When you operate a fairly popular Beatles website http://www.BestBeatlesHistory.com that has a Share Your Beatles Story section you are likely to get all kinds of stories that range from the usual “The Beatles are the greatest thing since sliced bread” to the unusual stories about women having John’s baby, with a conspiracy theory thrown in for good measure.
Finding a story about moments in the Beatles career that I don’t know about is incredibly unusual. So when my Facebook friend, Richard Adler (who was an early member of the Ramones) sent me the story of Nat Weiss’ Closet Door (Nat was Brian Epstein’s partner) along with two pictures of the closet door signed by John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney I was really pleased with my good fortune (as Richard told me that these pictures had never been on any website).
While lengthy, this story is actually the combination of 3 different sources talking about the same time frame in Beatles history:
- Richard Adler’s story with actual pictures of the infamous “closet door”
- An excerpt from Danny Field’s book Linda McCartney – a portrait
- 60’s musician Hash Howard’s story
- Note: After I listed this story on my website, the one and only “Hash Howard”, read it and added a comment which I have included at the end of the story.
First, here is Richard’s story in his words and the two pictures of the door and Nat Weiss:
“It was the spring of 1968 when John Lennon and Paul McCartney came to New York City to promote Apple Corp. They stayed at the apartment of their American manager Nat Weiss, who was a business partner and good friend of Brian Epstein. Nat packed a suitcase and stayed at the St Regis hotel, giving John and Paul their privacy. When Nat returned to the apartment a week later, John and Paul were gone. Opening his closet door, he found a surprise. A huge autograph was written on the inside of his closet door which read,”
“Nathaniel certainly is. love Paul McCartney and John Lennon much love.”
“This is the largest known autograph of John Lennon.
George Harrison also stayed at Nat’s apartment when in New York City. Not to be out done, he autographed Nat’s closet door. George wrote,”
“To Nat, the king and queen of FUH. Love from George Harrison 30/11/68”.
“Does anyone get George’s reference to FUH? FUH is from a song by Brute Force an Apple recording artist. From Wikipedia; Brute Force may be best known for a song that barely saw a release: “The King of Fuh”, a delightfully rude song produced by The Tokens, about a “FUH King”, which was admired by George Harrison (who arranged the record) and John Lennon. Apple Records knew that partner EMI would never distribute it, so the company pressed and distributed 2,000 copies themselves in 1969 (catalogue number Apple 8). There was also a copy of the record on the US version of Apple, without a catalogue number (said to have been created as personal copy for an American Apple employee). The opening line of the song was “There once was a King of the land of FUH and everyone called him the FUH King”. Nat’s door was also autographed by Amhet Ertegun, who was the President of Atlantic Records.”
Ahmet wrote, “To My Dear NOT, He is not only Love, he is also your date. Amhet”. “ In addition, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Cat Stevens and I believe John McLaughlin also autographed the door. There are a few other autographs but I am not sure whose they are. I took this picture in 1969 and it is difficult to read.”
Here is the Top portion of the door:
“Nat’s closet door recently sold at auction for approximately $52,000. These pictures of Nat Weiss and his closet door have never been published.”
Since according to Richard this was the first publishing of these pictures, this became my website’s first little news story. Pretty cool!
I was writing a section for my website called Beatles Books and Authors and was working on the Linda McCartney section (I had previously written a biography for her and a page about her photography). I knew she had a number of books published containing her photographs, seven, and knew she had written a number of very successful cookbooks, again seven. What I did not know was that a man named Danny Fields had written a book about Linda. While reading this book I found a section that covered the same time frame as when the John and Paul stayed in Nat Weiss’ apartment.
Here is an excerpt from Danny Field’s book regarding this time in Beatles History.
“The advent of The Beatles utopian concept called Apple Corp. gave Linda Eastman the chance she wanted and needed to get Paul’s attention.
Paul McCartney and John Lennon were so enthusiastic about Apple, and it’s potential to advance art, science, music and retail fashion merchandising. They planned to announce its inception as guests of Johnny Carson on his indisputably number one late-night talk show, The Tonight Show. Their appearance was booked for 5/15/68, and they flew to New York on the 12th. They tried to sneak in the U.S. as quietly as possible, but some DJ got hold of their schedule and there was the usual airport nightmare. No hotel wanted to put up with the security and crowd-control problems that the presence of the two big Beatles would involve, and Paul and John were not wild about the idea of being imprisoned in one. The solution was to stash them away in NAT WEISS’ luxurious two-bedroom apartment on E. 73rd Street (where they signed the door to his study) and hope that their presence could be kept a secret. Weiss replaced the elderly housekeeper because he felt it would be all too much for her, and John Lennon had expressed the wish that whoever was cleaning the place be young and attractive. She was; John was happy and took her frequently to bed. As it happened the boys were also tidy. “Lennon really surprised me- he was very neat, he would fold all his towels. I’ve never forgotten that.” Nat told me. “Paul too, but that was the sort of thing you would expect of him.”
