For years, Cathy Forbush has had to listen to her late brother being disparaged and insulted. She would respond with the truth of the matter, but the source of the slander is the radio.
Her younger brother, Francis “Flattop” Forbush, who died in 1981, is the source of the Beatles’ song, “Come Together”, Cathy maintains. She also insists that the lyrics paint an unflattering and incorrect portrait of a gentle soul with serious troubles.
“It’s true that Francis had a drug problem. He struggled with addiction all his life. But to claim he was a joker who just did what he please? That’s simply wrong.”
Cathy has a photo of Francis later in his short life, seeming to have overcome his demons. His hair, no longer down to his knees, is trimmed conservatively and he is wearing shoeshine. But one can still see, behind his good looks and pained smile, that he is still a bit of a mojo filter.
“He never had Ono sideboard,” Cathy continues. “Or toe-jam football. And even in his worst times he probably only roller-coastered once, maybe twice.”
In that case, how is Cathy so sure the song is about her late brother? She says he was generally known to his friends as “Flattop” or “That Guy With the Feet Below His Knees”. And, she says, there are other tell-tale details in the lyrics. “Francis had a lot of problems, problems which contributed to his drug habit. Even as a child he was teased for his joo-joo eyeball, and his monkey finger made it difficult for him to find work.”
“But he was good at maths, and one of the sweetest people you could ever know. I always looked forward to him grooving slowly up my front walk. Lennon’s song makes him sound like a creep, a spinal cracker who was constantly shooting coca-cola. That simply isn’t true. It’s terrible for him to be immortalized this way.”
Of course, with both Lennon and Francis dead, it seems that there is no longer any one who can apologize and no one for them to apologize to. Cathy and other friends and relations of Francis have only their memories of the man to carry them on.
“Even though the song is about my brother, I have to turn it off if it comes on the radio,” Cathy says. “It’s too hurtful.”
Francis died of an overdose only a few months after Lennon was murdered. It was Cathy who found his body in his bathroom, having to come in through the window as he had locked the door. Would his brief, tragic life have been any different if he had not been notoriously featured in a Beatles song? As she sits by the banks of a lagoon, Cathy can only suck her thumb and wonder.