A Tale of Early Badfinger and Magic Alex’s Apple Studio

“Magic Alex” was head of Apple Electronics.

John Bezzini, author of Buzz’s Beatles Book Blog, recently brought to our attention a rare recording and book involving The Iveys, the Apple Records band that eventually was renamed Badfinger.

The book was titled “Young London: Permissive Paradise,” a look at Swinging London in the late 1960s, and early copies of it included a bonus flexi-disc of a song that was recorded by The Iveys under the name The Pleasure Garden.

The book was written by Heather Cremonesi and Robert Bruce, with photographs by Frank Habicht, and was published in 1969 by George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd. of London.

Bezzini was able to obtain a copy of the flexi-disc at the Discogs website, and he noticed that several postings of the rare song have appeared on YouTube.

The Iveys were an Apple band that evolved into Badfinger.

He also sent along a blog post from November 2022 by Christopher Cox that theorizes that the song might have been the first track recorded at The Beatles’ Apple Studios at 3 Savile Row. The garage-rock number was written by Jeremy Cox (Christopher Cox’s father) and John Sidey.

Cox wrote in his blog that his father was a publicist at the Harrap publishing house, which was known for titles such as “Questions and Answers for Motor Vehicle Mechanics” and“A History of the Zinc Smelting Industry in Britain,” but somehow agreed to issue “Young London: Permissive Paradise,” which he described as “a book of often raunchy pics of Sixties ‘dolly birds,’ famous figures and various painfully fashionable London youths.”

To launch the book, the elder Cox and one of his colleagues, Sidey, staged a “happening” (as they were called back then) in Chelsea’s Kings Road, with name disc jockeys and an old Parisian bus loaded with “attractive models and a couple of on-trend celebrities.”  Passers-by were given pins saying “Permissive Society” and free copies of the flexi-disc, inspired by the flexis that Private Eye magazine put on its covers.

The “Young London” book came with a flexi-disc. (John Bezzini)

The disc had spoken-word material attributed to a pair of DJs, Emperor Rosko and Jonathan King, on one side, and the song performed by The Pleasure Garden on the other.

As the younger Cox recalled, his father “had been in a few small bands, and was more than happy to get musically creative for this project. In his Shepherd’s Bush flat he bashed out a rock song called ‘Permissive Paradise’ on his acoustic guitar. Then, in searching for a good — but not too expensive — band, he and John happened upon The Iveys.”

The Ivey’s manager, Bill Collins, reportedly offered Jeremy and John a deal in which they paid him something like £50, and he surrepetitiously arranged the band and the recording session.

Jeremy’s son wrote that “the arrangement was certainly hush-hush, because they were going to use The Beatles’ brand-new Apple Studio without the band’s knowledge or consent.”

That was another reason for billing The Iveys as The Pleasure Garden, he said.

The Iveys were billed as The Pleasure Garden on the flexi-disc’s label. (John Bezzini)

During the recording session, the younger Cox said, “the most exciting moment for my dad Jeremy came about. After being sneaked into the studio to listen to a recording playback, someone suddenly called out, ‘John Lennon is coming! Do something!’

“Jeremy knew a bit of boogie-woogie, so jumped over to the studio piano and started vamping — as Lennon brushed past him, ignoring him completely.”

The younger Cox noted that, as Peter Jackson’s “The Beatles: Get Back details, The Beatles tried to use the studio in January 1969, but the equipment that had been installed by Alexis “Magic Alex” Mardas was inadequate.

The younger Cox concluded that “Permissive Paradise” must have been recorded in the fall of 1968, before The Beatles tried to record there, and so was “produced with the infamous Magic Alex equipment, hence the rough quality of the song’s recording.”

The Iveys had signed with Apple Records in April 1968, and Cox reported that Ron Griffiths, then a member of the band, “remembers using Apple’s Savile Row HQ as a rehearsal space from that point — the period during which ‘Permissive Paradise’ was made.

“I’ve spoken to Ron, and although his memory is — quite reasonably — a bit fuzzy, he thinks it’s ‘probably a very true statement’ that ‘Permissive Paradise’ was actually the first thing recorded in the building.”

The flexi-disc released with the book. (John Bezzini)

Cox isn’t absolutely sure about that, though, and concluded his blog post with an appeal to “any Beatles obsessives, or even contemporaries who were involved” who can help with the timeline. (He can be contacted at me@christophercox.co.uk.)

You can hear the song “Permissive Paradise” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDjCFd4KR2k&t=1s.

It’s not much of a tune or recording, but it’s a cool story — especially if it really was the first, or among the first, recordings from the nascent Apple Studio.

You can visit Buzz’s Beatles Book Blog here, and read the full Christopher Cox blog post here.

POST-SCRIPT: Allan Kozinn believes “Permissive Paradise” is unlikely to have been recorded on Magic Alex’s equipment, which was not at Savile Row in late 1968 when the track is believed to have been recorded. Alex’s studio equipment was brought to Savile Row and installed during that week in January 1969 after George Harrison quit the “Get Back” sessions. Until then, the equipment had been at his “laboratory” in Boston Place, which is probably why Ron Griffiths remembers Savile Row at that point as being a rehearsal space. Also, Kozinn notes, when the equipment was installed, EMI’s engineers did a recording test — which is included among the “Get Back” Nagras — and there’s no way an actual piece of music could have been recorded on it.