One person who knew the Big Secret of the Beatles New York hideaway was Nat’s friend Linda Eastman… Nat told Linda that Paul was coming to town and, lo and behold, was going to stay at his own apartment. Not surprisingly, she begged Nat to be allowed to visit and he ran the request past Paul, who approved. And so, during the week Paul and John were in New York, the only two women ever in Nat’s apartment were the saucy maid and Linda. The routine was that Linda arrived early in the afternoon and stayed until evening, chatting away with Paul. When she left to go home and be a good mom, Weiss would take Paul and John out to dinner, or to a club (where they met a musician named Hash Howard…that part of the story is still to come) to hear music.
The attempt to keep quiet the fact that the Beatles were in town failed within two days of their arrival at Nat’s apartment. Thousands of screaming and fainting girls lined the area around the building where Weiss lived creating a major nuisance in what ordinarily a quiet neighborhood.
“The doormen were getting blow-jobs from teenage girls who wanted to get upstairs,” Weiss recalls, Most unhappy were the residents of Weiss’ building, and the building manager, who wrote him a letter that he framed and hung on the wall in his study.”
Dear Mr. Weiss,
Two clients of yours, the Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney, stayed at your apartment. They are not the run-of-the-mill guests. Crowds of unruly girls have disrupted life in the neighborhood, and certainly this building. If any such future visits are contemplated by the Beatles or any other clients of yours, we need one week advance notice so that we can review the situation.
Yours Truly, etc, etc
“Paul and John had come to New York mainly to tout the advent of Apple on the Johnny Carson Show, and although the magnificently witty Derek Taylor, Apple’s Press Officer, had come with them to oversee a bunch of telephone interviews on the subject, the Carson appearance was far and away the most important event on their official agenda. Ironically, the night they were scheduled to appear, the king of late-night, Johnny Carson, was not hosting his own show and the Beatles were doomed to face one of the great mediocrities in the history of broadcasting, someone named Joe Garagiola. Making things even worse, was the presence of Tallulah Bankhead, the heavy-drinking, flamboyant baritone American actress, who kept telling John and Paul how beautiful they were.”
By the way, during their stay at Nat Weiss’ apartment John had sent Cynthia Lennon a telegram telling her he wanted a divorce. He had met someone named Yoko Ono…but that’s a tale for another day.
Now while researching this story on the internet I came across the website of a NYC studio musician named Hash Howard…well it was the 60’s. Hash ran into John and Paul on one of their nights out in NYC.
So here from Hash Howard’s website is his story of that meeting:
“It was late – after 1 AM – and I was in the disco, Salvation, which was located at Number 1 Sheridan Square, in the West Village of New York City.
I was in my usual location, the back room, where there was a panoramic view of everything in the club, with tables and booths; it was generally more comfortable than being down in the dance area, which was always packed wall to wall with people. And, as usual, I’d had a few tokes and was feeling pretty good, just watching the crowd. Then someone came walking through the back room, saying, “John Lennon and Paul McCartney are coming to the Club!” When I asked, they said they heard they were coming with Brian Epstein’s NY partner, Nat Weiss, along with a couple of musicians from a lesser-known Epstein group, the Cyrcle (their only hit, Red Rubber Ball).
I then left, hurrying to my apartment – only a few blocks away – to get a little stash in an old, aluminum film container; I hurried right back.
About ten minutes later I was again in the back room, and there was a stir coming from the main room. Walking into the back room were Nat Weiss, John and Paul, a couple of the guys from the Circle, and two of the Beatles’ roadies – one named Neil Aspinall – who were more than just roadies, they were confidants, friends, what have you. (As I’m sure you know, Neil was the Beatles long time assistant and ran Apple Corp for many years.)
Since I had met Brian and Nat a while before this date, and was known by Nat to be okay, I was introduced to The Lads and the others, and we all sat down to have drinks and rap for a while.
I handed the film container to John, who was already pretty stoned. He said to Neil Aspinall, “Neil, do you feel like holding?” and giggled in the way that only John Lennon could giggle. Then John turned to me and repeated my name: “Hash Howard!” And, curled up in the corner of the booth, he giggled again. He was pretty wasted.
Along with the pot I brought, I also brought a little notebook I used to write lyrics. Paul McCartney and I started working our way through the words I’d written.
