FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 81 THE BEATLES Why was Dylan Thomas put on the cover of SGT PEPPERS? (Featured artist is sculptor David Wynne)



Dylan Thomas was included on SGT PEPPER’S cover because of words like this, “Too proud to cry, too frail to check the tears, And caught between two nights, blindness and death.”

Francis Schaeffer noted:

This is sensitivity crying out in darkness. But it is not mere emotion; the problem is not on this level at all. These men were not producing an art for art’s sake, or emotion for emotion’s sake. These things are a strong message coming out of their own worldview.

The Beatles looked at the tough issues in life including the issue of death in their song A DAY IN THE LIFE.  No wonder in the video THE AGE OF NON-REASON Schaeffer noted,  ” Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. It expressed the essence of their lives, thoughts and their feelings.” 


Caitlin died in 1994, and was buried next to Dylan

(Francis Schaeffer pictured below)

Thomas family

Dylan and Caitlin with family, and Dylan’s mother

The Beatles- Because

Dylan and The Beatles

From 1964 The Beatles began exploring new ways of writing and recording music. John Lennon was particularly influenced by Bob Dylan, who encouraged the group to experiment with wordplay.

“I’m sure that the main influence on both Dylan and John was Dylan Thomas,” said Paul McCartney.

“We all used to like Dylan Thomas. I read him a lot. I think that John started writing because of him, and the fact that Bob Dylan wrote poetry added to his appeal.”

In 2014 McCartney was asked which British authors were his favourites. “I’ve always been a big fan of British writers, but two of my favourites are Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas,” he said.

Jann Haworth and Peter Blake worked together on the artwork for The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Now acclaimed as a pop art masterpiece, it featured a collage of famous faces chosen by the group and the artists.

The two Dylans, naturally, were included. Dylan Thomas was reportedly one of John Lennon’s choices.

The Beatles’ producer, George Martin, spoke of the lineage which linked them. “Dylan Thomas, the Welsh author, was a great influence on Bob Dylan, and I think that the kind of words that Dylan Thomas would construct came down through Bob Dylan into John Lennon.”

In 1988 Martin paid his own tribute to Dylan Thomas by producing a musical version of Under Milk Wood. Its predominantly Welsh cast included Anthony Hopkins, Tom Jones, Mary Hopkin and Bonnie Tyler.

(Dylan and Caitlin Thomas pictured below)


Dylan Thomas (1 of 3) B&W Film with Richard Burton

Published on Jun 1, 2012

First part of the marvelous film on Welsh poet Dylan Thomas featuring Richard Burton.

Sweet and fumbled music

The musicians who have set Dylan Thomas’s words to melody were perhaps drawn to his richly lyrical and rhythmic writing. Thomas was obsessed with the sounds and cadences of words, thrived on wordplay and verbal rhythms, and often worked within formal, orderly structures.

Under Milk Wood, Thomas’s masterpiece play, is awash with sounds, from the singing of Captain Cat, Polly Garter and Mr Waldo to Mrs Organ Morgan, who exclaims: “Oh, I’m a martyr to music.” Thomas’s broadcast Memories Of Christmas also mentions carol singing, party songs and “the untuned piano in the parlour”.

A recording pioneer

In the 1950s Thomas helped kickstart the United States audiobook industry. In 1952 two New Yorkers, Barbara Holdridge and Marianne Mantell, heard the poet reciting his works on stage and asked him to record for their new record label, Caedmon.

“We had no idea of the power and beauty of this voice,” said Holdridge. “We just expected a poet with a poet’s voice, but this was a full orchestral voice.”

Thomas was short of material, which was potentially disastrous for the label. When asked if he had anything else to record, Thomas said: “Well, I did this story that was published in Harper’s Bazaar that was a kind of Christmas story.”

That story was A Child’s Christmas In Wales. According to Holdridge: “That was dusting off something that undoubtedly would have remained buried and that became one of the most loved and popular stories recorded in the 20th Century and certainly gave us the start that we needed to become a viable company.”

A second recording session followed in 1953, and by 1962 400,000 Dylan Thomas LPs had been sold. The Caedmon collection helped to cement his place in American history, and in 2008 his first recordings were selected for the United States National Recording Registry.

