John and Cynthia Lennon...
(The following is excerpted from an
article in 16 magazine, volume 6, number
5, October 1964, pp 12-15, entitled Now you can be closer to the Beatles than ever before!
ONLY A FEW lucky people can be close to the Beatles and share
their lives--their gayety and charm, their way-out sense of humor and the
multitude of the unexpected incidents that seem to flower about them wherever
they go and whatever they do. But all of us can cozy a little closer to the
Fabulous Foursome simply by joining the Beatle People! All you have to do to get
with the Beatles as you've never done before--dig the Beatle way of doing things
and do likewise! To help you become a Beatle People 16 brings you this
exclusive intimate x-ray which shows what the Beatles are really like!
THE THINGS THEY ADORE
RECORDS: This is George's favourite talking point. He's an expert.
In fact all Beatle People admire experts on records and the recording industry.
They all admire the Miracles, the Marvettes, Mary Wells, Chuck
Berry and Carl Perkins. New favorites: Jimmy Reed, Chuck Jackson and James
Brown. They came back from America wild about Tommy Tucker's High-Heel Sneakers.
TELEVISION: John and Cyn
spend a lot of time together watching TV. Tops in TV for all Beatle People are The
Telegoons (a top-rated English show).
READING: John and Paul are great book people. All Beatle People
read the popular dailies, all trade papers and 16 Magazine.
CLOTHES: Beatle Boy-People go for short jackets with two or four
pleats behind, preferably a polo-neck sweater beneath--then plain drainpipe
trousers, with suede boots side-zipped.
Beatle Girl-People like separates for a day, but enjoy dressing up
for evening. Jane Asher went for long dresses and 'granny' shoes.
"I'm having copied some of the clothes I wear in my new film, Masque Of
The Red Death. They're all clingy and medieval--terrific!", she says.
Color? Anything as long as it's black!
THIS AND THAT: They all use Signal toothpaste, Tabac
after-shave...Paul's a compulsive mint-cream sucker!
little morsel of Telegoons
history was contributed by Kylie Porter. Thanks Kylie!)
John Lennon's review of The Goon Show Scripts...
While living in New York City, John Lennon wrote a very personal
account of the importance of the Goons in his life, which was also his sole book
review. The book was Spike Milligan's The Goon Show Scripts (see Bibliography
section), and the review was published in The New York Times, Book Review
section, September 30, 1973. Towards the end of the review, and with reference to floating a
couple of prisons across the English Channel in Tales of Old Dartmoor (T.G.
s02e05), John makes a slight mention that the BBC maybe could have spent more money on
The Telegoons production. Here's John's review in it's entirety:
Goon Show Scripts - written and selected by Spike Milligan
Reviewed by John Lennon
I was 12 when the Goon Shows first hit me. Sixteen when
they were finished with me. Their humor was the only proof that the world was
insane. Spike Milligan's is a cherished memory for me, what it means to
Americans I can't imagine (apart from a rumored few fanatics). As they say in
Tibet, "You had to be there." The Goons influenced The Beatles
(along with Lewis Carroll/Elvis Presley). Before becoming the Beatles'
producer, George Martin, who had never recorded rock-n-roll, had previously
recorded with Milligan and Sellers, which made him all the more acceptable --
our studio sessions were full of the cries of Neddie Seagoon, etc., etc., as
were most places in Britain.
There are records of some of the original radio shows,
some of which I have, but when I play them to Yoko I find myself explaining
"that in those days there was no monty pythons 'flyin' circus,'" no
"laugh-in," in fact the same rigmarole I go through with my
"fifties records," before rock it was just "Perry
Como," etc. What I'm trying to say is, one has to have been there! The
Goon Show was long before and more revolutionary than "look back in
anger" (it appealed to "eggheads" and "the people").
Hipper than the hippest and madder than "Mad," a conspiracy against
reality. A "coup d'etat of the mind! The evidence, for and against, is in
this book. A copy of which should be sent to Mr. Nixon and Mr. Ervin.
One of my earlier efforts at writing was a
"newspaper" called the Daily Howl. I would write it at night, then
take it to school and read it aloud to my friends; looking at it now it seems
strangely similar to the Goon Show! Even the title had "highly
esteemed" before it! Ah well, I find it very hard to keep my mind on the
book itself, the tapes still ring so clearly in my head. I could tell you to
buy the book anyway because Spike Milligan's a genius and Peter Sellers made
all the money! (Harry Secombe got showbiz.) I love all three of them dearly,
but Spike was extra. His appearances on TV as "himself" were
something to behold. He always "Freaked out" the cameramen/directors
by refusing to fit the pattern. He would run off camera and dare them to
follow him. I think they did, once or twice, but it kept him off more shows
than it helped him get on. There was always the attitude that he was wonderful
but, you know...(indicating head). I think it's 'cause he's Irish. (The same
attitude prevails toward all non-English British.)
