Tuesday, 29 May 2012

So what more do we know about Tara Browne?

Forthcoming book to reveal all about Tara Browne

The following is taken from a review of a forthcoming book about Tara Browne

I received a call from the Irish writer Paul Howard, who, as Ross O’Carro-Kelly (‘Rock’) has written a number of popular satires about Ross and the Celtic Tiger, a series now necessarily discontinued. Howard is presently embarked on a new project — a biography of Tara Browne, who famously ‘blew his mind out in a car’ in the Beatles’ song ‘A Day in the Life’, the one that begins ‘I read the news today oh boy/ About a lucky man who made the grade’. (He was similarly elegised in ‘Death of a Socialite’ by The Pretty Things.) I knew Tara well during the Paris phase of his brief trajectory and my first reaction to news of this biography was that it would be quite a short book, Tara having died in a car crash in Redcliffe Gardens in 1966, aged 22.

John Lennon affects detachment in the lyric, ‘He didn’t notice that the lights had changed’, but he knew Tara and it is clear from the song’s elegiac mood that his death stood for something in the life of the band, that it marked the end of the party. The last line ‘Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall’ expresses the mood of disillusion, or so I like to think, because that was the way I felt about Tara’s death myself. Before it, the innocent phase of the 1960s, the Twist, the mini-skirt, ‘I wanna hold your hand’. After it, long hair, old clothes, psychedelia, Altamont, the rock-and-roll deaths. Before it, for me at least, the carefree present tense. After it, fatherhood, work, the future.

Howard had assembled a few last witnesses of Tara’s life in the tearoom of the genteel Montcalm Hotel near Marble Arch. I was so keen not to miss anything that I arrived an hour early and fell asleep in the lobby, a shameful condition to be found in for one about to boast of his wild youth. I woke with a start and there was Godfrey Carey QC, Tara’s tutor during the Paris phase of his life, hired to try and get him into Eton. We were joined by Paul Howard, who placed a dictaphone on the table. I laid beside it a faded green Chinese brocade tie of Tara’s which I had hoped would sum up his colourful personality but which only looked small and sad.

At 15, in 1960, Tara was barely literate, having walked out of dozens of schools. He smoked and drank but he hadn’t got on to joined-up handwriting yet. He was living at home with his mother Oonagh Guinness and her third husband, a louche Cuban ‘shoe-designer’ presently named Miguel Ferreras, who was gaily going through her fortune. Tara was two years younger than me but years ahead in sophistication and fun, dealing jokes, insults and ridiculous boasts from an inexhaustible deck like a child delightedly playing snap. In his green suits, mauve shirts with amethyst cuff-links, his waves of blonde hair, brocade ties and buckled shoes, smoking menthol cigarettes (always Salem) and drinking Bloody Marys, he was Little Lord Fauntleroy, Beau Brummell, Peter Pan, Terence Stamp in Billy Budd, David Hemming in Blow-Up. His drawly Irish blarney was the perfect antidote to our public school reserve and what would come to be called ‘postwar austerity’.
All the white-gloved pre-debs doing time at Paris finishing schools found their way to Oonagh’s apartment, where they encountered their first taste of Sixties hedonism, without Daddy being around to say no to drinks and cigarettes and staying up past their bedtime. 

There was the chauffeur-driven Lincoln Continental to conduct us to the clubs and swimming-pools. There was fresh milk in the fridge picked up daily by the Irish butler from the American embassy canteen, the only place in Paris where you could find it in those days. If there was any embarrassment about money Tara would pretend to find a ‘dix milles’ note in the street. He had one of the first car record-players, which you could walk along with (‘Rubber Ball’ by Bobby Vee, ‘Cut Across Shorty’ by Eddie Cochran) and after the clubs we took it to the Aerogare des Invalides and danced for the cleaners and pilots, keeping the photo booth busy. Our childlike faces peer out of the little black-and-white squares in ecstasy at our newfound freedom in the adult world.

