(Apologies for the excessive length of today’s entry. If I had more time, I’d write a shorter one.)

Let me (re)introduce you to Derek Taylor, PR man, journalist, record producer, and (says Bob Spitz) “debonair drug aficionado.” After working for The Beatles in 1964, Taylor had moved to Los Angeles, where he worked for and with artists including the Byrds and Captain Beefheart. In April 1968, he was convinced by George Harrison to return to England to take up the post of press officer for Apple Corps.

Taylor at one time had been a relatively straight character, but, according to Spitz’s The Beatles,

Since being dosed by George Harrison, Derek had acquired a sweet tooth for drugs that knew no limits. Acid, hash, grass, peyote, cannabis resin, speed, cocaine – whatever he could get his hands on was devoured with rapacious glee.

Be that as it may, Taylor retained enough memory of this era to write an excellent book about it. First published in 1973, As Time Goes By was out of print for a good while before being reissued by Faber & Faber this year. There is no way, of course, of knowing how much of what Taylor tells us is true; but ain’t it ever the case?

Although Taylor tends to be vague with dates (his chapters have titles like “About 1968–70 — written 1972. A brave building in a fussy street.”), due to corroborating sources we can definitively place one of the stories he tells on this weekend. (Remember that because 1968 was a leap year, every day is pushed back one — so that in ’68 June 29 was a Saturday, not a Friday.)

Today Derek Taylor was scheduled to accompany Paul McCartney to Bradford, England, where Paul had a recording session scheduled with a recently signed Apple artist called the Black Dyke Mills Band. Take it away, Derek:

I decided that Saturday to take a very modest 250 milligrams of LSD in a final cup of tea with Joan before setting off for St. John’s Wood to pick up Paul McCartney and Peter Asher and Tony Bramwell, the Apple team due next day at Bradford.

A fine black Rolls arrived and I was packed and ready for a rolling trip of medium duration, minimal strength and maximum visuals for there is nothing like a ride in a Rolls on a little acid on a Saturday afternoon in June in the lanes of Surrey.

And so it turned out. Paul seemed very positive and played us some rare recordings; “dubs” he had made of songs, written by him for others, dubs on which he was singing for the first and last time. Maybe one day they will make an album of them, but maybe it will have to be over his dead body for I don’t see him wishing to complete that particular symphony in his lifetime.

I said I had taken a dollop of the dreaded heaven-and-hell, and Paul said it should be an interesting journey, and it was.

The Beatles themselves had, in theory at least, foresworn the use of LSD by this point; but John, for sure, had fallen off the wagon. In fact he credited a recent trip he’d taken with Derek Taylor with changing his attitude and igniting his current burst of creative momentum:

I was slowly putting meself together after Maharishi, bit by bit, over a two-year period. And then I destroyed me ego and I didn’t believe I could do anything. I let Paul do what he wanted and say, them all just do what they wanted. And I just was nothing, I was shit. And then Derek tripped me out at his house after he’d got back from LA. He said, “You’re alright.’ And he pointed out which songs I’d written, and said, “You wrote this, and you said this, and you are intelligent, don’t be frightened.” The next week I went down with Yoko and we tripped out again, and she freed me completely, to realise that I was me and it’s alright. And that was it. I started fighting again and being a loud-mouth again and saying, ”Well, I can do this,” and “Fuck you, and this is what I want.”

Anyway, back to Mr. Taylor:

We stopped at a pub on the way up and I astonished myself by coping remarkably well up until the point where I asked the barman if I could buy a filthy table which stood in a corner covered in cigarette burns and the stains of long-dead pints.

He said, “What would you want with an old thing like that, better to get a new one.” It hadn’t been anything special even when it was new, he told us. “You may not believe this,” I replied, “but it is the cigarette burns and the stains I am really buying. They are so incredibly far out.”

“Drink up,” said Paul, seeing the signs and playing Dad. “Write your name here please, Paul,” said the barman as we left.

And that was how it was with The Beatles in those days — just take whatever you want and sign your name. But even Beatle power has its limits.

It was midnight when we checked into the hotel. There wasn’t a soul or a sound except for the red-nosed night porter, as old as Moses. Paul had brought Martha (My Dear) with him – the sheepdog of the same name. “Can you shampoo her?” he asked the porter who recoiled in terror. “It’s her arse,” said Paul, and he put his fingers in the thick curls around Martha’s back passage and pulled off a cluster of clinkers. “Look!” I nearly fainted.

“I’m afraid not,” said the porter. It was very late after all.

Talk about your working-class heroes. Raise a pint tonight, friends, to the porter who refused to wash Paul McCartney’s dog’s butt in the wee hours of the morning. May we all be so bold in speaking truth to power in the days and weeks to come.

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