John Lennon Peed in Jayne Mansfield's Drink Apr 15, 2017 3:13:28 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Apr 15, 2017 3:13:28 GMT -5
John Lennon Envied Howard Hughes, Peed in Jayne Mansfield's Drink
When I first became friendly with The Beatles, we had three things in common: we were crazy about rock ‘n’ roll, short of cash and permanently hungry. It was this latter state of affairs that led Ringo Starr and me into a highly embarrassing encounter with legendary American rocker Little Richard. It was November 1962 and I had taken a temporary job as Richard’s roadie. At the time he was sharing the bill at the Star-Club in Hamburg with this up-and-coming band known as The Beatles. Then 22, I was around the same age as John, Paul, Ringo and George, and we hung out together in Little Richard’s dressing room, washing amphetamines down with strong beer and cadging steaks paid for out of his fat salary.
That was how we usually got by, but one night Richard and his keyboard player Billy Preston invited Ringo and me to his hotel suite for “supper.” Alas, this turned out to be some dried-up sandwiches and it soon became clear that our hosts had other ideas about how to entertain us. In a bid to emphasize our heterosexuality, Ringo told the story of the worst date he’d ever had back in Liverpool, a trip to the cinema where the only seats he could afford were right in the front row, looking straight up at the screen. “We sat there for three hours with our necks aching. Funny, I never saw her again ….” he recalled. I chipped in with talk of the girl I was going to marry and, in a lull between all this macho banter, we made our escape. Keeping out of trouble was never easy with The Beatles, who called me not Chris but “Crispy,” and allowed me to get up close and personal with them during the heady days of Beatlemania.
Eventually reporting for the magazine New Musical Express with the tag-line Living With the Beatles, I was assigned to follow them wherever they went – and none of their tours was more memorable than their first coast-to-coast trip to the States in the summer of 1964. As in Britain, they were pursued by hordes of adoring females, and not just screaming young girls. Even the biggest names in Hollywood appeared desperate to see what a Beatle looked like in the flesh – literally so in the case of famously bosomy actress Jayne Mansfield. Late one night, she turned up uninvited at The Beatles’ rented mansion in Los Angeles. I was there alone with John, the others having disappeared to actor Burt Lancaster’s house to watch a movie, and the woman who had briefly been America’s best-known sex symbol was clearly intent on seducing him. “Is this real?” she asked at one point, tugging John’s hair, styled in the distinctive Beatle mop.
“Are those real?” he replied, dropping his eyes to her enormous breasts. John was a dedicated womanizer. The sexual traffic flowing in and out of his hotel bedrooms exceeded that of any of the others in the group. But as much as he loved women, he hated the way The Beatles were treated as novelties, rather than real people, and he couldn’t bear to be touched uninvited by strangers. This prompted him to take a horrible revenge upon Mansfield, secretly peeing into the cocktail which she had asked me to mix her and watching with delight as she drank it and pronounced it “a real humdinger.”
Eventually tiring of her attentions, John hustled her out of the house, but later she turned up at the nightclub where we had joined George and Ringo for a drink. There John whispered to Jayne what had really been in the “Beatle Special,” as he called it, and we were forced to make a hasty and undignified exit as she went to hit him. As always, getting away wasn’t easy. Outside, the police were manhandling huge crowds who seemed to have an unerring sense of where their idols would be.
The strain such attention placed on John had been apparent even before our plane landed in San Francisco, the first of the 25 cities in which they were to perform. Over many a Scotch and Coke on that flight, he told me he’d had premonitions about dying in tragic circumstances. I knew he was serious, having seen him soaked in sweat even before a concert, terrified of facing an audience. These fears perhaps explained his cruel reaction when one determined female fan managed to charm her way past a cordon of guards at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and made it to the door of The Beatles’ suite. “Hi, guys, I'm Donald O’Connor’s daughter,” I heard her say as I was enjoying a drink with the band. It took me a moment to work it out, then I realized that her father was the actor most famous for playing Gene Kelly’s sidekick in “Singin’ in The Rain.” The guards had been sufficiently awed to let her in, but John was unimpressed. “Oh, I’m sorry love, I really am,” he said. “Just heard on the radio about your dad. You must be grief-stricken.” Mr. O’Connor’s daughter was taken away in hysterics and it was left to someone else to give her the good news that her father was alive and well.
Not all the attention The Beatles received was unwelcome. When we reached New York, they were confined to their hotel suite for much of the time, including the evening I went out to see the film Spartacus with their road manager Neil Aspinall. When we returned that night, I was just about to unlock my door when Neil whispered: “Come and look at this.” Through the doors of The Beatles’ grand rooms we beheld a strange sight. Seated on five chairs arranged in a line were the Fab Four and their manager Brian Epstein, all stoned. Every now and again a man standing at one end of the line would push the closest Beatle off his chair and, in domino effect, each would knock the next one off, ending with Brian who would collapse to the floor laughing helplessly, setting the others off. It was a surreal scene, made more bizarre by the fact that the man doing the pushing was Bob Dylan. This was the kind of celebrity encounter The Beatles might have dreamed about when I’d met them two years previously, but Dylan had to visit them because it was too risky for them to leave the hotel to see him.
“It's all right for you Crispy,” John once said. “You can go out walking with your wife and live a regular life. I bloody can’t and it looks as though it’s going to be that way forever.” His frustrations were apparent in his description of audiences as “mobs” and his scorn for people who imitated Beatle fashions.
On one occasion, he could not conceal his contempt when a TV news bulletin reported that showbiz stars, including Steve McQueen, were flocking to a Hollywood barber specializing in Beatle haircuts. “And McQueen was one of my heroes. How soft can you get?” John snorted. He was equally disdainful when it was reported that those without sufficient hair of their own – among them J. Paul Getty, then the world’s richest man – were wearing Beatle wigs.
The only rich person John was impressed by was billionaire Howard Hughes and, as I had discovered on that trip, his fascination with Hughes had nothing to do with his vast fortune. Back in Vegas, he was intrigued to learn Hughes had been living at the resort’s Desert Inn hotel for the past year. Occupying all the luxurious suites on the ninth floor, he had remained holed up there, seeing no one except for his staff. John was determined to see Hughes’ hiding place. And when the band’s security team refused to take responsibility for any Beatle venturing beyond their guarded suite, he enlisted me in a plan to disguise him in a hotel doorman’s coat, with his hair tucked up beneath a braid cap. In the early hours of one morning, we smuggled him out through the hotel kitchen and drove to the Desert Inn where John stood by the roadside, gazing in awe at the heavily curtained ninth floor. “That would suit me,” he said. “In one place forever, instead of all this traveling. Total privacy, nobody to bother you, scream at you, poke your hair or ask what your favorite color is. I’d just love to meet him and tell him I understand.”
Sources: Chris Hutchins, The Daily Mail, May 8, 2015; John Lennon's Biggest Fan; and The Official Licensing Website of Jayne Mansfield.
See also: “Was Jayne Mansfield a Satanic Witch?” and “Did John Lennon Make a Pact with the Devil?”