Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lennon's Eccentric Friend: "Magic Alex" Mardas

One of the more humorous Beatles facts concerns Lennon's relationship with Yanni Alex Mardas, better known to Beatles fans as "Magic Alex." Although he was basically nothing more than a television repairman, he was also a smooth talking pitchman who intrigued John Lennon with his "Nothing Box," a box of blinking lights that would mesmerize Lennon during acid trips.

Mardas subsequently claimed that he could make paint that would make things invisible or change the color of cars; construct force fields that would surround Ringo's drums so that their sound would not be picked up by other studio microphones; make a force field that would block the sound of screaming fans during concerts; and make many other outlandish devices, including a flying saucer using the engines from Lennon's Rolls and Harrison's Ferrari.

He became one of the first employees of Apple Corps, working for the Apple Electronics division. It was also Mardas who (many believe) accused the Maharishi of making unwanted sexual advances toward Mia Farrow, an accusation that the Beatles later rejected as false.

Perhaps Mardas biggest failure was his attempt to build a 72-track recording studio at Saville Row, headquarters of Apple. When the filming of Let It Be at Twickenham Studio went sour, the Beatles moved to the new recording studio at Saville Row, only to find that what Mardas had built was totally useless. As George Harrison put it, "Nothing worked." The group was forced to bring in their portable recording equipment used at Twickenham to finish the Let It Be sessions.

When Cynthia Lennon found Yoko and John together at their house at Weybridge, she went to stay with Patti Boyd's sister and Mardas. Mardas allegedly got Cynthia drunk and made advances that were rebuffed. He later stated that he was ready to testify on John's behalf that he and Cynthia had committed adultery, even though this has been denied and seems ludicrous. Obviously, Mardas had been trying to help Cynthia look bad in order to take the pressure off Ono and Lennon.

Some sources dispute whether Mardas was an actual employee of Apple, as opposed to a shareholder. Mardas also now apparently denies claims of trying to build some of the fantastic contraptions listed, although Harrison mentioned them on Anthology, as have others in different interviews.

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