Today Apple Records threw a launch party for Mary Hopkin’s album Postcard, which had been produced by Paul McCartney and included three songs written by Donovan. Both of them were at the party, which was held at a revolving restaurant atop the Post Office Tower in London (pictured), as were Linda Eastman (of course), Eric Clapton, Brian Jones, Tony Visconti (Hopkin’s future husband), and various members of the Hopkin family.

Visconti’s presence gives me an excuse to mention David Bowie, whose “Space Oddity” single he would soon perversely decline to produce, thinking it a cheap novelty number designed to capitalize on the upcoming moon landing. (George Martin was also offered the job, and also passed.) He would, however, produce the contemporaneous album — initially known as David Bowie, then Man of Words, Man of Music, and finally Space Oddity — as well as many others, including Low, on which Mary Hopkin sings backup.

As it happens, the original version of “Space Oddity” had just been recorded on February 5 for inclusion in a short film called Love You Till Tuesday intended to relaunch Bowie’s music career after his sojourn in mime:

And David did finally achieve chart success in 1969, with the timely help of NASA. There will be more to say on that topic at a later date.

As for the Apple party, also among the attendees was Richard DiLello, known officially as Client Liaison Officer and unofficially as “The House Hippie” — which is how he refers to himself, in the third person, throughout his memoir The Longest Cocktail Party. Late last year I thought I was done acquiring Beatles books, but how could I resist that title? And so the volume is conveniently here at hand.

DiLello remembers being asked by Apple PR maven Derek Taylor to procure a barrel for the party:

“Where the fuck am I going to get a barrel from?” The House Hippie asked.

“Use your head, man. Figure it out. There has to be someplace in the city of Greater London where one can find a barrel. It’s not like I’m asking you to paint the Sistine Chapel, just find a barrel by one o’clock. Try Covent Garden!”

“Derek, the last time I went to Covent Garden to return that tuxedo you rented from Moss Brothers some asshole threw a tomato at me. Besides, what do you want a barrel for?”

“To fill with apples, you twat!”

As with so many things — perhaps everything? — that last bit will sound better if read aloud in a Withnail voice. This too:

“Oh, brother,” The House Hippie moaned.

“Look, if I told you this barrel was for John Lennon, would you move any faster?”

“A hell of a lot faster than I’m moving now.”

“Well then, just pretend it’s for John Lennon.”

[See also: “Well then lick 10 percent of the asses for me!”]

Fortunately for The House Hippie, it transpired that a friend of the receptionist was in the theatrical supply business. And so 45 minutes later a lift arrived at the top floor of the Post Office Tower with “one gigantic wine barrel and half a dozen crates of Granny Smith apples.” With the barrel in place, says DiLello,

Everything was perfect. The buffet table was a glutton’s delight and a drunkard’s joy. There was a lot of open floor space for the 300 invited guests to circulate and there was still plenty of light left in the sky. There was all of London for a view. The perfect circle of the tower restaurant was conducive to strolling when one got impatient for it to turn….

If you stand at the bar looking at the floor, you can see the break between the outer rotating circle of the restaurant and the stationery control anchor at its center. Standing at the window you can feel the movement as your whole world turns ever so gently in a clockwise direction.

Unlike most things Apple-related, the party was a smashing success. Paul — who arrived with Linda in tow to “give Mary away to the press” — had the ink-stained wretches eating out of the palm of his hand. Mary Hopkin herself was charming and graceful. Donovan played a few songs, and late in the evening, Jimi Hendrix turned up “for a drink and some talk with Paul, and good-naturedly fenced with the journalists and photographers grown bored with taking Mary’s picture.”

Mary Hopkin later recalled:

My family came down from Wales and in the throng of people we lost my 80-year-old grandmother, Blodwyn. When the crowd parted we saw her in the corner talking to Jimi Hendrix. Afterwards she said she had been talking to “a nice little boy” who had been asking about milking the cows and feeding the chickens.

And how can I top that? There’s no way. But I’ll leave you with one last passage from The House Hippie, who describes the end of the party this way:

The final announcement from The Press Officer was that regrettably the time had come to call it a day and kiss all your friends good night, with a reminder to dress sensibly against the elements because outside an English rain had begun that was to last for the next three days.


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