The Beatles and Jeffrey Epstein

Michael Gerber
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Knowing the internet, SEO alone will probably make this the most popular post in the history of Dullblog (hello Were John and Paul Lovers). But my thoughts are philosophical, not evidentiary. Spare your revulsion for a moment while I share some thoughts which may explain a lot of what I’ve written on this blog since 2010.

Fact: there is a level of fame, wealth, and power that dehumanizes you, and makes you dehumanize others. This, in our current cultural moment, is epitomized by Jeffrey Epstein and his little black book. I think the Beatles experienced this level of fame/wealth/power, as did the Stones and all the others in their milieu. Shit, I bet Gary Puckett and the Union Gap experienced it, for six glorious weeks or something.

The shorthand for this behavior-which-dehumanizes is “decadence,” and like obscenity, it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it. Some characteristics are: extreme sexual appetites with strong flavors of objectification, taboo-busting and lack of consent; profligate spending; gross consumption; and manipulation of justice to avoid consequences. Decadence is, mostly, a rich man’s disease; rich women will participate, but are usually too aware of the provisional nature of their privilege to execute the full de Sade.

Both Left and Right use it as a swear, calling the other “decadent” and pointing to it to plump for their brand of revolution. Capitalism entices us with the possibility of decadence, then paints those rich or famous enough to achieve it as the kind of people who would never.

Then it sells us the tell-all bio.

The cycle of Life continues.

The role of decadence in the Beatles story—who did what, with whom, and why—will never be told, for one obvious reason: nobody wants to hear it. That, to me, is what makes The Beatles something different than a standard showbiz story like Elvis or Sinatra or Zep or Joan Crawford. People don’t want to hear the bad stuff. The sales of Goldman’s book proved that; so did, in the other direction, the Anthology. Only the Beatles could make an apprenticeship in the Reeperbahn seem almost…cute? “Awww, George is dating a stripper! At 17!”

I actually think that John, Paul, George and Ringo probably participated in less decadence than other people in similar situations; I don’t get an “evil” vibe off of any of them, and even when people like Sammy Davis Jr. were dabbling in Satanism, The Beatles steered clear. If they were/are not decent fellows, they sure did/do a great job of pretending like it. So while I’ve always assumed that there are photographs of John Lennon crawling out of a Dutch whorehouse, I also think there are probably not photos of him orchestrating something out of Eyes Wide Shut. We must always remember that The Beatles were rich poor kids; decadence, for them, was a pub in your own basement!!!

(The Seventies are another matter; the solo Beatles led fundamentally more decadent lives than Beatles had, and (to me) it shows in the quality of their work. Decadence does not lead to happiness, and vice-versa.)

Yet the decadence is there even in the Beatles era, in whispers and snippets, and it explains a lot. Especially the carefully maintained gap between dark reality and sunny image, causing you to live in the middle of a distortion field. Epstein’s early exit; Lennon’s decay into drugs; Harrison’s run towards religion; McCartney’s construction of an impenetrable persona; Starr’s headlong rush into booze. The split between John and Paul was a kind of Mexican standoff—a vicious public fight with both men armed to the teeth with devastating secrets. After all the talk on this site, I think that’s what makes it feel like a lover’s spat, not actual sex.

After writing Life After Death for Beginners, I found myself face-to-face with a strong intuition about all this—that the real story, such as it was, had much that was decadent, while the conventional narrative had all the good stuff you could ever want. So I asked myself: Why keep turning the X-ray on the Fabs? What good would it do? And I put down that world, never to pick it up again. A sequel set in the world of the Krays, whom Epstein surely saw regularly, with and without his Beatles; the world of shadowy superlawyer David Jacobs; of Seltaeb, which I can never goddamn spell—life is too short to wallow in this Jeffrey Epstein-ish muck. But it is there, nevertheless.

To me, most of the recent fan talk on the internet falls into two buckets: Baby Boomers enjoying a nostalgic trip through the Standard Narrative (“It was at a Woolton village fête—and for our American listeners, that’s pronounced FATE, not FEET…”); or other, often younger fans running unprovable thought experiments based on emotional intelligence (“Do you really think that John and Paul were just co-workers? Come on“). Meanwhile, Mark Lewisohn beavers away in the background, collecting facts… and knowing in his bones, as all thinking adults do, that some percentage of important human activity generates no paper trail. Whether you think that’s 5% (as most historians and journalists I’ve met) or 75% (as I do) makes all the difference.

