In what could be a scene from a Francis Ford Coppola movie, Paul was getting married today while the Drugs Squad raided George’s house.

The wedding seems to have been a fairly impulsive event, prompted perhaps by Linda’s being four months pregnant. Paul had bought a cheap ring late the previous day and the wedding was held at the local registry office, with none of the other Beatles in attendance.

I bet John was pissed, and not just because he wasn’t invited. Relationships had become the latest arena for their never-ending rivalry, and though John was the first to find his soulmate, Paul beat him to the altar. Paul would also win the reproduction competition, with he and Linda quickly cranking out two daughters, while it took John and Yoko until 1975 to have Sean.

Paul later reflected,

I really don’t remember whether or not I invited any of the band to the wedding. Why not? I’m a total bastard, I suppose.

Paul was the last Beatle to get married, though by this point John was divorced, starting the whole cycle over again. Ironically Paul would become the most-wed Beatle when he married his third wife Nancy Shevell in 2011; all the others were married twice.

Meanwhile, Beatle nemesis Sgt. Norman Pilcher chose this day to go after George, apparently assuming (incorrectly) that he would be at the wedding. Bob Spitz’s The Beatles describes the scene this way:

George spent the wedding day lounging in Derek Taylor’s office at Apple, where he was paged around 5:00 by his wife, Pattie. There was a team of police at their home, she reported, tossing the place in preparation for a drug bust….

George, dressed in a flamboyant yellow suit, arrived in a stretch limousine with Taylor and a lawyer. The indiscriminate atmosphere in the parlor resembled nothing if not “a party.” Several cops were slouched in armchairs with their feet propped up, watching television. Others drank coffee and thumbed through George’s record collection, while a police dog clad in a beet-red handkerchief nosed through the bedroom closets.

This dog may well have been the infamous Yogi, who had also taken part in the October 18, 1968 raid on John and Yoko’s place.

According to Pete Shotton, a friend of The Beatles who was on the scene, George “went berserk.” As with John and Yoko’s bust, this one had been carefully planned for maximum press impact. When “a photographer popped out of the front hedge,” the spiritual Beatle took off after him, shouting “I’ll kill you! I’ll fucking kill you!” Spitz describes George chasing the photographer around his garden, in turn being pursued by the police, “leaping over garden ornaments and bushes” — still dressed, remember, in his glorious yellow suit.1

And if that doesn’t make you laugh, at least a little bit, I’m worried about you. It was not so funny for George, who not only had legal problems and bad P.R. to deal with, but lost his whole stash — though he claimed that the brick of hash supposedly found in one of his shoes had been planted. “I’m a tidy man,” he said. “I keep my socks in the sock drawer and stash in the stash box.” And in fact Pilcher was later convicted of planting evidence, so maybe so, but it strains credibility to imagine that George was not holding.

After this, according to Pattie Harrison’s book Wonderful Tonight,

We were taken to Esher police station to be processed and fingerprinted. The local police were flabbergasted: they knew us and were appalled to see us being marched in by all those London policemen. I don’t think they’d used the fingerprinting machine before – it took them about twenty minutes to find it and even longer to work it. We were formally charged but released on bail. We got home feeling gloomy, so George said, “Come on, let’s go to the party.”

The party in question was a posh soiree at the house of artist Rory McEwen, where George had previously taken sitar lessons from Ravi Shankar. Among the attendees were Queen Elizabeth’s wild younger sister, Princess Margaret, and her husband Lord Snowdon. Says Pattie,

The first person we saw when we arrived at Rory McEwen’s house was Lord Snowdon. Thinking – in vain – that he might be able to pull a few strings, George rushed over to him. “Can you help us? The most awful thing’s happened.” Meanwhile I went downstairs and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Princess Margaret was standing with my youngest sister Paula, who was in the process of handing the Queen’s sister a joint she had just lit.

Princess Margaret was quite a piece of work, a heavy drinker and smoker who had numerous extramarital affairs; her confirmed or rumored lovers included David Niven, Warren Beatty, Peter Sellers, and Mick Jagger. The writer Gore Vidal, a friend, once said that “She was far too intelligent for her station in life.” That’s a lovely epitaph, and as good a place as any to leave off for the day.

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