Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Strange but true: Tara Browne

Tara Browne at his home a few months before his death

Most Beatle fans know that the song "A Day in the Life" from the Sgt. Pepper album was inspired by newspaper stories that John Lennon read one morning in January 1967 in the Daily Mail.    One of the stories was about Tara Browne, the heir of the Guinness beer fortune, who had died in a car accident a month earlier.    John wrote the lines "He blew his mind out in a car/he didn't notice that the lights had changed..." based on the news story.

But there is much more to this tragic story.   Tara Browne and Paul McCartney were actually very good friends.   They ran in the same circle of artist types including John Dunbar, Barry Miles and Robert Frasier.  The group met Tara one  night out in a club, most likely the Bag o' Nails.       Paul described Tara as a "sensitive" guy and he often invited Tara to hang out with him at his Cavendish home.

Tara is sitting in one of his mod cars.  He is the middle in the back.

Two important things happened in Paul McCartney history that involve his friend, Tara.    The first one was in December 1965, Paul felt Tara to be a good enough friend that he invited him on a trip back to Liverpool to visit with Paul's family.      The two friends were traveling around the streets of Liverpool on mopeds, on the way to see Paul's aunt when Paul was looking at the full moon and ended up crashing his moped, causing his tooth to chip.     Paul didn't bother to get that tooth fixed until late in May of 1966.

Paul had not taken LSD when the other Beatles did.    He was not with George and John when the dentist slipped it into their drink in 1965 and he did not take it during the  "she said she said" inspiration trip in L.A. when the other three took it.     Paul would not take LSD with his bandmates until March 1967 during Sgt. Pepper sessions.

However, the three other Beatles weren't the only friends of Paul's that took LSD.   Tara Browne was a regular user and it was with him that Paul had his first trip at his home.  

Tara was an interesting guy.   He was very wealthy and very into the social scene in "swinging London."   He used his money to finance many of the mod shops on Carnaby Street and then decided to open his own shop, Dandie Fashions.    After Tara's death, Dandie changed owners (obviously) and was opened as Apple Tailoring.    It isn't too far fetched to think that if Tara hadn't died, that Paul would have appointed him as the head the Apple Tailoring.      Tara also was somehow involved in Syllbia's club, which was financed by George Harrison.    It isn't sure if he was just a regular customer there or if he had money tied into the club.    Nonetheless, Tara Browne was quite the socialite and was more than just an acquaintance of Paul McCartney's.     For his 21st birthday, he had a huge party, where he paid for the Lovin' Spoonful to fly into London from the States and perform.   No word if any of the Beatles were had the big party, but I would have guessed that they were.

In December 1966, Tara was separated from his wife and there was custody issues with his children, who were living with their Grandparents.   He was dating a 19 year old girl named Suki Potier.  According to the newspaper reports given by Suki, on December 18, 1966 she and Tara left a restaurant at 11:50pm and got into Tara's light blue Lotus Elan.   They were traveling "not very fast" down South Kensingston when a white car that was either a Jaguar or a Volvo suddenly appeared in the crossroads.  The white car was going very fast and did not slow down.   It went behind Tara, who swerved to avoid it, hitting a parked van.

Tara Browne's car after the accident

Tara had severe head injuries and died at the hospital shortly after arrival.   Test results showed that he had a half-a-pint to a pint of beer in his system.   Suki walked away unhurt.

Many reports written today state that Tara was driving 120 miles an hour.   They think that because the newspaper reported that Tara was driving a 120 miles an hour Lotus sports car.   That does not mean that he was traveling 120, but that the car could go up to 120.

As you see---he did not run a red light or "blow his mind out in a car."  But his story did give John the idea for the lines in the song.     John would have known Tara Browne, but he was not good friends with him like Paul.


  1. Interesting article !!
    Man, John was quick.
    He read the inquest report in the newspaper on 17th Jan, and recorded it 3 days later !!

  2. Sara. Thanks for this. However, I'm a little confused. You state that Tara was the person that Paul had his first 'trip' with, and then say Paul had his first LSD experience in March '67, by which time Tara had been dead 3 months..

    1. Paul's first LSD trip was with Tara Browne sometime in the autumn of 1966. His first trip with one of his bandmates (John Lennon) was in March 1967.