Dylan Thomas – A friend of Sgt Pepper

Published on Nov 24, 2013

In this interview we get a first hand description of one of the world’s greatest poets ever – from his best friend’s wife. Dylan Thomas should have been best man in the wedding of Gwen and Vernon Watkins – but he overslept. On the journey in Dylan’s footsteps, our guide the poet Ian Griffiths introduces us to this remarkable lady.
She met her husband during the 2. world war at Bletchley Park, where British Intelligence gathered bright people from all over Britain to solve Hitler’s war codes. Vernon Watkins, Dylan’s best friend, was both poet and banker. A banker who sometimes forgot to close the bank when he went home in the evening.
Se the rest of the documentary film at Et Årsverk 2013, 14. of December. Introduced by poet Ian Griffiths and Anne Haden who restored Dylan’s childhood home in Swansea.


The Beatles — I’ve Just Seen a Face

Lived fast, died young

Dylan Thomas died too soon for rock ‘n’ roll. He passed away in New York City on 9 November 1953, just three months after Elvis Presley’s first Sun Studio recording session.

But he left a legacy which was much admired by generations of musicians. His hell-raising lifestyle foreshadowed the many excesses of the rock ‘n’ roll era, while his words inspired songwriters and performers including John Lennon, Patti Smith and Bob Dylan.

While several poets of the 18th and 19th centuries – Byron, Coleridge, Rimbaud – combined artistic greatness with decadence and excess, Dylan Thomas was a modern day pioneer: the drinking, smoking and womanising, the early death, not to mention the remarkable literary talent which made his name immortal.

Kane on Friday – Leftover Wife – Interview With Widow of Dylan Thomas

Published on May 28, 2014

Broadcaster Vincent Kane interviews Thomas’ widow Caitlin.
originally broadcast in 1977,

Caitlin Thomas (8 December 1913 — 31 July 1994), née Macnamara, was the wife of the poet and writer Dylan Thomas


Straight, no chaser

Excess and indulgence have long been hallmarks of modern music. In Dylan Thomas’s day jazz and soul greats such as John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Ray Charles and Miles Davis all struggled with drug addiction, and later on rock ‘n’ roll brought a new wave of musicians eager to sample the darker side of life.

Unlike Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain and many others, Dylan Thomas lived long enough to avoid the infamous ’27 Club’ of rockers who met their demise at that age. But his itinerant lifestyle and wild behaviour undoubtedly led to an early death.

With his wife and children back in Britain, Thomas lived the high life in America. He was treated like a celebrity, partied with Richard Burton and read his works to crowds of adoring listeners. He also had an affair with Liz Reitell, the assistant to his tour agent John Brinnin.

Thomas’s death in New York at the age of 39 followed months of ill health, which included breathing difficulties, gout, gastritis, blackouts and a fractured arm from falling down stairs when drunk. He was constantly short of money, and relied on charm, goodwill and the patronage of sympathetic friends.

Despite his ill health and excessive behaviour, his image as a hell-raiser was carefully cultivated. To the end he channelled his gifts into producing works of graceful and evocative poetry and prose which stood in contrast to his chaotic personal life. As his obituary in the Times put it: “None has ever worn more brilliantly the mask of anarchy to conceal the true face of tradition.”

(bad audio) Dylan Thomas -: Rock and Roll Poet – Documentary

Arena – Dylan Thomas From Grave to Cradle (BBC 2003) – Part 1

Uploaded on Sep 5, 2009

A biography/documentary on Dylan Thomas

Richard Burton reads ‘Elegy’ (for his father) by Dylan Thomas

Uploaded on Feb 18, 2010

This poem was left unfinished at Dylan Thomas’ death. The first seventeen lines were untouched, but the rest was reconstructed/edited from Thomas’ manuscript by his friend Vernon Watkins.


Francis Schaeffer wrote in his book THE GOD WHO IS THERE:

When we review modern poetry as part of our own general culture, we find the same tendency to despair. Near the time of his death, Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) wrote a poem called ELEGY. He did not actually put it together himself, so we cannot be too sure of the exact order of the stanzas. But the way it is given before is probably the right order. The poem is by a fellow human being of our generation. He is not an insect on the head of a pin, but shares the same flesh and blood as we do, a man in real despair.

Dylan Thomas: Elegy (English)

Too proud to die; broken and blind he died 
The darkest way, and did not turn away, 
A cold kind man brave in his narrow pride 

On that darkest day.  Oh, forever may 
He lie lightly, at last, on the last, crossed 
Hill, under the grass, in love, and there grow 

Young among the long flocks, and never lie lost 
Or still all the numberless days of his death, though 
Above all he longed for his mother's breast 

Which was rest and dust, and in the kind ground 
The darkest justice of death, blind and unblessed. 
Let him find no rest but be fathered and found, 

I prayed in the crouching room, by his blind bed, 
In the muted house, one minute before 
Noon, and night, and light.  The rivers of the dead 

Veined his poor hand I held, and I saw 
Through his unseeing eyes to the roots of the sea. 
(An old tormented man three-quarters blind, 

I am not too proud to cry that He and he 
Will never never go out of my mind. 
All his bones crying, and poor in all but pain,  

Being innocent, he dreaded that he died 
Hating his God, but what he was was plain: 
An old kind man brave in his burning pride. 

