Beatle John Lennon last visit to Syracuse took place in 1971. The big occasion was the opening of an art exhibition put on by his wife, Yoko Ono, at the Everson Museum of Art. The power couple was accompanied by another Beatle: Ringo Starr, who came with his spouse, Maureen Cox. A third Beatle, George Harrison, also visited Yoko’s art show, but at a later date.
John, Ringo, Yoko and their entourage stayed at the Hotel Syracuse and stopped by its Wise Guys Comedy Club. Further, John celebrated his 31st birthday, which fell on October 9, in the Salt City. He even wrote his tune “Attica State” in the lead-up to his birthday commemoration.
At the Everson show’s reception John and Yoko hobnobbed with Syracuse’s cream of the crop, such as its corrupt Mayor Lee Alexander (also known as “The Greek Alexandrides”). The Syracuse’s VIPs pushed each other out of the way in order to rub elbows with John and Yoko. The locally produced movie “King Lee,” which is a spoof, immortalizes scenes seen at the Everson exhibit.
Those were John’s happy days. But there was a dark cloud looming on the horizon and in the short span of four months it was already hanging directly over John’s head. It was the attempt by President Richard Nixon’s administration to deport him for his prior conviction in London on a contested cannabis possession.
Numerous researchers have provided evidence substantiating the claim that John’s independent artistic mindset often put him on a collision course with both the English and the American establishments. The response of the traditional English elite to John’s antics can be summarized in one proper noun: Pilcher, who put John’s head on the chopping block.
In his book “The Lives of John Lennon,” published in 1988, scholar Albert Goldman, describes the dramatic reversal of fortune for John in this passage: “Unlike everyone else in Swinging London, the Beatles had always been above the law. One night at the Speakeasy, the narcs who constantly snooped about the club wearing hippie clothes and long-haired wigs busted a whole party of people in the company of John Lennon. ‘I’m with them! Why don’t you arrest me?’ screamed Lennon as the cops hauled his friends away. Now all that changed. There appeared a nemesis from whom even the most privileged pop star was not safe: Detective Sergent Norman Pilcher, an antidrug zealot (later sentenced to two years in prison for planting evidence), targeted John Lennon as his next big case. Fortunately for John, there was a man on the drug squad who played the game both ways. He tipped off Lennon early on the morning of the raid, October 18,1968.”
Besides Goldman, other prominent proponent of the validity of the hypothetical conspiracy – between the English political class and the law enforcement apparatus represented by Scotland Yard – is Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger’s girlfriend at the time. But she expands the scope of the conspiracy targets so as to include Rolling Stones Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones. Her book “Faithfull: An Autobiography,” first printed in 1994, supports the theory in the following way: “It was only when Brian got busted that it finally dawned on me that this was actually some sort of conspiracy. I mean the day that they arrested Brian was the same day that Mick and Keith got out of jail, the day after the trial ended. Give me a break, they weren’t even trying to be subtle about it anymore. The whole thing was carefully planned, obviously. Quite clearly an attempt to make Mick and Keith appear guilty by association. Another Rolling Stone caught with drugs! Well, what do you expect from degenerates like that?
“Brian’s bust was the work of the infamous Detective Sergeant Norman Pilcher (the ‘semolina pilcher’ in John Lennon’s ‘I Am the Walrus’). He was a bent cop trying to make a name for himself. He busted Mick and me several times after that, and later on got John Lennon. He was a bit of a groupie, I suppose! I admit I experienced a great deal of satisfaction when, in the early seventies, he was brought up on charges of corruption. Just the sort of person they would send out to get us: evidence fixers. Good at it, too!”
About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).