It was 45 years ago today …….. On August 8, 1969 The Beatles were getting ready to cross Abbey Road outside their recording studio in St. John’s Wood, London, NW1. The iconic photo of the Beatles on the crossing outside Abbey Road Studios was taken 45 years ago on Saturday 8th August 1969. The photograph, taken by Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan, features John Lennon in a white suit and a barefoot Paul McCartney. Macmillan balanced on a step-ladder in the middle of the road took six shots of John, Ringo, Paul, and George walking across the zebra crossing while a policeman held up the traffic. The band then returned to the studio and recorded overdubs on ‘The End’, ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ and ‘Oh! Darling’.Ever since the image appeared on the front of their Abbey Road album, the crossing has become a place of pilgrimage. Scores of Beatles fans visit every day to recreate the famous pose.
Now there is talk that the famed St John’s Wood zebra crossing made famous by The Beatles could be moved – because it is becoming an accident hotspot. Every year, fans head down to Abbey Road to take pictures on the crossing – immortalised on the Fab Four’s 1969 Abbey Road cover. And this weekend, hundreds of fans flocked to the site to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the photo and to recreate the steps taken by John, Paul, Ringo and George. But an increase in the number of music lovers making the trip to the north-west London crossing has coincided with a rise in the number of accidents, according to figures from Westminster Council.
Since 2000, there have been 22 accidents, but residents believe many more have gone unreported, so officials are considering whether to dig up the crossing and move its black-and-white stripes and flashing beacons further down the road. Lindsey Hall, a Councillor in the Abbey Road ward, said: “Maybe it’s time to end this once and for all and move this zebra crossing.”It may end up coming to that.”However, a spokesman for Westminster Council said the crossing could be allowed to stay at its location and that the problem may be with the road junction, not the crossing. “The issue with that crossing is the busy junction. We have looked into a redesign.”
A Day in the Life is a song by The Beatles written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, based on an original idea by Lennon. It is the final track on the group’s 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the 26th greatest song of all time. As you know the Beatles were from Liverpool, sometimes known as Dublin East, for its strong Irish population and connections and there is an Irish connection to the “A Day in the Life.”
Few people are aware of the connection between The Beatles, their famous Abbey Road Album and a fairy-tale Gingerbread Gothic house called Luggala which stands untroubled by neighbours on its own lake deep in the beautiful Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin, Ireland. Nor are they aware that this beautiful and lonely setting holds the secret of the tragedy which inspired The Beatles iconic last song from the mould breaking Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “A Day in the Life.”
The first verse was written about the death of Tara Browne, the 21-year-old heir to the Guinness fortune and close friend of Lennon and McCartney, who had crashed his Lotus Élan on 18 December 1966 when he apparently went through a red light at high speed (possibly drunk or using drugs) and hit a truck in his path in Redcliffe Gardens, Earls Court. According to the newspapers at the time, Browne stood to inherit around £1 million on his 25th birthday. Even at the age of 21, he left £56,069 in his estate, a sum which would have made him a millionaire today. His inquest described him as a man of “independent means”. He embraced the swinging sixties as only a young man with wealth and means could do. He was, as the song would later say, “a lucky man who made the grade”. His 21st birthday party was a lavish affair and he knew Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Paul McCartney’s brother Mike McCartney and John Paul Getty among others.
He blew his mind out in a car,
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed,
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.
“A Day in the Life”
Tara was the younger brother of Garech Browne (An t’Onoarch Garech de Brún) who has done much for Irish Music with his Claddagh Records label which he founded. Garech was instantly recognisable around Dublin by his famous pony-tail, wispy beard, tweed suit and dapper appearance and his wonderful old Bentley parked on the pavement outside Peter’s Pub in South William Street.
He would disappear every winter and in the spring invaribly arrive “in town” with a new eastern beauty on his arm. He was married in 1981 to the Princess Purna of Morvi, daughter of His Highness Sri Mahendra Sinhji (of the Jadeja dynasty and the last Maharaja of Morvi) in India, where he spends part of each year.
His former house, Woodtown Manor, near Dublin was for many years a welcoming place for Irish poets, writers and musicians and which was associated with the folk-pop group Clannad, where they made many recordings of their music. Garech was partly instrumental in the formation of the world-renowned traditional Irish folk group, The Chieftains. When he asked his friend, the famed uileann piper, Paddy Moloney, in the early sixties to form a group for a one-off album for his Claddagh label, Paddy came up with the first line-up of The Chieftains.
When in Ireland, he lives at Luggala set deep in the Wicklow Mountains. Luggala is a unique and special place situated in 5,000 acres in the stunning Wicklow Mountains, just 28 miles from Dublin. Luggala is situated between two beautiful lakes Loch Déan and Loch Té (Lough Dan and Lough Tay). The house has lots of history and has played host to many famous people in recent and bygone times.
The estate at Lug a’ Lágha (Luggala), was bought in the 1780s by Peter La Touche, the grandson of David Digges La Touche, a Huguenot who fled from France in 1685 after King Louis XIV had revoked the Edict of Nantes. This had promised religious freedom to his Protestant subjects (the Huguenots, as French Protestants were called, were noted weavers, silversmiths and gardeners.) The garden which the Right Honourable David la Touche M.P. laid out at his residence Marlay in County Dublin has recently been restored with European funding. David Digges La Touche went to Holland but subsequently followed King William III to Ireland during that Monarch’s war with his father-in-law, King James II. After the Stadtholder William’s victory, David La Touche stayed on in Ireland and founded a bank that bore his name and became the major financial institution in Ireland and the precursor to The Bank of Ireland.
The house has been variously described as a castle or hunting lodge of large proportions which he inherited from his mother. It is a wonderful gingerbread Gothic building and has a wonderful private setting on its own lake, Lough Tay. Garech has put white sand around his black lake so that it resembles a glass of Guinness! Tara Browne is buried in the grounds by the shores of Lough Tay in front of Luggala beside a structure known as “The Temple”
Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.