Godfrey Carey described arriving at the flat in the morning to find bodies everywhere. An hour later Tara would peer out of a blanket, saying his Irish ‘Sorrry, sorrry’. I seem to remember his lessons taking place in the back of the Lincoln on the way to somewhere like Eden Rock, where Jean-Paul Belmondo waved to him. These were the days of Godard’s A Bout de Souffle, yellow-T-shirted American girls crying ‘New York Herald Tribune’ in the Champs Elysees, Edith Piaf’s ‘Milord’ playing in Le Drugstore. I’ll never forget Tara facing my father over the drinks tray in Majorca. Would he like some orange or a Coke? ‘An orange juice,’ said Tara in the tones of Lady Bracknell. ‘I’d rather have a Bloody Mary, sir. But do you mind if I fix it myself?’ The photos have him building enthusiastic sandcastles on the beach next morning.

Animated anew by Tara’s memory, I was gabbling excitedly by now. When Godfrey could get a word in he told us of the desperate last bid for study time — a stay in the Drake Hotel in New York of all places. On the first morning he awoke early to find that Tara had been watching TV all night. After three days of ‘jet-leg’, Tara told his mother he did not think he should miss Lucy Lambton’s coming-out ball. He flew to London and Godfrey never saw him again. Miguel later accused Godfrey of having an affair with Oonagh, who was 55. I said the last time I heard Tara’s voice was when he asked me to testify in his mother’s divorce case that Miguel had made a pass at me. (I declined.) Howard revealed that Miguel had fought for General Franco in the war, joined the SS and was taken prisoner in Italy. He was still alive in Canada where Howard intended to doorstep him. Perhaps it would not be such a short book after all.

Tara could hardly have failed to be a success in Swinging London. While I was wandering around the globe in ’63 and ‘64, he embarked on the second and last phase of his meteoric progress. He got married, met the Stones and the Beatles, opened a shop in the King’s Road and bought the fatal turquoise Lotus Elan in which he entered the Irish Grand Prix. He let me drive it once in some busy London street: ‘Come on, Hugo, put your foot down.’ I had just got my first job and our ways were dividing. His money and youth made him a natural prey to certain charismatic Chelsea types who turned him into what he amiably termed a ‘hustlee’. He reputedly gave Paul McCartney his first acid trip. The pair went to Liverpool together, got stoned and cruised the city on mopeds until Paul went over the handlebars and broke a tooth and they had to call on Paul’s Aunt Bett for assistance. There is still a body of people — and a book called The Walrus is Paul — who believe that Paul is dead and is now actually Tara Browne with plastic surgery.

Everyone has got some golden boy or girl in their life whose death or sudden departure distils the period into the long party it should have been but probably never was. When my first girlfriend was trying to think of something really nice to tell me she came up with ‘Your eyes are nearly as nice as Tara’s’. I remember being tremendously pleased about this and could hardly wait to tell him. I discussed titles for the book with Paul Howard and there seemed to be no choice: A Lucky Man Who Made the Grade.

Death of a Socialite - Is Percy Thrillington really Tara Browne?

Death of a Socialite - Is Percy Thrillington really Tara Browne? 

From April Ashley’s Odessy….”Next morning I awoke early and took out the basket to gather some provisions. As I veered into the King's Road it was as if I were seeing it for the first time... Tara and Nicky Browne chatting to Michael Fish in the middle of the road and handing out sweets to strangers. Anthony Haden-Guest was writing about them, Michael Rainey was selling clothes to them at his shop where, if you knew him, he'd go down into the basement, pull out a brick and roll a marijuana cigarette (later he married Jane Ormsby-Gore and left World's End in a gypsy caravan to look for the Holy Grail in the West Country).”

I recently discovered a new blog concerning the former wife of Tara Browne which I believe makes interesting reading. If it is true or a spoof I don’t know, maybe the author has been reading some of the posts here – again I don’t know. However, certain issues are alluded too and accusations implied that would back up some of the assertions I, and others, have made.

