Friday, 17 February 2012

Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?

I am going ever so slightly off piste with this latest post, however, as the story heavily involves one of my favourite characters from the period, Robert Fraser, I thought it was about time to take an in-depth look at the infamous Rolling Stones story of the Redlands Bust:

Here for the first time is the complete story of the Redlands Bust and its cultural consequences. In 1967 the establishment in England were determined to punish the Rolling Stones, Britain’s most insolent pop group. It was a time when sex, drugs and rock’n’roll were becoming the normal lifestyle of the youth of the nation and the establishment saw the Rolling Stones as leading the charge.

It began just after eight o’clock, on the evening of February 12 1967 when Redlands, the Sussex country home of Stone’s guitarist Keith Richards was raided by a force of twenty police officers. Inside, Keith and his guests - including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, the gallery owner Robert Fraser, and “Acid King” David Schneiderman - shared in the quiet warmth of a day taking LSD. Relaxed, they listened to music, oblivious to the police gathering outside. The first intimation something was about to happen came when a face appeared, pressed against the window.

It must be a fan. Who else could it be? But Keith noticed it was a “little old lady.” Strange kind of fan. If we ignore her. She’ll go away.

Then it came, a loud, urgent banging on the front door. Robert Fraser quipped, “Don’t answer. It must be tradesmen. Gentlemen ring up first.” Marianne Faithfull whispered, “If we don’t make any noise, if we’re all really quiet, they’ll go away.” But they didn’t.


When Richards opened the door, he was confronted by 18 police officers led by Police Chief Inspector Gordon Dinely, who presented Richards with a warrant to “search the premises and the persons in them, under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1965.”

The raid came after a tip off by the tabloid newspaper, the News of the World, who were conducting a personal vendetta against Jagger because of a libel case he had brought against the newspaper. The News of the World had set up a team of journalists to infiltrate The Stones’ circle and get the lowdown on their drug use. 

One night, a journalist spoke with a drug-addled Brian Jones about his chemicals of choice. Thinking they had a major scoop, the paper ran the story. It was to prove a major mistake, as the News of the World couldn’t tell their pop stars apart, and believed they had caught Mick Jagger unawares, rather than Jones. 

When the paper published its story on Jagger and his alleged drug confession, the singer sued the paper. It led the tabloid to plan its revenge to discredit Jagger. That plan revealed a very cosy relationship between the newspaper and the police.

Detective Sergeant Norman Clement Pilcher, or “Nobby” as he was known to his colleagues was quite a character, as was his insatiable desire to rise swiftly through the ranks of London’s police. Pilcher seems to have had an agenda to curb the activities of London’s musicians, but he certainly knew the value of a celebrity bust. While seemingly the majority of the capital’s youth were engaged in some form of narcotic use, Picher knew that busting a celebrity would raise his profile enormously.

Pilcher waged a war on pop’s elite. During his time at the Drugs Squad, Pilcher was responsible for arresting Donovan, Brian Jones, John Lennon and George Harrison. Pilcher always got his man by bringing along to any bust his own supply of evidence. He was lampooned as a rock groupie by underground magazine Oz, and John Lennon described him as ‘semolina pilchard, climbing up the Eiffel Tower’ in “I Am The Walrus.”

In our present world of anodyne music pumped out by record labels and TV talent shows as soundtracks for malls, lifts and supermarkets, it is hard to believe that once-upon-a-time, music, in particular pop music, was considered revolutionary and a very real threat to the established order. Think of this when imagining the world the Rolling Stones burst into back in 1963, as it was the Stones, their music and their alleged drug use that became the focus of British establishment’s ire.

Unlike the Beatles, who played the game, and were considered cheeky and harmless, wore suits and smiled, The Stones were deemed dirty, surly, long-haired, and played Black music - R ‘n’ B, that inflamed their fans to riot. All of this wasn’t helped by manager Andrew Loog-Oldham’s statement that if the Beatles were Christ, then the Stones were the Anti-Christ. Besides, the Beatles were unassailable, especially after Prime Minister Harold Wilson controversially honoured them with MBEs in 1965.