The sticks of the house were his; his books he owned. 
Even as a baby he had never cried; 
Nor did he now, save to his secret wound. 

Out of his eyes I saw the last light glide. 
Here among the light of the lording sky 
An old blind man is with me where I go 

Walking in the meadows of his son's eye 
On whom a world of ills came down like snow. 
He cried as he died, fearing at last the spheres' 

Last sound, the world going out without a breath: 
Too proud to cry, too frail to check the tears, 
And caught between two nights, blindness and death. 

O deepest wound of all that he should die 
On that darkest day.  Oh, he could hide 
The tears out of his eyes, too proud to cry.


In the Festival Hall in London, in one of the higher galleries in the rear corridor, there is a bronze of Dylan Thomas. Anyone who can look at it without compassion is dead. There he faces you with a cigarette at the side of his mouth, the very cigarette hung in despair. It is not good enough to take a man like this or any of the others and smash them as though we have no responsibility for them. This is sensitivity crying out in darkness. But it is not mere emotion; the problem is not on this level at all. These men were not producing an art for art’s sake, or emotion for emotion’s sake. These things are a strong message coming out of their own worldview.

These are many means for killing men, as men, today. They all operate in the same direction: no truth, no morality. You do not have to go to art galleries or listen to the more sophisticated music to be influenced by their message. The common media of cinema and television will do it effectively for you.


We usually divide cinema and television programs into two classes–good and bad. The term “good” as used here means “technically good” and does not refer to morals. The “good” pictures are the serious ones, the artistic ones, the ones with good shots. The “bad” are simply escapist, romantic, only for entertainment. But if we examine them with care, we notice them with care, we notice that the “good” pictures are actually the worst pictures. The escapist film may be horrible in its own way, but the so-called “good” pictures have almost all been developed by men holding the modern philosophy of no certain truth and no certain distinction between right and wrong. This does not imply they have ceased to be men of integrity, but it does mean that the films they produce are tools for teaching their beliefs. Three outstanding modern film producers are Fellini and Antonioni of Italy, and Bergman of Sweden. Of these three producers, Bergman has given the clearest expression perhaps of the contemporary despair. He has said that he deliberately developed the flow of his pictures, that is, the whole body of his movies rather than just individual films, in order to teach existentialism.

His existentialist films led up to  but do not include the film THE SILENCE. This film was a statement of utter nihilism. Man, in this picture, did not even have the hope of authenticating himself by an act of the will. THE SILENCE was a series of snapshots with immoral and pornographic themes. The camera just took them without any comment. “Click, click, click, cut!” That is all there is. Life is like that: unrelated, having no meaning as well as no morals.

In passing, it should be noted that Bergman’s presentation in THE SILENCE was related to the “Black Writers” (nihilistic writers), the antistatement novel which was best shown perhaps in Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD. These, too, were just a series of snapshots without any comment as to meaning or morals.

Such writers and directors have had a large impact upon the mass media, and so the force of the monolithic world-view of our age presses in on every side.

The 1960’s was the time of many powerful philosophic films. The posters advertising Antonioni’s BLOW-UP in the London Underground were inescapable as they told the message of that film: “Murder without guilt;love without meaning.” The mass of people may not enter an art museum, may never read a serious book. If you were to explain the drift of modern thought to them, they might not be able to understand it; but this does not mean that they are not influenced by the things they see and hear–including the cinema and what is considered “good,” nonescapist television.

No great illustration could be found of the way these concepts were carried to the masses than “pop” music and especially the work of the BEATLES. The Beatles moved through several stages, including the concept of the drug and psychedelic approach. The psychedelic began with their records REVOLVER, STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER, AND PENNY LANE. This was developed with great expertness in their record SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND in which psychedelic music, with open statements concering drugtaking, was knowingly presented as a religious answer. The religious form was the same vague panthemism which predominates much of the new mystical thought today. One indeed does not have to understand in a clear way the modern monolithic thought in order to be infiltrated by it. SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND was an ideal example of the manipulating power of the new forms of “total art.” This concept of total art increases the infiltrating power of the message involved. This is used in the Theatre of the Absurd, the Marshall McLuhan type of television program, the new cinema and the new dance with someone like Merce Cunningham. The Beatles used this in SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND by making the whole record one unit so the whole is to be listened to as a unit and makes one thrust, rather than the songs being only something individually. In this record the words, the syntax, the music, and the unity of the way the individual songs were arranged form a unity of infiltration.

