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Stash — as he was known — had just been charged with possession of cocaine and cannabis, along with his friend, the Rolling Stone Brian Jones.
In St John’s Wood, the three young men entertained what Stash describes as harems of girls, while Beatles fans camped outside, periodically bursting in through the
gates ‘sort of like cattle breaking through a fence’.
Then, one night in May 1967, Paul, Dudley and Stash drove over to the Bag o’Nails, one of London’s trendy clubs. It was packed with people, many of whom Paul knew, including Peter Brown who worked for The Beatles.
It was Peter who introduced Paul to an American photographer called Linda Eastman, who was in town shooting pictures of musicians.
When Dudley came back from the bar, he found Paul and Linda engrossed in conversation. Dudley paired up with the singer Lulu, and Paul asked everybody back to his place.
Half an hour later, Linda found herself inside the home of one of the world’s most eligible bachelors. Memories are hazy about whether she slept with him that night.
Stash and Dudley say it didn’t seem important at the time. ‘You just think, it’s yet another girl, and yet another night,’ says Dudley.
In fact, Paul was powerfully attracted to Lin, as he called her. He liked blondes. He liked the fact that, as a single mother, she was clearly maternal. And he was pleased that — like Jane — she was from a wealthy background.
The daughter of a New York lawyer, Linda was considered the black sheep of her family, partly because she hadn’t done well at school.
She’d started chasing pop stars while still in her teens; then after becoming pregnant, she’d married an anthropologist called Melville See Jr in 1962.
The marriage was not a success: Mel was an academic and Linda hardly ever opened a book. They broke up two years later. So Linda took their daughter, Heather, back
to New York, divorcing Mel the following year.
And now she was in London, hoping to take pictures of The Beatles for a book called Rock And Other Four Letter Words
A few days after meeting Paul, Linda showed up at the Belgravia home of Beatles manager Brian Epstein for the press launch of their new album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely
Hearts Club Band.
It was noted that she made a beeline for Paul, crouching at his feet by the fireplace and looking up into his face.
That weekend, she tried calling him at home and got Stash on the line instead. He told her Paul was in Liverpool. Unfazed, Linda said she wanted to come over anyway.
So she did — and promptly fell into bed with Stash. It was a bizarre weekend. While
Stash and Linda were rolling around together, Paul phoned to tell his lodger to move out. So Stash took Linda to stay with the musician Graham Nash.
And soon their affair was common knowledge in London’s rock community. ‘I was teased extensively by Roger Daltrey and [Jimi] Hendrix and so on, because, you
know, Linda had gone around,’ says Stash, ungallantly.
‘But . . . you’ve got to put these things in context: everybody had very open relationships, and it wasn’t cool to be jealous.’
Yet when Linda flew back to New York shortly afterwards, her conversation was not about Stash, but Paul McCartney. Once again, she informed Nat Weiss, who was on
the same flight, that she was going to marry the Beatle.
Soon after Linda’s departure, Jane returned from her U.S. tour. She threw an all-weekend party with Paul to celebrate the release of Sgt. Pepper, then hopped on a
plane with him for a break in *Scotland, where he’d bought a farm as a holiday home. The romance was very much back on.
As for Jane, she clearly decided to give her lover another chance, trying her best to fit in with Paul’s hippie friends and put up with the drug-taking.
That Christmas, he gave her a diamond ring and asked her to marry him. Her lover, it seemed, was now definitely off the market.
Not, however, as far as Linda was concerned. Five months later, in May 1968, she turned up at a press conference being given by Paul and John at a New York hotel.
‘I managed to slip him my phone number,’ she recalled later. ‘He rang me up and told me they were leaving that evening, but he’d like it if I was able to travel out to the airport with him and John. So I went out in their limousine, sandwiched between Paul and John.’
Nat Weiss, who was also in the car, realised this was part of Linda’s
relentless campaign to land her Beatle. ‘But I don’t think he’d made his mind up about Linda at that point,’ he says.
In fact, when he returned to the UK, Paul still seemed committed to Jane. ‘They could not have been more lovey-dovey,’ The Beatles PR, Tony Barrow, remembers.
Yet as soon as Jane went back to the Old Vic, Paul took another woman to bed. Francie Schwartz was a plain, 24-year-old New Yorker with prematurely grey hair who’d bought a ticket to London in the hope of interesting The Beatles’ company, Apple, in a film script.
But Paul clearly found her pretty enough: he flirted with her outrageously
when they met at Apple, and jumped into bed with her after calling round at her Chelsea flat.
Before long, they had silly nicknames for each other — she called him Mr Plump and he called her Clancy — and he even allowed her to move into the St John’s Wood house while Jane was away. ‘I stayed in the house for weeks, cleaning, reading, calling the dope dealer,’ says Francie.
But Paul was soon off on another trip, this time to LA. Stopping off in New York, en route to the West Coast, he left a message with Linda’s answering service, saying he could be reached at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
He went clubbing in LA that night and came home to find girls outside his hotel bungalow queuing round the block. The next day, Paul came back between business engagements to change his clothes.
‘And there was Linda!’ recalls Tony Bramwell, who worked for The Beatles at the time. ‘Sitting on the doorstep.’
Having received Paul’s message, she’d taken the first available flight from New York to LA. ‘So immediately, Paul got me to clear away all the birds, and just locked himself in the room with her,’ says Bramwell.
Paul and Linda spent the day together on a motor boat, drinking champagne, eating bacon sandwiches, getting stoned and canoodling.
Like the Beatle, she was a pothead — she’d even brought a bag of grass with her. When they checked out the next day, says Bramwell, they were ‘like Siamese twins, holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes all the way to the airport’.
Back in London, Paul simply picked up where he’d left off with Francie Schwartz. There was a wild element to their love-making, she claims. Sometimes, he’d grab her and pull her into the bath with him; they even made love in the open on Primrose Hill.
Once, Paul took her to a new club, then stopped on the way home to make love to another girlfriend. Francie had the humiliation of waiting for Mr Plump downstairs.
They were in bed together one morning when there was a knock at the bedroom door.
‘Who is it?’ he asked.
‘Jane,’ replied his fiancée, who’d just returned to London to appear in a play.
Paul leapt out of bed, threw on some clothes and led Jane out into the garden. When he spotted Francie at an open window, he yelled at her to get back inside.
But Jane had had enough. Within hours, her mother arrived to box up her belongings.
For his part, Paul seemed surprised when Jane announced during a TV chat show that their relationship was ‘finished’. But he gave Francie her marching orders, anyway.
At last, the way was clear for Linda — but not until she’d slept with yet another rock star.
Extracted from FAB: AN INTIMATE LIFE OF PAUL McCARTNEY by Howard Sounes, published by HarperCollins on August 25 at £20. © Howard Sounes 2010. To order a copy at £18 (p&p free), call 0845 155 0720.