The Beatles in Abbey Road Studios, 19 May 1966. Courtesy of Apple Corps Ltd.
“‘London swings… it is the scene,’ declares TIME magazine’s 15 April 1966 cover story. The most ‘with it’ ‘fab’ ‘groovy’ ‘kinky’ place on earth. Hopping from boutique to art gallery to discotheque to restaurant, writer Piri Halasz observes a city where pop stars, actors, designers and toffs are all part of one classless ‘bloodless revolution.’ The world is watching. American country singer Roger Miller enjoys a transatlantic hit with ‘England Swings’ (‘like a pendulum do’). The kingpin of Euro arthouse cinema, Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni will film Blow Up in London – featuring The Yardbirds, a tight-trousered Jeff Beck smashing his Hofner guitar while sporting an erection. Just over a week later, Guinness heir Tara Browne throws his 21st birthday party at the family seat, Luggala, in the Wicklow mountains – a gothic revival folly resembling an ice cream crown melting into the landscape. The nearby Lough Tay, pitch black and fringed with imported white sand looks like the family’s fortune. At Browne’s bash, The Lovin’ Spoonful play to a guest list that includes Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg, as well as photographer Michael Cooper. He’ll shoot Browne and Jones for a Vogue fashion spread, wearing the kind of sartorial arcana sold at London boutiques Granny Takes A Trip, Lord Kitchener’s Valet and Beatle favourite Hung On You. Next year Cooper’s lens will capture the most famous LP cover of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. John, Paul, George and Ringo are all absent – McCartney’s brother Mike is the nearest thing here to a Beatle, despite Browne’s friendship with Paul. Late last year Mike had been with Paul when he took his first LSD trip at Browne’s Eaton Row Belgravia home. That Christmas he’d also been there when the Beatle flew off his moped split his lip and chipped his tooth while visiting father McCartney in the Wirral. …”
The Quietus (Video)
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