Those were the days of the ferment of the 1960’s. Two things must be said about their results in the 1980’s. First, we do not understand the 1980’s if we do not understand that our culture went through these conscious wrestlings and expressions of the 1960’s. Second, most people do not understandably think of all this now, but the results are very much still at work in our culture.

Our culture is largely marked by relativism and ultimate meaninglessness, and when many in the 1960’s “join the system” they do so because they have nothing worth fighting for. For most, that was ended by the 1970’s. It is significant that when  SERGEANT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND wa made a Broadway play (1974, Beacon Theater) it no longer had the ferment; it was “camp” and nostalia–a museum piece of a bygone time.


The Cinema gives, if anything, an even more powerful presentation of the new framework of thinking. It pictures life as a tragic joke, with no exit for man. As Francis Schaeffer has written: “The gifted cinema producers of today—Bergman, Fellini, Antonini, Slesinger, the avant-garde cinema men in Paris, or the Double Neos in Italy, all have basically the same message.” The message is that man is trapped in a meaningless void. He is thrown up by chance in a universe without meaning. In some of the earlier efforts by some of these film makers, there was an attempt to show that man could try to create his own meaning. For example, you can escape the void in which you are trapped by going into the world of dreams. But the trouble with this is that you then have no way to prove it. To use the terms of Schaeffer, you have either content without meaning (the real world) or meaning without content (the dream world). So, again, there is no genuine gain in this attempt by man to create meaning. This was brilliantly shown in the film entitled Juliet of the Spirits.

This is the way Schaeffer puts it: “A student in Manchester [England] told me that he was going to see Juliet of the Spirits for the third time to try to work out what was real and what was fantasy in the film. I had not seen it then but I saw it later in a small art theatre in London. Had I seen it before I would have told him not to bother. One could go ten thousand times and never figure it out. It is deliberately made to prevent the viewer from distinguishing between objective reality and fantasy. There are no categories. One does not know what is real, or illusion, or psychological or insanity.” Another film that may be compared with this is Belle de Jour. As another commentator describes it: “Most audiences will not find anything visually shocking about Belle de Jour. They will find instead a cumulative mystery: What is really happening and what is not? The film continues—switching back and forth between Severine’s real and fantasy worlds so smoothly that after a while it becomes impossible to say which is which. There is no way of knowing—and this seems to be the point of the film with which Bunuel says he is winding up his 40 year career. Fantasy, he seems to be saying, is nothing but the human dimension of reality that makes life tolerable, and sometimes even fun.” Another way of expressing the new framework of thought is seen in the film entitled The Silence, by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. It is just a series of snapshots with immoral and pornographic themes. The camera just clicks away, as it were, recording a series of unrelated and non-moral events. The message is that human life is nothing more than this: a series of unrelated events (because there is no God, and no plan governing all things) having no moral significance (because there are no absolutes). The message of another famous modern film—Antonini’s Blow Up—was summed up in the following advertisement which appeared in the London subways: “Murder without guilt; Love without meaning.” How could one better express the new framework of thinking?


We must again point out that what we describe in these lessons does not appear in everything that is popular with people today. What we are describing in these studies is, for the most part, the leading group of modern artists—those who see most clearly the logical conclusion to which we must come if we begin with the basic ideas assumed as true in our society and culture. Because these artists are most fully held in the grip of “the spirit of the times,” they are the ones who best enable us to see the issue most clearly. At the same time, however, it would be a great mistake to think that these things are isolated within a small circle. No, the fact is that the message of such artists as these is more and more general in our society.

Again, to illustrate, we quote Francis Schaeffer.

“People often ask which is better—American or BBC Television. What do you want—to be entertained to death, or to be killed with wisely planted blows? That seems to be the alternative. BBC is better in the sense that it is more serious, but it is overwhelmingly on the side of the twentieth-century mentality [new framework thinking].” He continues: “The really dangerous thing is that our people are being taught this twentieth-century mentality without being able to understand what is happening to them. This is why this mentality has penetrated into the lower cultural levels as well as among intellectuals…We usually divide cinema and television programmes into two classes—good and bad. The term ‘good’ as used here means ‘technically good’ and does not refer to morals. The ‘good’ pictures are the serious ones, the artistic ones; the ones with good shots. The ‘bad’ are simply escapist, romantic, only for entertainment. But if we examine them with care we will notice that the ‘good’ pictures are actually the worst pictures. The escapist film may be horrible in some ways, but the so-called ‘good’ pictures of recent years have almost all been developed by men holding the modern philosophy of meaninglessness. This does not imply that they have ceased to be men of integrity, but it does mean that the films they produce are tools for teaching their beliefs…Such writers and directors are controlling.


