Welcome back to Episode 23 of I Saw The Beatles! This weeks amazing guest is Conni Ponturo whose father surprised her with tickets to see the Beatles when she was 10 years old! And ten years ago, when she was working at the Oscars, she had the pleasure of meeting Paul McCartney backstage.
I learned of Mikal Gilmore many years ago. Not through his association with Rolling Stone magazine or because of this book, but because one of the members of a band that I had been doing PR for had connected with him on social media and had hopes of Mr. Gilmore taking a liking to their music. That never panned out, but for some reason his name always stuck with me. It was later that I learned about his family’s association with a murder that had made headlines back in the mid 1970s. Even though I was in my early teens at the time, I have no recollection of the story. About 10 years ago, Mikal became one of the first people to “Follow” this blog. I’ve never contact him or has he contacted me…he’s just been ‘around’ me now for over a decade.
I don’t remember how I found out earlier this year that Mikal Gilmore had written a 400 page book in 1994 about his family’s past history and the murders that his brother committed, but when I found Shot in the Heart I decided I needed to read it. The first 50 pages were hard to get through as he describes the history of Latter Day Saint’s religion. Even though it is a poignant part of the story in the end, I put the book down for over a week, wondering if it was going to be wearisome. But when I picked it up again, I couldn’t put it back down and read it in 2 days.
This story is going to draw you in and it’s going to break your heart. If you are anything like me, you’re going to start seeing yourself and your own family and friends in this story. And like Mikal and his brother Frank, you’re going to wonder what was the factor that made their brother, Gary Gilmore, lead a life of crime and eventually murder two innocent people in 1976. At the time of the murders, committed over two consecutive days, Gary Gilmore was 35 years old and had spent half his life in jail. The story would make headlines around the world when Gary Gilmore was sentenced to death, but refused to have argue the sentence, fight for a retrial, and instead insisted that they put him to death before a firing squad. Nothing his family could do or say would change his decision.
Mikal brings this story to life with such honesty. He lays everything out for the world to see in his own voice even though the story had been published as a book, The Executioner’s Song, by Norman Mailer in 1980. (It would also be made into a movie). It’s the sad story of a family with a lot of dark, dark secrets, lies and abuse that started several generations before the four Gilmore boys (Frank Jr., Gary, Gaylon and Mikal) were born. And despite all his research, there were many secrets that Mikal couldn’t find closure for, including his father’s mysterious life with many former marriages and children before he would marry Mikal’s mother Bessie Brown, a Mormon.
This story is going to stick with you for days. I know it has for me. It’s left me with so many questions about the Gilmore family that I can’t imagine what it must be like for Mikal and Frank, Jr. (the last two survivors in family). And after the book was published, how many people came forward with more information to fill in the missing pieces? How many siblings would he discover or how many of them even know that are part of this family’s sordid past that was splashed across the front pages of major newspapers?
Yes, this book is going to stick with you. I don’t know for how long, but I can’t stop thinking about it. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!
P.S. – to make sure this book review is on topic, it’s essential to point out that Mikal does bring up the night he saw The Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan in 1964 and the impact it had on him to for his future as a music critic and writer for Rolling Stone magazine.
Welcome back to episode 22 of I Saw The Beatles! This week’s special guest is Sibbie O’Sullivan. When Sibbie was a young girl, her friend’s father got tickets to see the dress rehearsal for the Beatles performance on Ed Sullivan in August 1965! Sibbie talks about that experience and about her life mixed with her love of John Lennon. The book is called My Private Lennon: Explorations from a Fan Who Never Screamed.
By early 1929, the Eyre Estate had decided to sell 3 Abbey Road and their first thought was to offer the house and land to the Central London Building Company that owned The Lady Worker Homes at 1 Abbey Road. On April 5, 1929, the estate sent a letter to the LBC and offered the property to them for £12,500 even though the inspectors had placed a value of only £10k. They received a reply from the representatives for Francis Henry Meyers “the Managing Director of the Central London Building Company Limited…”
In the meantime, another offer for the property came in from Lady Poynter, wife of Sir Ambrose Poynter. She had opened a Decorator shop in London in 1924 and her husband was a famous London architect.
After a month’s delay, the Eyre Estate accepted F.H. Meyers offer of £12,500 thinking he was representing the London Building Company but in all actuality he was purchasing the property for himself.
In the meantime, the representatives for 5 Abbey Road jumped into the negotiations state that, “…we understand the property adjoining is shortly to be demolished. Our client is desirous of purchasing a small portion of the adjoining land amounting to some 70’ long by approximately 3’ wide to enable her to get access to her garden.”, but unfortunately, the sale had already gone through to F.H. Meyers that same day.
It’s not known whether or not F.H. Meyers every actually lived at 3 Abbey Road or what he had intended to do with the property, but by December of that same year, the house was placed on the auction block.
According to the auction program, this is what the house looked like:
Second Floor Attic: Two Bedrooms
First Floor (upstairs): 7 Bedrooms & a WC
1. 18’ x 15’
2. 18’ x 15’6”
3. 24’ x 16’3”
4. 15’6” x 15’
5. 9’6” x 6’6”
6. 15’6” x 15’
7. 16’9” x 15’3”
Half Landing: Bath Room
Entrance Floor (1st floor):
- Dining Room 23’ x 15’ with a lift to the kitchen in the basement
- Drawing Room 39’ x 18’
- Library 15’ x 14’6”
- Morning Room 23’ x 16’
- Study 15’ x 10’
Half Basement: Kitchen, Scullery (for washing dishes and clothes), Servants’ Hall, Pantry, Two servant bedrooms, Larder (pantry), Wine Cellar and W.C.
