Researching the Beatles has long been a true passion of mine. Several readers may already know that not only am I a huge Beatles fan- and find them to be of the utmost fascination- I am also a Beatles memorabilia collector. Sometimes while perusing the various articles located on the numbernineblog, some readers that do not know me as well may think that I dislike the Beatles, or are trying to tarnish their reputation or whatnot- I assure you I have no such intention. I consider the Beatles to be masters of their craft, geniuses in more ways than just musically, the DaVinci’s of the 21st century, and so many other metaphors fit for a band of this caliber.
With that being said- within my trying to better understand the Beatles and their impact upon the fabric of society, several interesting occurrences within their legend have raised a red flag for me which sometimes makes me question exactly what the Beatles were trying to express (if anything) or if there were some internal or external political motives behind the influence, words and actions of the greatest band in history. I notice things of interest, and I write about them here. I try not to speculate too much or make definitive conclusions because I think it is important for everyone to think for themselves. Please read these articles and draw your own conclusions. Were the Beatles trying to tell us something? Don’t ever let anyone tell you how to think-everyone is completely capable of thinking, and it is strongly encouraged. Now let’s get to the good stuff!!
Be At Les(l)o
In July 1967 shortly after the release of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album, the Beatles visited Greece in hopes of purchasing an island. The island is cited as being called Leso or Leslo- however neither island exists officially in Greece. Some Beatle fans have noticed on the cover of Sgt. Pepper- there is a possible message hidden in the flowers, eluding to their Greek Hideaway- BE~AT~LESO. Do you see it? This is the official story according to the Beatles Bible:
All four members of The Beatles met in London on this day [26th July, 1967] to discuss the Magical Mystery Tour film project, and their plans to purchase an island hideaway in Greece. The Greek island idea was John Lennon’s. He had decided that the group and their friends and family should live on the same island, in four separate villas with a recording studio and entertainment complex in the middle. There should, he said, also be housing for staff and visitors. Alexis Mardas, a Greek friend of Lennon’s known as Magic Alex, arranged for The Beatles to look for properties in the country. Mardas flew to Greece and found an island, often cited as Leslo, although such an island appears not to exist. The island is said to have had around 80 acres surrounded by four habitable islands, a small fishing village, beaches, 16 acres of olive groves, and was priced at £90,000.
The Beatles were required to buy special export dollars before applying to the Greek government for permission to spend them. Alistair Taylor eventually got clearance for the purchase of the islands, but by that time the group had moved on. The £90,000-worth of dollars was sold back to the government, and the value had risen giving The Beatles £11,400 profit on the unrealised deal.
This is what we have been told, and what is accepted by Beatles historians and fans alike since the summer of love. But I have some questions- first glaring-elephant in the room question(s)- why does no such Greek island “Leslo” or “Leso”exist? Was the name given as a distraction from the real island they intended to purchase? Was the entire story made up? The entire point of this venture was to have a private place to live, work and play. An escape from Beatlemania. If that truly was the intention, why say anything about the island at all? Why have a photographer on site taking pictures of your “private” holiday only to document the event in a national magazine feature?
Greece- a lovely place. Perfect for a secret hideaway commune for Beatles and their friends. Except for one glaring, eyebrow-raising fact; in 1967 the Greek government was overthrown by a fascist coup, which led to the development of a current Greek political party known as the “Golden Dawn” party. This political party has been under scrutiny the past decade or so because of their neo-Nazi political stance and subsequent criminal investigations. The Golden Dawn Party has deep-roots into the very center of Greece’s current political structure, and just before the Beatles visit in 1967- things really began to bloom. Greek dictator Georgios Papadopoulos, the leader of the “colonels” who led the 1967 coup, groomed the Golden Dawn Party’s founder and current leader, Nikos Michaloliakos. Papadopoulos was a Nazi collaborator and served with the German “security battalions” that executed 130,000 Greek civilians during WW II. Papadopoulos was trained by the U.S. Army and recruited by the CIA. He was the first CIA employee to govern a European country. The charge that the U.S. encouraged the 1967 fascist coup against the Greek government has never been proven, but many of the “colonels” that initiated the overthrow had close ties to the CIA and the U.S. military. More about Greek Golden Dawn history past and present here. For further information about the Greek Junta and the 1967 right-wing overthrow of the Monarchy check out Mae Brussel’s original work and others here. It has to do with many of the covert operations taking place in the 1960’s and well beyond. Fascinating stuff.
You may already recognize the significance of “Golden Dawn” used as a political party name. The Golden Dawn has come up often within the various articles on this blog. If unfamiliar with the term or the subsequent order bearing the same name you can refer to my articles; “I’ve Opened up the Doors” and the “Flaming Apple Pye in the Sky” series.