Here is one such claim, Nicki and Tara were cult figures in the swinging sixty's of psychedelic era London and I do mean CULT!! Ignoring the poor grasp of English the assertion here is clear. Here is another. So, he was with another women when his Lotus hit another car maybe he hit a pot hole too and crashed and he was killed but not his new girl friend who was in the car too. Some say Paul McCartney was the occupant of the other car, maybe a conspiracy of some kind..

Reading on. Drugs with Paul McCartney, John Lennon and the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones was a boyfriend, all of that. He sat in on the making of the Beatles record 'Revolver'. First I have heard of him sitting in on Revolver and does the author really mean that Brian Jones was a boyfriend? Certainly they liked to swap girlfriends, Suki Potier jumped very quickly from the front seat of Tara’s smashed Lotus and into Brian’s bed, but did they share a bed? 

Who knows, however, and although I was aware of both of these photographs, it has just come to my attention that they were snapped by Michael Cooper with their partners for the November 1966 Vogue magazine, just a month before Tara’s death.

Tara and Nicky Browne and Brian Jones and Anita Pallenberg

Anyway, let us continue…Tara was involved with Britains first transsexual scandal April Ashley and the other transsexual Amanda Lear who was with Dali. Anita Pallenberg, John Paul Getty the second and Talita .. the effete elite, you name it. Anyway, it is an interesting thread of magic, and spawned the story about Paul McCartney and a body double..

All of which brings us to another interesting conspiracy theory, and here I shall quote from another website….Amanda Lear is one of Europe’s leading gay icons. She has regularly performed at Gay Pride festivals held in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands and Greece. The life of Amanda Lear is confusing and there is a lack of photographic evidence from her youth. Her Wikipedia page indicates that Amanda was born in either 1939 or 1946. Amanda Lear was part of the Swinging London lifestyle of the 1960s. She was friends with The Beatles, Twiggy, The Rolling Stones, Bowie and a large collection of rock stars. Lear became a “stalwart of London’s demimonde” and an exotic name on the nightclub circuit. She was romantically linked with Bowie, Brian Jones and Tara Browne. Amanda Lear is the basis for a large collection of gay rumours surrounding famous people, including Lennon, McCartney, Bowie, Jones, Tara Browne and Salvador Dali.

Her connection with Brian Jones resulted in the ironic Rolling Stones track “Miss Amanda Jones,” included on the 1967 album, Between the Buttons. In 1979, Lear married French bisexual aristocrat Alain-Philippe Malagnac d’Argens de Villèle who, in fact, was the former lover turned adopted son of diplomat and controversial gay novelist Roger Peyrefitte. The life of Amanda Lear is interesting. She has been connected to a large group of gay men. Lear dated both Tara Browne and Brian Jones. The conspiracy theory revolves around the suggestion that Amanda Lear may be a famous man in disguise, possibly someone involved with the December 18, 1966, car accident. If you see Lear in her older photographs, she looks like a man. In many of her images, Amanda is hiding her neck, giving the visual impression of a fake head imposed on body.

Is this the motivation behind McCartney’s daubing Tara’s Plastic Skirt?

And so to round off and to get to the question posed in the title of this piece, here is Paul’s take on the origins of Percy Thrillington…We took personal ads in Private Eye and the Evening Standard saying, "Percy Thrillington seeks the love of his life." People eventually began to ask, "Who is this Percy Thrillington who keeps taking out small ads?" And then on holiday in Ireland with Linda we decided to find an actual Percy. We found a lad working in a farmer's field. We went up to him and asked, "Would you mind doing a photo shoot?" And so for a modelling fee we persuaded him to put on a dinner jacket and Linda took some pictures. And this Irish farmhand became Percy Thrillington. Now compare and contrast with this final quote from the Break the Silence blog… She was an Irish farmers daughter that secretly married him in 1963 in Paris..

Here is todays tweet from Percy…Percy Thrillington is deeply irritated by the curtailment of his apres-ski enjoyment & is currently returning overland by private ambulance, could this be a prelude to this?

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Is Percy Thrillington really Tara Browne?

I am wondering if Percy Thrillington isn’t an allusion to Tara Browne?

