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A Day in the Life: Tragic true story behind one of the Beatles' most famous hits revealed in new book
By GLENYS ROBERTS
PUBLISHED: 03:32 GMT, 23 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:22 GMT, 23 November 2012
Tragic: At the height of the Swinging Sixties, Tara Browne, pictured, a 21 year old heir to the Guinness fortune, was killed instantly when he slammed his Lotus sports car into the side of a parked van at 120mph on a Chelsea street
Ominously Tara, who previously had a stake in a fashion brand and a nightclub, now had dreams of becoming a racing driver
'He blew his mind out in a car. He didn’t notice that the lights had changed’.
Everyone knows the words to one of the Beatles most famous hits ‘A Day in the Life.’ But how many are familiar with the tragic true story behind it?
At the height of the Swinging Sixties, Tara Browne, 21 year old heir to the Guinness fortune, was killed instantly when he slammed his Lotus sports car into the side of a parked van at 120mph on a Chelsea street.
Swinging London was stunned. With his angelic blond looks, Tara was a leading figure on the hedonistic scene, close to many of the most iconic personalities of the age including David Hemmings, Terence Stamp, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull – and The Fab Four.
Since Tara’s tragic accident, his older brother Garech, now a pony-tailed 73 and founder of the Irish folk band The Chieftains, has been rather silent about the excesses of his family.
Now, however, he has decided to give his blessing to a book, Luggala Days, which celebrates the extraordinary memories of fabulous wealth and eccentricity associated with the house near Dublin where he and Tara grew up.
Called Luggala, pronounced Lugalore, the place is spectacular. A touch of Gothic, a smidgeon of Oriental, with fairytale battlements and a virginal white façade it is set in an idyllic sylvan landscape that could have been conceived by Walt Disney. And yet it has hosted some utterly outrageous behaviour.
It all started with Garech and Tara’s mother Oonagh, a legendary beauty who was given the house by her doting father Ernest, brother of Lord Iveagh.
Garech, Tara's brother, has decided to give a blessing to a book which celebrates the memories of wealth and eccentricity associated with Luggala (pictured), the house where they grew up
The prettiest and kindest of Ernest’s three daughters, the so-called Golden Guiness Girls, Oonagh had a reassuringly innocent sense of humour in comparison to her racier sisters.
The eldest Maureen was famous for opening the door to visitors dressed as a ribald Irish maid who embarrassed them with indecent questions. The other sister Aileen used to place a bowl of artificial vomit next to her guests’ beds and wait for the scream.
The incorrigible three roared through society in the Twenties and Thirties. As one friend who still remembers the late nights and even later mornings said recently: ‘So many tiaras were worn, I was told the value of the diamonds at one ball was about £50 million.
Since Tara's tragic accident, his older brother Garech, pictured, now a pony-tailed 73 and founder of the Irish folk band The Chieftains, has been rather silent about the excesses of his family
'Noel Coward, Cecil Beaton, Beaverbrook, the Duchess of Windsor, the Aga Khan, American film stars, Prime Ministers, the visitors books of their houses were crammed full of so many famous names that it was like reading Who’s Who.
'You didn’t dare think about going to bed until 4am.’
Though everyone else was suffering monumental hangovers the morning after, the Guinness girls were always full of energy.
Fortified by ‘Pink Specials’ the explosive Bloody Marys delivered to guest bedrooms by their 22 butlers and maids, they spurred everyone into more action by noon.
Their privileged lifestyle is long gone and many of the grand houses frequented by their set have been turned into hotels --but Luggala remains.
Many are the stories of the great film director John Huston’s sojourns there with his daughter Anjelica. He recognised that the Guinness sisters were such a handful that he used to call them witches ‘lovely ones to be sure, but witches nonetheless.’
The spirited Oonagh’s first marriage was to amateur rider Gay Kindersley who left her for one of her bridesmaids. Undaunted she tied the knot with Garech and Tara’s father, Lord Oranmore and Browne.
He kept pigs in the living room, but shared his wife’s passion for chaotic house parties where the rich and famous rubbed shoulders with poets and revolutionaries.
Tara died on December 18, 1966 after slamming his Lotus Elan sports car into another vehicle
Horrific: This is the wreckage of the car belonging to Tara Browne
Many thought the couple were the reincarnation of the 18th century pleasure-seekers who had built Luggala in the first place. ‘The only trouble is when you tell people about the party afterwards no one can believe you,’ remembers one guest.
