He Blew His Mind Out In A Car

Over a long lunch, Mike [McCartney] spent hours telling me tales about Tara and Swinging London and a picture emerged of a far more substantial figure than the playboy prince I’d described. Browne, he explained, was an icon of the times because of what he symbolised. He was at the centre of the London scene when, for one brief moment, social barriers ceased to matter. The Right Hons and the right-on were rubbing shoulders in the clubs of London’s West End in a new spirit of classlessness. Often it was Browne, with his louche smile, mop-top hair and Carnaby Street clobber, making the important introductions. […]   At the time of his death, Browne was involved in a highly fractious divorce case with Nicki, his wife of three years, and a custody battle for their two children, which was eventually won by Browne’s mother, the redoubtable Oonagh Guinness.  [..]Just weeks later, while lawyers began the job of extricating Browne from the marriage, he crashed his friend’s Lotus Elan while out on a date with a model named Suki Poitier

A few weeks later, in January 1967, John Lennon was sitting at his upright piano, trying to write a song for the album that would become Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. Feeling creatively bereft, he did what he often did and sought inspiration in the morning’s newspaper headlines. He propped a copy of the Daily Mail on the music stand. On page three was a report on the child custody battle between Browne’s mini-skirted widow and his fur-coated mother. He fingered the keys and out came the opening lines – “I read the news today, oh boy . . . ” – of what would become a kind of epitaph to Browne.

Paul Howard, The Irish Times, 2016

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