Firstly, there is more than a passing resemblance in the photo of Percy to Tara.

Percy Thrillington and Tara Browne

Secondly, Percy is portrayed as a high living, moneyed, upper class member of the aristocracy who spends his time gallivanting from one social occasion to another.

Thirdly, both are Irish.

Paul has often harked back to his relationship with Tara Browne, not only with the frequent references to car crashes, but in his artwork – Tara’s plastic skirt – but even too his choice of colours for his coat of arms, gold and black.

As ever, all this is pure supposition, however I have come across this fascinating blog piece that relates to Tara’s wife Nicki. I will repeat it here in full, it is fascinating in that it tempts us with glorious possibilities but ultimately says nothing at all.

 So, I knew Nicki Browne in the 1970's! She lived in a small village in Spain and was part of the Jet Set, real name was Noreen McSherry and was the widow of Tara 'Guinness' Browne (1945-1966) the heir to the beer money who was killed in a car crash in London a couple of years after they were married and she had two sons, with him, and was in a court fight for the two children at the time of his death...she lost the case.. The Guinness family gave her a small income to live on but took away the boys .. she was a Hippie babe par excellence had a string of hot Spanish young .. gigolo's small g teenager/men .. So, the story goes that in 1966 her estranged husband the Hon. Tara Browne who was the son of Oonagh Guinness his mother and father was Dominick Brown 76 years in Parliament. Nicki and Tara were cult figures in the swinging sixty's of psychedelic era London and I do mean CULT!! She was an Irish farmers daughter that secretly married him in 1963 in Paris.. So, he was with another women when his Lotus hit another car maybe he hit a pot hole too and crashed and he was killed but not his new girl friend who was in the car too. Some say Paul McCartney was the occupant of the other car, maybe a conspiracy of some kind.. This was the 1960's the decade that changed the world and it was swinging London and he was on L.S.D.. He was a society luminary in London the 'Hippie Underground' with a propensity for carousing and to be seen, lots of fast women and fast cars. Drugs with Paul McCartney, John Lennon and the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones was a boyfriend, all of that. He sat in on the making of the Beatles record 'Revolver'. They were the beautiful people, rich aristocracy. In Paris his social circle was the likes of Samuel Beckett, Salvador Dali, and Jean Cocteau to name a few ... Lord Foley told me that Nicki had cheated on him with some Italian men and he was hurt by that however it was the swinging 60's .. anyway, the Beatles wrote there most famous song ever at the end of there most famous album ever, "Sargent Pepper's" the song is at the end of the album the last song the whole album some say was full of Illuminati/Freemason symbolism the song is very hauntingly strange and beautiful, especially if you are on L.S.D.. Its called 'A Day in the Life'!! It was about him and the car crash and the way the media distorts reality. He was the dandy of Kings Road Fashion and this became a big myth about the Beatles...were they just another conspiracy, a plot, an illusion, they mesmerized us with there magic spell type thing !! Illuminati/Queen Elizabeth of England, the counter-culture and Magic with a very large M.. A big conspiracy story back then and the topic of many a conversation at my dinner parties .. Tara was involved with Britains first transsexual scandal April Ashley and the other transsexual Amanda Lear who was with Dali. Anita Pallenberg, John Paul Getty the second and Talita .. the effete elite, you name it. Anyway, it is an interesting thread of magic, and spawned the story about Paul McCartney and a body double.. and Nicki did feel guilty, I'm pretty sure of that ... he "blew his mind out in a car" is right John Lennon, but what did you and Paul do.. I met John twice in San Francisco he may of sold out most likely did to the establishment/Illuminati in the beginning to be as rich and famous as he was you have to.. but like JFK and maybe Diana, and maybe Martin L. King he changed his heart/mind and was murdered but now Paul he is still around.. Nicki hung out with all us 'Hippie' types was at the 'Hippie' parties but not so much the High Society ones in fact I never saw her at one of those she was kind of out of that after the scandal she was always at the party of Sara Skinner the chimney sweep heiress with a super cool house.. did not do well in the divorce case, not much income, she lived in a rustic farm house in a small village called Benahavis, Spain, close to Marbella way back in the mountains.. with young Spanish guys.. The thing about looking back is, was this all just a myth or did the 'Beatles' really sell there souls to make it rich and be famous. They sure had me fooled !!........

