JOHN & KEITH, Pierre Hotel, June '74

One of my biggest regrets from the MM years is that I didn’t carry a camera around with me, otherwise I’d have a picture to illustrate what happened after the Who concert at the Garden on June 13, when Keith decided to pay a call on John Lennon at the Pierre Hotel where he was living with May Pang, and invited me along for the ride.
     The Pierre was a swanky hotel on 5th Avenue at the south east corner of Central Park and Keith, his assistant Dougal Butler and myself rode there in a limousine from the Garden, and headed up to John’s suite in the elevator. John seemed pleased to see Keith. They’d been pals back in London in the Sixties, and had been hanging out together in LA earlier in the year. In truth, Keith was a Beatles groupie, eternally in awe of them, and also a good pal of Ringo whose son Zak – who’s drummed with the 21st Century Who – was the recipient of at least one Moon cast-off drum kit. I was already acquainted with John having interviewed him for MM and bumped into him here and there. 
     Keith, being Keith, suggested to John that we all have a drink, assuming, wrongly as it turned out, that John would have a huge bar stocked with booze. In the event, all he had was one bottle of extremely expensive red wine, a fine vintage red wine, given to him by former Beatles’ manager Allen Klein. John said he thought the bottle cost $1,000 but was a bit spooked by this and mentioned that he was, at present, involved in a lawsuit with Klein who might therefore have good reason to poison him. John suggested that someone in our company should taste the wine before everyone took a drink.
     Looking around he said something like, “Well Keith, you can’t taste it because you’re the drummer with The Who so you can’t die, and you need your assistant Dougal. I’m John Lennon, the famous Beatle, and I can’t die either. May Pang is my companion at the moment and I don’t want her to die, therefore the only one of us left to taste the wine is you Chris... so here you are.”
     The bottle was duly opened, John poured some wine into my glass and I sampled it as the others all stared at me. There was a moment’s silence while they waited to see whether I would keel over on the spot, and I was half tempted to clutch my throat and make a gargling sound – but to this day, that was the finest glass of wine I’ve ever had in my entire life, so rich, full-bodied, bursting with flavour. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” I said. It was duly shared out, but once the drink had gone Keith was eager to move on, so we left.
     As we were waiting for the elevator Keith decided he wanted to take a pee but was reluctant to return to John’s suite and disturb him. So he peed down the Pierre Hotel laundry shaft instead.

No comments: