo stayed on to issue a statement (and probably also to speak more with Maharishi):


Having done this, they returned to Weybridge/Esher. Here, the scene of the press conference these days:


AUGUST 28th:
On the Monday, a photo-call for remaining attendees (including Jagger, still there, and seated to Maharishi's right):


The Lips had been under the cosh from John all weekend (peace and love or no peace and love) for "jumping on the bandwagon" and "only being interested in sex"... which is fairly amusing. But I digress.
Back to the film: I think it's likely to be the 27th based, once again, upon the "gear". For example, compare Cynthia's shirt:


If so, and it's lunch (and not breakfast), the film records some of the final moments of the Beatles as a unified entity. The second John heard about Brian, he thought, famously (and presciently), "We've fuckin' had it".
But here, for another hour or so, they hadn't quite "had it" yet:

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Kenwood: front gate - 1966.


John stops the limo at Kenwood's gate to sign for Elizabeth Snead in 1966 (full story on Meet The Beatles For Real, under Friends & Neighbours, should ye wish it). I think the reflection of said gate is visible in the highly polished metalwork on the car:


Possibly.
I bet she took more photos while she was waiting...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Kenwood: Takis in da house.


A fascinating email from Ken Wood sheds some light (kill me now) on the new hall pic. He points out that Greek kinetic artist Takis exhibited several of his light sculptures at Indica in November 1966. Both Paul and John bought pieces from the show. The Takis exhibition actually followed Yoko's at the same gallery, though John confused the chronology (he's not the only one...ahem) in the Lennon Remembers interview:

"WENNER:
How did you meet Yoko?
LENNON:
I’m sure I’ve told you this many times. How did I meet Yoko? There was a sort of underground clique in London; John Dunbar, who was married to Marianne Faithful, had an art gallery in London called Indica and I’d been going around to galleries a bit on my off days in between records. I’d been to see a Takis exhibition, I don’t know if you know what that means, he does multiple electro-magnetic sculptures, and a few exhibitions in different galleries who showed these sort of unknown artists or underground artists. I got the word that this amazing woman was putting on a show next week and there was going to be something about people in bags, in black bags, and it was ..."

The pic above shows Takis with one of his pieces, White Signal (1966), which was indeed exhibited at the Indica show. Compare it with the object in the new hall pic.
I reckon that what we are looking at is the Takis piece that John bought at Indica - which probably explains the photo; a Takis light sculpture in situ in a famous patron's entrance hall (missus)(seriously, kill me now).
This explanation also narrows the dating of the pic - I'd say it very likely was taken in early '67.
Great work Mr Wood.
NB: I've amended this post, as the previous version relied on John's faulty memory - I blame him for all my shortcomings.
FURTHER UPDATE: Sam Hampson has sent in the following pic, which doesn't really require any further explanation:


Thanks to him.

Kenwood: mirror business.


I am indebted to those who have pointed out what nun but a fule could have missed - namely, that enormous mirrored wall which I failed to spot for reasons of beer. It's even there on the Partridge plan; so there wasn't (just) a mirrored door to the kitchen, but rather an entire mirrored wall.
Which means these pics should possibly be this way round:


Or not.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Kenwood: entrance hall.


Assuming, gentle readah, that ye are here to celebrate and not ridicule (not to mention titter (Sir Thomas)), then you will imagine my excitement at this: a professional picture of the entrance hall at Kenwood, taken, I'd guess, sometime in late 1966, or early 1967. The detail is quite amazing, but, in the nature of these things, the picture poses more questions than it answers.
To take the latter first, one thing that has, sadly (in many senses), bugged me for ages is the table sold at auction by Cooper Owen a few years back:


The literature claimed this was a fixture at Kenwood. To prove it, the sale included a photo of John and Julian at Kenwood in front of said table - not included in the catalogue, of course, and not one I have ever seen. (I'd guess it's a hitherto uncirculated June 29th shot.)
So I was, I confess, pleased to spot it there, sitting in the middle of the hall (or rather, beside the completely bleeding obvious mirror) in this new photo:


Looking back, I realise the damned thing was actually there in one of Cathy Kelleher Sarver's '68 Kenwood pics (though the quality was too low to see it before now):


And so to unanswered questions. Why was this picture taken? I suspect it may have had something to do with the lights:


There's actually another pic illustrating the effects of these when the main hall lights were switched off:


Suitably psychedelic (and there's that blue again).
But I don't know. There must be more from this session: as I say, they are professional photos, and unique in being more interested in Kenwood (or at least lights) than celebrity.
Similar shots of the rest of the house would be, to put it bluntly, craaankin'.



West Malling: Kings Hill - Durello Avenue.


What, pray tell, compels all this? It's an odd business, no question, but one of many itches that, I feel, needed scratching revolves around the former West Malling (pronounced "Mawling", apparently) Airfield, scene of much of Magical Mystery Tour, and visited by "your" (why is everything "your" these days?) tired/emotional writer of drivel during the glorious summer of 1985, before the dread redevelopment.
It's been a source of regret, somewhere amongst the middle of the by now enormous pile of regrets, that I didn't take more photos that day (particularly given that the ones I did take were of the wrong thing).
So I felt compelled, m'lud, to return, digital camera in hand, in order to test the assertion in the Beatles' London that the "new roads and buildings have obliterated any sense of MMT orientation".
Using (or mis-using) the wonders of satellite mapping, together with the glorious diagrams in the aforementioned tome, it's still possible to locate the Walrus locales, mainly due to the fact that the developers haven't managed to destroy the surrounding woods yet (Hoath Wood, Coalpit Wood, Not Sure If I Wood, Jesus I Should Be Beaten To A Pulp Immediately For That Which Isn't Even A Wood, and so on, and so forth, etc.).
Thus, Durello Avenue: this is the very spot where the sequence for I Am The Walrus was filmed:


It's now a cul-de-sac, and they were smack in the middle of it (if that makes sense):


The famous blast walls (32 pairs, fact fans), long, long gone, o' course. These were mainly situated on the edges of the airfield, but the one behind the Beatles was directly beyond what is now Durello Avenue, and luck has dictated that the patch of ground thus far remains:


So, to labour the point unnecessarily, here is what's left of the Walrus locations:


Funnily enough, in what seems to be about the right position (re. blast wall), there is the concrete footprint of...something:


Walking on past the houses that can be seen in the above pic, I came upon a patch of undespoiled ground; the perimeter road would have run along to the right. Traces of the old airfield remain here, yet this too is about to be swallowed up by a no doubt horrible business park:


Wandering further I arrived at the edge of the former airfield, a spot now marked by large chunks of something or other:


Clearly these were once part of something else; one would hope an airfield related building, but shurely not the blast walls?
So there we have it. There is still a small patch of MMT in Kings Hill, if one knows where to look. But I wouldn't count on it for very much longer. So it goes.