Do I know anything more than the average fan? Well, there was a time perhaps, but no longer, with a 51-year-old brain 99.9995% turned towards other things. But I suspect, as would any fan with a truly sympathetic imagination would; someone who wonders “What would it be like?” and really goes there. As I’ve said the comments, fans who believe Paul McCartney screwed hundreds of women from 1963-68, then pulled a permanent 180, thanks to the love of One Good Woman, Linda McCartney—we live in very different worlds. Given my life, and the people I know, many of them successful show biz folk? It’s possible, sure, so are UFOs, buth not likely. And your personal answer to such a question means a lot, because it either forces you off the Standard Narrative, or demonstrates that really nothing other than a signed statement from Mr. McCartney acknowledging infidelity will force you off.

The larger question: what does it get us, this discussion of Beatle decadence? Perhaps a bit more insight, a bit more understanding. it is harmless to them and their legacy, for sure. Looking back, for me, it has come at too high a cost. If you want my advice, and we don’t know each other and you didn’t ask, I think it’s probably better for all concerned to enjoy the tunes and think that Paul’s a good normal bloke who really does love driving around with James Corden, and John was a good normal bloke with a lovely relationship with his pharmacist, and George was a bit odd about the religion but liked to garden and occasionally popped down to the pub like a good, normal bloke, and Ringo…is just Ringo. A good, normal bloke.

Is this true?

Don’t be silly.

But it’s nice to think, and…why not? The Beatles were not, in the end, political leaders, and all the sex with underage girls (proffered by their mothers is the story I remember—from Peter Brown, perhaps?), or kinky breath-play with a Coldstream Guardsman, or drugs or thievery or pissing on nuns, doesn’t really matter next to the music. I think it might’ve haunted them a bit, particularly George, but Beatle decadence is not a core part of the story like it seems to be with The Stones or Zeppelin. You can know John, Paul, George, and Ringo as musicians, and somewhat as people, without it.

What I hope will happen—what I’m aiming for as it were—is some future moment where I’ve really accepted homo sapiens for what it is. When I’ve grown past a capitalist, patriarchal Judeo-Christian Standard Narrative that seems to actively encourage decadence, replaced by clear sight, compassion and acceptance. I hope to have a heart big enough to both acknowledge what “it was like Satyricon” really meant, and one strong enough to protect and heal all those who need protection and healing.

The music may help me get there; the muck will not.

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42 Comments

  1. Avatar Tasmin wrote:

    Michael, it’s interesting that your piece about decadence turned up in my email right after I finished Mary Trumps book, “Too Much and Never Enough”. If you really want to read about decadence, this is the book.

    I guess for me, The Beatles and their escapades seem so innocent and harmless compared to Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump. There are different levels of decadence, and the Beatles engaged in pretty minor stuff. Even if there are things we don’t know about, how bad could it have been?

    They weren’t exploiting 14 years old girls, or involved in the sex trade. I don’t believe they swindled innocent people out of their money. All four of them had flaws, but they weren’t sociopaths.

    For me, whatever things they did, or behaviors they adapted to survive, were on the normal spectrum. I’m fine with that. I’ve long since given up the belief they were/are Gods.

    I believe that having lived through the last 4 years having a malignant Narcissistic Sociopath as President, has shown us what true decadent, unethical behavior really is.

    So, maybe I’d just rather listen to the music, and watch Paul drive around with James Cordon, or listen to Ringo talk about peace and love. The Beatles message was peace, love and understanding. God knows we need that today more than ever.

  2. Great post, Michael, as always.
    .
    I don’t think it’s necessary to think too much about the decadence, no matter how much one loves the Beatles, because knowing that John and Paul Eiffel Towered groupies procured by stage mothers doesn’t make “In My Life” a better song. Quite the opposite. But if you like the Beatles enough to wonder about things like “why did they break up?” or “why did they become so weird afterward?”, I think acknowledging this dark side is necessary, if only quickly.
    .
    In their solo years, I think each Beatle struggled with the availability of the underworld’s pleasure, and his particular codependence with that, and the fact that those pleasures probably became less pleasureable, but hard to do with out as “being normal” became utterly impossible. As you note, I think this hit George the hardest. But I think it also affected Paul and John, who deeply desired “normalcy”: it’s why their solo years public images of choice were basically committed, loving husbands, and not variations of Keef/Mick/Jimmy Page. And yet, they had reached a point from which there was no easy road back, not without giving up all your money and starting over again.
    .
    I have other thoughts about how this might all be relevant to 1980s, but like the insalubriousness of dwelling on who did what with whom, it’s not worth indulging those possibilities beyond noting that reality is complicated.

  3. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    I always found it rather odd that there has never been a tell-all by any groupie that slept with a Beatle, or even middle-aged women who simply claimed to have slept with a Beatle when they were teens. I mean how could they keep that achievement to themselves? Who are these fans who slept with Beatles and why are they as discreet as Jane Asher? There were lurid tales told about Hendrix, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Doors etc. but nothing about the Beatles beyond the fact that they slept with groupies. Did they have these girls sign a contract beforehand stating that they would forever keep mum about it? Then you have Astrid Kirchherr saying that while there were girls in Hamburg, the Beatles were way too tired to engage in non-stop sex romps. And Brian Epstein supposedly procured the services of prostitutes so that there would be no scandals surrounding his boys. Did they thank him for the prostitutes and sleep with thousands of groupies anyway? It was said on here that if John and Paul had an affair, we would have heard about it. Yet they can sleep with a small nation of fans and keep it out of the press. They were even called asexual by one journalist. That’s quite a trick.

