Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Chinese Junk Picture - A Second Look
I want to thank the knowledgeable reader who pointed out that the picture above was not a recent fake because it appeared in the Beatles Monthly, Issue #61 from August of 1968. The "Nothing Is Real" discussion group has done an excellent job researching this particular image, but I thought it couldn't hurt to highlight a few things about it.
The photograph, which features three individuals who resemble Paul McCartney, accompanied an article entitled "With Paul to Hollywood." The credited writer of the article was Apple employee Tony Bramwell who had directed the Apple promotional film that introduced the new company to Capitol records employees. Bramwell would make news a year later when he was identified by his employer as the Apple staffer who took it upon himself to impersonate Paul McCartney in an American radio interview in order to squelch the Paul is dead rumor. The move made things worse and Bramwell was left to hang out to dry as the one who made the bonehead decision. I'm sure that the experience left Bramwell feeling betrayed, but probably not enough to make him start making YouTube videos 40 years later suggesting that Paul McCartney is the devil.
The article describes a June 1968 Apple business trip from London to Los Angeles with a brief stop in New York. In addition to Bramwell, childhood friend and former tea-chest bass player for the Quarrymen, Ivan Vaughan accompanied McCartney on the trip. The main objective appeared to be the showing of the Apple promotional film with an appearance by Paul at a Capitol Records gathering. Capitol would gain the rights to manufacture and distribute Apple Records in the United States.
The next pages contain memories of recreational time in LA, with no mention of Linda Eastman who might have been staying with Paul at the time. There are pictures of Paul at the hotel pool. The left page also contains ads for back issues of the Beatles Monthly, some of which were featured in the poster that came with the White Album.
The last page of the article describes a yacht trip to the Marina Del Rey in California with Apple executives. Interestingly the accompanying pictures of the yacht trip were not related to the one being described in the article. The caption on the picture accurately indicates that it was taken on a trip in the Hudson River in New York. John Lennon, who was back in Britain mixing versions of "Revolution" during the California trip was present on the Hudson River boat. John and Paul were in New York to give a press conference announcing the launch of Apple on May 11, 1968. An online transcript of the press conference says that the Chinese Junk meeting took place the previous weekend. That would date the picture sometime during May 3-5.
Only one of the three individuals bearing some resemblance to Paul McCartney is looking in the direction of the camera. The picture on the left could just as easily resemble Apple staffers Ken Mansfield or Ron Kass, but if you dropped him in a picture with George, John and Ringo, most people would assume it was Paul. The same may be true for the fellow on the right who is turned even further away from the camera. To make matters more confusing, the person on the right is wearing a jacket similar to the one Paul wore in 1966 at the "Light Suits" concert at the Budokan Arena in Japan, although there are pictures of Derek Taylor in a similar jacket. The man in the middle is the one we see the best and he is the one that appears to be Paul McCartney as he looked in 1968. It seems odd that the three men in question would be spread so perfectly across the boat. It almost looks staged.
Interestingly, that same issue of the Beatles Monthly contained two pictures that would become part of the Paul Is Dead legend. The one above is a summer of 1963 photo of the Beatles swimming that would later be cropped and used by Charles Braverman in a "Paul Is Dead" segment of the film "Braverman's Condensed Cream of Beatles." The other picture is a "Yellow Submarine" promotional shot featuring the human Paul, George and Ringo with the animated John. Guess what is over Paul's head...again!