 I put this in a previous blog post about BLOW-UP. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Francis Schaeffer Trilogy Blog Pt. 3

     In the last blog I wrote about how the breakdown in the concept of truth moved from the philosophies into the world of art. Van Gogh is just one example of an artist who hoped to find ultimate meaning through human artistic expression, but fell short. In the end, the Dada-ists chose randomness and created art which had at its heart the goal of propagating their chaotic and destructive worldview.

 Schaeffer next turns to music and general culture. The decay of a cohesive approach to truth through absolutes and healthy logic (antithesis) is becoming pervasive. The musique concretemovement presented its chaotic, deconstructive compositions as if to say, “All is relative, nothing is sure, nothing is fixed”.  With such a strong relativist sensibility being thrust forward “the possibility of finding any universal which could make sense of the particulars is denied”.

 Modern Cinema soon became a powerful avenue for widespread communication of modernity’s approach to truth. “The so-called ‘good’ pictures have almost all been developed by men holding the modern philosophy of no certain truth and no certain distinctions between right and wrong,” observes Schaeffer, and, “…the films they produce are tools for teaching their beliefs”. In the 1960’s Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow-Up carried this tag-line: “Murder without guilt, love without meaning”.

     Schaeffer’s last example of the relativistic approach’s popular infiltration is The Beatles’Seargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Rather than disconnected individual songs, this album, which expertly weaved together a conceptual whole, effectively communicated “psychedelic music, with open statements concerning drug-taking, [and] was knowingly presented as a religious answer”.



My bizarre life with the Beatles, by sculptor who immortalised good, great and even gorillas

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Thousands of frenzied girls were swarming on the pavements around the George V hotel in Paris – I needed a police car and outriders just to get through the throng.

The screaming teenagers were there that day in January 1964 to catch a glimpse of The Beatles; I was there to sculpt them.

Halfway up the hotel staircase, a beautiful young American woman slipped out of her room and stopped me. She knew I was going to see the band. ‘Listen,’ she said.

‘I’m a photographer. Just give me five minutes with The Beatles and you can do anything you want for the rest of the day in my bed.’

David Wynne with Beatles sculptures

Set in time: The Beatles cast out of bronze beside sculptor David Wynne in 1964

I said: ‘I’m sorry, I haven’t even met them yet – and I’m married.’

The Beatles were the latest commission in a career that began when I set up a studio in Campden Hill, London, in the early Fifties.

I was self-taught, inspired by the natural world I had grown up with at my father’s livery stables in the New Forest. While reading zoology at Cambridge, I boldly invited myself to the London house of the renowned sculptor Jacob Epstein.

He thought I looked more like a playboy than a sculptor, but was kind enough to advise my father to spend the little money he had on getting me a studio.

Epstein came to see my work many times, teaching me more than any other artist.

Throughout my career I have relied mainly on patronage rather than public commissions. Alistair McAlpine, the multi-millionaire art collector, was a constant supporter.

Once, when I was penniless, he came to my studio, looked at my sculptures and said: ‘I would to like buy these.’ I asked which. ‘All of them,’ he replied.

Crazy gang: The Beatles larking around in 1964, the year they met Mr Wynne and were at the height of their fame

Crazy gang: The Beatles larking around in 1964, the year they met Mr Wynne and were at the height of their fame

Later, he underwrote my first book of sculpture and set out to put me on the map as an artist. William, Earl Cadogan and his wife Primrose were also great patrons.

By the Sixties, I was established. Among my commissions were a bronze of Sir Thomas Beecham, London Zoo’s most famous resident, Guy the Gorilla, and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

In 1964, I was planning a show at a gallery in London. We already had heads of John Gielgud and Yehudi Menuhin, but the gallery’s director asked if there were other famous people I’d like to sculpt for the event. I suggested The Beatles, so he took me to lunch with their manager Brian Epstein.

Asked why I wanted to do heads of The Beatles, I said: ‘I think they are fantastic and, more to the point, my children love them.’ Epstein asked whether I wanted money for the work. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I hate money.’

Lifelong friendship: Mr Wynne in 1970 with his sculpture of Prince Charles, who he has remained close with

Lifelong friendship: Mr Wynne in 1970 with his sculpture of Prince Charles, who he has remained close with

Epstein said a sitting could only be fitted into their schedule if I flew to Paris, where they were recording part of their next album.

