50 Years Ago: Tragic News Inspires the Beatles’ ‘A Day in the Life’
Decades before Law & Order was “ripped from the headlines,” the Beatles did the same thing for “A Day in the Life.” Three of the verses from the epic song that would close Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band were inspired by newspaper articles that were printed on Jan. 17, 1967.“I was writing ‘A Day in the Life’ with the Daily Mail propped in front of me on the piano,” John Lennon recalled in The Beatles Anthology. “I had it open at their News in Brief, or Far and Near, whatever they call it. I noticed two stories. One was about the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash.”Lennon was at home when he read about the man in question – Tara Browne, a 21-year-old Irish native, heir to the Guinness fortune and London socialite who had died in a car crash in December 1966. The news that day was about the coroner’s verdict into the death of Browne, whom Lennon knew. As a fixture on the London scene, the young man had become pals with members of many British bands, including the Rolling Stones, the Troggs and the Beatles.