    • Nancy Carr Nancy Carr wrote:

      There’s been at least one tell-all, Francie Schwartz’s Body Count (she’s the woman who was evidently with Paul when Jane Asher came home unexpectedly during the recording of the White Album). I haven’t read the whole book, but from the excerpts I have seen my guess is that there haven’t been more such books because they would be deadly boring. When you don’t have anything all that sensational to report and aren’t a great writer (and/or don’t have one to collaborate with), the result is pretty flat. Pamela Des Barres is the one person I can think of who made some real literary hay out of her “groupie” experiences, and that seems to be because she had quite varied experiences to relate and a strong personality that comes through in her writing.
      .
      In general, I think there’s a bright line between the kind of overindulgence in sex with willing partners that seems to be the main thing the Beatles engaged in and the kind of deliberate, systematic abuse of others that Jeffery Epstein and others pursued. Not saying the first doesn’t raise ethical issues, but it’s quite distinct from the second. A case in point is Jimmy Savile, who used his family friendly persona and fame to abuse children sexually for years while raising money for children’s causes.
      .
      It’s important to acknowledge the morally problematic parts of the Beatles’ story, but it’s worth noting that the tell-alls that have been published (The Love You Make, Apple To The Core, The Last Cocktail Party) haven’t been all that explosive. Now, maybe that’s because those authors were pulling their punches, or feared libel suits because accusations would be unprovable. But it’s also quite possible that there’s not a lot of more scandalous stuff to know. Considering what we do know about how other rock stars behaved (thinking of the Led Zeppelin shark + groupie story, among others), I think it’s unlikely there’s a trove of Beatles scandal that we know absolutely nothing about.
      .
      As for Lennon and McCartney reinventing themselves as husbands in the 1970s, I think that’s fairly easy to explain. To some extent they aged out of the wild hedonism of their youth; chances are they got somewhat bored with it. As to how absolutely faithful either was to his wife, I don’t think we know — and I also don’t think we know what the terms of either marital contract was, so to speak. I do agree with Elizabeth that Paul’s bringing his whole family on tour in the 1970s seems like a conscious decision to prioritize those relationships over other types of experiences he could have had on tour.

      • @Nancy, I think that’s right re: Paul bringing his whole family on tour. Not only “prioritzing those relationships,” but also protecting himself from bad decisions.
        .
        I just think it’s very very difficult for a person with a normal life — someone, who, for example, hasn’t had 60,000 people chanting their name — to predict what they would or wouldn’t do, or like, or develop into. It’s a really strange environment for the human organism to live in, and that’s why it’s so often lethal. But I do think it’s notable that there haven’t been a lot of Beatle scandals. The Australian Tour alone was reputed to have been bonkers.

    • @Michelle, the benefit of The Beatles sleeping with prostitutes while on tour are several. First, the ladies were engaging in illegal activity, so they literally COULD NOT speak to the press. Or if they were involved in a scandal (compare Christine Keeler in the Profumo Affair) they would be at a serious disadvantage. Second, I suspect that by the time they were the biggest act in the world, the Fabs had done quite a lot, and prostitutes would be much less shockable if what was required was a goat and a canoe.
      .
      If an outsider is trying to figure out who these guys were, sexually speaking, they have to start with the knowledge that at J/P/G/R lived in one of the world’s most notorious red-light districts as 17, 18, 19, 20-year-olds.
      .
      I think Astrid was being kind to her friends. Were they tired? Sure. Too tired? That’s what the Preludin was for. J/P/G/R would not tell Astrid the details, and she would naturally draw a veil — those were the mores back then.

  4. Avatar Elizabeth wrote:

    I think Paul made a conscious decision to distance himself from the people who had infiltrated their world through his association with Robert Fraser and the avant garde. He obviously dabbled in the avant garde, but in the end, I think his Northern working class sensibility allowed him to see through people passing off sexual deviancy as art. That’s why, in my opinion, he reinvented himself as a family man, and why he took Linda and his kids with him everywhere he went – not to cultivate a public image but to cut himself off completely from that world.

    On the other hand, I think John got sucked right into it and trapped, and in the end, that’s what did him in.

