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.