Thursday, 18 April 2013

Mal Evans

It's Paul Is Dead related, and not related. It's just something that's been on my mind for a few years. 

I have a hard time with the Beatles mythology. It paints a portrait where everything is peace and love, and the good works of the gods shine down on the people, and all was well. It's a landscape pastoral, and the sun always shines. 

Why when I read the back stories about them, and the unfettered truth about it all, I recoil in shock. And disbelief. Have I become that jaded I ask myself. Can I not see that there is good, and there is bad in everyone. Like McCartney would have me believe, but not unless it's marketed and digested off the shelves like canned peaches? 

Maybe I'm jaded. But then again, piano keys are made from Ivory. Save the elephants, if not for the sake that we don't get something like Ebony & Ivory hit our airwaves again. Then at least for the sake of the animals killed for our pleasure.

I look at the story of the life and death of Mal Evans, and think, there's something wrong with this, no? Is it only me that sees this? Or is my perspective somewhat skewed in the big picture. What I see is a person who was employed by The Beatles. And he drove them here. And he drove them there. He drove them everywhere. Up and down dark motorways in the beginning. Possibly past cavalcades of screaming fans in the middle. Out to get them a cucumber sandwich later on. He did everything for them without question. He probably saved their lives a couple times too. He probably had to, considering the frenzy that surrounded them between 1964 - 1966. When it all got bigger than life, and they were whisked from this hotel, to that venue, back to that hotel and beyond. I'm fairly sure he may have gotten them out of some very bad situations, and was sometimes, their only link to the outside world. Could you get us a newspaper Mal, if we go outside we'll be mauled to death. Sure boys, anything for you. 

So why was this man gunned down? Well we know why, as police reports stated. He was holding an air rifle, told to put it down, didn't, and then he was gone. Below is a synopsis:

On 5 January 1976, Evans was so despondent that Hughes phoned his collaborator on his book, John Hoernie, and asked him to visit them. Hoernie saw Evans "really doped-up and groggy", and Evans told Hoernie to make sure that he finished Living The Beatles' Legend. Hoernie helped Evans up to an upstairs bedroom, but during an incoherent conversation Evans picked up a 30.30 air rifle. Hoernie struggled with Evans, but Evans, being much stronger, held onto the weapon.
Hughes then phoned the police and told them that Evans was confused, had a rifle, [and was on valium.] Four policemen arrived and three of them, David D. Krempa, Robert E. Brannon and Lieutenant Higbie, went up to the bedroom.They later reported that as soon as Evans saw the three policemen he pointed a rifle at them.The officers repeatedly told Evans to put down the rifle (which they did not know at the time was an air rifle) but Evans constantly refused.The police fired six shots, of which four struck Evans, killing him instantly. Evans had previously been awarded the badge of "Honorary Sheriff of Los Angeles County", but in the Los Angeles Times, he was referred to as a “jobless former road manager for The Beatles”.

Evans was cremated on 7 January 1976, in Los Angeles. None of The Beatles attended his funeral, but Harry Nilsson and other friends attended, although Harrison arranged for Evans' family to receive £5,000, as Evans had not maintained his life insurance premiums, and was not entitled to a pension.

Okay. Charles Higbie you will find very involved in the investigation of Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy's assassin. You'll also find him making things very difficult for investigators in OPERATION ROLLOUT

An Oct. 12, 1980 article in the Los Angeles Times says:

“Operation Rollout, Dist. Atty. John Van de Kamp’s much-publicized effort to investigate police shootings, continues to meet resistance from the Los Angeles Police Department despite high-level talks in May that were supposed to have ironed out problems, according to prosecutors assigned to the program.

“At the center of the conflict is Lt. Charles Higbie, a 24-year Police Department veteran who is chief investigator for all officer-involved shootings in the department and wields great influence with Police Chief Daryl Gates.