  5. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    I’m not sure he was done in by the avant garde world. Like everything else he moved on from that. And he would tell you that the domestic, suburban life he had with Cynthia and Julian made him feel trapped. In the end he seemed ready to settle into domestic life, which is understandable because he wasn’t in his 20s anymore.
    .
    Paul’s association with Robert Fraser is interesting. I remember in his book he said that “tongues wagged” because he went to Paris to visit art dealers, checking into a hotel with someone who everyone knew was gay. What was the extent of that? Not as well known as the John/Brian gossip.

  6. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    Yeah, Francie. There have been a few other accounts appearing online or in interviews or books … Peggy Lipton and Jenny Kee are two I’ve seen, and there’s Sandra Caron, who wrote about her sister Alma having an affair with John, and hmm, I’m trying to remember which author it was that I read who sought out the girl Paul was caught in a room with in Minneapolis (was it Spitz?). JoJo Laine and Ronnie Spector. But overall the stories out there that I’ve seen, true or not, aren’t really all that salacious or dehumanizing, considering stories like the one about the origin of the “Eggman.” I do also wonder sometimes where the accounts from hired girls or fans picked out of the crowd are in this day and age.

  7. If the The Beatles were true degenerates, they must have been astonishingly discreet. I’m always reminded of Cynthia’s story about her and John’s discussion of “seven year itches” on the way back from India. It sounds impossibly naive, but she seems to have been genuinely shocked that John had ever been unfaithful. Similarly, Jane Asher barging in on Paul and Francie Schwartz, leaving in a huff and sending her mother over to pack her bags. It beggars belief, but could these wives/girlfriends of Beatles actually have been surprised at their infidelity? Well, it seems so on those occasions.
    .
    Then there are other anecdotal accounts, such as from the journalist Larry Kane, who accompanied them on all their U.S. tours, and claims never to have witnessed any of the debauchery Lennon later bragged about. We have the testimony of their rockstar buddies, such as Keith Richards in “Life”, who talks plenty about doing drugs with John, but never says a word about orgies or Satyricon-like scenes. Ditto from David Crosby, who is about the least likely person to withhold such information.
    .
    Oh, and let’s not forget John and George getting freaked out and leaving when they thought their dentist was trying to get an orgy going. It seems these guys may have been just conventional heterosexual young men with conventional sexual tastes (not withstanding the occasional polythene bag). It’s not at all implausible to me. If I were the richest man on earth, I’d screw as many consenting, adult women as I possibly could, simply because I have no taste for anything else.

  8. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Found the following on reddit regarding an incident in Las Vegas in 1964:
    .
    Journalist Larry Kane, who was featured prominently in the official Eight Days A Week film and accompanied the band throughout both the 1964 and ’65 U.S. tours, wrote in his book Lennon Revealed:
    .
    The Beatles, carefully watched by manager Brian Epstein and fiercely protected by road-managers Neil Aspinall and Malcolm Evans, plus travelling Press-manager Derek Taylor, were usually prudent in their selection of after-hours playmates. I never once saw an underage girl brought to The Beatles’ rooms. Except for the leaders of local fan-clubs, who cheerfully greeted them in the dressing-rooms in most cities for autographs or pictures, underage girls were never allowed near The Beatles. The band scrupulously avoided situations that might compromise their image and their success. But on one sultry night, or early morning depending on your own body-clock, that strict code of avoiding underage women was violated in a most dangerous way. And John was at the centre of it.
    .
    A heavy knock sounded on my door around 5 am, startling me out of sleep. The face in the doorway was that of Malcolm Evans… his eyes showed concern, and his features were contorted in anguish. I will never forget his words: “We need you down in the lobby. There’s been a spot of trouble with John. Can you put on a tie and a jacket?”
    .
    What could it be? I couldn’t figure it out, but I knew that whatever it was, the stakes were high. In the hallway, Evans was joined by Derek Taylor and Neil Aspinall. They explained that a dangerous situation was afoot. Twin sisters were in John Lennon’s room, catching autographs and posing for pictures with Lennon. They were part of a group of fans that had penetrated security. Most of the visitors had left, but these girls were sleeping on the second bed in John’s room.
    .
    “It’s all quite proper,” Derek Taylor said. “Not a damn thing happened in there.” Derek added, “Their mother is in the lobby, demanding to know what they’re doing up there, and we need you to go and tell her everything is proper.”
    .
    “Where are the girls?” I asked. Malcolm winced. Neil said nothing. Derek gave me the answer with a finger that pointed down the hallway.
    .
    The door to John’s room was not locked. Derek opened it. John was dozing on the bed, his eyes half-open. The twin sisters rested on the edge of the second bed, their eyes glazing at the TV on the bureau. It was then I understood the magnitude of the potential problem.
    .
    “‘Why me? I’m not going to be part of any lying,” I said.
    .
    “There’s nothing to lie about. They just came in to visit,” Derek insisted.
    .
    I turned and asked, “Why me?” Derek answered, “You’re a reporter. You look trustworthy.”
    .
    I made it clear that I would trust his word, but refused to play any part in a whitewash.
    .
    Mal Evans and I took the elevator to the lobby. We approached a woman in her mid-thirties who appeared to be shaken with worry. Where had she been while her daughters were sneaking past security to join a party with a Rock and Roll band upstairs? The casino-chips in her hand provided the most likely answer. Still, this woman also held in her hands the power to destroy the good-guy image of The Beatles.
    .
    Taking Taylor’s word, I identified myself to the mother and explained the girls’ visit as an innocent quest for pictures and autographs. Even though I declared my independence as a journalist, she wasn’t convinced. But when the elevators opened a minute later, a police officer emerged with her daughters, both of them smiling broadly and chatting excitedly about the details of John’s kindness. I was convinced. After all, how could two young girls look so innocent if a sexual encounter had taken place?
    .
    Still, there was an oddity to this episode. How did the police officer get to the room? The role of that officer has always been a mystery to me. But I do know this – a brief investigation into the matter was launched by the Las Vegas police-department. There was no follow-up.
    .
    As dawn was breaking, mother and daughter left the premises. Malcolm Evans grinned, Derek Taylor called up Brian Epstein with a status report, and then Derek and Malcolm thanked me warmly. Epstein was furious about the incident. And I still didn’t feel good about it.
    .
    “Was John messing with those kids?” I asked.