‘An IRA chief might be there with Brendan Behan bellowing toasts of ‘Up the Rebels’ alongside a bank bigwig. Oonagh loved free spirits, so if you were one you were welcome. Cyril Connolly, Lucien Freud, everyone was there. You could say anything you liked as long as it was witty.’
The Browne marriage, like Oonagh’s first, did not last long and there followed a brief third union to a Cuban dress designer whose son drank himself to death in these fevered surroundings.
The glorious chatelaine herself went on attracting admirers into old age. One used to send at least four telegrams a day which were delivered by a boy who had to cycle five miles from the nearest post office.
But soon it was Tara who was the centre of attraction. By the time he was in his teens, the impossibly precocious boy, who had already hobnobbed with the likes of Cocteau, Dali and Beckett, was clearly a chip off the old block and even Oonagh was despairing of her younger son and his intemperate habits. ‘He used up too much money for a small boy. Too much money and too much emotion,’ she wailed.
John Lennon scribbled down the lyrics to the tune after reading a newspaper report on the inquest into Tara’s death
Tara's life was the inspiration behind the Beatles song 'A Day in the Life'
A manuscript of John Lennon's lyrics for the son which was the final track on the band's Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album
Tara drifted from Eton to Chelsea and the burgeoning fashion world of mini-skirted models and hallucinogenic drugs. He was only 16 - and still a ward of court as a result of his parents’ bitter broken marriage - when at a party in Battersea fairground he met the waiflike 21 year old Irish farmer’s daughter Noreen MacSherry.
In one of the great scandals of the Sixties the couple married in secret in France. Within two years they were the parents of two boys Dorian and Julian -- now 50 and 48 respectively.
At Dorian’s christening at St Patricks cathedral in Dublin, Nicki, as Noreen was soon calling herself, was a picture of Sixties chic in black Cossack boots, brown suede jacket with fur collar and white mohair cap.
Parental responsibilities failed to slow the gilded couple down. The two soon became emblems of Swinging London where aristocrats and pop stars partied together living high on the hog.
With his huge fortune Tara had a stake in all the era’s trendy concerns, including a clothes line called Dandie Fashions and the notorious discotheque Sybilla’s frequented by David Bailey, Michael Caine, Mary Quant, the Beatles and the Stones.
Tara’s 21st birthday party in March 1966 at Luggala is still remembered for its monumental excess - particularly for the amount of acid dropped. Tara brought the group du jour - the Loving Spoonful - over from America, paying them £1,000 to serenade him.
The song was listed in a poll by Q magazine that said it was the best British song of all time
Two private jets flew in the 200 guests, including oil heir John Paul Getty Jr. and his soon to be wife, the exquisite Talitha Pol who would be dead of a heroin overdose by the age of 30.
In London the partying went on, soon taking its toll on the young couple’s marriage. When they separated later that year, Nicki moved to Spain, and Tara, who was about to inherit £1million, took up residence in the Ritz hotel on Piccadilly.
Meanwhile his formidable mother Oonagh took their baby boys back to Ireland, leading to a bitter custody case that is still talked about. The super-rich Guinnesses won.
Ominously however Tara, whose new ambition was to become a racing driver, invested his inheritance in a garage and drove a hand-painted Lotus sports car.
In the run up to Christmas 1966 he was about to return to Luggala to spend the weekend with his brother Garech, when he changed his mind and stayed in London to spend the day with his friend the musician Brian Jones.
That evening he took the 19 year old model Suki Poitier, one of the Bond girls in Casino Royale, out to dinner, then drove her home in his new pale blue Lotus Elan.
When the car hit a white van at speed Suki survived - only to be killed in another car crash 13 years later – but Tara had no chance and met his fate.
Famous: Tara Browne was a leading figure on the hedonistic scene and close to many iconic personalities including
Tara also counted Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones among his friends GETTY IMAGES
As well as David Bowie GETTY IMAGES
Christopher Gibbs the antiques dealer who was part of that exotic set in the Sixties, remembers the dreadful shock of his death. He was ‘an incredibly beautiful golden youth.
Rather spoilt but very sympathetic and with a sweetness of character. At that age we didn’t know about death unless it was granny. Here was a golden sparkler removed from our midst.’
In the midst of tragedy the beat went on. The memorial service in Knightsbridge was more like a fashion show than a wake. Le tout Swinging London was there with a full complement of titled sons and daughters decked out in Carnaby Street’s finest.