“Members of Van de Kamp’s Special Investigations Division…complain that they receive minimal cooperation from Higbie, that he withholds information from them and is overly protective of the officers he investigates.”

I reached Garcetti by telephone last Friday. He was in New York for an exhibition of his photographs. Higbie, he says, “was one of the most powerful police officers in the LAPD,” commenting:

“As a lieutenant, that speaks volumes.” The former district attorney points out that Higbie “reported to the chief directly” and “didn’t let captains, commanders, deputy chiefs or assistant chiefs tell him what to do.”

Garcetti recalls that Higbie “acted like second-in-command at LAPD” whenever it came to “officer involved shootings or in-custody deaths.”

You can read more about Operation Rollout here:

But I guess the point of this blog isn't about getting to the bottom of Mal Evans death. It's more about, why didn't John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr take care of this guy? Even after they dissolved. It shouldn't have even been a question of their togetherness or Apple's disintegration. It's a matter of a man who did a lot for them. And asked for nothing. So he got ... nothing? Is this what this says about giving? That if you ask for nothing in return, you get nothing. And expect no less! The love you take, is equal to the love you make? Well, Mal Evans surely gave a lot of his love to The Beatles. And they surely took it. So where was his suite? His villa? Why was he divorced? Why didn't he have enough money for a house for his family? His employment to The Beatles lasted years, and he was a loyal employee. One of their most trusted, if not the most trusted employee they had. They made him manager of Apple until Allen Klein stepped in. But this isn't the point. 

I have a problem with this, even with Harrison. It's just ... not enough. Yes Harrison gave the family money. And yes he gave Evans a songwriting credit on the RINGO album. Which reportedly is something McCartney promised, but never lived up to that promise going back to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. If Evans story is true with this, he truly got burned. And that house and mortgage was never forthcoming. But yes Mal, keep getting us our tea. And I'd like a sandwich please. Yes boys. Anything for you. And when the parade was all over, and there was no more tea to get, where would Mal Evans go? Why did he not have a permanent job with one of them? Or some of them? Why was he ever "without". And he was without a lot. By the end he was without a family. And a wife. And in the very end, he was only full of air against bullets. And he wouldn't win. 

Why does this story not say to Beatles fans, cool music, but what shitty people they were? Honestly. It doesn't speak well of people caring about one another at all. And when they were done with Mal Evans, they were truly done. Was he that expendable? Regardless if he was going to release his memoirs. Regardless if he was their caretaker of artifacts and Beatle legends. Regardless of his access to all 4 of them, and the stories he could tell, but never told. Were he alive today, he'd be the single greatest story teller of the Beatles mythology going. He kept a diary. He was with them seemingly 24/7. I'm surprised every Beatle home did not have a Mal Room in it. There's many 5th Beatles. Mal is in contention to being at least Beatle No.5.4, after George Martin, Brian Epstein, Paul McCartney and then ... Mal. Neil Aspinall would be Beatle 5.5. And yeah. I added an extra Paul in there, because they told you all along there were two of him. (See how I made this truly PID related) ;)

Anyway. The story of Mal Evans truly bothers me in their mythology. He's the servant of the gods, beaten down, made to serve, forever on bended knee. I mean, I make it sound atrocious, and he seemed quite a happy man doing such things. At the same time, the gods should have rewarded him for his faith and loyalty to them. Unless of course, they were like God in the Old Testament. Burning people up if he didn't ask for an offering today. Or they did it the wrong way. Maybe Mal did something wrong, and was never going to get the love he made back? It's like the story of Job. Man that guy got burned by God. On a bet with the Devil no less. Mal Evans is like Job. Except he never got chance to get that reward for being so faithful. Is that his fault? When everything is taken away from him after giving his all to it? Did this man not deserve to have his faith restored at the last minute by some miracle? Some intervention? Did Mal Evans not deserve to have a happy home?