When I got to The Beatles’ suite in the George V, they were sitting about in dressing gowns. They’d just got out of bed, despite it being teatime.


 As I entered the Yellow Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace, I heard a familiar voice.

The Queen was asking: ‘Whose van is that parked in my space?’ I owned up and offered to move it, but she would have none of it. Anyway, my Volkswagen reminded her of one she’d once driven in Africa.

I was seeing the Queen to design a relief for a Silver Jubilee medal, my second Royal commission. The first was a head of the 20-year-old Prince Charles for his investiture in 1969.

The Queen

Back then, Charles was shy, but witty. He said he had seen my Guy the Gorilla sculpture at Crystal Palace Park and hoped he would prove a sitter of equal merit. It was the start of a lifetime’s friendship with the Prince.

As I worked, Andrew and Edward played with the clay, pounding it into the carpet at Buckingham Palace. No one seemed to mind.

Charles asked me: ‘Mr Wynne, what are your politics?’

I replied: ‘I am a monarchist.’

‘Really, is that a party?’

‘No, but it’s what my feelings are.’

Perhaps that sentiment stood me in good stead in 1973 when I was called to meet the Royal Mint committee that commissions new coins and medals at St James’s Palace.

I was waiting in the hall, when a door opened and the Duke of Edinburgh emerged.

‘Good morning, Wynne, very kind of you to have come. What we want is a medal for Her Majesty for her Silver Jubilee. How long will it take you to do a relief portrait?’

Seated around a table were a number of mostly Labour politicians.

They were hostile to the Monarchy and certainly didn’t want to see a medal issued. I sensed that they hoped I was going to make a long business of it. I was delighted to disappoint them.


‘I could have it done by the day after tomorrow, just as long as I could have the sittings,’ I said.

I always treat everyone equally and am no more intimidated by the powerful or famous than I am by the wild animals I work with.

Nonetheless, when it was time for my first sitting with the Queen, I stood in my trainers holding a bag of clay and tools at the entrance to the drawing room and thought to myself: ‘What on earth am I doing here?’ Then the Queen came in and instantly put my mind at ease.

‘Have you been sculpted before, Ma’am?’

‘Yes, I have,’ she said. ‘But I hope you don’t smoke.’

‘Well, I certainly don’t smoke in a ladies’ drawing room and, more particularly, not in yours, Ma’am.’

‘Ah, I’m glad to hear it.’

It turned out that the Italian portraitist Pietro Annigoni smoked French cigarettes and puffed them all over her while painting her portrait in 1956.

‘Why didn’t you ask him to stop?’ I asked.

‘I thought it would spoil his concentration.’

During this time, the jeweller Andrew Grima also suggested I sculpt a portrait head of the Queen, which, to satisfy protocol, would be presented to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London.

Towards the end of the session, as I modelled the head in clay, I broached the idea of the Queen wearing a crown for the two pieces, but feared time would not allow it. She countered by pointing out that the Silver Jubilee was still more than three years away.

William Heseltine, the Queen’s Assistant Private Secretary, said he would arrange for me to visit the Tower of London, and two days later I presented myself at a side door of the Norman keep.

When I saw the wonderful St Edward’s Crown, which the Queen had worn at her Coronation in 1953, I made my mind up. I told the Constable of the Tower: ‘That’s the one. I’d like that up at the Palace.’

The Constable was blunt: ‘Over my dead body.’

The following morning I said to the Queen: ‘By the way, Ma’am, the Constable of the Tower doesn’t want to let us have the crown.’

‘Indeed, Mr Wynne,’ she said. ‘We shall see about that.’

On the day of the final sitting, I arrived to find my way into the room barred by two guardsmen. I was told to wait until the Queen arrived. Why? That was classified.

I did not have to wait long. The Queen arrived, wearing a stunning necklace of huge diamonds and matching teardrop earrings. The guardsmen saluted as the Queen entered the room, motioning me to follow. There in the middle of the table was the St Edward’s Crown.

The Queen said: ‘You see, Mr Wynne, there are times when one must exercise one’s authority to make sure it is intact.’

I spent an hour photographing the crown on its own and being modelled by the only person legally allowed to wear it. I then spent two weeks adding the crown, necklace and earrings to the original head. It was later cast in bronze and is still occupies pride of place on the main staircase at Goldsmiths’ Hall.

While work on the portrait progressed, I had been neglecting the Jubilee medal. I requested one final sitting.

The Queen appeared distracted.