So it was that the News of the World worked hand in glove with the police, tipping off the relevant authorities about drugs parties then turning up to photograph the arrested being taken away. Indeed, when John and Yoko were raided in 1968, the press were there just before Pilcher and his team arrived!

It appears that the police in Chichester at that time knew about Keith Richards’ presence at Redlands and were also aware that drugs were probably being used there. In fact, a former member of the drug squad has told how they weren’t in the slightest bit interested in raiding Keith’s house as it proved very little, and moreover, would throw an enormous spotlight on their operations.

The News Of The World were eager to call the bluff on Mick Jagger’s libel suit against them, and rang Scotland Yard to see if they’d enact a raid on Richards’ house on the weekend of February 12th 1967. 

However, the drug squad chief at the time (not Pilcher), resisted the temptation to act on the tip-off, saying that it would confer a martyrdom status on Mick and Keith if they went ahead with it.

Undeterred, the News Of The World then contacted Chichester Police and seemingly forced their hand to make the raid that weekend. 

The police discovered amphetamines/travel sickness pills in the pocket of Jagger’s jacket. Jagger had obtained the pills in Italy, where they were legally available for travel sickness. Heroin and eight capsules of methylamphetamine hydrochloride were found on Robert Fraser, while the remnants of marijuana found in an ashtray implicated Richards.

Bizarrely, David Schneiderman’s portable drug cabinet, containing LSD and dope, was not examined by the police, which has given rise to questions over the “Acid King’s” involvement:

David Schneidermann and his attache case
The elusive David Schneidermann remains probably the most enigmatic figure in rock and roll folklore. One of the many mysteries of the Redlands Bust has always been the identity and role of David Schneidermann.

The description of Schneidermann varies: some report he was a 27 year old Canadian, others say he originated from California, and that he was also known as Dave Britton. He has been described as an "up-market American west coast flower child."

Marianne Faithfull has confirmed that Schneiderman had delivered to each of the house party a tab of "white lightning" LSD with their tea on the morning of the police raid.

When the bust occurred Schneidermann was able to prevent the police searching his attaché case by saying that it contained exposed film for a New York newspaper. According to sources the case was a trove of illegal drugs. Others suggest Schneidermann was an agent provocateur who tipped off the London tabloid newspaper the News of the World about the party. 

Christopher Gibbs, a friend of Jagger present at the bust had this to say about Schneidermann: “The infamous David Schniederman, on the other hand, was a pied-piperish character, who the hell he was, and where he came from, nobody knew he had just popped up. He was able to tune into everybody’s wavelength and was seductive, satanic, the devil in his most beguiling of disguises. After the bust he vanished as devils do, in a puff of smoke, and was never seen again”.

Michael Cooper is quoted in Tony Sanchez's book - Up and Down with the Rolling Stones. “The guy’s much more than an ordinary pusher,” he said. “He had a whole collection of different passports in different names and with different nationalities on them. I saw them once when I was looking through his bag for some dope at Redlands.”

“And he talked to me about guns and weapons in the same sort of way that most guys talk about chicks. I know it sounds fantastic but I reckon he was something much more than a creep hired by the News of the World. He was like some kind of James Bond character, and someone, someone right at the top, put him in because the Stones are becoming too powerful. They really are worried that you could spark off fighting in the streets if you tried, and now they are going to try to break you. I’m sure the newspaper was in on it somewhere, but it was this guy using them-not the other way around.”

Schneiderman's disappearance immediately after the bust has been the subject of speculation ever since. At the trial Michael Havers QC, defending Jagger and Richards, claimed that Schneiderman had been planted by the News of the World as an agent provocateur. It was an allegation the newspaper described as a "monstrous charge" but it later admitted that he was the "reliable source" whose tip-off led to the raid.
It is even not clear if his name is spelt Schneiderman or with two ‘n’s: Schneidermann. At the trial the name was spelt: Sneidermann.

After the Redlands bust, he slipped out of Britain and moved to the States where he changed his name to David Jove, and lived in Hollywood, later working as a small-time producer and film-maker.
David 'Jove' Schneidermann
Maggie Abbott, a Sixties talent agent, met him in Los Angeles in 1983 and became his lover. He told her how he infiltrated the group but said he was now ‘on the run’. 

She said: ‘David was a heavy drug user but had a quick wit. He was the perfect choice to infiltrate the Stones. He never showed any remorse for what he did. It was all about how he had been “the victim”. He was a totally selfish person. Mick had been my friend as well as a client and I thought about trying to persuade David to come clean publicly. But he was always armed with a handgun and I feared that if I gave him away, he’d shoot me.’

His identity was confirmed by a scion of a family of American philanthropists, James Weinstock. Two years after the Redlands raid, ‘Dave Jove’ married Mr Weinstock’s sister, Lotus, in Britain. ‘They’d come up with some new way to make acid and decided to go to the UK and sell it,’ Miss Abbott said.

But David was caught carrying pot by Customs. ‘Some other guys turned up – he implied they were MI5 or MI6 – and they gave him an ultimatum: he’d get out of prison time if he set up the Stones.’ The British agents were in cahoots, he told Miss Abbott, with the FBI’s notorious Counterintelligence division, known as Cointelpro, which specialised in discrediting American groups deemed to be ‘subversive’.

On Christmas Day in 1969, ‘Jove’s’ new wife, Lotus, gave birth to a daughter, Lili. Their marriage lasted 18 years, though they never lived together. 

‘I first met David when I returned to California from Bali, where I had gone searching for God,’ said James Weinstock, Lotus’s brother. ‘One New Year’s Eve, he showed me a gun and said he’d just killed a man who was messing with his car.’ Later he was rumoured to have murdered a TV personality, Peter Ivers, the presenter of a TV show that ‘Jove’ produced.

Miss Abbott said: ‘There was talk that Peter had decided to leave the show and David was angry. ‘I discovered “Jove” wasn’t David’s real name when he shot himself through his heel with his gun. ‘When we checked him into hospital, he used a made-up name and later I found out his real name was Sniderman.’
His first half-hearted admission was to Mr Weinstock: ‘He told me he was tight with the Rolling Stones in England, but had a falling-out with them,’ he said. ‘He was arrested for some serious offence, but managed to extricate himself, and he said it all looked very suspicious when the police busted the Rolling Stones. They froze him out after that.’

In 1985, Miss Abbott and an old friend, Marianne Faithfull, went out for dinner in Los Angeles. Miss Abbott introduced her to ‘Jove’ – but Ms Faithfull soon told her she wanted to leave. Miss Abbott says: ‘When we got into my car, she said, “It’s him, the Acid King. He set up the Redlands bust. Don’t ever see him again”. ’

Miss Abbott added: ‘Two months after the evening with Marianne, I finally had it out with him. ‘To my amazement, he told me everything. He said, “It’s a relief to be able to talk about it”. ’

‘Jove’s’ final confession was made to his daughter, Lili Haydn, now a rock violinist. She said: ‘Shortly before his death he said he was the Acid King. ‘He told me he wasn’t a drug dealer. He felt he was expanding the consciousness of some of the greatest minds of his day.’

Later in his life he was ostracised by his glamorous LA set after his drug use became ‘voluminous’. He died alone in 2004.

The mysterious ‘Acid King’ was not the only surprising guest present at Redlands that day; it has long been rumoured that Beatle George Harrison and his then wife Patti Boyd had been there. Former Beatles press officer Tony Bramwell said. "Yes they were and so was I! Well, I left as well. I never took any drugs, just the occasional drink. I was in terror of losing my visas & passports and freedom and things. And if you were busted for drugs in England, or anywhere at the time, you lost your visas. Sort of semi incarcerated. I didn’t like the idea of that so I stayed away from that abuse."

Whether the police waited for the illustrious Beatle to leave before moving in has never been adequately explained.
At their trial, held at West Sussex Quarter Sessions, Jagger and Richards plead not guilty and were defended by Michael Havers QC.

When it came to their trial, Judge Leslie Block advised the jury to ignore any reasonable doubt used by the defence, this saw Jagger sentenced to three months for possession of amphetamines, and Richards to one year in jail for allowing cannabis to be smoked in his home. Robert Fraser received six months for possessing heroin.

The sentencing led to William Rees Mogg, then editor of the London Times to write an editorial in the paper, “Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?” that helped swing public opinion towards the Stones and against the harsh sentencing, which was later quashed under appeal.