I'm supposed to write 800 words, but I can't count.
Anyway, Spike wouldn't approve. I could go on all day about the Goons and
their influence on a generation (at least one), but it doesn't seem to be
about the book! I keep thinking how much easier it would be to review it for a
British paper. What the hell! I've never reviewed anything in my life before.
Now I know why critics are nasty. It would be easier if I didn't like the
book, but I do, and I'd love you to love the Goons as I do. So take a chance.
P.S. Dick Lester (of A Hard Days Night fame) directed
the TV version of the Goon Show - A Show Called Fred. It was good, but
radio was freer - i.e., you couldn't float Dartmoor Prison across the English
Channel on TV (maybe the BBC should have spent more money). Also there
is a rare and beautiful film (without Harry Secombe) called "The Running,
Jumping, and Standing Still Film." Ask your local art house to find it -
it's a masterpiece and captures the Goon spirit very well.
John Lennon and
Whether or not the Goons influenced the Beatles, and to what
degree, has been widely debated. The well known British pop music essayist, who goes by the
pseudonym Saki, believes that the influence was significant. She wrote, "I think John had the greatest love for the Goons of all the Fabs, though it touched them all. My impression of their film
Help! was much elevated when I realized that it bore a strange resemblance to a
Goon Show made visual. And if you think about it, 'Help!' has all the hallmarks of an imitative tribute to the Goon format: terrible puns, a foursome in the foreground (Michael Bentine, the fourth Goon, admittedly left rather early in the game), a passel of amusing sidekicks, nebulous villains both foreign and domestic, and a script rife with non-sequiturs and theatrical stylizations."
Author David Pryke, in his on-line
John Lennon information newsletter, twospiritsdancing (#19, 30th September 2001),
wrote about how John loved the New York City lifestyle,
and wanted to live there permanently with his new American wife, Yoko Ono.
What should have been a straight forward application for permanent
residency, Pryke wrote, became a harrowing four years fraught with rejections and
delays. The spanner (Spaniard?) in the works was a British criminal conviction,
three years before, for the possession of half an ounce of cannabis. As the case dragged through the US court system, John was aware that
his phone was being tapped and his movements tracked, creating a tense and
soul-destroying time for both John and Yoko. But John had some well-connected
supporters, such as Henry Kissinger and Norman Mailer. Both men testified in court,
praising John as an
artist of the highest standing, who should be allowed to stay
in the United States. So, when John finally received his Green card on October
7th, 1975, he could hardly believe it.
There is plenty of evidence
to suggest that, more than any other influence, it was the weekly Goon
Show on the radio that provided the spark that ignited John
Lennon's love of words and fantasy, not to
mention his wicked sense of humour. John always claimed it was the Goons who inspired him to
write, and their influence can certainly be seen in John's books. So you
can probably well imagine John's excitement at meeting recording engineer
and producer, George Martin, for the first time back in 1962. A record producer good enough
for the Goons, the Beatles felt, would be good enough for them.
John Lennon's love of the Goon
Show extended back to his early teenage years when his Aunt Mimi and
Uncle George had installed an extension speaker in John's room so that he
could listen to his favourite radio shows any time he wanted to. Aunt Mimi
recalled one particular day when John listened to the Goon Show
upstairs in his room (The Beatles: An Oral History, by David
Pritchard & Alan Lysaght, 1998, Hyperion; ISBN: 0786864362),
When the show was over, young John ran downstairs.
“Aunt Mimi, were you listening?” John asked.
“No, dear, what was on the radio?” she asked.
“The Goon Show!” John replied enthusiastically.
“Oh, is it that late already? How was it this week?”
“One of the best,” John replied with a twinkle in his eye.
He proceeded to re-enact the entire show for her, complete with accents and choreography. George heard Mimi laughing and came into the kitchen to see what was so funny.
“Well, what’s going on here?” George asked curiously.
“John is performing The Goon Show for me,” Mimi replied.
“Yeah, Uncle George, come watch,” John asked.
So, George sat down next to his wife and watched John continue his
According to David Pryke (ibid), one of the things that kept John going while he was
waiting for his Green card was his love of
the Goon Show. It was during those four years that The
New York Times asked John to review The Goon Show Scripts, and John
set about the task with real enthusiasm. John's 2nd wife Yoko was obviously very
aware of John's feeling for the Goons, because several years later, on the
occasion of John's 37th birthday, Yoko presented him with some 40 hours of Goon
Show tapes, which he loved to listen to.
Leicester's 60s pop group, the Foursights...
