This morning, as if they had just been waiting for the White Album to be finished, the police raided Ringo’s flat in Montagu Square, where John and Yoko were staying. This did not come entirely as a surprise, said Lennon:

That thing was set up. The Daily Express was there before the cops came. In fact, Don Short had told us, “They’re coming to get you,” three weeks before. So, believe me, I’d cleaned the house out, because Jimi Hendrix had lived there before in the apartment, and I’m not stupid. I went through the whole damn house.

And if the image of Beatle John frantically “hoovering” (as the Brits call it) to try and pick up every last marijuana seed left behind by Ringo and Jimi does not amuse you, I don’t know what I can do to help. In fact this whole affair, though sordid and degrading to all involved, had many farcical qualities, with John and Yoko dressed only in vests, policemen coming in through the window, and drug-sniffing dogs named “Yogi” and “Booboo.”

Though John had apparently done a decent job of cleaning — only trace amounts of hash were found in the bedroom and bathroom — he’d neglected to account for the fact that there were many unopened boxes of his possessions in the flat. When searched, these yielded (says The Beatles Bible) “27.3 grains of hashish in an unsealed brown envelope in a blue trunk in the bedroom” and “191.8 grains of hashish in a binocular case in the living room.”

As Bob Spitz points out, this bust was an indication that The Beatles’ relationship with the authorities, as well as the media, was changing. In the past they had always been pampered and protected by the powers that be. But now that they were turning into longhaired freaks instead of adorable moptops, the establishment was starting to think that they’d gone too far and needed to be reined it.

It makes sense that John was the first to be targeted. Not only was he the most outspoken, but his brazenly public affair with Yoko upset a lot of people — she was after all a foreigner, and not a cute white one like a German or something. She was an “Oriental,” as the nomenclature was designated at the time, and the backlash against her was often overtly racist.

In the end this arrest would result in only a fine, but a message had been sent, says Spitz: “The press and police had taken off the gloves…. [John] told friends that everyone — the press, the police, even the fans — ‘were out to get him.’”

As we all know, it was the fans who eventually got him. But as with the Rolling Stones’ February 1967 drug bust, the press and the police were both key players in today’s raid. Cameras aplenty were on hand to record the Smart Beatle and his special lady friend being ignominiously marched through the street to a waiting police car.

It is not impossible that the timing was actually not a coincidence. I hate to add any more conspiracy theories to the internet, but it is interesting that Lennon was allowed to finish his album before being busted, thus guaranteeing that EMI would get some return on all they had invested in the latest Beatle venture. Was someone at EMI in touch with someone at the Drugs Squad? Was the idea to throw a scare into The Beatles, and convince them to go back to being happy campers who made money for the Man and didn’t rock the boat?

Probably not. But it makes you think.




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