    Derek said, “No.”

    Was I naïve or uncaring? Neither. I just couldn’t believe that a Beatle would risk his future by getting involved with young girls in that way. But then again, John sometimes walked a fine line between earnest friendship and deceptive debauchery. Still, I was convinced this was a case of mistaken intentions.
    .
    To this day, I don’t know exactly what happened in that hotel room. My instincts tell me it was pure innocence. The real story will never be known.

  9. Avatar Tasmin wrote:

    Interesting find, Michelle. I have not read Larry Kane’s book, so I hadn’t heard this story before.

    Jane Asher was 17 when she met and began dating Paul. She was underage, but had her parents approval, and Paul lived in their house for a time.

    I’m not sure how to feel about this story. I know John wasn’t a Jeffrey Epstein, but it’s a little yucky.

  10. Avatar Tasmin wrote:

    I should add, if it’s true. It can’t be verified now, as Mal, Derek, and Neil have all passed away.

  11. Avatar Elizabeth wrote:

    Jane Asher wasn’t underage because the age of consent in the UK is and was 16.

    I don’t think that the lack of allegations – that the public are aware of at least – are any measure of what went on. When you have that much money and power, it’s easy to shut people up. Mind you, that’s what Jeffrey Epstein thought and Michael Jackson, so who knows? Ultimately, I suppose, it would be too damaging to the public psyche for anyone to dig too deep, just as it would with the truth of what happened to John.

    I do think that the Beatles entourage – the gophers and the hangers on, including the journalists and the DJs who followed them round (and Jimmy Savile was one of them, by the way) – were probably a lot worse than them. At least these girls wanted to sleep with the Beatles – the others were just dirty bastards who exploited them.

  12. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    I guess we know there’s the “official” story, which I think has been estimated to be only a percentage true; Bob Spitz in the foreword to his book acknowledges this but seems to have thought he’d arrived at the most possibly true account at the time his book was published. Who knows how much truth Mark Lewisohn thinks he will arrive at?
    .
    I think a lot of that remaining truth is very closely guarded; like MG noted in the post, they have officially copped to a certain amount of debauchery, but the rumor mill always swirls with more. Still, as noted, the general feeling about the Beatles isn’t one of heavy darkness, but the darkness is there. I guess that’s one good reason for the parties concerned to have lots and lots of money – they can exert financial control of the flow of information and a credible financial threat over anyone who might dare to tell more.
    .
    In that vein, I’m reminded of the John/Yoko sex history diary that was up for auction a while back– I think there’s a HD post on it. It was supposedly “history-changing?” I don’t believe anything has been said about it since the auction, or has there? I figure an interested party probably owns that now, along with a lot of other memorabilia and photos of John Lennon or other Beatles crawling out of somewhere. I mean, the entire tape can’t have been about Yoko’s sexual history, because that wouldn’t be history-changing.
    .
    @Beasty, it’s interestingly ironic that the story from Cynthia and the story about “Jane catching Paul with Francie and breaking up with him” that you mention are part of the official story like the it-was-at-Woolton-fayte story, and not likely 100% true. They are very convenient to the Official Beatles Narrative, though. Woman comes home and catches her man with another woman, so they break up! It’s a good plot point that keeps anyone from digging more deeply. I get the idea Paul’s hordes of women were probably a problem for a long time; Jane was reportedly at least aware of a couple of his affairs.
    .
    Anyway, I wonder how much evidence has been acquired and burned by Apple board members. 😉

  13. Avatar Tasmin wrote:

    @Elizabeth, thanks for pointing out to me the age of consent in the U.K. is 16. I probably read that before, but didn’t remember.