Anyhow, this little factoid causes me to look a little closer at what exactly the Beatles were doing in Greece in 1967. And all roads lead me to one key individual making an impact on the Beatles- John Lennon in particular- at this time. Mr. Alexis Madras, or endearingly known by Beatles fans and historians and “mystery seekers” like us as “Magic Alex”
Who is “Magic Alex”?
Yanni (‘John’) Alexis Mardas, better known as Magic Alex, became a close friend of The Beatles in the mid 1960s. Alexis Mardas was born on 5 May 1942 in Athens, Greece. A former teenage science prodigy, and highly educated he moved from Greece to England in the early 1960s, where he was working as a TV repairman. (Wait… what?) According to Tony Bramwell in “Magical Mystery Tours; My life with the Beatles“:
“Alex wasn’t really a television repairman. He was the highly educated son of a major in the Greek secret police. The young physics student was making his way around the world when, unfortunately, he was stranded in London because, so he said, his passport had been stolen and his visa had expired.”
Hmm.. Typical I suppose. He lost his passport and didn’t have a visa, so how did he obtain work in London? Magic Alex did stage work for the Rolling Stones as well as the Beatles, eventually becoming the head of Apple electronics, a sub division of Apple corps. Stroke of luck perhaps… Or is there more to this story? Let’s dig deeper.
Mardas met The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones around 1963. It is said that somewhere in the vicinity of late 1965, Magic Alex was introduced to John Lennon through mutual friend John Dunbar (there are varying accounts- as usual). Dunbar was a member of the elusive and potentially sinister circle of friends involved in the Indica Gallery- which also included the likes of Peter Asher (Jane Asher’s brother) and Barry Miles (McCartney Biographer). The Indica Gallery is also said to be responsible for the meeting of John Lennon and Yoko Ono- because the venue hosted a show of Yoko Ono’s work in November 1966 at which Ono first met John (this lovely happenstance storybook meeting of John and Yoko is actually totally fabricated and erroneous- but will have to wait for another time). Cynthia Lennon has claimed in her book ;”A Twist of Lennon” that Alex had a direct and suspicious connection to their divorce, tried to seduce her and make arrangements for her to be on holiday while Yoko ‘moved in’ on John. That too- is a scandal that will have to wait for a future article, I am getting a bit ahead of myself here. For now, let’s get back to Greece.
Alex Mardas had deep-rooted connections to the Greek authorities. It is cited several places online and in various Beatles biographies that Magic Alex had connections through his family to the Greek secret police, some sources say specifically his father had such connections.
This, in turn would help secure a Greek Island purchase, ensure privacy, as well as being able to bring drugs into the country without worry from the Greek authorities. This would have been a major concern for the Beatles and entourage, as the infamous Rolling Stones’ Redlands bust being just months earlier, along with other high-profile arrests at this time. The Beatles had free reign in Greece while on holiday, apparently due to Magic Alex and his connections. Trying to trace Yanni “Magic” Alexis Madras ‘s lineage to see exactly what type of connections those might have been, has turned up only brick walls for me. Any further information on the ancestral lineage of this colorful character would be highly appreciated- even something as simple as a name to go on would be a plethora of information compared to what I have to go on here.
However, knowing what there is to know about Greek history in this point in time, and knowing about all of the other instances discussed on this site regarding the Beatles and Intelligence connections- is it far of a stretch to assume that magic Alex was also part of this list of interesting persons surrounding the Beatles camp? Especially when you realize that Mardas was given many freedoms to pursue his inventive ambitions as part of Apple Corps. For a time, he dated and lived with Jenny “Juniper” Boyd- Pattie Boyd’s sister. If you read my “To the Nines” article, then you already know why this is significant.
John Lennon was the one who gave Mardas the nickname of “Magic Alex” but he was similarly introduced to Paul and the other Beatles as John’s “New Guru”. Paul and George had also referred to him as the “Greek Wizard”. The story of Mardas within the Beatles legend is fanciful, but how much of it is true- one has to wonder. There have been outrageous claims of Magic Alex’s proposed inventions for Apple Electronics.
An artificial sun, a force field that would surround The Beatles’ homes, an X-ray camera, paint that would make anything invisible, car paint that would change color by flicking a switch, and wallpaper speakers, and even a flying saucer. None of these proposed inventions ever came to pass- and Mardas later denied making any of these claims. In fact, not only did he simply deny making these claims, but he actually sued (and won) publications for making the accusations against him, and not just the inventions, but his role in the Maharishi Camp also- which eluded to Mardas being responsible for unfairly accusing the Maharishi of un-holylike advances on Mia Farrow. Publications such as the Observer, People magazine and The Daily Mail lost the cases and printed apologies for their inaccuracies, and provided Mardas with a large settlement. He gave a full rebuttal, which you can find here. (Also note in Mardas’s rebuttal statement he claims he had a job offer from Pye- refer to “A Flaming Pye in the Sky” series once again- full circle.)
