Mention of Maureen Starkey in yesterday’s post reminds me of the only time I met her, at a party at a house belonging to Isaac Tigrett in, I think, 1989. The party had been arranged to welcome to the UK my Russian friend Artemy Troitsky who two years earlier had sent me the manuscript of a book we called Back In The USSR, a history of rock music in the Soviet Union, and somehow or other he’d become acquainted with Isaac. The story behind this book – the manuscript was smuggled out of Russia to me by the Guardian’s then Moscow correspondent Martin Walker in his ‘diplomatic’ bag – deserves a post in itself but that will have to wait for now.
Artemy visited the UK for the first time to promote his book in 1987, the year it was published, and endeared himself to, among others, Paul McCartney, Richard Branson, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel and U2. On this subsequent visit he was accompanied by his first wife, Svetlana, and the three of us went to Isaac’s welcoming party together. It was held in his small but elegant house in Mayfair, behind Mount Street near Berkeley Square, and was attended by several music industry types, the owner of Tower Records as I recall, Chrissie Hynde and, of course, Isaac himself, a generously built American gentleman with a flowing beard who was dressed in a kaftan and reminded me a bit of the Maharishi Yogi.
At some stage during the party I found myself conversing with Isaac about rock memorabilia. It was no secret that he was one of the biggest collectors in the world and that parts of his collection, mainly gold albums and guitars that had been used by star players, was exhibited in the Hard Rock restaurants, of which he was the founder, across the globe. I told him about my postcard from John Lennon and he smiled benignly.
“Would you like me to show you my favourite piece of Beatles memorabilia?” he asked.
To which he moved across the crowded room and returned with Maureen. “My wife, the former Mrs Ringo Starr,” he said, introducing her to me. “Their children are somewhere around here too.”