Tara Browne Montage
I have blatantly stolen the image above from a Spanish? website, however they have stolen plenty of my Penthouse images so I guess that makes us even? At least I give them a link - not sure the page says anything of interest, however if someone cares to translate that would be great!  

UPDATE: As of today, June 20, 2012 I have come across an obituary for Nicky Browne which I shall repeat below - Another of the original cast members now sadly gone!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Noreen Anne Browne (c1943-2012)

Noreen Anne (Nicky) Browne, who has died at Marbella, Spain, aged 69, was the widow of the Guinness heir the Hon Tara Browne (1945-66), after whose death in a car crash in 1966 the Beatles were inspired to write the song 'A Day in the Life'.

She was born circa 1943 a daughter of Sean MacSherry and married Tara Browne, scion of the Barons Oranmore & Browne, in 1963. She leaves 2 sons from the marriage, Dorian (b 1963) and Julian (b 1965).

Her husband's mother was Guinness heiress Oonagh, Lady Oranmore & Browne, scion of the Earls of Iveagh, &c.

Tara and Nicky Browne

Friday, 25 May 2012

Ram - Percy Thrillington

Paul McCartney's Ram

Originally released in 1971, Ram was met with decidedly mixed reviews. It was McCartney’s second post-Beatles album and the only LP co-credited to his wife Linda.

 It is noticeable also for the musical version that would appear six years under yet another McCartney pseudonym, Percy Thrillington.

Thrillington was also memorable for its groundbreaking, for 1977, pre-viral marketing scheme which involved a series of adverts being placed in the small ads section of the London Evening Standard detailing the exploits of the venerable Mr Thrillington.

So, to mark the release of the deluxe version of Ram, McCartney has been up to his old tricks with a series of internet based gimmicks including various facebook and twitter accounts, a so called, ewetube, channel and various stunts at London Underground stations and the re-appearance of his old friend Percy Thrillington.

Paul McCartney's Ram at Eweston Station

Here is the official Thrillington legend.

Percy Thrillington legend

To mark the event, I have produced my own video, detailing, possibly, the real reason for naming an LP Ram!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

The Abbey Road Cover

The Beatles Abbey Road

Everyone knows the iconic image that adorns the cover of the Beatles Abbey Road LP. However, not everyone is aware that the photo was one of six Abbey Road crossing photos taken by photographer Iain Macmillan during the album shoot on Aug. 8, 1969.

The Beatles Abbey Road

The idea for the cover shoot was conceived by Paul McCartney, who drew a sketch of exactly how he wanted the cover to be.

McCartney's original Abbey Road Sketch
Macmillan was given 10 minutes to shoot the Beatles crossing the street. He managed to get six shots.

"I remember we hired a policeman to hold up traffic while I was up on the ladder taking the pictures,” Macmillan told the Guardian in 1989. “The whole idea, I must say, was Paul McCartney's. A few days before the shoot, he drew a sketch of how he imagined the cover, which we executed almost exactly that day.
“I took a couple of shots of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road one way. We let some of the traffic go by and then they walked across the road the other way, and I took a few more shots. The one eventually chosen for the cover was number five of six. It was the only one that had their legs in a perfect 'V' formation, which is what I wanted stylistically."

“That photo's been called an icon of the 1960s, I suppose it is. I think the reason it became so popular is its simplicity. It's a very simple, stylized shot. Also it's a shot people can relate to. It's a place where people can still walk," he said.

Beatles Abbey Road alternative#1

Beatles Abbey Road alternative#2
Beatles Abbey Road alternative#3

Macmillan died in 2006. Besides the “Abbey Road” cover, he also was involved in the covers for John Lennon and Yoko Ono's “Sometime in New York City” and “Live Peace in Toronto” albums.