Posts Tagged ‘national geographic photographer’

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

June 29, 2020

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 (below) on the Variety article of what he said including 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 exclusively 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 20mins: movie, 1hr 20mins; Q&A Highlights, 1 hour.

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.

Dec 21, 2020, Bob Roth announced on Instagram that a free rental of the film will be available between December 24th 2020 and January 1st 2021 thanks to @LynchFoundation and @TM_Program.

My comment to the Variety article:

Ken Chawkin                                                              September 9, 2020 at 10:39 pm

I saw the film tonight and enjoyed it. I stayed online for the Q&A that followed with director Paul Saltzman and surprise guest Richard “Rikki” Cooke III, aka, Bungalow Bill. One of the questions asked was why the Beatles had left the ashram, and did it have something to do with Maharishi supposedly making a pass at one of the female course participants. That story was a fabrication created by a jealous Magic Alex to draw John Lennon out of there. But Cooke had another explanation, and it had nothing to do with Alex, although he said he stirred up a lot of trouble while he was there. I had also read about this explanation in a book years ago. The Beatles had told Maharishi of their desire to make a documentary film about him and his message of TM to help create world peace. Maharishi was amenable and they were excited to do it. Unfortunately, Charlie Lutes, the leader of the TM movement at that time, had already signed a deal with Four Star Productions, and they had dispatched a film crew to Rishikesh, India. Cooke said when the Beatles found out, they were disappointed, upset, and decided to leave. Rikki said he saw them walk out the north gate at the same time the film crew were coming in through the south gate. He said it was an unfortunate misunderstanding. I had also heard that when John and George had gone to speak with Maharishi beforehand, most thought it was to ask about his making a pass at a girl. But the real reason may have been to verify the rumor of a Four Star film crew coming to make a documentary. If so, they would not want to be involved with it in any way, and would be leaving. With both John and George gone we may never know for sure, although it seems more plausible. Of course, John would write Sexy Sadie in retaliation. He had originally used Maharishi’s name, but George convinced him to change it to Sexy Sadie. Years later, George would visit Maharishi, with the help of Deepak Chopra, to apologize for John’s behavior at that time. Maharishi said he was not upset with John, regardless of what he had said, that he loved them. Deepak had told Maharishi that when The Beatles had played on the Ed Sullivan Show, there were no crimes committed in America. When Maharishi heard that, he called them angels, and said he could never be mad at them. Chopra said that George broke down, and was emotionally relieved with that karmic burden now off his heart. In separate interviews, both Paul and George said there was no truth to those accusations about Maharishi, which they felt were unfortunate.


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