Miss Marianne Faithfull:

Miss Marianne Faithfull:
(Born December 29, 1946) Songs she inspired: She Smiled Sweetly, Let's Spend The Night Together, She's Like A Rainbow, You Can't Always Get What You Want, Wild Horses, I Got The Blues, 100 Years Ago, Winter

Miss Anita Pallenberg:

Miss Anita Pallenberg:
(Born April 6, 1942) Songs she inspired: You Got The Silver, Sister Morphine (words by Marianne), Wild Horses, Coming Down Again, Angie, Beast Of Burden, All About You

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Drug Bust At Redlands: The Stones, The Establishment, The Girl In The Fur Rug, and the most infamous house party of the 20th century

Mick before a scheduled TV performance on Sunday, February 5, 1967.  He took the opportunity to announce that he was suing The News Of The World for libel, over an article that appeared that morning:

Weekend of the bust, Keith clad in Afghan coat at Redlands:

With Robert Fraser's manservant Mohammed at the beach:

With The Acid King:

Morning after the bust:

February 20: Keith hops a taxi seeking legal advice on the forthcoming trial:

May 10, outside Redlands:

May 10 at the Chicester Magistrates Court:

The trial of Mick Jagger, June 27:

Marianne arrives on the scene:

Keith, just before his trial:

Lewes Prison:

The trial of Keith Richards, June 28:

Keith Moon and his girlfriend:

Freed on bail:

Acquitted of all charges, Mick holds a press conference on July 31, before escaping with Marianne:

February 12, 1967. Early in the evening, beneath the thatched roof of a country house called Redlands, a relaxing winter weekend is winding down. Keith Richards, ever the genial host, had invited some of his closest friends down from London for a mini getaway, which included a long, somewhat tranquil acid trip. The acid was courtesy of one of the weekend’s guests of honor, a Californian (or Canadian, I've read different accounts) who went by the name David Schneiderman, but was appropriately knicknamed "The Acid King". Also in attendance were Mick and Marianne, high not just on acid (together for the first time), but on the excitement of their early romance; Robert Fraser, art dealer and great friend of the Stones, plus his Moroccan manservant Mohammed; antique dealer Christopher "Chrissie" Gibbs, another member of their exclusive circle; ever-present photographer and friend, Michael Cooper; friends George and Pattie Harrison, the shy Beatle and his pretty blonde wife; and Nicky Kramer, described as "a hippie from Chelsea" by Bill Wyman.  Anita and Brian, who had tripped at Redlands several times before, were missing in action.  According to Keith, Brian had started the usual violent fight and therefore they didn't turn up.  Anita has said that they were planning on going, but then the Sunday night call from Keith came through announcing they'd been busted and to not bother.  Maybe both.

By midnight on Saturday, February 11, all the guests had arrived. From Old Gods Almost Dead: "A fire was going in the great Tudor hearth, the guitars came out, joints were passed. In connection with his own recent obscenity bust, Fraser talked about his friend Stephen Ward, the society osteopath who had killed himself after being framed for pimping in the Profumo Scandal. Then they all went to bed and slept until noon, when the Acid King started making his rounds." Sunday was spent hanging around at the beach, with Keith wandering around in his Afghan coat and oversized shades, Michael Cooper snapping away. Keith describing his Sunday morning: "I woke up around 11:00 AM. Schneiderman was up and dressed when I awoke. Mohammed was in the kitchen. I went into the garden for an hour or so. I had no idea what the rest of the guests were doing indoors, but went back in because I heard there was talk of a beach party. Except for two, all the guests went in Schneiderman's minivan. Later on during the afternoon, everybody went on a minibus mystery tour around West Sussex." "We had a quasi-cultural expedition to the house of Edward James, the father of English surrealist art, at West Dean on the Downs," Christopher Gibbs explained, "In the evening we went back to the house and sat around talking, playing records, and watching TV. Everything was perfectly respectable." Everyone was quite tired and wanted only to relax, having had an enjoyable trip. "Mick was great to be around," Marianne recalled, of Mick on acid. "Very calm and cool, without his usual nervous energy." After Mohammed served dinner, George and Pattie left for their house in Surrey and Marianne went upstairs to have a bath. Pattie: "It was the first time that we'd been to the house at West Wittering and I can't remember why we were invited. It didn't seem to be a special party; it just seemed to be friends of Keith." Outside of the house, a waiting force of police officers saw George and Pattie drive off, and Keith maintains that it was not for nothing. "They were out there all day, waiting for George to leave. From then on, we were fair game."

