A Look At The Guinness Accident That Inspired A Beatles Song

The Beatles are one of the biggest bands in music history. As Rolling Stone reports, John Lennon's famous claim that the group was "more popular than Jesus" may have landed the fabled four in hot water, but their tremendous influence on the industry and enduring popularity remains clear to see (even on Pawn Stars).

The band attracted a whirlwind of publicity wherever they went, right up until their very last public performance (which was controversial in and of itself). Along the way, they inspired countless other artists, and continue to do so. They themselves found inspiration in some very surprising places, including, perhaps, the grisly tale of the death of the young heir to the Guinness empire.

It has long been claimed that the Guinness family is plagued by a sort of curse, with tales dating back to original brewery founder Sir Arthur Guinness (who lost 11 of his 21 children when they were very young). His granddaughter, Oonagh Guinness, had a son, Patrick "Tara" Browne, who was supposedly one of the curse's more recent victims.

The Beatles and the tragic heir

Browne was killed in South Kensington, London, in December 1966, when he crashed his car into another vehicle. Just 21 years old at the time of his death, he would receive a very surprising sort of immortality: an iconic Beatles song is said to have been inspired by his tragic end! Needless to say, this tragedy made headline news, and John Lennon and Co. were immediately privy to it. In his Anthology, Lennon claimed (via The Beatles Bible), "I was writing 'A Day In The Life' with the Daily Mail propped in front of me on the piano... I noticed two stories. One was about the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car."

In this way, it's said, Browne's demise became the basis on which "A Day In The Life," the beloved Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band closer, was written. As Far Out Magazine reports, Lennon would later claim: "I didn't copy the accident... but it was in my mind when I was writing that verse." In Barry Miles' Many Years From Now, however, Paul McCartney is reported to have said, "I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John's head it might have been... The 'blew his mind' was... nothing to do with a car crash."

Regardless of Lennon, McCartney's, or anybody else's intent, though, the song has become intrinsically linked with this sad headline story.