The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (Lennon/McCartney)

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The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (Lennon/McCartney)

About The Beatles - Richard A. Cooke III with his mother and a recent kill

Richard A. Cooke III with his mother and a recent kill

“Bungalow Bill” was actually an American named Richard Cooke, III, who had met the Beatles and was on a tiger hunt with his mother three hours away from Rishikesh, where the Beatles were meditating. Cooke shot a tiger on the when it jumped at him and his mother. When she started talking about the kill to the Maharishi and some of his followers, the Maharishi became visibly disturbed. It was then that Cooke began to think that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. Maharishi asked, “You had the desire Rik and now you no longer have the desire?” to which John asked, “Don’t you call that slightly life destructive?” Cooke replied, “Well, John, it was either the tiger or us. The tiger was jumping right where we were.” Those words became, “If looks could kill it would’ve been us instead of him”.

Yoko on vocals

The line “Not when he looks so fierce” was sung by Yoko and is the only instance of a female lead vocal on a Beatles recording.


“‘Bungalow Bill’ was written about a guy in Maharishi’s meditation camp who took a short break to go shoot a few poor tigers, and then came back to commune with God. There used to be a character called Jungle Jim, and I combined him with Buffalo Bill. It’s sort of a teenage social-comment song and a bit of a joke.” – John

“Then a self-important, middle-aged American woman arrived, moving a mountain of luggage into the brand-new private bungalow next to Maharishi’s along with her son, a bland young man named Bill. People fled this newcomer, and no one was sorry when she left the ashram after a short time to go tiger hunting, unaware that their presence had inspired a new Beatles’ song – ‘Bungalow Bill.'” – Mia Farrow

“The other Beatles were always real nice to me but John was always aloof. They epitomized the counter-culture and I was the classic good American boy and college athlete.” – Richard Cooke, describing his encounter with the Beatles that immortalized him in a song


  • John Lennon – lead vocal, acoustic guitar, organ, Mellotron
  • Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass guitar
  • George Harrison – backing vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Ringo Starr – backing vocals, drums, tambourine
  • Chris Thomas – Mellotron
  • Yoko Ono – vocal, backing vocals
  • Maureen Starkey and others – backing vocals

Release history

2 Responses

  1. Kimberly Kay Roeder says:

    As a cousin of Rikki’s I’m amused at hearing the different versions of the stories. The snooty Lennon would have enjoyed the latter day incarnation of Rikki’s as an environmentalist with a meditation center on the island of Moloka’i, near Kualapu’u in Hawaii. Our old ranch is next door. We know him as a famous conservation photographer. And a very generous and kind man, one who helps others, as he’s shown us many times! He’s also involved in the project to remove all invasive species from Moloka’i, leaving just the native plants behind. At one point he came over and told us we had to stop shooting cans off the fence posts with the old .22; the sound of gunshots was too frightening to his guests. We did so.

  2. Martha says:

    As a young dude your cousin was the real snooty of the story. We don’t know now, maybe he regrets taking innocent lives for fun?

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