Marianne: "My clothes were all covered with sand, dirt, twigs in my hair, the normal sort of wear and tear of being on a trip outside.  It was such an intense trip that I was quite relieved when we started to come down. That's when I went and took my bath.  I was the only one who hadn't brought a change of clothes and I dealt with it by wearing this beautiful fur rug.  It was very large, six by nine feet or something. It would have covered a small room." (This revelation - of the rug's size - was interesting to me, because I always imagined from reading about the Redlands bust that she was wearing some tiny, barely-covering-the-bod type of rug).  Marianne walked downstairs to the reverberating music of Dylan's recent masterpiece, Blonde On Blonde. Then someone noticed something most peculiar: a face peering in through one of the leaded windows.  Probably some fan.  Then there was a knock on the door.  "I remember having this absurd idea of telling everyone to be still.  'If we don't make any noise, if we're all really quiet, they'll go away.'  A typical Marianne response if there ever was one!  Make yourself very small and it will disappear.  This time, I'm afraid, it didn't work," Marianne wrote in her autobiography.  Keith reluctantly opened the door and in stepped Chief Inspector Gordon Dinely, announcing that he had a warrant to search Redlands.  "Vision of Johanna" was playing.  Keith: "We were just gliding off from a twelve-hour trip.  You know how that freaks people out when they walk in on you.  The vibes were so funny for them.  I told one of the women with them they'd brought to search the ladies, 'Would you mind stepping off that Moroccan cushion?  Because you're ruining the tapestries.'  We were playing it like that.  They tried to get us to turn the record player off but we said, 'No. We won't turn it off but we'll turn it down.'"  The nineteen cops began dividing the small party into groups to search them. Apparently, they were quite pleasant with the guests, especially Robert Fraser for whom they had utmost respect, no roughhousing or other such degradation.  Of course, many of the guests were freaking: The Acid King didn't just have a little acid, he had tons of it, an entire suitcase in fact.  If searched, it would equate to more than a hefty prison stint.  When the cops came upon the suitcase and asked for the revelation of its contents, he told them that he had very delicate film inside and, if exposed, it would be destroyed forever.  Somewhat amazingly, they believed him.  They found a heroin tablet on Fraser (not that they would know it was heroin), and thus confiscated it for lab testing, apologizing for the trouble.  They also found some ampethamine pills in the pocket of Mick's dashing green coat, which had been long since forgotten, as Marianne had purchased them when she and Mick were in San Remo, Italy for the San Remo Song Festival.  The pills were hers, but Mick, ever the gallant Leo, said that yes, they were his, bought in Italy for his long hours, and that his physician had given him the verbal "OK" over the phone to use them.  These too were taken with the police.  Other than that, they took a lot of incense and left all the hard drugs!  Three lady cops brought the rug-clad Marianne upstairs to search her, where she jokingly screamed to Mick that they were going to rape her.  Supposedly when Marianne was downstairs in front of the whole crew, she let her fur rug fall off one shoulder so that her breasts were exposed.  Clearly this act of pure debauchery and scandal delighted the police, who in published reports flashed on the front pages and later brought up in trial frequently wrote of this "scantily clad", "nude", "nymphomaniac" girl-woman.  After collecting their various evidence, the cops informed Keith that if the tests came back and proved these tablets, pills, ashes, etc were in fact illegal drugs, he would be charged with a violation of 1964's Dangerous Drug Act for allowing these to be consumed on his property.  And with that, they left.

One may wonder how this all happened. How the police obtained a warrant, and why they busted Redlands that fateful night, when many such weekends had happened there before and since. Why did the "establishment" so strongly have it out for the Stones?

Well, the powers that be had felt threatened by the Rolling Stones for quite some time.  Their very appearance filled parents and law-makers with a feeling of profound dread, that the children of Britain would somehow instantly be corrupted by boys who sang about sex, dressed in outlandish, beautiful clothes, and who openly expressed their opinions.  Marianne, too, would often go on TV spouting off about the wonders of LSD, while Mick quietly fumed ("I was real trouble like that," she says).  Ironically, a certain newspaper, the gossip-filled, self-serving publication the News Of The World, themselves quite corrupt and low brow, was eager to get any dirt on the Stones that they could.  So, imagine their delight when two News Of The World reporters stumbled across Brian Jones at a bar one night in mid 1966.  Brian at that time was still going round telling people that he was the "leader" of the Stones.  The reporters began to chat Brian up, and somehow the topic turned to the use of acid.  "Yeah, I don't really use it too much anymore," Brian told them, but took out a piece of hash and invited them to his place for a smoke.  They chatted a while longer until the reporters got up to leave, declining Brian's most generous offer.  "What was your name again, sir?" they asked Brian, delighted they'd got such savory quotes from the unassuming Stone.  "Mick Jagger," he told them with a smug smile, and he and his hangers-on laughed about that the rest of the night.

