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Body Count by Francie Schwartz
11 November 2015
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Joe
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This came up in a Derek Taylor thread, but I didn't want it to go too off-topic. We were discussing Paul's dark moods around 1968/9, and some of the missives he sent to fellow Beatles and staff.

Below is a scan of the bit in Francie Schwartz's book about the 'Jap tart' postcard that Paul wrote for John to see. The book tells a lot of how Paul felt pretty crushed by fame, family (the split with Jane and tensions with some of his Liverpool relatives), Apple and Beatles business during their relationship, and he had a lot of black moods. It's interesting - a lot has been written about how Paul turned to drink and got depressed after the band broke up, but if Schwartz's account is correct it might have been going on for some months before.

Has anyone else read the book? FS gets a bit of a bad press from many Beatle fans, but I thought it was an interesting insight into that time. I've no idea of the truth:fiction ratio, but I am aware that the negative Beatles books often get dismissed as inaccurate, whereas the positive ones get a free pass.

41-274923933d.jpgImage Enlarger

One interesting thing about that note: other accounts have claimed it was in Paul's handwriting, whereas FS says it was typed and unsigned, and left among lots of other fan mail. It seems that nobody would have known Paul wrote it if he hadn't admitted to it.

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11 November 2015
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The allegation of domestic violence is also obviously significant. I've seen a lot of negativity written online about John for his physical violence towards women (normally from Redditors who say things like "Lennon was just a wife-beating piece of shit"). With Ringo it's hardly ever mentioned, despite Barbara being very badly beaten before they both sobered up. But this is the first time I've heard it mentioned in connection to Paul.

The line in Getting Better ("I used to be cruel to my women, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved") is often attributed to John, despite Paul being the main singer. But, assuming he did hit Jane, the words actually make as much sense coming from Paul. It's a shame she never wrote her memoirs - I'd love to read them.

This is probably worth a whole other thread, but it seemed appropriate to acknowledge it here.

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11 November 2015
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Paul's pattern in women in terms of general perception of them has been good, bad, good, bad, good.

 

I read about how he was mean to Dot his girlfriend back in the past.

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11 November 2015
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An interesting sidelight to this is that, unless I've got it wrong, Paul was seeing three women steadily at the same time, Maggie McGivern, Francie and Linda. Paul had started the relationship with Maggie before he'd broken up with Jane and only broke it off, according to her account here sometime soon after meeting Linda, so he was literally living with Francie in between.

Many people give no credence to most of the memoir let alone the postcard story. Yet it is difficult to see how she could have made it up. She did hang around the Apple offices a lot, she knew Taylor and it's possible she heard the story of his postcards through office gossip or even saw one in the mail. But I find it unlikely she would have heard of it from Taylor himself. Not even his memoir would have mentioned it without sanction. DiLello was friends with Taylor and he would have mentioned the postcards, perhaps in a disguised way, it's too good a story and he didn't shy away from John Lennon as Jesus Christ. We'll never know unless Yoko confirms it.

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11 November 2015
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I haven't read it. I will eventually, even though just tone of those two pages doesn't make me want to rush out and buy it. I have read "The Beatles Bibliography's" review of it, which is less than stellar: "Beatle fans should take issue with this travesty of a memoir, not simply because of Schwartz's malevolent, almost venomous attacks on Paul, but because of the book's self-serving and non-referential tone."   

While I agree that Beatles fans have a tendency to dismiss the negative memoirs, such as Peter Brown's, and that that has obscured a more accurate version of their story, that doesn't change the fact that there are serious, serious issues with Francie's overall credibility, impartiality, and honesty. (I'm putting all my chips on the table here: I'm a historian, and analyzing the credibility and accuracy of evidence is part of my job.) First, you have her agenda as a scorned woman, and the book evidently displays a great deal of vindictiveness. Second, the book was published in 1972, when Paul's critical reputation was possibly at its nadir, and it was published by none other than Jann Wenner's Rolling Stone press, which very obviously chose John's side in the John/Paul breakup era split. Third, a number of writers -- including, disappointingly, Doggett -- have recounted the "Jap Tart" episode as fact, but its not; its the unverified retrospective eyewitness testimony of a biased source. Does that mean we can dismiss it out of hand? No -- its is entirely possible, given Paul's state of mind at this time, that he wrote it, but I have never seen evidence from anyone else that this event occurred. During "Lennon Remembers," John himself admits that his examples of the other Beatles treating Yoko badly come off as him being paranoid; if he had a clear example, such as this "Jap Tart" post-card, why didn't he bring it up? Or Yoko? When discussing why she and John left Cavendish in Norman's Paul bio, she doesn't mention this incident at all. Why didn't either of them ever bring up this incident in the ten years after it supposedly occurred? The Fifth issue is the nature of the source: Francie didn't (so far as we know) write any of these instances down in her diary, or in a letter to her mother, which would make them more credible, as those would have been never intended for public consumption; she wrote them in a memoir, something she wanted people to buy, and there has been discussion that Wenner encouraged her to promote the sex and dissension in her work, because that's what would sell.   

I want to stress that I'm not arguing that we should wipe out everything Francie says, or claims: I'm saying that there are significant reasons to doubt Francie's credibility. John's occasional physical abuse of women receives more attention in part because it is, unfortunately, a fact; Cynthia Lennon, Thelma Pickles, and May Pang all recount it, and John publicly admitted it. At this point, given the nature of the source, Francie's accusations that Paul hit Jane are hearsay -- a second hand statement that can't be proven. And given what we know of Jane, her tolerating Paul hitting her seems out of character; she refused to allow him to pressure her into giving up her acting career and left him when it became glaringly obvious he was cheating on her.  

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11 November 2015
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I'm not surprised a memoir would be self-serving and non-referential. It was published in 1972, she was putting down on paper a lot of stuff that had happened three or four years previously. Vindictive and impartial, sure, but it was fairly recent history at the time, not an account of events after a long passage of time. That's why I'm not writing off her credibility, particularly of the events she experienced. I think you're right to reserve judgement on the hearsay though.

The Beatles Bibliography - I have a copy of that at home. I remember they were very sniffy about Lewisohn's Complete Beatles Chronicle, which I called them out on in my review. If you want subjective opinions that book is full of them. IIRC they bigged up the (then-unpublished, now widely slated) Joe Flannery biography which was written by Mike Brocken, who also co-authored... The Beatles Bibliography! So yeah, not the most impartial source.

I don't think Wenner had much to do with Body Count, at least if you believe Schwartz's account. She wrote a feature about Apple for Rolling Stone which she said was heavily edited and rewritten without her knowledge. BC was published by Straight Arrow, which I think was Rolling Stone's holding or parent company. But I have no idea what actually went on or who was involved.

Here's the relevant passage from Body Count, not at all complimentary of Wenner:

52-114c5dc6bc.jpgImage Enlarger

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11 November 2015
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pickles said
While I agree that Beatles fans have a tendency to dismiss the negative memoirs, such as Peter Brown's, and that that has obscured a more accurate version of their story, that doesn't change the fact that there are serious, serious issues with Francie's overall credibility, impartiality, and honesty. (I'm putting all my chips on the table here: I'm a historian, and analyzing the credibility and accuracy of evidence is part of my job.) First, you have her agenda as a scorned woman, and the book evidently displays a great deal of vindictiveness. Second, the book was published in 1972, when Paul's critical reputation was possibly at its nadir, and it was published by none other than Jann Wenner's Rolling Stone press, which very obviously chose John's side in the John/Paul breakup era split. Third, a number of writers -- including, disappointingly, Doggett -- have recounted the "Jap Tart" episode as fact, but its not; its the unverified retrospective eyewitness testimony of a biased source. Does that mean we can dismiss it out of hand? No -- its is entirely possible, given Paul's state of mind at this time, that he wrote it, but I have never seen evidence from anyone else that this event occurred. During "Lennon Remembers," John himself admits that his examples of the other Beatles treating Yoko badly come off as him being paranoid; if he had a clear example, such as this "Jap Tart" post-card, why didn't he bring it up? Or Yoko? When discussing why she and John left Cavendish in Norman's Paul bio, she doesn't mention this incident at all. Why didn't either of them ever bring up this incident in the ten years after it supposedly occurred? The Fifth issue is the nature of the source: Francie didn't (so far as we know) write any of these instances down in her diary, or in a letter to her mother, which would make them more credible, as those would have been never intended for public consumption; she wrote them in a memoir, something she wanted people to buy, and there has been discussion that Wenner encouraged her to promote the sex and dissension in her work, because that's what would sell.   