Does anyone else have a problem with the humanity in this story? Does it not strike you a little sad? A man is celebrated for a song about a 5 year old boy, though looking at the lyrics, the song has very little to do with that 5 year old boy's situation. Or the advice you'd even give to a child. But it makes for great sell, doesn't it? This song was written for a tiny little boy who was going through the awful breakup of his mummy and daddy. Daddy actually let mummy find out about his special friend quite cruelly. And then daddy told his best friend to tell mummy they were splitting up. But the friend refused. (If I was Pete Shotton, I would have refused too.) Na Na Na Na Na Na. This song has nothing to do with that situation for the little boy. But Beatles fans LOVE to say how much Paul cared for Julian in this situation. And how much closer he was to John. And they make up these glorious fantasies in their heads about Julian possibly sitting on Paul's knee as he sings him this 7 minute opus saying, I wrote this for you kid. And Julian looks up and says, "so I should go out and get her". And Paul says, "as long as she's of age kid, as long as she's of age. Now singalong with me."

It's really the stuff of fantasy. Or Disney. In reality though, that song has so little to do with a little boy, it's amazing it's even mentioned he had any inspiration for the song. But that's how mythology works. And that's how the gods seem to shower down blessings, when in truth, they are as self-serving and oblivious to the sufferings of mankind as that old God in the Testament who was silly enough to put a tree in a garden knowing curiousity was a trait inherent in humans. He should know. He made them. 

So rest in peace Mal Evans. There's at least one of us here on Planet Earth who is wondering why you did it. Did you get anything for it, except for a bullet to the body? Does your ghost grow restless in its urn as McCartney slams an injunction on your beloved ex-wife for selling items you had kept from your days of employment? Were you saving that as a nest egg one day? Did you think your employers would mind if you took a little of this, and maybe a piece of that, because it seems they ignored giving you much in the first place? Were you constantly finding a way of creating your non-existent pension? The one that was never offered? Were you hoping Ringo would release an album one day, and maybe someone would give you credit there? Would the royalties from it, pay you back what you felt you were owed? What did you do it for Mal? What was it for?

The goodness in your heart I imagine. Maybe you're Don Quixote for real. Maybe your faith in humanity was greater than its true worth. I would hate to think that. But I cannot find where you did wrong. You're an example of how others do wrong, if you ask me. 

Rest in peace. 

Monday, 18 February 2013

"A Vargas Girl"

You know, when I go to find out something about something, I don't expect to have to look for two hours to have to get information that should already be known and supplied. 

When you go to any site that sets out to give you a guideline of who appears on the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover, and you come across a description of a person in the crowd that is "A Vargas Girl" or "A Petty Girl", doesn't it piss you off? At all? It does me. Quite a lot. WHAT Vargas girl you can hear me incessantly start repeating. WHEN was it painted. I start banging on the desk. WHO is it of? By this point it's just best to clear the room because I am in a fury that "A Vargas Girl" tells me nothing. And if someone's going to go all that way to tell me this is one of the most important album covers of all time, and each individual Beatle (barring Ringo) picked who was to appear on that cover, then "A Vargas Girl" does not do it for me. 

Ladies and Gentlemen. 
A Vargas Girl. She was the love of Alberto Vargas's life. When she died, he ceased to paint. He said there was a little bit of her, in every Vargas girl he painted. He met her in New York City when she was a Greenwich Village Follies girl. He painted her over and over again.


She later became Mrs. Alberto Vargas.

Now finding the Petty girls is going to be a bit more difficult. Especially with people putting crap like "A Petty Girl" or "A Vargas Girl". Lucky to get Petty or Vargas even mentioned in the description. But more importantly you should be asking. These are the people The Beatles admired at the time. So why are people like Sir Robert Peel or H.C. Westermann on the cover, when at first glance, their lives seemed to be filled with nothing to do with The Beatles, as opposed to, oh let's say Lewis Carroll, or Aleister Crowley. It's just obvious they are there for a reason, but the reasons said, may not be what you think. With "A Vargas Girl" did The Beatles pick the image because they liked Vargas's work? They knew of Anna Mae Clift? They liked their love story? What is the reason she is on the cover, and that particular image of her. 