The Stones, Mick in particular, were then shocked to read an article in the News Of The World published on February 5, 1967 (one week before the bust).  The article was some five-part expose about pop stars and drugs.  The paper claimed that Mick had admitted to having taken LSD at the home of one of the members of The Moody Blues.  The paper quoted "Mick" as saying, "I don't go much on LSD now the cats [fans] have taken it up.  It'll just get a dirty name.  I remember the first time I took it. It was on our tour with Bo Diddley and Little Richard..." Marianne, who with Mick poured over the article in bed that morning, laughed and told him that, of course, it was Brian, that they'd confused Mick with Brian.  Mick, however, decided to take legal action and sue the News Of The World for libel (and meanwhile began planning a real acid trip that weekend at Redlands) - what Robert Fraser called "The Oscar Wilde Mistake".  The law suit jeopardized the paper's credibility (which I wouldn't imagine was great anyhow), and after that, they really had it in for them. They were going to bring the Stones down.

The cops said that they obtained a warrant to search Redlands due to an anonymous tip-off (which was the News Of The World).  But how exactly did they know about the weekend plans?  Well, one thing is for sure: after the bust went down, David Schneiderman mysteriously disappeared, never to be heard from again.  And at this point, pretty much everyone involved contends that he was hired by the paper explicitly for this purpose.  Though it was never proven, there doesn't seem to be any other option.

When Mick and Keith (and Robert Fraser) arrived at Chichester Magistrates Court on May 10, 1967, the frenzy began - the crowds, the outcries, and of course, those gorgeous clothes!  Keith transformed into a debonair outlaw hero during the months of the trial and Mick perfected his feminine, impeccably tailored cool, both clad in beautiful, expensive suits.  The press reported all of their ensembles with gushing prose.  They were released on bail, set at £100 each.  That same night, Brian Jones' flat was raided by the cops and drugs, inevitably, were discovered.  What were the odds?

On June 27 and June 28, Mick, Robert, and Keith's trials began.  It only took a day (June 29) for the verdict to be handed down: GUILTY (an uproar from fans and screaming girls).  Mick was sentenced to three months in prison due to the pep pills in his coat jacket, and Keith to an entire year in prison, Wormwood Scrubs, for allowing cannabis to be smoked on his property.  They were both taken to their respective prisons and locked up (Jagger and Robert Fraser were both sent to Lewes prison, after they had a lavish meal).  Marianne went to visit Mick in jail, and when he cried, she told him to get it together and channel the experience into a song, although she admits that she was almost cruelly dismissive of his emotional state.   Keith Moon and his girlfriend wore "Free Keith" tee shirts, and the Who recorded two Stones songs, "The Last Time" and "Under My Thumb" in support.  Mick and Keith were freed on bail, and only spent one night in jail, although it was enough for Mick to get inspiration for the next Stones single, a thank-you to fans called "We Love You" (see previous post for shots of the awesome video that was filmed along with the single).  Finally, on July 31, the court of appeals overturned the verdict against Mick and Keith and the storm was over.  Mick held a press conference right afterwards to hungry press reporters, and then he and Marianne escaped via heliocopter for a much needed holiday.  Marianne Faithfull's name was disguised in the press and court proceedings as "Miss X" in an attempt to keep her out of it (allegedly, Mick told her that it could ruin her career, and of course he was right).  But the guise wasn't all that successful - everyone knew (or could at least probably surmise) that it was her, and her once-innocent image was irreparably destroyed.

The funny thing about the whole Redlands bust is that its intent to bring down the Stones, and to restore some sort of moral order to England by doing so, totally backfired.  No doubt there was damage done, and the ordeal took its toll on some (notably Marianne and Robert Fraser), but Mick and Keith came out of it stronger than ever.  They were heroes.  A breakthrough occurred when respected Times writer William Rees-Mogg published an editorial on July 1 entitled “Who Breaks A Butterfly On A Wheel?”, which was a critical response to the sentences given to Mick and Keith on June 29.  It most likely played a pivotal role in their cases being overturned.  Here was someone from “the establishment” saying things like, “There must remain a suspicion in this case that Mr. Jagger received a more severe sentence than would have been thought proper for any purely anonymous young man."

The trial also was huge PR.  The hype, outrage, excitement and uncertainty surrounding the case was big news; you know that old showbiz saying.  It was also a critical bonding experience for Mick and Keith, one that Brian wasn’t a part of despite his own busts.  This camaraderie fueled their songwriting partnership and further alienated an ever-disintegrating Brian.  A downside of the trial was that the new Stones album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, released late in 1967, some say as an answer to the Beatles’ triumphant Sgt. Pepper’s, was hastily put together and did not receive the acclaim everyone had hoped.  But a little time off was in store, and afterwards the Rolling Stones would emerge with their greatest music.  The Redlands bust is a huge part of the Stones’ (and indeed rock n' roll) mythology.  It cemented their outlaw, bad-ass appeal and made it even more marketable than before.  The establishment may have thought this was the end, but little did they know it was only the beginning.

All photos = my scans.  All Keith in the afghan coat pictures courtesy of Michael Cooper, scanned from various books.  Many others scanned from The Rolling Stones: 365 Days (Getty).

Words = mine, quotes from Rolling With The Stones, Old Gods Almost Dead, Faithfull, The Rolling Stones: The First 20 Years.