Police raid Keith Richard's "Redlands" home in Sussex for drugs

On February 12, 1967 (1960's music) 4 Comments

Around 5:30pm on February 12th, 1967, around 20 police descended on Keith Richards‘ Sussex home, “Redlands”. Of The Rolling Stones, both Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were there at the time of the bust (Brian Jones was supposed to be there too but, according to Keith Richards, he and his girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, were fighting when they left for Redlands, so they just left them behind in London) Several others had come down for the weekend including The Beatles‘ guitar player George Harrison and his then girlfriend, Patti Boyd, although they had left prior to the raid.

According to reports at the time, the police took some substances and left around 8:00pm. On March 20th, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger received court summonses alleging offences against the Dangerous Drugs Act. After their court dates, both were sentenced to prison, but the full story actually starts earlier, on February 5th, 1967.

Sunday February 5th, 1967, the British tabloid newspaper “The News of the World” published a story accusing Mick Jagger, among others, of taking LSD. The same evening Mick Jagger appears on The Eamon Andrew’s Show and said he had never taken LSD and that his lawyers would sue. Sure enough on February 7th, Mick Jagger‘s lawyers served a writ on The News of the World for libel.

The week following The News of the World’s allegations saw The Rolling Stones in Abbey Road Studios recording with The Beatles before everyone left London for Redlands. The quiet weekend away soon turned into something else as the police raided the property on the Sunday evening.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones arrested on Drugs charges

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones arrested on Drugs charges

Since the police had a search warrant, The Rolling Stones deduced they must have had a tip-off. On February 19th, The News of the World released details of the raid before the police announcement was made, confirming their suspicions. The News of the World were not happy at being served a writ for libel by the bunch of upstarts and had decided to make their point.

The report from The News of the World and the police luridly played up the image of  Miss X (a thinly veiled Marianne Faithful) wearing nothing but a fur rug which she deliberately “let fall” from time to time during the raid. Nicky Cramer, a King’s Road dandy and hanger on was initially mistaken for a woman and a female officer was told to search him.

“He had long fairish hair,” reported the female officer who searched him, “and was dressed in what would be best described as a pair of red-and-green silk ‘pajamas’. I searched him and this was all he was wearing. I formed the opinion he, too (along with Mick Jagger) was wearing makeup.”

On May 10th, 1967, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and their friend and art dealer, Robert Fraser appeared a Chichester (the nearest city to Redlands)  magistrates court and released on £100 bail each. The same evening Brian Jones‘ flat was raided and Brian Jones and Prince Stanislaus Klossowski are charged with drug possession.

Throughout the 1960s the youth movement had been challenging The Establishment in Britain. By 1967 it seemed that The Establishment wanted to make it’s point and The Rolling Stones, Britain’s most rebellious band, seemed like the ideal target.

On June 27th, Mick Jagger‘s trial began in Chichester, with Keith Richards‘ trial starting the following day. After a day’s hearing each, the verdict was passed down on June 29th – both guilty! Mick Jagger was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment for possession of four amphetamine tablets and Keith Richards was given a year’s sentence for allowing cannabis to be smoked on his property. Both were immediately imprisoned, but released on bail the next day pending appeal.

The sentences drew a storm of protest and support. In London, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and Keith Moon of The Who, recorded “The Last Time” / “Under My Thumb” in support while fans held a candlelit vigil in Piccadilly Circus. In New York, fans mounted angry pickets outside the British Consulate.

Even more surprising, on June 1st, The Times newspaper ran the editorial, “Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?”, penned by it’s conservative editor, William Rees-Mogg.

In his editorial he concluded, “If we are going to make any case a symbol of the conflict between the sound traditional values of Britain and the new hedonism, then we must be sure that the sound traditional values include those of tolerance and equity. It should be the particular quality of British justice to ensure that Mr. Jagger is treated exactly the same as anyone else, no better and no worse. There must remain a suspicion in this case that Mr. Jagger received a more severe sentence than would have been thought proper for any purely anonymous young man.”

