Alexis Mardas, better known to Beatles fans as “Magic Alex,” has died at age 74, according to multiple news reports, including CNN Greece. He was reportedly found dead in his apartment of natural causes. News IT reported he had been dead several days before his body was found.
Mardas was probably one of the more infamous characters from the Beatles universe. John Lennon was reportedly introduced to him by Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones after Mardas created a psychedelic light box for them. He was friendly with John Dunbar, who was a friend of Paul McCartney‘s and the husband of Marianne Faithful before she was involved with Mick Jagger.
His strange electronic gadgets were embraced by all of the Beatles, but especially Lennon, who dubbed him “Magic Alex.” Some of his ideas had foresight, like the phone that dialed by voice recognition and displayed the numbers of callers. But then there were others, like the electronic brooches that made noise and flashed in no particular order, the artificial sun using laser beams and the invisible curtain that used ultrasonic vibrations to screen the Beatles from their fans.
“I invented a large number of electronic devices, none of which had anything to do with music of the business of the Beatles,” he said in a statement to The New York Times in 2010. “It must be remembered that none of these had even been thought about by others at the time, although most of them are now in common use,” citing an electronic camera and a “memory phone” among them.
Lennon thought so much of him that, according to author Philip Norman, he introduced him at a group meeting as “my new guru.” His friendship with the band was also demonstrated in the fact he went on several holidays with various members of the group. When Mardas married in 1968, The Beatles attended his wedding. And when The Beatles began Apple Corps, Mardas was hired to head Apple Electronics, which author Tony Bramwell in his book Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With The Beatles called “a waste of time and money.” He was also chosen to design lighting for The Beatles’ newly opened Apple Boutique and reportedly tried to help them buy a Greek island.
John Lennon had Mardas deliver a devastating message to his first wife Cynthia Lennon when he was about to leave her for Yoko Ono. “I’ve come with a message from John,” quoted Philip Norman in his book John Lennon: A Life. “He is going to divorce you, take Julian away from you and send you back to Hoylake,” where she grew up. The message caused Cynthia Lennon to lose her voice and be confined to bed with a fever.
In 1969, Mardas was chosen to put together a 78-track recording studio for them at Apple. But instead of the studio, The Beatles found only components from a German manufacturer still in boxes. When Allen Klein took over as The Beatles’ business manager, Klein pushed Mardas out for good.