So what was Mardas doing with the Beatles (and thier money) if not designing flying saucers and invisible paint? Why was this story given in the first place if truly completely inaccurate? A cover story? From where I am standing, it seems to me that there was a smear campaign launched by the Beatle camp about Mardas. Why?
Another Bad Apple?
In the eyes of most Beatles Historians, I think it is safe to say that most view Magic Alex as a “bad Apple” that took advantage of the John and the Beatles. He certainly has gone to much effort to save his name regarding the many accusations made of him. Perhaps he did more for the Beatles than we realize, maybe his occupation(s) after the disbanding of Apple electronics may hold further insight. According to Wiki:
In the 1970s, the anti-terrorism industry offered bullet-proof vehicles, bugging devices and security hardware. Mardas set up various companies offering these products to royalty and VIPs, using the former King of Greece as his principal salesman. Ex-King Constantine II of Greece (then exiled in Britain) provided contacts to a half a dozen royal families for Mardas, and had close contact with the deposed Shah of Iran, who had moved to Mexico. The Shah was one of the first customers for the customised bullet-proof cars that Mardas was offering, and was believed to have financially assisted Mardas’ companies.
In 1974, Mardas held an expensive party for the then Spanish heir, Prince Juan Carlos, which secured Mardas a contract. After the assassination of Admiral Carrero Blanco the Spanish royal family thought it should acquire more bullet-proof cars, although one car was shipped to England, where it was parked in Chobham for almost a year as nobody knew how to do the work needed to upgrade it. The second contract (worth over £1/2 million) allowed Mardas to set up new security companies: Alcom Devices Ltd, and Night Vision Systems Ltd (under the collective name of “Project Alcom”) in St Albans Mews off Edgware Road, London, to provide a sophisticated communications system for Juan Carlos, so he could be in constant contact with his security services. Mardas employed Arthur Johnson (known as Johnny Johnson), a former M.O.D. official.
How fortunate we are that Wiki gives us so much information about Magic Alex’s business dealings post-Apple Corps. They already did all the work, laid it down for all to see! At this point in my research, I find it difficult to take anything as truth (particularly concerning Wikipedia articles) but this information is out there by several different sources, and as far as I know Magic Alex has not refuted any of this information- (although he once was accused of being an arms dealer post-Apple, which he did refute, and won once again) so I think it is fair to attribute the information above as ‘fact’ or at least as factual as we can get. Let’s get a brief rundown on those ‘facts’ there are some doozys!:
- He controls a company that provides bullet-proof vehicles, bugging devices and security hardware to Royalty and VIP customers.
- An early first “client” of Mardas was King Constantine II of Greece (Prince Philip’s cousin), which introduced him to many royal families as contacts.
- It is assumed the Shah of Iran was a major financial contributor of Mardas’ companies
- Mardas set up “Project Alcom” collective name for his various security companies
- Provided a sophisticated communications system for Juan Carlos, King of Spain
- EMPLOYED “Johnny Johnson” a “former M.O.D. official”*
* “Johnny Johnson” was not simply a former M.O.D. Official as wiki has pointed out for us (if that wasn’t enough). He is the former RAF’s Director-General of Wartime Supply, Honored with a CBE and CB, and holds the title “Air Vice Marshal” with lifetime missions accomplished via RAF and British Aerospace in India, Hamburg, and Saudi Arabia. Mardas EMPLOYED this man. That, says quite a bit- doesn’t it? Air Vice Marshal Johnny Johnson’s obituary can be viewed here with a long list of his lifetime achievements.
If you ask me, that is quite a list of accomplishments. And quite a list of various countries’ ruling classes involved with this Greek Wizard’s various company contracts. Greece, Iran, Spain, Britain. A quick google search on some of these names and titles might help if not already familiar- but most of these names listed here were rulers that were usurped from their position in one way or another. I did find this article from New Statesman: 3 August, 1979 pretty interesting with great detail given on Mardas’ post-Beatles dealings as well. It even goes as far to mention more of Mardas’s clients such as the members of the Dutch Royal family, Gandhi and his wife, Prince Charles, and the Sultan of Oman to name a few. If Alexis Mardas wasn’t secret service or Intelligence of some sort, he certainly was close enough to many prominent (and former) world leaders of the time- and selling them various ways of protecting themselves, and for spying on others. This guy was in the club.
So how did Mardas meet Lennon?
