Interviews conducted by Barry Miles
Jan 16, 1967 • From International Times
Oct 02, 1997
February 23 or 24, 1966
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Barry Miles (born 21 February 1943) is an English author known for his participation in and writing on the subjects of the 1960s London underground and counterculture. He is the author of numerous books and his work has also regularly appeared in leftist newspapers such as The Guardian. In the 1960s, he was co-owner of the Indica Gallery and helped start the independent newspaper International Times.
In the 1960s, Miles worked at Better Books, which was managed by Tony Godwin. Godwin was friends with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, with whom he would exchange Penguin books for City Lights publications. In 1965, Allen Ginsberg gave a reading at Better Books that led to the International Poetry Incarnation, a seminal event co-organised by Miles.
In 1965, Miles and his wife, the former Susan Crane, introduced Paul McCartney to hash brownies by using a recipe for hash fudge that they had found in The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.
Following the International Poetry Incarnation, Miles established the Indica Gallery and Bookshop, allowing him to meet many of the stars of the Swinging London social scene. Miles brought McCartney into contact with people who wanted to start International Times, which McCartney helped to fund.
With John Hopkins and Dave Howson, Miles organised The 14 Hour Technicolor Dream, a concert on 29 April 1967 at Alexandra Palace to raise funds for International Times. It was a multi-artist event, featuring poets, artists and musicians. Pink Floyd headlined the event; other artists included: Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Arthur Brown, jazz-rock group Soft Machine, Tomorrow and The Pretty Things.
Miles became the de facto manager of the Apple’s short-lived Zapple Records label in 1969. While temporarily living in California, Miles produced an album of poetry readings by Richard Brautigan entitled Listening to Richard Brautigan for Zapple. Miles’s friendship with Brautigan ended when Miles became involved in an affair with Brautigan’s girlfriend Valerie Estes. By the time, the album was completed Miles and Brautigan communicated to each other only through their respective lawyers. Zapple was closed before it could release the Brautigan album, but it was eventually released in 1970 by the U.S. division of Harvest Records.
Miles also produced Ginsberg’s Songs of Innocence and Experience LP, recorded in 1969 and released the following year. In 1970, Miles moved with his wife to rural New York state, where he lived with Ginsberg on his farm. However, Miles’s marriage soon ended and he returned to England. Miles currently lives in London and is married to travel writer Rosemary Bailey.
Miles’s book Hippie (2004) is a reminiscence of the Hippie sub-culture of the 1960s and early 1970s, with interviews, quotes, and images. He co-wrote I Want to Take You Higher (documenting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit by the same name) with Charles Perry and James Henke.
Miles wrote Paul McCartney’s official biography, Many Years from Now (1998). Miles has also written biographies of Frank Zappa, John Lennon, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and Ginsberg, in addition to books on The Beatles, Pink Floyd and The Clash, as well as a definitive history of London’s counterculture since 1945, London Calling. […]
It’s something I realise l didn’t put around a lot at the time, like l helped start International Times with Miles, helped start Indica Bookshop and Gallery where John met Yoko. Was big buddies with Robert Fraser and was very into Magritte. So I had a very rich avant-garde period which was such a buzz, making movies and stuff. Because I was living on my own in London, and all the other guys were married in the suburbs, they were very square in my mind, and they’d come in, and come into my pad where there’d be people all hanging out and weird sculptures and stuff and I’d be making, piecing together little films and stuff.Paul McCartney – From “The Paul McCartney World Tour” book – 1989
The connection had started with Peter Asher’s friend and musical partner Gordon Waller, who had dated Jenny Dunbar, from nearby Bentinck Street. Through Jenny they got to know her brother, John Dunbar, who had studied science and art at Cambridge and married singer Marianne Faithfull in May 1965. He wrote a weekly art column for the Scotsman and had a knack of being the first to pick up on emerging trends. He would become an important mentor to both Paul and John.
A frequent guest at Wimpole Street, Dunbar knew a lot about contemporary art, music from other cultures, American and European literature, and psychedelic drugs. A friend of his was Barry Miles, an art college graduate (Gloucestershire College of Art) and expert on Beat generation writing who knew the poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso and the novelist William Burroughs. At the time he was introduced into the Wimpole Street circle he was managing Better Books on Charing Cross Road, a shop inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s bohemian City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.From “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year” by Steve Turner
I remember going to a lunch gathering with Barry and Sue Miles. Barry was a founder of the Indica Bookshop, a radical establishment selling books and magazines relating to everything psychedelic and revolutionary. I met Paul McCartney properly there, with his girlfriend, actress Jane Asher. Paul had helped fund Indica, and he seemed much more politically savvy than any other musician I’d come across. He was clear-thinking and smart, as well as charming and essentially kind. Jane was well-bred, polite and astonishingly pretty; behind the demure exterior simmered a strong personality, making her the equal of her famous beau.Pete Townshend – From “Who I Am“, 2012
Last updated on February 14, 2024