JOHN AT ASHLEY'S - New York, 1975

In 1975 in New York I spent many a night at Ashley’s Bar & Restaurant on 5th Avenue and 13th Street which was run by my pal Ashley Pandel, who’d had a music biz PR company called The Image Group and who before that worked for Shep Gordon, Alice Cooper’s manager. In the mid-70s, Ashley’s was THE music industry hang-out in NY, its regular customers including Alice, Lou Reed, members of Kiss (unmasked) and every visiting Brit rocker in town for a few days. Ash ran the joint with his brother Carl (who turned me on to the genius of Edward Hopper’s art) and third partner Ed, there was a restaurant and bar downstairs and a members-only club upstairs. I spent many happy hours there – the food was great and the waitresses were gorgeous too.
           One night I was there I went upstairs to find (and excuse the name dropping) John Lennon with his friend Peter Boyle, the actor, and Boyle’s companion Lorraine Alterman, whom I knew well as she wrote for Rolling Stone and also contributed occasionally to Melody Maker. John invited me to join their table and was on good form, cracking jokes and graciously signing autographs for anyone who asked. At one point in the evening he turned to me and said: “Have you noticed it’s always men with moustaches and beards that ask me for my autograph?” I said I hadn’t but that I’d watch out in future and, sure enough, it seemed he was right. Only men with moustaches and beards asked John for his autograph. “It was always the same,” he said. “Me and George got the guys with beards wanting to know the meaning of life, while Paul and Ringo got the girls!”
             Inevitably, perhaps, a short while later a girl came to ask John for his autograph. Much to our amusement, though doubtless to her amazement, John grabbed her around the waist and sat her down on his knee. ”Where are you now McCartney?” he shouted. “I’ve got a girl at last.”
             It was a long night. I recall John and I discussing reggae music and the emergence of Bob Marley as a world superstar. John insisted that The Beatles had recorded reggae music long before ‘Obla Di Obla Da’ on the White album, citing the solo in ‘I Call Your Name’ on the Long Tall Sally EP as an example. When I listened to it later I realised he was dead right.
             We closed the place and, because John took a fancy to a waitress who’d been serving us, stayed for an after-hours drink which turned into several. The waitress joined us, as did my friend Ashley. Peter Boyle did some wonderful impersonations, including absolutely stunning portrayals of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino in The Godfather. We even persuaded John to sing a Beatles song – unaccompanied – and he chose ‘You Can’t Do That’. Eventually we all left together in John’s silver limousine and headed for the waitress’ apartment in Greenwich Village. While John remained closeted with her in the bedroom the rest of us helped ourselves to her coffee and gradually filtered away. It was 6 am when I left, daylight outside, and John was still there.


wardo said...

Okay -- what month of 1975 was this?

Chris Charlesworth said...

Can't remember but probably the summer as it was light outside quite early, not cold either.

wardo said...

And with a baby on the way! Tsk tsk.

Great stories! Keep 'em coming!

ROCKERXX69 said...

E M O T I O N A L ! ! !

paul puma said...

Hi Chris . My name is Paul I used to hang in Ashle'ys quite a bit. I too met John and Harry there one fall afternoon before they were open, upstairs it was a great day. I was wondering if you knew Joe Pope. He also worked at hippodrome in London. The Brit doorman . I wonder if he is still on the planet ! Aldo I am sure you heard Asley passed away last year , to young. Those were the days . Way hipper than Max's my e mail flshbck67@aol.com I never check google but you can find me on Facebook. Thanks! Bro !

tony richards said...

I've been trying for a long time to locate a friend of Ash and Carl ... dude named Billy Carey who at one point shared a house in westport with Carl ... he was a great songwriter and incredible bartender ... anyone know of him

Chris Charlesworth said...

Bill Carey is on Facebook. CC

Tom Zatar Kay said...

John Lennon Yoko Ono
Hanging out with very late at a members-only club upstairs at
in the corner table both with grins on their faces... Frankie "Hollywood" Crocker spinning records Tom Zatar Kay