  3. Sara, que bueno que hayas puesto por primera vez a Tara Browne. Ya que su papel en The Beatles es muy importante. Encierra mucho misterio.

  4. Look, at the trash car, and try to explain this state rationaly? So you can't...

    the steering wheel may not be so, without killing Suky Poitiers.
    the rear part of the car seems to have been cut.
    The hood is raised without being wrinkled.

    No source told us what would have crashed or what the car would hit.

    Poor staging.

    I do not know why...

    John is still right: "nothing is real"

    Isn't very strange?

    1. Not strange.
      The rescue services had to cut the car to get to the occupants.

    2. Dans quoi la voiture s'est encastrée?

      Where did the cat hit? in a wall?

      I don't understand the accident.

      "The rescue services had to cut the car to get to the occupants. "

      Thanks for this info. What is the source?


    3. Re: "hood is raised without being wrinkled."
      The Lotus Elan's body was all glass fibre, so it wouldn't wrinkle whatever you did to it.
      The photo shows definitely all the signs of a quite low-speed crash. The bodywork has very little strength in itself and would have been totally destroyed by hitting something at 120mph.

  5. I AGREE WITH Capitaine Hardrock

  6. That's Brian Jones with Tara in the top photo. Those two were very close and Suki ended up becoming Brian's girlfriend after Tara's death. All three - Tara, Suki and Brian would die very young. Brian was at Tara's elaborate 21st birthday party in Ireland that the Lovin' Spoonful were flown in to play at. John and George saw the Spoonful play at the Marquee Club during the band's visit.

  7. Thanks. (I'm commenting again so I receive notifications. I forgot to tick the box for that with my question, which was:

    Where is your source from the time, that Paul was with Tara at the 21st birthday party for Tara? Is that a recollection of Sir Paul from after Sgt Pepper era? )

    1. I don't think anyone here has stated that Paul was for sure at Tara's 21st birthday party. Brian Jones was there according to the previous poster. I speculated that it wouldn't have been too far-fetched to believe that Paul was there as well since he and Tara were friends.

  8. Paul's chipped tooth from the December 1965 moped accident is visible in the March 1966 Somnabulant Adventure photographs by Bob Whitaker which yielded the butcher cover and also in the Paperback Writer/Rain videos from May 19-20.

  9. You wrote;
    "He used his money to finance many of the mod shops on Carnaby Street and then decided to open his own shop, Dandie Fashions.After Tara's death, Dandie changed owners (obviously) and was opened as Apple Tailoring.It isn't too far fetched to think that if Tara hadn't died, that Paul would have appointed him as the head the Apple Tailoring".

    You mentioned nothing in the article that would even explain who owned Apple Tailoring,but you implied Paul did by saying you thought it "wasn't far fetched" that Paul would have appointed him as the head the Apple Tailoring. Yo can't leave out that much info and assume anyone will know what you're talking about. Nothing you wrote made any sense there. Oh, why isn't it "far fetched"? No one's said whether or not Paul owned Apple Tailoring, so yeah,it IS far fetched - or seems so. And also, a guess is always just a guess...what was the point of saying you thought Paul would have appointed him head of Apple Tailoring anyway ? Where did that come from ? Weird "article".

    1. We are having communication problems because I have read what you wrote about five times and I really do not understand what you are saying. Are you complaining about what I wrote?

      I was attempting to make a point that Tara Browne and Paul McCartney weren't just casual acquaintances and if Tara had lived, it would have been highly likely that he would have been appointed him as the head of Apple Tailoring. What didn't make sense? I do not think the reader needs the background of Apple Tailoring to understand that Paul and Tara were social friends. It isn't far fetched to assume that Paul would have appointed him because (obviously) Tara was the head of Dandie and therefore his role would have remained the same once Apple took them over. I think everyone that comes to a blog that is all about crazy Beatles things knows that the Beatles owned all of the Apple sub companies (tailoring, films, etc). Again---not sure what your complaint was or if there was even a complaint.

  10. Interesting article. Looking at the car wreckage it certainly looks to have been a low-speed crash. The Elan had a lightweight fibreglass body on a backbone chassis. If it had hit something at 120mph there wouldn't be be much recognisable body shape left.

  11. Try getting up to 120mph in Central London. Impossible.