We got to a set of lyrics I’d written to one of the Beatles’ only instrumentals, called Flying. Paul and I went over them and he said that he liked what I’d written. The last word of those lyrics was “be” and Paul remarked that those were Brian Epstein’s initials. He then drew a dotted line circle around the word “Be,” in my notebook. We seemed to get along very well. Then Paul brought out this tiny little vial. During our conversation, Paul kept repeating the same thing, “Remember we’re just like you!” I’ll never forget that; the Beatles lives were no longer their own, as they were followed by groupies, teenyboppers, and photographers everywhere they went but Paul kept saying “We’re just like you.”
A couple of hours later, it was now around 3 or 4 AM, and we all left. Paul and John asked me to come visit them at Nat Weiss’ apartment, gave me the address on Third Avenue, and we parted company.
The next day, I showed up at Nat Weiss’ apartment building. Somehow, word had leaked out that the Lads were staying there, and there was a crowd of about twenty teenyboppers waiting for a glimpse of John or Paul. I walked up to the doorman, and said “I’m Hash Howard, and Paul McCartney has invited me up.”
The doorman called up to Nat’s apartment, and I could tell that he was getting the okay to send me up.
Suddenly, there was a loud argument coming from the front door area. There was Linda Eastman (soon to be McCartney), a very pretty blonde woman, with cameras around her neck arguing that she had an appointment with Paul McCartney.
To make a long story short, I got to see the Lads long enough for them to shake my hand, and for Paul to tell me to record my drumming and have Nat Weiss send it to them in England. We shook hands all around, and Paul apologized for the confusion, and said we’d get together sometime in the future.
And with them went my hopes of ever spending any more time with two of the most popular, most loved people of their era, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.”
After posting this to my website the one and only “Hash Howard” found the story and commented on it. Here is that comment:
“It is a very long story, how I became friends with Nat Weiss and the people in Nemperor Artists Limited, in New York City. So I will skip the story and get to the point.
The point I want to make is that even though I never “made it” as a famous rock musician, and was actually doing okay as an actor on soaps and commercials, Nat Weiss and the people in his Broadway office treated me as if I were already a star, already a famous musician or actor.
Whenever I visited them, I was made to feel welcome. I admit, I tried to be in their neighborhood as often as once a week, at times. One of the young women who worked there, with whom I shared a last name, but was not related, gave me a box to look into. There were at least 50 or more rings, and she told me these were, indeed, Ringo’s rings. People had sent them to Ringo and he got to see them, and then took whichever ones he felt were worth taking, with him.
While I know that Nat did not officially approve them giving me stuff like that and the rings were only one example of the goodies they gave me and he never once stopped them. I think he kind of felt that there really was a chance that Hash Howard was going to make it. Once when my band, Observation Balloon, with Bob Kulick, was playing at a local disco, Nat even arranged to get some producers and other music business people to show up with him, to see us play. Of course, for the first time in my rock career, my bass drum pedal broke in the middle of the gig and I had to actually kick the bass drum, to get the effect. From then on, I carried two of everything that could break and ruin a gig.
So, of those rings left over, I was offered my pick; they told me to take four. I chose four rings. Two were cheap plastic, but somewhat funny looking. I actually lost the third one. However, the fourth one, which I still have, is sterling silver. It has broken twice and I have repaired it once. However, I never got it fixed the last time, figuring that it was my Karma, to get Ringo’s rings that way, and have the best one of them split at a seam.
So I keep it in a bank’s safe deposit box, just in case. It can’t be worth much, as a ring, but the memories of how nicely Nat and the girls treated me is related to this ring, and I don’t want to let it get away.”
This story has legs…here is another piece of the story…Earlier in this story Richard Adler described George’s writing on Nat Weiss’ door and the story of the King of Fuh. This actual record just sold on Ebay for over $8000. “One of the rarest Apple label 45s has just sold for an all time record price on eBay. A “thick” vinyl version of Apple 8 “King of Fuh”/”Nobody Knows” by Brute Force recently sold for £4,888 ($8,063) to an unnamed bidder.”
BeatlesandBeyond Radio host Pete Dicks reports that the record is believed to have been given by John Lennon to his friend Pete Shotton, and has been played on very few occasions.
Pete Dicks says that in his interview with Brute, he asked how many records were made and was told “about 2,000”, but these were “thin” vinyl copies, and the one sold was the ever rarer version, sent to Radio Stations for promotional purposes.
EMI originally refused to distribute the record, and Tony Bramwell reports that female staff at EMI’s pressing plant refused to press them. Ken Mansfield writes that John Lennon was furious at him for stopping release in the USA. The record was only available via mail order from Apple in 1969, but few were actually sold and Brute took the rest back to the USA where he “gave them away like potatoes“.
Well, that’s as far as my research into this story has taken me but I think this is a nice little glimpse into a relatively unknown time frame in the Beatles History.
Researched, Organized and Written by
Woody Lifton creator of www.BestBeatleshistory.com
Special thanks to Richard Adler, Danny Fields and Hash Howard
Pictures: Courtesy of Richard Adler