I want to stress that I'm not arguing that we should wipe out everything Francie says, or claims: I'm saying that there are significant reasons to doubt Francie's credibility. John's occasional physical abuse of women receives more attention in part because it is, unfortunately, a fact; Cynthia Lennon, Thelma Pickles, and May Pang all recount it, and John publicly admitted it. At this point, given the nature of the source, Francie's accusations that Paul hit Jane are hearsay -- a second hand statement that can't be proven. And given what we know of Jane, her tolerating Paul hitting her seems out of character; she refused to allow him to pressure her into giving up her acting career and left him when it became glaringly obvious he was cheating on her.  

All fair points, but let me play devil's advocate: her allegations haven't been dismissed by the principals either. Sure, neither John nor Yoko confirmed the postcard story, but the one guy who you'd expect to deny it and other allegations, simply hasn't - Paul himself. The story has been repeated often enough in enough memoirs and biographies, and Paul hasn't been backwards in putting his side of the story in many respects, so the silence is interesting.

Picking on the timing of the book seems odd: if she'd planned to write a tell-all, four years is a long time to wait, it wouldn't have been for lack of eager publishers. If she'd planned a tell-all she would certainly have been keeping notes or a diary. It seems to me that just because she has a negative attitude (ok, vindictive) attitude to Paul, all sorts of other motives have been ascribed to her and her memoir, and that doesn't seem too objective to me. Like you say, just because it's negative doesn't mean there isn't truth to it. And please, do be careful of the views expressed by people on rec.music.beatles about her, it's some of the most poisonous usenet I've ever read, way out of proportion and pathological.

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11 November 2015
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I haven't read any Beatles books yet. Does anyone know of a few that are historically accurate and unbiased? I'm most interested in biographies, although I do plan on reading the Anthology. I wanted to read Bob Spitz's book, but I've read that it has many errors. 😛 Any suggestions?

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11 November 2015
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Joe said
I'm not surprised a memoir would be self-serving and non-referential. It was published in 1972, she was putting down on paper a lot of stuff that had happened three or four years previously. Vindictive and impartial, sure, but it was fairly recent history at the time, not an account of events after a long passage of time. That's why I'm not writing off her credibility, particularly of the events she experienced. I think you're right to reserve judgement on the hearsay though.

The Beatles Bibliography - I have a copy of that at home. I remember they were very sniffy about Lewisohn's Complete Beatles Chronicle, which I called them out on in my review. If you want subjective opinions that book is full of them. IIRC they bigged up the (then-unpublished, now widely slated) Joe Flannery biography which was written by Mike Brocken, who also co-authored... The Beatles Bibliography! So yeah, not the most impartial source.

I don't think Wenner had much to do with Body Count, at least if you believe Schwartz's account. She wrote a feature about Apple for Rolling Stone which she said was heavily edited and rewritten without her knowledge. BC was published by Straight Arrow, which I think was Rolling Stone's holding or parent company. But I have no idea what actually went on or who was involved.

Here's the relevant passage from Body Count, not at all complimentary of Wenner:

52-114c5dc6bc.jpgImage Enlarger

53-8c9fd503ce.jpgImage Enlarger

 

I remember the unwarranted sniffiness about TCBC (and, to a considerable extent, Lewisohn in general) and agree that there's a great deal of subjectivity there. I think the book's greatest flaw was its failure to explain the standards it was judging the works by, which meant many of the evaluations tilted towards personal preference. However, that doesn't mean we can dismiss all of their conclusions  -- some of their analysis was good: I haven't read "Body Count" yet, as I said, so I can't assess how good or bad their analysis of that at the moment.       

"Vindictive and impartial, sure, but it was fairly recent history at the time, not an account of events after a long passage of time."

You're right; its not as if she was publishing this decades after the events, but it still qualifies as retrospective. That doesn't necessarily mean her memory was affected, but it does mean that she had certain agendas when she was writing it that may have affected the accuracy of her statements. Agenda is just as important in evaluating  a source's credibility as the "when" it was written, or published. Overall, unless there is separate, independent verification of Francie's version of events, I don't find her a particularly credible source, but YMMV.     

