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The little-known story of The Beatles’ on-staff astrologer
01:49 pm
The little-known story of The Beatles’ on-staff astrologer

The Beatles opened their first Apple Corp. business enterprise, the Apple Boutique, at 94 Baker Street in London, on December 7, 1967. Technically it was simply called the Apple “shop,” because John Lennon disapproved of using the word “boutique.” The exterior of the shop, described by Paul McCartney as “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things,” was originally covered in a bright, swirling psychedelic mural designed and painted by Dutch art collective, The Fool (Simon Posthuma, Marijke Koeger, Josje Leeger, along with Simon Hayes, and Barry Finch). This mural was painted over after outcry from nearby businesses and an order from the Westminster City Council. The 18th-century Georgian building contained demo recording studios upstairs as well as in the basement, with the clothing and groovy accessories boutique on the main floor.

What do you need when you start an ambitious business enterprise with Eastern spiritual leanings and a hippie sensibility?

Of course, you’d require a professional on-staff astrologer.

Caleb Ashburton-Dunning was hired not only as the assistant manager of the Apple boutique but as the house astrologer to do daily horoscopes for the Beatles when asked and charts for any special event or problem. He worked out of a small office in the Apple building. His fiancee, a graphic artist named Mishi, worked as a salesgirl downstairs. Ashburton-Dunning did the majority of his astrological work for John Lennon and Yoko Ono until he had a falling out with John. 

Jazz and progressive rock guitarist and bassist Roger Bunn (who later joined Pete Brown’s band Piblokto!) used the upstairs recording studio at Apple. He wrote in his unpublished memoirs, The Right Side of the Tracks, in 2000:

“I first met Mishi through Diana’s friend Caleb Ashburton-Dunning, the Beatles astrologer, and manager of the Apple shop. Wherein, after Djinn had split, and while James Taylor recorded his demos in the basement, I was on the top floor recording “Life is a Circus” [later recorded by David Bowie]. Caleb had since left Apple in disgrace, reason being he told John Lennon to drop Yoko and return to Cynthia. Unfortunately, for Caleb Ashburton-Dunning, he was also in the process of going acid-ape.”

Ashburton-Dunning was devastated over being fired by Lennon simply for predicting that his relationship with Yoko Ono would not go well. He turned to the The Process Church of the Final Judgment, a bizarre new religious organization that had its headquarters in London.

The Process Church was founded by an English couple, Robert Moor (later calling himself Robert DeGrimston) and Mary Anne MacLean, who were former Scientologists. The Process were derided as Satanists because their teachings included the need to worship Jehovah, Satan, Lucifer, and Christ equally. This organization faltered in the mid-1970s and underwent many attempts at revival and renewal, eventually morphing into the Best Friends Animal Society, an animal rescue group.

Ashburton-Dunning seems to have disappeared after the initial disbanding of The Process. Mishi divorced him in 1969 and became the long-time common law wife of Roger Bunn.

In the clip below, from the 1968 comedy ‘Hot Millions,’ a young Maggie Smith shops at the Apple Boutique as Bob Newhart looks on.

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright
01:49 pm
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