Wild: Luggala Days celebrates the extraordinary memories of fabulous wealth and eccentricity associated with Luggala, a house near Dublin where Tara grew up
Tara’s body was finally returned to Luggala to be buried by the lake and Nicki, who always complained she was not even given enough to live on, continued to live in reduced circumstances in Spain.
She saw her sons rarely and used to say they were forever being shuttled from one school to another - 20 in all. Poignantly she remained loyal to the memory of her husband and even managed to convince Marianne Faithful to remove a reference to which she objected when the old songstress wrote a book about those days in Luggala.
But if Nicki expected to be embraced by the family when her longtime adversary her mother-in-law Oonagh died in 1995, she was mistaken. When she turned up unexpectedly to the Chelsea funeral, she talked to no one, not even her now grown sons.
This summer Nicki died in Spain aged 70 and her ashes were finally returned to Luggala, which her sons will presumably inherit eventually– Garech who was given it by his mother in 1970 has no children. The wheel has come full circle.
For Luggala remains a shrine to Tara. Every year on the anniversary of his brother’s death Garech holds a little ceremony beside the black loch which he has surrounded with white sand, the more to look like a glass of the family Guinness.
Sometimes old friends such as Jagger, Ronnie Wood and Seamus Heaney join him to plant trees in his dead sibling’s memory.
‘I went to the mortuary and kissed his frozen face. I brought the body back to Ireland on the aeroplane. Nothing has made up for Tara’s death,’ he recalls.
Another casualty of the Sixties.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2237213/A-Day-Life-Tragic-true-story-Beatles-famous-hits-revealed-new-book.html#ixzz2iq8uypYM
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'A BOY WHO HAD EVERYTHING' The tragic rich kid whose car crash death inspired The Beatles’ classic A Day In The Life
John Lennon scribbled down the lyrics to the tune after reading a report into Tara Browne's death
BY ANTONELLA LAZZERI - https://www.thesun.co.uk/tvandshowbiz/2034474/the-tragic-rich-kid-whose-car-crash-death-inspired-the-beatles-classic-a-day-in-the-life/
HE lived for just 21 years — but the Beatles classic he inspired has endured for nearly half a century.
23 out. / 2016 - Tara Browne, heir to the Guinness empire, was immortalised in A Day In The Life, which fans and critics have regularly voted the band’s greatest track.
Tara Browne, heir to the Guinness empire, was immortalised in Beatles' classic A Day In The Life
The orchestral mini-epic was listed in a poll by Q magazine which said it was the best British song of all time.
A Day In The Life is the final track on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, released in the summer of 1967. A few months before, John Lennon scribbled down the lyrics to the tune after reading a newspaper report on the inquest into Tara’s death.
Tara had died on December 18, 1966 after slamming his Lotus Elan sports car into another vehicle.
It is the final epic track on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, released in 1967
One newspaper headline summed it up: “Dead — a Boy Who Had Everything.” Titled and rich, Tara was also pals with Paul McCartney — and even introduced the Beatles to LSD.
McCartney still owns a piano which he had painted in the same psychedelic pattern that adorned an AC Cobra sports car that Tara owned.
And bizarrely, A Day In The Life sparked a conspiracy theory that it was McCartney, not Tara, who had died in the car crash and a lookalike had taken his place in the band.
Now the life and times of Tara Browne, who was four years away from inheriting a £1million trust fund — £15million in today’s money — when he died, are chronicled in new book I Heard The News Today, Oh Boy.
Author Paul Howard tells how Tara was introduced to McCartney, then aged 21, by the singer’s brother Mike at the Ad Lib club in London’s Leicester Square around two years before the fatal car crash.
Lennon, who met Tara around the same time, was less enamoured with the handsome aristocrat.
It was at Tara’s London home that McCartney took acid for the first time
Tara’s friend Nicholas Gormanston said: “Paul liked being around people he thought he could learn something from. I think he would have been absolutely fascinated by Tara’s accent and his appearance.
“John was much more contrary — he either liked you or he didn’t. I don’t know if Tara was John’s cup of tea.”
Tara’s wife Nicky, who he scandalously married secretly in France when he was just 18, said: “I think he (Lennon) really sneered at people from Tara’s background.”
McCartney still owns a piano painted in the same psychedelic pattern that adorned Tara's car GETTY IMAGES - WIREIMAGE
The AC Cobra sports car in question
But McCartney warmed to him. He once recalled: “Tara was a nice Irish guy, a very sensitive bloke. I’d see him from time to time and enjoyed being around him.”
