Beatle Soup

With all the attention bestowed to Beatlemania at present and with every new day bringing a different angle on the same story, for those of us lucky enough to have been around when the Beatles were happening in real time, the stories that matter are both more personal and powerful. This is one of those stories.

By the time the eighties rolled around, my music listening habits had expanded in an explosion of styles and sounds. It may have started with the Beatles but my interests in music took off in a wild rampage of disparate forms both popular and exoteric but no matter how far from pop music they became, the fab four’s influence could be felt and not just musically.

I was working with a friend’s band, a sort of wanna be Faith No More outfit and enjoying the camaraderie slightly more that the musical exploration. We all went to the drummer’s house one day just to hang out because his parents were rich and had the proverbial big house on the hill. His father and stepmother were both DNA scientists who were at that time working on finding a cure for Aids at the DNA level, heavy stuff. He told us some hilarious stories of how his parents were so involved in their brainwork that they did the craziest things like getting so involved in thought they pulled the car out of the garage without opening the door, apparently that had happened more than once.

I went there expecting a very clinical house with very expensive and tasteful décor but what I ended up experiencing was a revelation. When we walked in the front door of this huge house, we were greeted by a décor that was more Hard Rock Café than suburban science lair. My friend explained that his real mother had been a photographer and designer in London in the sixties and the house was filled with his late mother's work.

There were signed photos of David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Carly Simon and the original story boards for numerous album covers by Cat Stevens and other artists. Needless to say I was amazed and walked throughout the house checking things out. Then I came upon a simple image hanging on the wall that took my breath away. There in glorious black and white was what appeared to be the original cover of my favorite Beatles’ album of all time, Revolver. I asked my friend if it was real and he casually said that his late mother had dated Klaus Voormann before she had met his father and when they broke up, Klaus had given her the artwork he created for the Beatles. I was stunned and gave it a very through appraisal. Looking at it from an angle I could see the photos stacked upon each other and the hand drawn nature of the rest of the image. It was real!

How the original version of one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century ended up on the wall in the house of a scientist in Southern California could only come from the world of rock n’ roll. Here was this most incredible work of art, just casually displayed on a wall in a house in La Costa over looking a yuppie golf course with the Pacific Ocean off in the distance. It was an amazing moment for me and one that is still as vivid today as it was all those years ago.

I’ve long ago lost touch with that band and its members and haven’t been back to California in over a decade but every time I listen to the Beatles’ music or read about them, that memory comes flooding back.

Seventies Simon

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