 

ewe2 said

pickles said
While I agree that Beatles fans have a tendency to dismiss the negative memoirs, such as Peter Brown's, and that that has obscured a more accurate version of their story, that doesn't change the fact that there are serious, serious issues with Francie's overall credibility, impartiality, and honesty. (I'm putting all my chips on the table here: I'm a historian, and analyzing the credibility and accuracy of evidence is part of my job.) First, you have her agenda as a scorned woman, and the book evidently displays a great deal of vindictiveness. Second, the book was published in 1972, when Paul's critical reputation was possibly at its nadir, and it was published by none other than Jann Wenner's Rolling Stone press, which very obviously chose John's side in the John/Paul breakup era split. Third, a number of writers -- including, disappointingly, Doggett -- have recounted the "Jap Tart" episode as fact, but its not; its the unverified retrospective eyewitness testimony of a biased source. Does that mean we can dismiss it out of hand? No -- its is entirely possible, given Paul's state of mind at this time, that he wrote it, but I have never seen evidence from anyone else that this event occurred. During "Lennon Remembers," John himself admits that his examples of the other Beatles treating Yoko badly come off as him being paranoid; if he had a clear example, such as this "Jap Tart" post-card, why didn't he bring it up? Or Yoko? When discussing why she and John left Cavendish in Norman's Paul bio, she doesn't mention this incident at all. Why didn't either of them ever bring up this incident in the ten years after it supposedly occurred? The Fifth issue is the nature of the source: Francie didn't (so far as we know) write any of these instances down in her diary, or in a letter to her mother, which would make them more credible, as those would have been never intended for public consumption; she wrote them in a memoir, something she wanted people to buy, and there has been discussion that Wenner encouraged her to promote the sex and dissension in her work, because that's what would sell.   

I want to stress that I'm not arguing that we should wipe out everything Francie says, or claims: I'm saying that there are significant reasons to doubt Francie's credibility. John's occasional physical abuse of women receives more attention in part because it is, unfortunately, a fact; Cynthia Lennon, Thelma Pickles, and May Pang all recount it, and John publicly admitted it. At this point, given the nature of the source, Francie's accusations that Paul hit Jane are hearsay -- a second hand statement that can't be proven. And given what we know of Jane, her tolerating Paul hitting her seems out of character; she refused to allow him to pressure her into giving up her acting career and left him when it became glaringly obvious he was cheating on her.  

All fair points, but let me play devil's advocate: her allegations haven't been dismissed by the principals either. Sure, neither John nor Yoko confirmed the postcard story, but the one guy who you'd expect to deny it and other allegations, simply hasn't - Paul himself. The story has been repeated often enough in enough memoirs and biographies, and Paul hasn't been backwards in putting his side of the story in many respects, so the silence is interesting.

Picking on the timing of the book seems odd: if she'd planned to write a tell-all, four years is a long time to wait, it wouldn't have been for lack of eager publishers. If she'd planned a tell-all she would certainly have been keeping notes or a diary. It seems to me that just because she has a negative attitude (ok, vindictive) attitude to Paul, all sorts of other motives have been ascribed to her and her memoir, and that doesn't seem too objective to me. Like you say, just because it's negative doesn't mean there isn't truth to it. And please, do be careful of the views expressed by people on rec.music.beatles about her, it's some of the most poisonous usenet I've ever read, way out of proportion and pathological.

I've never even been to that website, and didn't even know it existed. My knowledge of Francie is drawn from reading books like Doggett's or The Beatles Bibliography; my evaluation of the validity of her testimony is based entirely on historical methods; applying historical standards to primary and secondary sources to determine their credibility.  

I think, because we (the fans) devour each and every new biography, memoir, and account by John's third-cousin-twice-removed, that we believe the Beatles themselves do the same, but I think we're projecting in that regard. Paul is, by all indication, a very busy man; he probably hasn't read half the books about the band that most fans here have; Lewisohn isn't even sure if he's read "Tune In" yet. Paul might not be aware of the numerous times this "Jap Tart" incident has been recounted. There are lots of less savory moments in Beatles history that Paul has never addressed: Remember the account by the "Apple Scruff" fan watching through a window, who argued that John was drawing back his arm to hit a then-pregnant Linda during an Apple business meeting, but only stopped when Paul placed himself between the two of them? MacDonald recounts this story as fact -- which its not -- and Paul never mentioned it, verified or disputed it, and we *know* Paul has read MacDonald, because he complained about some of MacDonald's interpretations of his songs. I would guess Paul figures if he started correcting what he perceives as all the errors in Beatles historiography he'd never get anything else done, so unless someone directly asks him in an interview (assuming he then doesn't duck the question) he's not going to address the issue. Therefore I don't find Paul's silence on the issue particularly significant.       

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11 November 2015
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Very interesting discussion.....I don't feel qualified to join in other than give the opinion...... that from every interview I've seen and read of him, Paul comes over as  keenly aware of the Beatles' importance in 20th Century history and particularly the the part he is viewed to have played in it. He cares about his legacy and what future generations will make of him...........We all would too!

