meet the maker.
Gavin Munro is a portrait painter and first time filmmaker from Manchester, England.
He is currently researching and producing What Happened To Claudio? a documentary about his findings...
What inspired you to make it?
I remember watching the original Imagine movie in 1988 and being touched by the meeting between John and 'Claudio'. With no internet back then I could only imagine what happened to him.
The recent Above Us Only Sky documentary included the full meeting and it once again made me think 'What happened to Claudio?'
Recently, I heard a Beatles podcast called Glass Onion that featured Dan Richter, who was there at the original meeting and I thought 'OK, now's the time to do this!'
As I looked online I could see there was lots of interest in Curt but no solid evidence of his story. There were also conflicting stories online about whether he was a Vietnam veteran or not and his early life and indeed if he is still alive.
I could see this story slipping into Beatles mythology and I wanted to make sure Claudio was represented as accurately as possible. To me he had to be more than the 'homeless guy in the Lennon documentary'.
I felt compelled to figure out his story by researching the facts, speaking to people who knew him so I could piece together an accurate story of his life. How the times and the people around Curt shaped his life.
Are you a Lennon/Beatles fan?
Yes! I was born in 1973 so wasn't even alive when they were together. Like most fans I had the best time as a teenager investigating the Beatles story. I remember borrowing a few books from the library when I was around 12 and seeing photos of them, especially Lennon through the different stages of the Fabs career and not realising it was the same guy!
The complexity and reinvention of his life, which reflected in his songs fascinated me. It was like a puzzle to be solved....I'm still working on that!
I was into home recording early on and would try to record Beatles songs into a battered old Tascam 4 track . I can remember hearing Sgt Peppers for the first time and being blown away by the audio dynamics and visual imagery in it, I'd never listened to something that I could 'see' before!
In my 20s I bought a house with a recording studio and joined various bands including a Beatles tribute band. In 2005 we played the album launch party for Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard at the Cavern. I finally got to meet these Liverpool characters I'd only read about like Allan Williams, Julia Baird and Cynthia Lennon.
One of my prize possessions is a letter I have from George Martin from 1992. I'd wrote to him with an obscure & naive question about the recording of Let It Be and he had the grace to write back. It's hard to think that the Beatles weren't really popular with the my generation until after the Anthology was released in 1995.
What is your plan for the production?
To produce a documentary and podcast series about Curt's story featuring accounts form people who knew him.
I 'm working closely with friends & family as well as people who were present at the original meeting at Lennon's home. All these people have been extremely supportive of this, of which I'm really grateful.
I've amassed over hours of interviews that I'm currently editing together. Lots of these chats already dispel a lot of the myths and give a real insight into Curt, John and the times they lived through.
I've already written 3 treatments of the story, from various narrative angles and production is well underway. The story is a fascinating journey through love, psychedelics, music, political movements, Messiah complexes, discovery, redemption and tragedy.
The documentary should be ready for summer 2022.
Have you had interest from people within the Beatles world?
I'm a huge fan of the work of Mark Lewisohn (Beatles #1 world authority) so I've been inspired by his research methodology. He's recently been in touch and is very supportive of the project and has offered me some great advice and information. Another Beatlologist Ray Connolly has been in touch and offered to write an Introduction for the story, which is incredible because Ray wrote the first ever book I read about John Lennon, when I was a teenager.
A lot of the The Beatles podcasters have been in touch as well, it shows there's quite a lot of interest in this throughout the Fabs community!
What are the biggest challenges?
Time and memory I suppose! It's been 50 years since these events happened. I'm hoping to evoke the memories when I talk to them but there's always the chance that perceptions may have change through time.
The other thing is people who knew him will now be much older and there is a limited amount of time to get their memories.
Are you going to use the original footage of Curt?
I'd like to but so far permission has been declined at the moment, they're defending their narrative, which is fine, but the truth is way more interesting. I'm currently working with artists, actors and animators to recreate those scenes from Tittenhurst Park and give them a fresh look.
Although this story has tangential references to John, it's important to keep the focus on Curt and his story. If the Lennon estate are willing to help to dispel a few myths then I'd be open to that discussion.
Who's on your wish list of people to talk to?
I've found and interviewed most people who knew Curt throughout his life, his family and friends have been very generous with their time and I feel I owe it to them to tell the story and include all their perspectives.
I'm in contact with some of Lennon's team that were at Tittenhurst Park that day, I have the pleasure of relaying messages to them to Curt's family and vice-versa which has been very rewarding.
The myths about the meeting and the man have been told for the last 33 years, I think it's important to have something out there that tells the truth about 'What Happened To Claudio'.
If anyone out there knew Curt I'd be thrilled if they made contact.