The moderately successful UK pop group, the Foursights
(originally the Primates) were Leicester's own 'Fab Four(eyes)'. The group was
signed by EMI, and their first record (and last) which was a number one hit (in
Glen Hills and Blaby) was And I Cry. It was rumoured that 5000
copies were sold, but the group didn't see a penny either in royalties or
expenses. The Foursights consisted of Bill Coleman (center left), Doug Abbott
(center right), Tim Airey (front), and David Lindsay (rear). True to their name,
they all wore glasses (offstage at least three of them did) in the Hank Marvin/Buddy Holly
The Foursights have their own website here,
designed and maintained by ex-Foursight member Tim Airey. In the 'Circa 1963' section of
the Foursights website, Tim recalls that the
group used to rehearse in the large kitchen of the Abbott's bungalow...every
Sunday afternoon, breaking only for one of Doug's Mum's excellent cups of tea
and occasionally to watch the Goon Show (puppet version) on TV.
Peter Green, founder of superband Fleetwood Mac...
The following is an excerpt from an article by Alan Franks about
Peter Green, Return of the Bluesman, published in Times Magazine,
Saturday 31st July 1999. [see
Peter Green has been to hell and back. The
founder of the superband Fleetwood Mac disappeared into a haze of drug abuse
and mental institutions at the height of his fame. But now he has emerged from
the wilderness with a new band, a new album - and some scars that will never
fade. Alan Franks meets a rock survivor.
For a rock music comeback to be more
implausible than Peter Green's, it would need to involve resurrection. This is
the guitarist who founded Fleetwood Mac, a group which, for a period in its
late-Sixties heyday, was out-selling the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Green's life story since then has been so full of darkness and disappearance
that he was regularly assumed to have joined the celestial supergroup with
Elvis at the microphone, John Lennon on guitar and Keith Moon behind the
His was not just another sad decline, for at
his best he was reckoned to be as good a player as any thrown up by the
English discovery of electric blues. When he joined John Mayall's
Bluesbreakers, an essential training ground of the period, he proved himself
to be as passionate in his performing, as inventive in his soloing as his
immediate predecessor, Eric Clapton. Some said he was the best of the lot,
never mind Clapton, or Jeff Beck, or even Jimi Hendrix.
Green's real name was Greenbaum. He was the youngest of four children from a
Jewish family in Bethnal Green in the East End of London. His father was a
postman. While he was at school the family moved to Putney, in south London,
and Green worked for a while as a butcher before turning professional. By the
time he was 24, and leaving Fleetwood Mac, he had written a string of hit
songs for the band, starting with Black Magic Woman in 1968; Albatross
went to the top of the UK charts later in the same year, and Man of the
World and Oh Well reached number two in 1969. When he went his own
way, Fleetwood Mac embarked on a hardly less erratic course, with members
coming and going like soap plots, and love tangles upstaging their musical
lives. He has no more reverence for them than for himself. He reckons they
look like a bunch of clowns, with Mick Fleetwood, the drummer, a man on
stilts, and Danny Kirwan, the
guitarist and singer "like Bluebottle from the Telegoons".
My guess is that Green's comparison of fellow band member
Danny Kirwin to Bluebottle from The Telegoons
was a form of endearment, since Danny looked only slightly like Bluebottle
during the 1960s. Rather it indicates that Peter Green had been a fan of the
Emerson, British cartoonist...
By many accounts, Hunt Emerson is Britain's foremost cartoonist and underground comics artist.
Raised on an early diet of The Telegoons,
Hunt Emerson has drawn cartoons and comic strips since the early 1970s. His Telegoons-inspired
drawings of the Goon characters adorned the covers of several Goon Show Classics
LPs, and during his teeth-cutting stage he regularly contributed his drawings of
Neddie Seagoon, Grytpype-Thynne, Moriarty, Major Dennis Bloodnok, Eccles,
Bluebottle, Henry Crun and Minnie Bannister to the Goon Show Preservation
Society's Newsletter, and also the Brown Paper, a newsletter
printed by it's northeast affiliate. Hunt has published some thirty comic books and albums,
mainly through Knockabout Comics (London). Among his more successful and
well-known works are The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Lady
Chatterley's Lover. Possessing a wry and irreverent sense of humour, Hunt
Emerson engages in a form of image play, which rather like Milligan's word play,
takes situations, ideas, and especially dismantled clichés, to their illogical
(or visually improbable) conclusion. Hunt's most famous cartoon creation is the bizarre City
Mouth, while his most famous comic strip character is Calculus Cat,
the cat who hates television. His comic strips have been translated into ten
languages. The recipient of several prizes, these days his work
regularly appears in the Fortean Times, which he has contributed to since
In answer to a question about The Telegoons,
Hunt said, "I always liked the
Telegoons - my memories of them, that is, from seeing them on early steam
television when I was a kid.... My drawings for the GSPS were based on those Telegoon memories (when they weren't Caricatures
of the Goons--amazingly difficult to do!), and I always thought the puppets captured the voices better even than Sellers' and
Milligan's sketches. Just think if they tried to do them today - they'd have all the snot, grime and
sleaze sanitized and corporatized out of them."
Hunt Emerson's Largecow website is here.