We are told that John Lennon met Alexis “Magic Alex” Mardas through mutual friend, John Dunbar. John Dunbar was born in Mexico City in 1943, and was the son of the British filmmaker, Robert Dunbar. He spent his first four years in Moscow, where his father served as a diplomat, before the family returned to England. He attended the University of Cambridge, where he met the singer Marianne Faithfull (later to become wife of Rolling Stones’ SIR Mick Jagger). Madras moved into Dunbar’s apartment on Bentinck Street in Marylebone London sometime around 1967, where the two embarked on various projects together. However, I have to make the assertion here that Lennon knew Mardas prior to this. Mainly due to the fact that in 1965, John is pictured in photos with his “Blinking Nothing Box” designed by Alex Mardas in 1965 by photographer Brian Duffy. It is said that John had several of these “Blinking Nothing Boxes” on a shelf in his Kenwood home intended as Christmas presents. Also the fact that Dunbar obviously was involved in the Indica Gallery, where Mardas had exhibited a series of Kinetic Light Sculptures in 1966- and where John had “supposedly” met Yoko Ono in Novemeber 1966 as well. It is highly convoluted, but I am venturing to guess that John Lennon met Mardas much earlier- possibly as early as 1965. But that of course is up to interpretation and speculation. What we can conclude, for the most part, is that “Magic Alex” was either extremely lucky and was in the right place at the right time to mingle with such celebrity as the Beatles and Rolling Stones- only to further his career post-Beatles to the likes of the European Ruling Bloodlines of the era- or he was “placed” into this role by various hidden hands working to take control of the Beatles enterprise- Or this was all in the works from very early on. Perhaps a combination of all three.
Either way, by 1968 Mardas for whatever reason had gained the unconditional trust of the Beatles, and John Lennon in particular and was made head of Apple Electronics. On the 11th of July 1968 Mardas was married to a prominent daughter of a well respected Greek architect, Eufrosyne Doxiades. John Lennon and Donovan were the Best Men at the wedding. Yoko Ono, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd were also wedding guests. Eufrosyne Doxiades’s father was Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis, who in 1967 secured two major contracts with the Greek Junta (the “colonels” who overthrew the Greek Monarchy in 1967) and held major government contracts for post-war city redevelopment on five continents and over 40 countries. He was decorated by both Greek and British governments, and received his doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin in 1936… Berlin- in 1936- let that sink in for a moment, and recall the evolution of Greece’s Golden Dawn Political Party.
Let’s recap here briefly:
- Mardas has contracts with several lines of the Royal families of Europe.
- It seems he worked in particularly close with King Constantine II of Greece who was overthrown by a fascist military coup in 1967.
- Mardas’s wife’s father had major contracts with the same Greek Junta that overthrew King Constatine II in 1967. (They were working both sides!?!)
- The leader (or “colonel”) of the military coup in Greece in 1967 was Georgios Papadopoulos, who was trained by the U.S. Army and recruited by the CIA.
- Mardas’s contracts with the Royal Family mainly had to do with bullet-proof cars and other security devices.
- There have been various reports that these armored cars did not actually work, and were extremely dangerous.
Make of this what you will, but my conspiratorial brain is working overtime on these implications.
By now, you should have a good feel for the types of major connections this man “Magic Alex, the Greek Wizard” had. It is my belief that from the information laid out above- the Beatles camp purposely launched a smear campaign against Alexis Mardas- to sever ties between him and his connections and the Beatles. When the average person reads about “Magic Alex” John’s personal guru- they immediately write him off a s a quack. A charletan who took the Beatles for a lot of money, and fooled them into believing he was some sort of mad-scientist-inventor-genius. Why didn’t Mardas sue Apple? Or Paul or George who deliberately published these (according to Mardas) erroneous claims in various sources? Why only sue publications that were merely repeating the claims of the Fab Four members? Perhaps we will never know. The “official” story of Alexis “Magic” Alex Mardas is interesting in itself… but the real story (the one you have to dig for) is a thousand times more interesting- for me at least. Who were all these people that came into the Beatles scene after their rise to the toppermost? Why do so many of them have major connections to Royal Family members and various secret government projects? Perhaps we should take Magic Alex’s advice and “THINK” a little deeper about the Beatles.
There is actually a lot more to the Magic Alex story than covered here. I will have to revisit the subject in a future article. As briefly noted, there is reason to believe he may have had a hand in the “setting up” of John and Yoko, as well as being a major instigator to Cynthia and John’s divorce. Mardas also has involvement with the Maharishi and the Beatles visit to India in 1968- but all of this will have to wait for another time. Stay Tuned!
What did I miss? I would love to hear your thoughts, interpretations, questions and criticisms in the comment section. Thanks for reading!