On Dec. 18, 1966, Tara Browne was driving his Lotus Elan with his girlfriend, mo…

Written by on December 18, 2017


On Dec. 18, 1966, Tara Browne was driving his Lotus Elan with his girlfriend, model Suki Potier, in South Kensington (London). It is not known whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He failed to see a traffic light and proceeded through the junction of Redcliffe Square and Redcliffe Gardens, colliding with a parked truck. He died of his injuries the following day. Potier claimed Browne swerved the car to absorb the impact of the crash to save her life.

Browne was the son of Dominick Browne, 4th Baron Oranmore and Browne, a member of the House of Lords since 1927 who later became famous for having served in that house longer than any other peer, finally being evicted during government reforms in 1999; and Oonagh Guinness, heiress to the Guinness fortune and the youngest of the three “Golden Guinness Girls”.

According to some sources, Tara and this accident were the inspiration for the Beatles song “A Day in the Life”.

A month later on Jan. 17, 1967, John Lennon, who was a friend of Browne’s, was reading the London Daily Mail and happened upon the news of the coroner’s verdict into Browne’s death. He worked the story into the song “A Day in the Life”, later released on the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The second verse features the following lines:

“He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords”

According to Lennon, in his 1980 interview with Playboy magazine, “I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash.”

However the song’s other lyricist-composer, Paul McCartney, had a very different inspiration. He is quoted as saying: “The verse about the politician blowing his mind out in a car we wrote together. It has been attributed to Tara Browne, the Guinness heir, which I don’t believe is the case, certainly as we were writing it, I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John’s head it might have been. In my head I was imagining a politician bombed out on drugs who’d stopped at some traffic lights and didn’t notice that the lights had changed. The ‘blew his mind’ was purely a drugs reference, nothing to do with a car crash.”

Lennon remembered McCartney’s contributions differently however, saying in Playboy, ” Paul’s contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song ‘I’d love to turn you on.’ I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn’t use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work.”

We know for sure that Tara Browne died 51 years ago today in London. And it probably had a lot to do with “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles.

RIP Tara.




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