Who was Bungalow Bill from the Beatles White Album and what happened to him? He tells us!

Do you remember The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill that John Lennon wrote and sang on the Beatles White Album? It was based on a real person who was on the same Transcendental Meditation Course the Beatles had attended in Rishikesh, India with Maharishi.

Richard Cooke III was there with his mother, Nancy Cooke de Herrera, who was a publicist for Maharishi at the time. Maharishi had assigned Nancy to look after the Beatles during the course.

I don’t know if Richard stayed for the whole TM training course, but he took time off to go on an elephant-riding tiger-hunting trip while he was in India. He killed a tiger and was proud of his accomplishment, as was his mother, who related the story to Maharishi. John happened to be in that meeting. Richard and his mother are referenced in the song’s lyrics.

A friend sent me this new article, which brings us up to date. Here is the continuing story of Richard “Rikki” Cooke III in his own words: My Last Hunt, published in Chasing the Light.

It’s interesting how Maharishi’s response and John’s song profoundly altered the trajectory of Richard’s life. He decided to trade in his gun for a camera and did a different kind of shooting from then on. Learn more about Richard A. Cooke III at rikkicooke.com and National Geographic.

This photo shows Nancy with the Beatles and other celebrities attending the course at the ashram in Rishikesh. She’s the tall blond woman behind John Lennon and next to Paul McCartney. Others in this photo are: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, George Harrison, Mia Farrow, John Farrow, (Mia and Prudence Farrow‘s brother) and Donovan Leitch. A larger photo shows Pattie Boyd in front of Nancy, and Jane Asher and Cynthia Lennon next to Donovan.

Meeting the Beatles in India film by Paul Saltzman

Update: Sept 9, 2020: Speaking of that time, a new film, Meeting The Beatles In India, about Paul Saltzman’s brief stay there, premieres tonight, 7pm, online at Gathr.com. Here’s an announcement about the film from the national TM Office of Communications with a message from the director. Here are a few film reviews: Cryptic Rock, NYS Music, and Variety. Paul’s website: https://thebeatlesinindia.com, and trailer.

I saw the film tonight. It was well done, personable, and revealing, as was the post‑screening discussion and Q&A with Emmy Award-winning director Paul Saltzman, and surprise guest Rikki Cooke III, aka “Bungalow Bill.” In the Q&A that followed, Rikki explained why he thought the remaining Beatles left the ashram abruptly. It made a lot more sense than the usual rumor mentioned in the article. I posted a comment after the Variety article of what he said about it, and included related material.

There are several interviews posted on YouTube. Beatle Brunch host Joe Johnson spoke with Paul Saltzman on a zoom call about the film. This is another good interview published in the Cleveland.com. And this one from the BBC: When a ‘heartbroken’ backpacker met The Beatles in India.

International music journalist Jeff Slate wrote an article for The Daily Beast about the film: My Transformative Time With the Beatles in India. He contributed the usual rock history and interviewed Paul Saltzman, Jenny Boyd, Pattie’s sister, and Deepak Chopra, a close friend of George Harrison. In the Q&A that followed the premiere, Jeff heard Rikki Cooke’s explanation of why he thought the Beatles had left the ashram. Jeff appreciated this different perspective saying it was “one for the record.”

The documentary film, plus exclusive filmed Q&As moderated by Jeff Slate with Paul Saltzman, Jenny Boyd Levitt, Rikki Cooke, and Stephen Maycock from events in India, Germany and London are available on Gathr starting Friday, Sept 11, 2020. Total run time is 2hrs 22mins: movie, 1hr 42mins; Q&A Highlights, 40mins.

I later found this excellent movie review by Beatles fan and Michigan State Theatre Programming and Media Coordinator Nick Alderink: This Week: Turn Off Your Mind, Relax and Meet the Beatles in India.

CTV News anchor Angie Seth interviewed Paul Saltzman at his home in Oakville, Ontario about his film and what it was like Meeting the Beatles in India. You can see it here.

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7 Responses to “Who was Bungalow Bill from the Beatles White Album and what happened to him? He tells us!”

  1. lisalindberg Says:

    In the caption of the b/w photo, the person between Mia Farrow and Donovan is mis-identified. It is actually John Farrow — Prudence and Mia’s brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lisalindberg Says:

    In addition to doing photography, Rick Cooke also liked/likes architecture. A good friend of mine knew Rick in Oregon and said he had designed and built a really beautiful house there.

    Like

    • Ken Chawkin Says:

      Interesting. That must have been a long time ago since the article says he’s been living on Moloka’i with his wife. Wonder if he had integrated any Vastu features in that home based on Maharishi Sthapatya Veda architectural principles?

      Like

      • lisalindberg Says:

        It was in the late 1970’s when my friend in UW’s architecture school told me about Rick’s house. I do not know if at that time Rick was acquainted with the Sthapatya system if design. Nor do I know if Rick has since then become acquainted with it, nor what might be his view on it.

        I do know that a building or two in this world have been designed without the aid of Sthapatya, and have turned out to be quite wonderful.

        For Rick’s house in Oregon, he used the Pattern Language approach to design, developed by a team of people in Berkeley, California. He even created a brand-new design pattern to add to their rich set of ideas: “Pools of Heat.”

        I, also, have used Pattern Language ideas when making design recommendations, and also when doing design and construction myself. I have found it to be very helpful — and is my favorite of all approaches I have seen.

        Like

  3. lisalindberg Says:

    In my view, Sthapatya registers a little bit.

    Like

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