From: email@example.com (Miguel Balbuena)
Subject: Pilcher's Long and Winding Road
Date: 23 Oct 1996 02:21:43 GMT
Sergeant Norman Pilcher was the head of one of Britain's police drug
squads -- dubbed Sergeant Pilcher's Lonely Heart Club Band (TM) -- in
the late sixties. The unit was made up of human and canine law
enforcement officers. Pilcher's favorite marijuana-sniffing dog worked
under the code name of Willie. Willie's true identity remains
undisclosed up to present due to national security reasons.
In early 1966, Pilcher and Willie had a meeting in the War Room
located at Scotland Yard to devise a strategy for wiping out once-and-
for-all drugs from Britain. The meeting ended up with Pilcher and Willie
signing a secret blood pact by which they vowed to wreck the drug-using
rock counterculture threatening to take over Britain. Willie signed the
agreement by stamping his right front pawprint on the document. The
rationale behind the blueprint concocted in the meeting was that rock
stars were popular icons worshipped by the fans and were promoting drug
use by the copycat effect. The plan was the brainchild of Willie, who,
needless to say, did not get along with cats.
In the case of synthetic drugs such as acid and speed, which are
odorless and thus undetectable by Willie and his colleagues in the pack
of sniffing dogs, Willie deemed necessary to conduct strip searches on
the suspects, including, of course, going through their most intimate
body parts -- under Pilcher's close personal scrutiny -- just to make
sure they were not hiding drugs in there. According to Willie's logic,
this slight infringement on individual rights was a small price to pay
for the benefits of launching an all-out war to root out drugs from
Britain. It has to be mentioned that Willie came up with this brilliant
idea while high on sniffing the tails of the other gung-ho canine cops.
About this time, the newspaper 'The Daily Mirror' was waging a
campaign against rock stars, lashing out at them for the moral
''decadence'' associated to the explosive mix of sex, drugs and rock 'n'
roll that the publication attributed to them. The Sergeant began to toy
with the notion that by terrorizing these celebrities he would become a
celebrity in his own right and there would be Pilcher's groupies and fan
To attain his goals, the Sergeant started out by keeping the rock
community under strict surveillance through a full network of snitches.
Next he equipped his squad with some battering rams so as to pound the
doors of the places of those attempting to resist his authority.
As a warm-up, the squad targeted the singer Donovan -- of ''Mellow
Yellow'' fame --, who was considered to pose a serious menace to
civilized life in Britain. The Sergeant busted him on drug charges.
Willie was rewarded by Pilcher for being the squad's lethal weapon
during the raid. The Sergeant gave his pet a pat on the back and Willie
reacted by wiggling his fluffy tail. No doubt that there was a chemistry
sizzle that never fizzled between Pilcher and Willie. The love between
these two characters got as far as a feeling between a man and a dog can
Since Donovan's arrest got a lot of press attention and TV exposure,
Pilcher thought that this media coverage had turned him (Pilcher) into
the ultimate celebrity. When he learned that Rolling Stone Keith
Richards was planning on throwing a wild party at Redlands, Keith's
house in West Sussex, and he (Pilcher) was not on the list of
celebrities invited to the party, the Sergeant sent Willie to paw
deliver a note to Richards demanding his (Pilcher's) inclusion on the
list on the grounds that the Sergeant had already achieved celebrity
status and wanted to be surrounded by kinky party-girls. Keith told
Pilcher through Willie to bug off.
Upon being communicated Richards' response, Pilcher got pissed off
and decided to make it to the party anyway by carrying out Operation
Rolling Shield and Operation Rolling Storm, designed to bring about
havoc to the Rolling Stones. Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf
War was nothing compared to Operation Rolling Storm.
Operation Rolling Shield started off when the Sergeant threw on the
floor some bones with the pictures of the Rolling Stones glued to them
so that Willie could sharpen his fangs with them. It appeared that
Pilcher was trying to condition the fierce Willie in a stimulus-response
pattern similar to that of Dr. Pavlov and his dog.
In February, 1967, tipped off by the magazine 'The News of the World'
that the party was reaching its climax, the police proceeded with
Operation Rolling Storm by besieging Richards' house right after
Beatle George Harrison had left the premises. This was because Pilcher
had a special operation in store for George, operation that will put him
(Pilcher) again in the intense spotlight, therefore increasing his
chances of being on the guest list of upcoming celebrity parties.
