The Beatles had been invited to beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s 39th birthday party by mutual friend and Indica Gallery co-founder Barry Miles. Although few of the partygoers expected them to show, John and Cynthia Lennon, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd arrived.
The party was thrown by David Larcher at his basement flat in London’s Chester Square, and had been organised by Barbara Rubin, Ginsberg’s occasional girlfriend. Hand-drawn invitations had been sent out, one of which arrived at NEMS for The Beatles.
When the two Beatles and their partners entered the flat, Ginsberg was drunk and wearing nothing but a sign on his penis saying “Do not disturb”. The new arrivals didn’t stay for long.
At the party Allen got completely drunk and stripped off his clothes, putting his baggy underpants on his head and hanging a hotel ‘Do not disturb’ notice around his cock. It was at this moment that two of The Beatles arrived: John with Cynthia, and George with Pattie. John and George quickly checked that no photographers were present. Allen kissed John on the cheek, and John told him that he used to draw a magazine at art school called the Daily Howl [in reference to Ginsberg’s poem Howl]; they were friendly enough and accepted drinks, but then made quickly for the door. I asked John why he was leaving so soon. ‘You don’t do that in front of the birds!’ he hissed in my ear. However, the next year, hearing that Allen was in the audience at The Beatles’ concert at the Portland Coliseum on their 1966 American tour [actually on 22 August 1965], John called out a greeting to him from the stage between numbers.
Despite the encounter, Lennon and Ginsberg later became firm friends. Lennon, of course, appeared naked on the cover of Two Virgins with Yoko Ono in 1968.
When Two Virgins came out, I couldn’t resist reminding him of his meeting with Allen, and his revised attitude towards nudity. ‘That wasn’t my problem with Allen,’ John snapped at me. ‘The trouble with Allen was that he always got up real close, and touched you, and shouted in yer ear!’ Then he laughed. Allen was always ahead of his time. By the end of the evening he was so drunk I had to wrap his arms round a lamp post in order to keep him upright while we looked for a taxi.
Also on this day...
- 2022: Ringo Starr live: Hanover Theater, Worcester, Massachusetts
- 2018: New book to explore the creation of John Lennon’s Imagine album
- 1966: Recording, mixing: I Want To Tell You, Yellow Submarine
- 1964: Recording: You Know What To Do, You’re My World, No Reply, Any Time At All, Things We Said Today
- 1964: Ringo Starr is taken ill before The Beatles’ world tour
- 1963: Live: Granada Cinema, Woolwich, London
- 1962: Rehearsal: Cavern Club, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
Ginsberg was very close to Paul McCartney too. Beatles in fact was after Beat Generation, for sure.