    Michael, this from your piece stands out to me:

    “The larger question: what does it get us, this discussion of Beatle decadence? Perhaps a bit more insight, a bit more understanding. it is harmless to them and their legacy, for sure. Looking back, for me, it has come at too high a cost.”

    I think that’s where I land. I haven’t read all the tell all’s on The Beatles because I really don’t care to know all the dirt. I read Normans’ book on Lennon and it was upsetting. It turned me off those kinds of books.

    I know the Beatles did some decadent things, but they aren’t evil, and that’s good enough for me.

  14. @Michael G., I’ve read a handful of rock memoirs on airplanes, and literally every band that did an Australia tour in the 60s seems to have had an experience so debauched it merits some dirt 50 years later. The Beach Boys, The Who, The Small Faces, and the Stones books I’ve read *all* refer to this type of stuff. Must’ve been something about being so far from home/so far away from regular encounters with UK/US celebrity culture.

    • Jesus, no offense to The Small Faces, but if *they* fucked their way across Australia, we all went into the wrong line of work. That’s like saying, “Terence Trent D’Arby’s tour of Australia was EPIC.”
      .
      I think it’s living in close proximity to large sharks and poisonous spiders. Dum vivimus vivamus, mate.

  15. Don’t think my reply feature is working. Re: 1980s, a couple things.

    There’s a fair amount to suggest that John and Yoko were deeply mixed up with the underworld at the time John died. Yoko was on heroin, and John had been till at least 1979, which necessitates a certain amount of contact with unsavory types. Then there are the various shady characters Yoko surrounded herself with. Sam Green had an affair with a *different* narcissistic and mentally ill heiress with weird sexual rumors surrounding her. She was murdered by her son, and I believe he was a beneficiary of her will (as he later would be of John’s, where he was named Sean’s guardian if J&Y both passed). See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1034556/I-wasnt-blame-heiress-murder-says-art-expert-depicted-screen-incest-threesome.html. Then there’s Sam Havadtoy and all the people in the art/antiques world, notoriously an arena that overlaps with money laundering, as well as John Green and the numerology/occult people. MDC sold a Norman Rockwell to fund his travel expenses and was apparently involved in the Santeria cult during the Seventies.

    I imagine a lot of other Sixties demigods were fairly frightened not only by the possibility of another loony toon like MDC coming after *them*, but also about the six degrees of separation between someone like that and the demimonde types they’d been mixed up with since 1965. Reaganism and aging Baby Boomers partly account for why these people sterilize their images in the 80s, but I’ve never seen any indication that Pothead Macca or Junkie Keef or Satanic Mick dried up out of nowhere in 1981. One sees something similar after Manson and Altamont, but all these people were younger and one of their own was not directly affected by those things.

  16. Avatar LeighAnn wrote:

    Very well written and interesting read.

    I agree with those above that there’s a spectrum between sleeping with underage girls who rightly or wrongly were more often then not wanting sex with their favourite pop star/rockstar, sometimes going to extremes to do so (I seem to recall reading somewhere Paul or maybe George coming back to their hotel room to find a young girl half naked who had snuck in. Then obviously the there’s the inspiration for the song she came in through the bathroom window) and using your power and privilege into luring and intimidating young girls into sex or sexual trafficking aka Epstein.

    I don’t know whether this is a fair opinion but I often wonder with rockstars with nefarious reputations- aka Jimmy Page Steve Tyler Mick Jagger etc- whether music just became the thing that allowed them to continue their hedonistic lifestyles of sex drugs and rock and roll. Meaning once the achieved success, did they make music just so they could live the life of a rockstar? I don’t get the impression the depravity of the sex drugs and rock and roll no rules life style was the Beatles primary motivation. I mean they quit touring at their peak where a lot of this behaviour happened and was more easily accessible. And even when they went solo John never toured again, Paul toured with his wife and children, I think George only did a couple of tours and I think Ringo didn’t tour for a long time.

    I agree that the Beatles were probably more your conventional tamer rockstars in comparison to their peers. They slept with groupies or prostitutes because it was available to them and they abused drugs because they were available to them, but not to the point where they were practically kidnapping young girls as quasi sex slaves or their addictions getting so bad they eventually couldn’t function as normal human beings or end up dead. I recall John describing how eventually he found sex with groupies just made him feel empty.