Her eyes kept straying to a television set.

When I asked if there was something she wished to watch, she told me she had a horse running in a Derby Trial at Newmarket, but she worried it would cut into our sitting.

I replied: ‘A race only takes three minutes, Ma’am.’

At one point an equerry called in to see the Queen and me on the edge of our seats.

When the Queen’s horse won, the equerry exclaimed: ‘Congratulations, Ma’am.’

I simultaneously commiserated: ‘Oh, that was bad luck, Ma’am.’

I knew about horses – and this one had failed to win convincingly.

Judging by that performance, he would never have made the extra two furlongs in the Derby itself.

As she turned off the television, the Queen said: ‘Anyway, that’s enough of that. We have work to do.’

Ringo Starr piped up: ‘Who are you?’ Brian hadn’t told them he’d agreed to let me sculpt them, so I had to explain.

‘Oh, is that why there’s that clay in my bath?’ said John. ‘It smells horrible.’ I had told the concierge to put two hundredweight of modelling clay there.

Someone asked: ‘Do you speak any French? Could you order us some breakfast? We’ve only ever had fish and chips and hamburgers.’ They wanted steaks. I summoned a decent breakfast and our friendship had begun.

I had brought four metal stands on which the modelling clay is placed and worked by hand until the piece was complete. It has to harden before it can be transported and later cast in bronze. Each full-size head took about a day to create.

The boys crowded in to see Ringo’s head emerging. At first it had no nose, somewhat in contrast with the real thing, which the rest of the band thought hilarious.

John was highly intelligent. We talked about art and he questioned everything, saying: ‘The Beatles are rubbish. Picasso’s rubbish.’ I protested: ‘He’s not. One day, you’ll find out.’

At this time, The Beatles were still amused by the adulation they generated. We spent one afternoon sending out signed photos.

I soon got the hang of imitating their signatures. I am sorry to confess that around Britain there are Beatles fans treasuring what they

think is a photo signed by the four, when in fact it’s my handiwork.

One day, Paul said: ‘We’re going to do a recording tomorrow. Do you want to come? You’ll have to be here early.’

I asked what ungodly hour I was to arrive. ‘About two in the afternoon,’ he replied.

That was how I saw pop history in the making. In the car on the way to the studio John and Paul borrowed my small sketch pad and proceeded to scribble down the words of a new

song, Can’t Buy Me Love. They had little idea about the song’s tune – they’d only thought of the title that morning. At the studio, Ringo said: ‘Dave, you better sit here with me by the drums. You’ll be out of the way and you’ll be able to hear it all.’

The noise was unbelievable as he worked out the drum part. and Paul and John started to sing. George Harrison did nothing.

As I made full-length miniature figures of the four, the band started experimenting with chords. George Martin, their producer, suggested ideas.

At one point, he said: ‘Stop, look, there must a solo by George on the third chorus.’ You can hear it on the record exactly like that.

Halfway through the session, Ringo said to me: ‘You know, it’s tiring making these gold discs.’

‘How do you know it’s going to be a gold disc?’

‘Wait and see.’ That evening, a telegram arrived saying orders for what would be their sixth single had gone gold, simply-on advance sales. It would be two months before it was released.

Paul suggested I take them out to dinner, to eat ‘proper food’. I rang the maitre’d at a grand restaurant and asked for a quiet table for eight. He said this was difficult, until I mentioned who the guests were. ‘Ah,’ he exclaimed, ‘Les Beatles!’

Somehow news got out and the familiar massed fans were waiting for us at the restaurant’s entrance. Inside, seated around the room, were dozens of ambassadors and politi cians, with their expectant daughters.

The restaurant had sold the other tables at the equivalent of several hundred pounds a time, just so they could see The Beatles.

The japes continued. While in Paris, the band’s record company asked them to record I Want To Hold Your Hand in German and meet some German executives, something Epstein sensed could be trouble. He took me to one side.

‘David, for God’s sake, please get them to behave.’ I agreed and The Beatles assured me all would be well. And so it was until they walked down a corridor behind the Germans – and all four of them did the goose-step and chanted Sieg Heil. The Germans were not amused.

Returning to my studio, I completed a composite bronze of the Beatles’ heads, welded together so they appear to be floating, and 6in individual figures of them in the studio.

The pieces delighted the band. The work was finished, but our friendship continued. I would often visit their apartment in Park Street, Mayfair.

On one occasion, Ringo was the only Beatle at home. ‘Dave, have a beer. Drink to my health,’ he said. I asked what the occasion was. ‘We’ve just heard we’re millionaires.’