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards‘ appeal was brought forward amidst the protests. On 31 July, the appeals court overturned Richards’ conviction, and Jagger‘s sentence was reduced to a conditional discharge.

Brian Jones‘ trial took place in November 1967 also resulting in a prison sentence for the accused. However, after appealing the original prison sentence, Brian Jones was fined £1000, put on three years’ probation and ordered to seek professional help.

On this period, Keith Richards said, “There was a realization that the powers that be actually looked upon is as important enough to make a big statement and to wield the hammer. But they’d also made us more important than we ever bloody well were in the first place.”

So who was the Redland’s Informer?

The full list of attendees at Redlands was

Of these, the majority were either close friends or members of The Beatles, none of which would have anything to gain. Of the others, there were two obvious candidates, Nicky Cramer and David Schneidermann (sometimes spelled “Schneiderman”)

Nicky Cramer

Nicky Cramer was a King’s Road dandy and hanger-on, customarily seen in the King’s Road in red silk trousers and shirt, bells around his neck, and flowers behind his ears. His only known occupation was “forever blowing bubbles through one of those wire wands.” Christopher Gibbs described him as “a sweet, fey, amiable loon. There was nothing remotely wicked about him.”

This was not the universal opinion of him though. Anita Pallenberg described him as, “like one of these upper-class penniless people who’d pounce on everybody – he wasn’t good news, really.” According to reports at the time, he was seemingly “bored or distracted”, which may have been one of the reasons he was considered as a suspect as the traitor.

Christopher Gibbs again, “There were one or two innocent creatures caught up in the bust. Including a youngster named Nicky Kramer, thought very wrongly to have something to do with the setup.” How was he so sure he had nothing to do with it? David Litvinoff, a thug on the fringes of The Rolling Stones entourage with connections to the Krays (the infamous gangsters from London’s East End) visited the unfortunate Nicky Cramer and beat him up systematically. When Nicky still did not confess, he was pronounced in the clear.

David Schneidermann, the Acid King

One of the many mysteries of the Redlands Bust is the identity and role of David Schneidermann. Some report he was a 27 year old Canadian, others say he originated from California, others that he was also known as Dave Britton. Whatever his real identity, he was known as “The Acid King”.

According to sources at the time of the Redland’s bust, The Acid King, lived up to his name and had an attaché case containing a host of illegal drugs. Marianne Faithful confirmed that Schneiderman had delivered to each of the house party a tab of “white lightning” LSD with their tea on the morning of the police raid.

Christopher Gibbs again, “The infamous David Schniederman was a pied-piperish character. Who the hell he was, and where he came from, nobody knew he had just popped up. He was able to tune into everybody’s wavelength and was seductive, satanic, the devil in his most beguiling of disguises. After the bust he vanished as devils do, in a puff of smoke, and was never seen again.”

During the raid Schneidermann managed to prevent the police searching his attaché case by saying that it contained exposed film for a New York newspaper. He vanished soon after the raid and never re-surfaced.

At the trial Michael Havers QC, defending Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, claimed that David Schneiderman had been planted by the News of the World as an agent provocateur. Already being sued for libel, the newspaper, described the allegation as a “monstrous charge” but it later admitted that it was the “reliable source” whose tip-off led to the raid.

Michael Cooper said, “The guy’s much more than an ordinary pusher. He had a whole collection of different passports in different names and with different nationalities on them. I saw them once when I was looking through his bag for some dope at Redlands.”

The most recent conjecture is that he probably worked for either British or US Intelligence, both of whom were known to have infiltrated youth organizations in the sixties.

We should point out that this is not David Schneiderman, the CEO of The Village Voice!

References

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4 Responses to “Police raid Keith Richard's "Redlands" home in Sussex for drugs”

  1. Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones dies in his Swimming Pool | The History of Rock Music on May 13th, 2009 5:35 pm

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  3. Brian Jones Leaves The Rolling Stones | The History of Rock Music on June 20th, 2009 5:13 pm

    […] jail time (a fate that befell his band-mates Mick Jagger and Keith Richard after the notorious “Redlands” drug raid) but had been told by the judge to get help and, “for goodness sake, don’t get into […]

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