    I think there is something to their motivations. Paul lived breathed and bled music, John and George seemed on a quest for enlightenment or meaning to their life that was less happy and more oppressive then they liked, and poor Ringo just seemed along for the ride. I think if there is an ugly side to the Beatles it’s already been told- their drug abuse, John and Ringos spousal abuse, Paul’s cheating and lax monogamy, Georges quasi wife swapping with his friends- or there’s no one left to tell it. So count me as one okay with not having to dig further into the muck 🙂

    • @LeighAnn, this is a really great comment. Thank you.
      .
      What I think I’m trying to get at in the post is this: while the Beatles were definitely lusty — they were incredibly exuberant and full of young male energy — and lustful — they really *wanted* things, their appetites for money, fame, power were outsized, and they pushed themselves to incredible lengths to get all these — they weren’t decadent. They didn’t have a hole in their souls they were trying to fill with underaged boys or girls (compare Brian Epstein). There wasn’t an inhuman, destruction-for-destruction’s-sake aspect that you begin to see around ’68 and which is common for the next forty years in even in the most *mainstream* rock and roll.
      .
      I think you’re onto something about other groups choosing music as merely the means to do what they wanted to do. We must always remember that The Beatles were the first group to enjoy success on that scale, and so it was the people who saw them on Ed Sullivan who seem to get up to much more misbehavior. There is something sweet and the opposite of cynical about how the Beatles chased success, thinking that it would really solve their problems — that’s the attitude of someone who hasn’t grown up with money. The Stones, being middle class, were more cynical at every turn, and caused more damage, it seems. That The Beatles stopped touring in 1966, just as the debauchery was really becoming a part of the scene…that’s such a good insight.

  17. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    @Elizabeth- “I do think that the Beatles entourage – the gophers and the hangers on, including the journalists and the DJs who followed them round (and Jimmy Savile was one of them, by the way) – were probably a lot worse than them. At least these girls wanted to sleep with the Beatles – the others were just dirty bastards who exploited them.”
    .
    I tend to agree. The Beatles sleeping with their eager fans is one thing; I’m okay with that. But stories of Mal Evans, for instance, giving girls access to them in exchange for sex with him (don’t know if true or not), is parasitic behavior. Good point also by LeighAnn about the Beatles having quit touring in their prime. The hedonistic lifestyle of being on the road apparently wasn’t as important to them as being able to hear their music. BTW, Jenny Kee is another who came forward about bedding a Beatle (that being John in Australia). To hear her and others tell it, the Beatles behaved pretty normally for guys in their situation. There is nothing really monstrous or out of the ordinary from anything I’ve read.

  18. @Michael and @LeighAnn, I’ll build on that. The Beatles didn’t leave the trail of casualties that other groups did. Brian Epstein seemed marked for tragedy before he met the group, and Mal Evans seems to have unraveled after the group disbanded, but it seems like most other rock groups destroyed the lives of those around them in a way that the Beatles did not. Cynthia and Julian seem like they suffered the most, and that suffering began before Yoko or Magic Alex or Spanish Tony or whoever showed up.
    .
    I do think focusing just on “did the Beatles sleep with underage groupies” ignores other ways in which the Beatles may have associated with the darkness that may permeate the highest reaches of monied and famous society. Ironically, given the purity of his belief in the group, I think Epstein may have been something of a vector for those connections. As would have been Robert Fraser and the rest of the middle-class/upper-class Young Bohemian crowd they met once in Swinging London.

    • Your last paragraph is why I titled the post what I did.
      .
      The interesting question is: would Brian’s sexuality have been so much about risk, had he been 1) middle or lower-class and 2) straight? Or would he have been able to express it in less dangerous ways?

  19. Sidenote: what the hell is wrong with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that it was necessary to destroy so many souls to make rock and roll?

    • Honestly? While I’m sure both men have their good qualities, I’ve always gotten the impression that neither has a very interesting or penetrating mind, and both are huge narcissists.

  20. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Paul’s dad kind of creeps me out. Not because he told his young sons about the birds and the bees by pointing to two dogs fucking in the street. According to Paul, he was envious because he could sleep with so many girls without having to worry about syphilis or unwanted pregnancies (the pill). And wasn’t his second wife like 30 years his junior? The way he scolded Pete Best because he had the gall to hoard all the attention from the female fans at the Cavern. I don’t know, all things considered I’m not a huge fan of Jim McCartney.

    • I think a LOT of older men and women really resented the level of sexual freedom (and license) they saw in the 60s generation. I think that was the major part of generational conflict. Nixon is their avatar.

  21. Avatar jim t. wrote:

    I have a book, published in 1995 titled, “You’ll Never Make Love In This Town Again” (Dove, ISBN 0-07871-0404-3) written by four former professional escorts (i.e., hookers). George Harrison is featured in one chapter, in which the narrator services him orally at a Hollywood party, while he plays the ukulele the entire time. Here’s the final sentence of the account: “Naturally, George didn’t even pretend he wanted to please me…It says a lot, however, about George Harrison’s arrogance–and the attitude toward women that he shares with many rock stars and other male celebrities–that during the whole experience, he never even asked my name.”