A few years later I was passing Abbey Road studios and there was a crowd of girls outside. I said to my wife Gilli: ‘I bet it’s The Beatles. Let’s go in.’

John and George were there. George was working on Here Comes The Sun. John said: ‘Oh, hello, Dave. Eh, I’ve got a confession to make.

You were right about Picasso. He is a great man.’

Music was everywhere in the Sixties. Rushmere, our converted farmhouse on Wimbledon Common in South London, became a meeting place for musicians. Chris de Burgh was a regular and folk singer Donovan lived in a flat in the complex for a while.

Jimi Hendrix’s manager Chas Chandler asked if his new discovery could spend a few days with us. I can see Jimi now, lying back on a chair with a guitar strumming.

The Beatles’ own visits to Rushmere demanded subterfuge. They’d drive in their limo to Hyde Park Corner, pursued by fans and photographers.

I stopped my van there and they swiftly transferred. The big car then roared off, drawing the girls and cameramen with it. We quietly went back to Wimbledon.

I saw George the most. He arrived one day at Rushmere in his new E-Type Jaguar, taking me for a burn round Wimbledon Common.

Early on I had said to the four: ‘You know nothing about anything. There are other spheres, other places, other ways of thinking.’

John, Paul and Ringo thought this was rubbish, but George didn’t. I later introduced him to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

The Maharishi cut a colourful figure in Sixties London.

His teachings helped shape the counter-culture, and The Beatles made a trip to his ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas in 1968.

Those heady days are long passed, but I am working on a Beatles project again – this time a life-sized version of the 6in figures I made in 1964.

The finished statue will displayed at Stowe School, Buckinghamshire, which I attended and where the band played in 1963.

As I work on the piece, it is George I remember most – a spiritual man and a wonderful musician. I kept in touch with him and it was devastating when he died in 2001.

It was George who gave me a one-and-half ton block of South African marble as birthday present. It lay unused in my studio for years before I used it to create one of my favourite pieces, Gaia, in Abbey Garden, Tresco, on the Isles of Scilly.

It was George who encouraged my son Ed in his guitar playing, which he does to this day in his band Ozric Tentacles. George told him in the late Sixties when Ed was about seven: ‘Your father’s a great man. He told me about the Maharishi and meditation. He did me a great favour.’

A favour that George and the band certainly returned.

Related posts:

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 55 THE BEATLES (Part G, The Beatles and Rebellion) (Feature on artist Wallace Berman )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 54 THE BEATLES (Part F, Sgt Pepper’s & Eastern Religion) (Feature on artist Richard Lindner )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 53 THE BEATLES (Part E, Stg. Pepper’s and John Lennon’s search in 1967 for truth was through drugs, money, laughter, etc & similar to King Solomon’s, LOTS OF PICTURES OF JOHN AND CYNTHIA) (Feature on artist Yoko Ono)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 52 THE BEATLES (Part D, There is evidence that the Beatles may have been exposed to Francis Schaeffer!!!) (Feature on artist Anna Margaret Rose Freeman )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 51 THE BEATLES (Part C, List of those on cover of Stg.Pepper’s ) (Feature on artist Raqib Shaw )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 50 THE BEATLES (Part B, The Psychedelic Music of the Beatles) (Feature on artist Peter Blake )

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 49 THE BEATLES (Part A, The Meaning of Stg. Pepper’s Cover) (Feature on artist Mika Tajima)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 48 “BLOW UP” by Michelangelo Antonioni makes Philosophic Statement (Feature on artist Nancy Holt)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 47 Woody Allen and Professor Levy and the death of “Optimistic Humanism” from the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS Plus Charles Darwin’s comments too!!! (Feature on artist Rodney Graham)

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE PART 46 Friedrich Nietzsche (Featured artist is Thomas Schütte)

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! Part 21 (Dr. Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and cosmologist at Arizona State, “…most scientists don’t think enough about God…There’s no evidence that we need any supernatural hand of God”)

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! PART 20 (Carolyn Porco, director of CICLOPS, Like Darwin she gave up her Christianity because of Evolution & is obsessed both with the Beatles & the thought that the human race may end!!)

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! PART 19 ( Sir John Walker, Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry, Like Darwin he gave up his Christianity with great difficulty )

RESPONDING TO HARRY KROTO’S BRILLIANT RENOWNED ACADEMICS!! PART 18 (Brian Harrison, Historian, Oxford University, Charles Darwin also wrestled with the issue of Biblical Archaeology and the accuracy of the Bible)

March 24, 2015 – 12:57 am


Refer back to Jorge Flick post


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