It was at Tara’s London home that McCartney took acid for the first time in the form of liquid LSD dots on blotting paper.
Barry Miles, writer of McCartney’s authorised biography Many Years From Now, told how the star admitted he had “not wanted to do” the drug. But Lennon had been baiting McCartney after the rest of the band had already tried LSD, teasing him: “We’re all doing it and you’re not!”
Nicky claimed her husband didn’t take acid that night because he was worried about how Paul’s first time would turn out.
She recalled: “He felt it was important for him to remain lucid just in case Paul had a bad trip.
“And what Paul did was spend his whole trip looking at this art book of mine.
“He wasn’t interested in any of the females there. He just stared at this art book.”
On another occasion, McCartney was high on drugs when he and Tara were riding mopeds near Liverpool at Christmas in 1965.
McCartney crashed his bike, flying over the handlebars, which left him with a chipped tooth and split lip.
McCartney wasn’t the only famous face to fall under Tara’s spell.
Tara (right) pictured with girlfriend Suki Porter
He was also pals with David Bowie, Michael Caine, Jimi Hendrix, photographer David Bailey, actor Peter Sellers, Hollywood director John Huston, the Rolling Stones and artist Salvador Dali.
Stones founder Brian Jones was so close to Tara they would joke they were brothers. They spent so much time together there were even rumours of a gay affair.
Tara’s 21st birthday party — just months before his death — summed up the excess of the Swinging Sixties. Held at his family’s Irish estate, drugs were piled high on silver salvers alongside the best champagne and brandy.
By 21, Tara’s life was starting to unravel - his marriage to farmer’s daughter Nicky was on the rocks and he had moved into the Ritz
Guests including Jagger and Jones flew in by private jet to be met by Tara handing out hash.
McCartney did not attend because the Beatles were recording at Abbey Road.
But even as he celebrated turning 21, Tara’s life behind the glitz and glamour was starting to unravel. His marriage to farmer’s daughter Nicky was on the rocks and he had moved into the Ritz.
Stones founder Brian Jones was so close to Tara they would joke they were brothers
A few months later, in the lead-up to Christmas, Tara and his mother Oonagh were locked in a bitter court battle with Nicky over custody of the couple’s young sons Dorian and Julian — which they eventually won.
Ominously Tara, who previously had a stake in a fashion brand and a nightclub, now had dreams of becoming a racing driver.
On the night of his death in December 1966, Tara had taken his new girlfriend Suki Potier, then 19, to a restaurant in Kensington, leaving around 11.40pm.
According to model Suki, they were driving through Earls Court “not very fast” before they turned into Redcliffe Gardens, South Kensington. But at the inquest, other witnesses told of the sports car “flying past” them with its engine making a “loud roaring noise”.
A car suddenly appeared in front of them. Suki — who died aged 33 in 1981 in a car crash — told police Tara had swerved at the last minute so his side of the car would take the brunt of the impact.
When the news of Tara’s death was broken to Brian Jones, he sobbed uncontrollably GETTY IMAGES
As he lay dying, Suki took off her coat and wrapped Tara in it.
When the news of Tara’s death was broken to Brian Jones, he sobbed uncontrollably. He later took up with Potier.
Keith Richards and billionaire’s son John Paul Getty Jnr, another close pal, went on to name their sons Tara in his honour.
And Stones guitarist Keith Richards went on to name his son Tara in his honour NEWS GROUP NEWSPAPERS LTD
Tara was buried by a lake in the grounds of his family’s Irish estate in a private family ceremony.
For years a single red rose was laid on his grave on the anniversary of his death — rumoured to be from McCartney.
Although Tara’s simple grave bears no words, one obituary published at the time of his death seems to sum up his life perfectly.
The epitaph read: “Tara Browne loved fast cars, discothèques and parties — and he had not a care in the world, or so it seemed to the casual observer”.
Read all about it
HERE is how a report in a paper led to John Lennon writing the lyrics to A Day In The Life ...
I read the news today, oh boy – Lennon had a newspaper on his piano when he saw the report on the inquest into Tara’s death.
About a lucky man who made the grade – A headline described Tara as “A Boy Who Had Everything”.
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph.
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed – Tara raced through a red light and crashed.
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords – Tara was an aristocrat, but The Beatles have said some of the song’s lines are about a fictional politician who took drugs in a car.