The house never made it to auction. F.H. Meyers accepted an offer of £16k for the property from the Gramophone Company, making a sizable profit in less than 6 months of ownership.
If you’d like to learn more about 3 Abbey Road after Gramophone purchased it in 1929, I highly recommend you get a copy of Brian Southall’s book – Abbey Road.
Welcome back to episode 21 of I Saw The Beatles! This weeks very special guest is on-air personality T Morgan – the father of classic rock radio in Philadelphia and member of the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. T saw the Beatles in 1966 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, PA. T wrote a book about his 40+ years as a disc jockey – Confessions of a Teenage Disc Jockey
Welcome back to episode 20 of I Saw The Beatles. This week is part 2 of our conversation with Ruth McCartney…step-sister to Sir Paul McCartney. Ruth talks about growing up within the McCartney family and how she adapted. For more information about Ruth McCartney, go to: www.McCartney.com
Arthur John Maundy Gregory
Some may say that before the Beatles walked through the door of Abbey Road Studios, this man, Arthur John Maundy Gregory was the most famous person to ever walk the halls of 3 Abbey Road. But for all the wrong reasons. There have been at least 5 books written about ‘Maundy Gregory’. There have also been episodes of TV crime shows about the two murders he is suspected of committing and audio books that discuss his shady dealings.
Maundy Gregory was the owner of 3 Abbey Road from 1922 – June 1929, but in order to understand the man, you have to go back a little further into his past. The stories are amazing, but here a a brief synopsis.
Arthur John Maundy Gregory was born on July 1, 1877, to Elizabeth and Reverend Francis Maundy Gregory – the Vicar of St. Michael’s Church in Southampton. He was the fourth born out of six children and the third of five sons. By the age of 5, three of his siblings passed away. Maundy would go on to college, but upon the death of his father in 1899, he would drop out pursue an unsuccessful career in theater. During this time, he developed a deep and lasting friendship with an actress by the name of Edith Marion Davies (her stage name was Vivienne Peirrepont) and her husband Frederick Rosse. In the summer of 1922, Maudy and Edith moved into 3 Abbey Road while her husband was on tour. The Rosses would occupy the downstairs portion and Maundy the upstairs portion of the house. There were frequent parties at the house.
At one point in time, Edith would become her teenage niece’s unofficial guardian and Ethel would move into the home. Even though the relationship between Edith and the troubled, rebellious teen would eventually become strained, Ethel remained the sole beneficiary in Edith’s will.
In 1923, the Rosses would separate but never divorce and Fred would promise to give half his generous income to her for the rest of his life. This would suit Maundy Gregory just fine since he like to lead an extravagant lifestyle on his minimal income. Maundy and Edith would continue to through extravagant parties and be sure to make appearances at others. Some people would believe they were a married couple upon meeting them, but they generally referred to each other as brother and sister.
At this time in British history, politics were taking a turn for the worse. It was becoming quite common for some members of the Parliament to pack the House of Lords but offering ‘honours’ to friends who had the same political leanings. This eventually became known as Cash for Honours. Members of Parliament would find someone who would do the dirty work themselves in order to avoid being tied to such dealings. And so it was, that Maundy Gregory would become a dealer of titles. (For about $10k, anyone could become a Lord.) He would be arrest in 1933 and told he could leave the country for a light sentence.
But…What about the accusations of murder against Maundy? It’s been said that he was responsible for the disappearance and presumed murder of a man who tried to extort money from Maundy in exchange for keeping secret about his selling of Lordships. It’s also believed the Maundy manipulated Edith Rosse into changing her will on her death bed to make him the sole beneficiary of her estate. It’s believed by many that he poisoned her. Her niece would eventually contest the will, but when the body was exhumed for further examination, Maundy had conveniently had Edith buried on the rivers edge of an island so that the casket had filled with water and washed away any evidence of poisoning.
There is so many more details to the life of Arthur John Maundy Gregory that there just isn’t enough room in my blog, but I would suggest my readers to pick up a copy of Cash for Honours: The Story of Maundy Gregory by Andrew Cook to learn more about Maundy and his life at 3 Abbey Road.
When I put out a request earlier this month for guests for my podcast, I Saw The Beatles, I got an email from Kathy Bushnell, the author of the recently published book – Em & Moo: Legacy of a ’60s Female Rock Duo. After recording a show with her, I was anxious to read her book!
Kathy calls her book a memoir and talks about her exciting life growing up in New York City and how a series of events, including seeing the Beatles play at Shea Stadium in August of 1965 inspired her to become a musician. But she didn’t just become a multi-instrumental talent, she went on to form her own female rock duo that toured Europe. Not just any rock duo, but the FIRST female rock duo in Britain. Their band, Emily Muff, went on to open for such bands as Yes, Family, Steppenwolf and America and eventually played the Royal Albert Hall in London.
You would think this would be exciting enough to read about, but no. It’s her encounters with the Glimmer Twins – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that makes her story even more dynamic. She first met Keith, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman when her brother helped sneak her into a bar in NYC when she was just 16. She would have run ins with the Rolling Stones several more times after she moved to London after she dropped out of college. And still, the stories don’t stop there…like when one of her flat mates in London tells her he just joined a new band and they’re going to call themselves…Yes!
The great stories never seem to end in this book. I couldn’t put it down. And I doubt too many other readers won’t have the same reaction. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!
Welcome back to episode 19 of I Saw The Beatles. This week is part 1 of our 2 part conversation with Ruth McCartney…step-sister to Sir Paul McCartney. Ruth talks about growing up within the McCartney family and the hysteria surrounding The Beatles. For more information about Ruth McCartney, go to: http://www.McCartney.com