Minutes later, Sergeant Pilcher's Lonely Heart Club Band's onslaught
bore fruit as they, led by their mad attack-dog Willie, were able to
storm Richards' residence while the stereo was playing the awesome
sounds of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band, which had become the
police squad's official anthem. Pilcher's hint of unleashing the foam-
drooling and rabid-looking Willie -- who had built a solid reputation of
going directly for the jugular -- was enough to persuade the Rolling
Stones to surrender unconditionally given that they were not too happy
with the prospect of having Willie's muzzle in their throats. Willie's
piercing teeth probably were no good for their vocal cords.
The cops found a completely naked young woman (enticingly referred to
in press reports as the carpeted ''Miss X'') under a fur rug and
allegedly high on pot, and a Canadian drug dealer named David
Scheidermann in possession of marijuana.
At the trial -- which lasted June 27 through June 29, 1967, at West
Sussex Quarter Sessions -- the judge directed the jury to disregard
Marianne Faithful's (Baroness Erisso's daughter) evidence that she had
not been smoking pot at the time. In the courtroom, Richards denounced
Scheidermann -- who had mysteriously vanished in the haze after the
strike -- as an informant planted in order to entrap the Rolling Stones.
Keith was sentenced to twelve months in prison plus 500 pound costs for
the crime of having been the host of the party. Mick Jagger and Robert
Fraser were convicted of possession of pep pills legally bought in
Italy. Mick got condemned to be more time in jail than Fraser because
the Rolling Stone was a popular idol while Fraser was considered to be
an ''anonymous young man.''
Pilcher was disappointed with the result of his paramilitary
offensive against Redlands. He had worked so hard and only two Rolling
Stones had fallen prey to the Sergeant's determination. It was
outrageous that the remainding three official Rolling Stones were able
to walk away scot-free. Willie, hell-bent on getting them with a
vengeance, thought that it was quite obvious that Brian Jones (guitar),
Charlie Watts (drums) and Bill Wyman (bass) were part of a criminal
conspiracy since they were members of the rock band too. The Sergeant
got a partial satisfacion when Brian was apprehended for drug possession
the very same day as Jagger and Richards' case court appearance. During
Operation Rolling Storm, Willie had managed to retain Jones' scent in
the back of his mind and, later on, when Pilcher put him on the lose, lo
and behold, the dog used this piece of information to hunt Brian down.
After this, Willie, who was the brainpower behind the police drug
squad, mapped out the next steps to keep his master Pilcher in the
limelight. Willie decided that the time had come for including all the
Beatles on the police's hit list. The final showdown between Sergeant
Pilcher's Lonely Heart Club Band and the Fab Four was planned to occur
by the police taking on the Beatles one at a time instead of the group
Next year, John Lennon got word from Don Shorter that Pilcher was out
to get John and Yoko Ono, and that a police raid in the flat where the
couple lived was imminent. Yes, indeed, you know, three weeks after John
received the warning from Shorter, Sergeant Pilcher's Lonely Heart Club
Band, again led by their mascot Willie, ransacked in the morning of
October 18 the flat at 34 Montague Square, London W.1., owned by Ringo
Starr but the temporary home of John and Yoko, who was pregnated at the
time. The forty-strong police force overpowered John and Yoko, and
claimed to have discovered 219 grains of cannabis resin in the ensuing
search. After being taken into detention to the Marylebone Lane Police
Station, the artists were also charged with obstructing the police in
carrying out the search warrant.
For a short while John and Yoko stayed at their lawyer's, Nicholas
Cowan, house located at 35 Redcliffe Road, West Brompton, London, and on
the next day, at Marylebone Magistrates' Court, they were released on
bail until their court hearing date slated for November 28, 1968. Hours
after having been set free, Yoko had to be rushed to Queen Charlotte's
Maternity Hospital, where the doctors confirmed that she had suffered a
miscarriage. Some observers blamed Pilcher and his timing of his
operation for this mishap.
On November 28, John pled guilty to possession of cannabis resin and
was fined 150-pound-plus-20-guinea costs but both John and Yoko were
found not guilty of obstructing the police. This conviction gave John
trouble when he applied for visas to travel to other countries and later
for permanent residence in the US.