I'm pretty sure he reads a lot of what is said about him and is rich enough to have staff going through new books on his behalf to advise of anything inflammatory, contentious or potentially calling for actual litigation.

Why he doesn't get into more spats.....or, 'set the record straight' type interviews could be for a number of reasons other than that they are true. 

12 November 2015
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Just my two cents -- maybe this is where I part company with the BBers, but while I may be vaguely interested in this or that detail from the personal bios of any one of the Beatles, I really am not that interested to delve in.  If we learn they had faults and even dark problems, so what.  Everyone has skeletons.  The music remains.  The rest is Kardashian-type celebrity dish.

Mini-rant over.

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12 November 2015
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If Paul (or Ringo or Yoko or Olivia) commented on any one of the rumours or "facts" stated from when the Beatles started folk would just start saying "he/she spoke on x why won't he speak on y? Maybe there is something to it". Its better to maintain silence on everything than dignify any with a response.

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12 November 2015
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@Pineapple Records said
Just my two cents -- maybe this is where I part company with the BBers, but while I may be vaguely interested in this or that detail from the personal bios of any one of the Beatles, I really am not that interested to delve in.  If we learn they had faults and even dark problems, so what.  Everyone has skeletons.  The music remains.  The rest is Kardashian-type celebrity dish.

Mini-rant over.

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21 November 2015
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Further to this, I was diving into my copy of The Longest Cocktail Party and there is mention of an article Schwartz wrote for Rolling Stone called "Memories of an Apple Girl" which DiLello called "the funniest play of the season" in a response back to RS as part of a reported conversation. Apparently Paul is only chapter 8 of Body Count and includes the phrase 'A little Medici prince pampered and laid on a satin pillow at a very early age.'

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@Saltie said (in another thread)
You really should have stated this first RN. It is very unfair of you to get in your last word then redirect others to another thread. Your own comments are debatable and based on hearsay (which becomes more fantastical with each retelling). I knew all that stuff about Francie Schwarzt long before you did and I'm not interested in her. I was discussing Yoko Ono. It's disturbing that 2nd, 3rd, 4th plus generation fans are gleaning more and more misinformation about The Beatles with each passing day.

Well, I would call Body Count a primary source as it's written by the lady herself. Referring to her own accounts of her own life (and there's also an interview with her from the '90s in another thread, and their relationship is discussed in more threads, based on what she's had to say) as "hearsay" I don't thinks stands up to much scrutiny unless only words from the mouths of the four Beatles count. I would also call Derek Taylor a primary source, who was the one who suggested Paul used her to break his engagement with Jane.

Many of those in the inner circle, including John, have made statements about her and that don't disagree that much with her own account. Paul doesn't talk about Francie no more than he talks about the split from Jane. Lots of others who were there have. They are primary sources, as historians would define it, not secondary.

I wasn't attempting to get in the last word, I was saying if you wanted to discuss further, we should find a more appropriate thread.

This is a more appropriate thread.

While you may dismiss her account as "hearsay", I regard it as a primary source. Doesn't matter if you like her or not, or are interested in her or not, she remains one of the three women who lived with Paul after their move from Liverpool to London in the '60s. Jane. Francie. Linda. With Jane and Francie crossing over.

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5 January 2019
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I know the difference between primary and secondary sources thankyou. I've worked with print and digital collections all my life. I've been trained to establish whether primary sources are verifiable and accurate or whether they rely on hearsay. Unfortunately many of them may be unreliable. I believe Francie Schwartz suffers from bipolar disorder and has been in care for several years. She doesn't deserve to be badmouthed. Derek Taylor as a primary source regarding FS as a set up for Paul McCartney to split from Jane Asher? Did the man have psychopathic traits? Does Paul? Such a gutless act would almost suggest so. Personally, I would not like to think so. One major primary source is missing - that of Jane's, who spent five years with PM, not just a few weeks here and there. Actually, Paul did talk about his split with Jane in Many Years from Now, the extract of which is reproduced on this very site.

There is one person missing in your line up of Paul's ladies. Maggie McGivern, nicely sandwiched between Francie Schwartz and Linda Eastman, who he took to Sardinia for a holiday in September 1968. Also the several who lived with him and shared his bed during the first six months of 1967 while Jane was on a theatre tour of the US. Both McGivern and Schwartz sold their souls for a story. Whether you want to believe them or not is up to you. I find much of the grubby speculation regarding Paul and Jane's young romance unbecoming of grown men and women. Like another poster remarked, lets just keep it to the music.

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