Category Archives: Marian Montgomery

Ending at Annabel’s


 44 Berkeley Square, London

Our tour of Mother’s ’70s London art/society/music life ends this week, fittingly, at Annabel’s the members only nightclub and disco in the basement of the Clermont Club (a casino) where many of Mother’s evenings with Marian and Silvio and members of her ex-pat moms crew ended.  The club was founded in 1963 by Mark Birley and named after his then wife Lady Annabel Vane-Tempest-Stewart.  It is fifty years old this year and apparently still going strong–drawing the likes of Lady Gaga, Tom Cruise and Brian Ferry just as it once drew Princess Anne, Frank Sinatra, Aristotle Onasis, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Tina Turner.  It was exactly the kind of place Mother loved and in London in the 70s being a beautiful young American divorcee with money and some talent was all it took to get her in.  The expat community was open to Mother in a way society in New York wasn’t and she really flourished there.

Treasure of Las Flores del Vicio

Carrol Baker as Treasure in Las Flores del Vicio

After their success with “Summer House”, Mother and Marian Montgomery kept working together and wrote music and songs for Silvio Narizzano’s Las Flores del Vicio (released in the US as Bloodbath).  It’s an insane phantasmagoria of sex and surreal indulgence set (and shot) in Spain that was locked up in a vault by the Spanish censors under General Franco.  It’s kind of Bunuel meets Hammer Horror and stars  Dennis Hopper at his craziest and most drugged out.  Carrol Baker’s character, Treasure, sings Mother and Marian’s final song as she dies in a fountain at the end.  It became a straight to drive-in and then video release in the US. in 1979 after the reels were finally freed.  You can see a clip by clicking on the link.


Marion Montgomery & Mother

Mother’s friend, singer Marion Montgomery doing “Close Your Eyes” with Dudley Moore on piano.

In London Mother turned from writing poetry to writing songs with her new friend and fellow expat Marian (later changed to Marion) Montgomery.  Marion knew where Mother was coming from.  She’d been born Maud Runnells in Natchez, Mississippi, and got the hell out of there as soon as she could and started singing in clubs in Atlanta.  Later, at a gig in Chicago, Peggy Lee saw her and convinced Capitol Records to sign her.  In 1965 she went to London to sing with John Dankworth (later Cleo Laine’s husband) and fell in love with English pianist, musical director, (and arranger for Englebert Humperdink)  Laurie Holloway.  The two married and became well known in the British jazz and caberet scene.  Mother met Marian at a party and the two began writing songs together.  One, “The Summer House”, Marion sang live on the BBC.  Another was used in Silvio Narizzano’s (Georgy Girl) film Bloodbath.  More on that tomorrow!

Here’s To The Ladies Who Brunch!

Mother’s weekly white wine lunch.  Singer Marian Montgomery in the headscarf next to Mary Broomfield in pale yellow.

I’ll tell you all about it and much more at the Hotel Bel Air on July 8th at 10:30 if you come to Literary Affairs’ Books and Breakfast event.  Click on the link below for tickets.  It will be fun!

London Ladies Who Lunch — Chanel Bonfire

Here’s to the ladies who lunch!

Marian Montgomery in the headscarf, next to Mary Broomfield in pale yellow with hands clasped. Cigarettes, cold white wine and maybe a chicken salad for those who were hungry…

Behind that wall, the IRA bomb went off.  Mother wrote songs with Marian who recorded them and sang one of them “The Summerhouse” on the BBC.  I’ll post a digital version when I can find it.