  22. Avatar LeighAnn wrote:

    @Michael B @Michael G I must admit I have only ever read about Brian Epstein in relation to the Beatles in biography’s and such but I must admit that I have always found something slightly sinister or dark about the story Pete Shotton tells is true of John telling him that he let Brian “toss him off” because he felt sorry for him and frustrated because he kept coming on to John. Especially since at that point in their relationship the Beatles were in someways deferential to Brian. I do wonder how much accepted sexual harassment played a part in Brian and Johns relationship.

    But then again other people- including Paul- have also implied that John manipulated and used Brian’s attraction to him in order to get him on side which I can also readily believe John would do, so who knows.

    One thing I have always found sweet about the Beatles is the way they supposedly use to hide or sneak away to take drugs when recording so that George Martin never caught on. There’s something so naughty school boys about that when you think that Mick and Keith and other rock stars were probably snorting cocaine off the speakers or something haha. If that’s true of course and not spin.

    One of my absolute favourite Beatles anecdotes is them all hiding when George stormed into their hotel room when they purposely missed a recording session.

  23. Avatar LeighAnn wrote:

    @JimT I’m sure this makes me sound like an awful person but I have to admit I laughed at the image of George Harrison playing ukulele while having oral sex with an escort haha. The only thing missing would be if he was signing Hari Krishna at the same time haha.

    On George it’s interesting the easy acceptance or ignorance by his fans to the whole quasi wife swapping between him Ringo and Eric Clapton and how the men seemed to have this “if my wife’s going to sleep with someone I rather it be my mate” mentality. To me it seems bizarre on an emotional level and does turn their wives into something of objects, but I guess it was the whole swinging 60s thing. On the flip side I think had Paul or John slept with each other’s wives that would have detonated their relationship for ever.

  24. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    LeighAnn, wasn’t there allegedly something in John’s diaries about him and Linda? The story went that John came over to see Paul, he wasn’t home but Linda was, she invited him in and they ended up in bed. Anyone else hear this? Don’t know if true, forged or whatever. The diaries were stolen, I think. It has been said that Linda was first attracted to John, and Paul himself admitted that John was originally her favorite Beatle. There might be something to that but I don’t know. It’s all rather ironic as Yoko first approached Paul (for manuscripts).

  25. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    There’s a nice article in Q magazine about Paul just released (https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/culture/article/paul-mccartney-interview?fbclid=IwAR1mAsUTHGWdLFrbgadWPzsMJFMRhKsL-j_Hq9a-ylhWripQwG9OKYi8lIk) (yikes that’s a terrible link). He does briefly discuss the fame issue and how he can never actually be ordinary, but how he still tries to connect on a “normal” level. I thought of HD because there’s been a lot of discussion here about the depredations of fame on one’s psyche. Anyway, it’s a great read. I want to know who those people are in the pic behind him, in the photo where he has the blond Telecaster.

  26. Avatar Jesse wrote:

    Nice interview, even if he does repeat some of the same old stories.
    The two guys in the pic on the wall are the Everly Brothers.
    PS: it is GQ magazine, not the soon to be defunct Q.

  27. Avatar Kristy wrote:

    @jesse, Thank you for decoding the picture! And yeah, I realized I’d forgotten the “G” in “GQ” about five seconds after I’d hit “send.”

  28. Avatar LeighAnn wrote:

    Thanks for the article @kristy. I loved reading the part where Paul talks about reflecting on and realising how incredible the Beatles were.

    @michelle I have never heard the John/Linda story before so I’m not sure. But it feels unlikely considering that John had made some disparaging comments about Linda and her family and Linda seemed as fiercely loyal to Paul as Yoko was to John.

    I think the undertones of jealousy, insecurity and sensitivity in John and Paul’s friendship/relationship that I can’t see them taking sleeping with each other’s wives or past girlfriends/wives with easy acceptance and a pat on the back like George/Ringo/Eric but more like a personal attack on the other. At least in that 68-75 period when things were so prickly between them.

    I mean even in the article kristy posted above Paul is still clearly affected by Johns line in How do you sleep? about yesterday that he brings it up twice and that’s nearly 50 years later. I think there’s a element of codependency to John and Paul’s relationship that wasn’t there between George/Ringo or Paul/George George/John Ringo/Paul Ringo/John. Not to say that Paul and John were necessarily better friends or Ringo and George were better or lesser friends with each other or with John and Paul. But there is just an added layer of complexity.

  29. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Glad that Paul brought up How Do You Sleep. I forgot about that one. His hair looks better than it has in years and I totally agree with him about Facebook, but he needs to get over the line about Yesterday. Like John said in an open letter once, he takes it so literally.

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