In hunting her down, one tip off that it may be her was this image from 1923 that Vargas painted. Before he did pin up girls (which actually paid the bills), he was quite the serious artist. This work eventually got him a paying gig doing the Ziegfeld Follies girls, which then led to him doing work for Esquire magazine (replacing George Petty in fact as their main artist.) 

 It was the hairstyle, colour and pose that said, Anna Mae Clift may be your girl in the other painting. I estimate the other one has to be around the same time, 1923 - 1925. That's an estimate. But remember. It took me 2 hours, with some help from a friend looking with me, to find out WHO a Vargas girl was. I think it's important. If you want to tell me this is one of the most important album covers of all time. 

So ... have you asked that internal question yet? I already did 25 minutes ago. 

Why are there two artists represented on the cover of Sgt.Pepper that both worked for the same magazine, and is it the artist's work The Beatles admired, or who was painted. It's a question that should have been asked 45 years ago to be honest. 

Hunting the Petty Girls. Next mission. Carry on. ;)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

An Article in the LIFE

You would think one of the easiest things to find in the world would either be the transcript or the article itself printed by LIFE magazine on 17th June, 1967, which was in actuality a reprint of an article in QUEEN magazine (date uncertain) where we get Paul McCartney's admission of taking LSD. 

This is not that very important issue of QUEEN magazine that held the first announcement by a British musician of his use of LSD. This is just QUEEN magazine.

You would think. Of all the "historic" moments in rock, of all the pivotal points in just The Beatles career, you would find this article in its entirety, and his statements in all their glorious .. um glory. 

Salvador Astucia, the guy who wrote Rethinking John Lennon’s Assassination The FBI’s War on Rock Stars, he was asking where is this article all the way back in 2004. What reporter did McCartney talk to? What magazine? Where was it printed?

We learn it was QUEEN magazine that originally printed it. Can we find it? No. The magazine is now defunct. We can presume it's in a May or June issue in 1967 it appeared. At best. I do not know if it ran monthly, fortnightly or what. LIFE ran the article on the 17th. So either they picked up on it really fast, or like the "We are bigger than Jesus" statement, it took some time. But the impression one gets from McCartney's televised statement on the 19th June, 1967, was that the article had just been recent. His statement "Well the thing is, you know, that I was asked a question by a newspaper and the decision was whether to tell a lie or to tell the truth, you know." So that's QUEEN. When did it run? Who knows. LIFE reprints it on the 17th. TV statement the 19th.

16th June, Monterey Pop Festival is held. McCartney is on the board of directors. The day after, LIFE runs McCartney's statements about LSD. Monterey Pop Festival. Huge amount of LSD was dispersed there. Just sayin'. Orange Sunshine. Monterey Purple. HUGE amounts. 

We (well I say we, but in this case I) have only seen "excerpts" from this. A sentence here. A statement there. He called LSD the universal cure-all. He said it tapped into that part of the brain we don't use. He said .....

What else did he say??? Where is this article??? Why after 45 years is it so difficult to find out what his exact statements were, and the content of the piece that got him to make a statement on television?

The BBC sought to ban A Day in the Life because it made drug references. But in all honesty, you and I know that song is tame in any reference. Turn you on, smoke, very tame. Well these LSD statements gave BBC license to say SEE we told you so! 

So where are they? Why can you not enter into google
17th June 1967 + LIFE + Paul McCartney + LSD + transcript

(AMENDMENT - That's because some websites list the wrong date. It was the 16th June 1967 silly Doctor Tomoculus!)
And get an instant result. With a scan even of the article! Or just what words appeared? This whole article was the basis for the national and then international coverage of McCartney's admission to taking LSD. And by proxy, the other Beatles.