In an interview with Andy Peoples on a syndicated broadcast by
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) two days before the Beatle's
death, John explained the situation. According to his account, the
previous resident, Jimi Hendrix, had left piles of drugs in the flat.
When he found out that Pilcher was coming after him, John contended that
he thoroughly and painstakingly cleaned up the premises of the stacks of
drugs. The Beatle consequently raised the suspicion that the cops might
had planted the cannabis resin in the flat.
John said that the thing was set up by Pilcher, who had called the
press for some photos ops at the flat. In fact, reporters from the
newspapers 'The Daily Express' and 'The Daily Mail' were there before
the cops came. John asserted that the only reason he had pled guilty was
because he thought that otherwise the British government would had
deported Yoko since at that point they were not married yet. After
John's plea, a police officer -- probably Pilcher himself -- told him,
''Well, we've got it now. So it's nothing personal ...'' The picture on
the back of the jacket of the album 'Unfinished Music No. 2 -- Life with
the Lions' is John and Yoko being dragged out of the police station. It
is from a newspaper photograph.
The next Beatle on Pilcher's blacklist was George Harrison. The
Sergeant read in the press that Paul McCartney was getting married to
Linda Eastman at Saint John's Wood Roman Catholic church on March 12,
1969. Pilcher believed that Paul's wedding would be a big headline-
grabbing event and felt compelled to overshadow it by staging yet
another highly publicized assault that same day in the morning. He
thought that his visit to the Harrisons' estate, Kinfauns, located in
Esher, south of London, would make banner headlines on the newspapers'
front pages. This time the Sergeant tried to avoid the bum rap he had
received for his handling of the John and Yoko case and chose to sweep
the Harrisons' home while the couple were not there. George and Patti
Boyd were nabbed by Sergeant Pilcher's Lonely Heart Club Band and
charged with possession of marijuana after the Beatle and his wife had
attended the 'Piscis' party thrown by Rory McEwen. Pilcher gave Willie a
high five and a resonant ''Yes!'' for the accomplishment of snagging the
An expert in this period, writing under the pen name of Mr. Mustard,
labels Pilcher the consummate ''scam artist'' in his holy war to stamp
out drugs from Britain. According to Mr. Mustard, George did have a lot
of pot but not where the cops maintained to have found it. This makes
sense since the Beatle lived fearing that Pilcher's troops could burst
into his bedroom anytime -- even in the wee hours of the morning --
looking for drugs under the mattress or something. The lad probably kept
his stash of pot elsewhere.
Anyway, on March 19, 1969, George and Patti left a court in Walton-
on-Thames and paid a 500 pound fine for possession of drugs.
So far, the scoreboard read two Fabs down and two more to go: Paul
McCartney and Ringo, whose hopes of avoiding being caught in Pilcher's
dragnet were on life support at this point.
Unfortunately, for Pilcher's ambition of becoming Britain's poster
boy, his reign of terror was shortcircuited as he set out to go to
Paul's house on a search-and-destroy mission. As it was stated in Part 3
of the Beatles Anthology TV series, it was discovered that the Sergeant
had committed perjury in court. Pilcher was sentenced to serve four
years in prison for this crime. There were mixed reactions to this
On the one hand, Ringo -- who had been scheduled by Pilcher to be the
last Boy overwhelmed by his juggernaut -- exhaled a sigh of relief when
he heard that the Sergeant had been put out of business. By the way, the
order on the list was determined by Pilcher's perception of the
prominence of each Beatle's drug use going from the most to the least.
On the other hand, Willie got a little frustrated. He would had
wanted to take advantage of Sergeant Pilcher's Lonely Heart Club Band's
raid on Paul's house to hit on Martha, Paul's female sheepdog. Willie
got interested in Martha after he listened to Paul's song ''Martha My
Dear,'' included in the 'White Album.' Moreover, Willie expected Paul to
write a song for him too.
It is totally ironic that the Sergeant wound up spending much more
time incarcerated than all his victims combined. The bright side of
Pilcher's career was that he might had indirectly promoted tours abroad
by British rock bands, motivated by their desire to escape the
Sergeant's zealotry in his crusade to eradicate the famed herbal jazz
cigarrettes from Britain.
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