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Observations placeholder

Ogden, John - Sees huge luminous crosses hanging in the sky



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

From Daily Mail - Mad maestro who attacked his wife in front of the Queen: Violent, paranoid... and Britain's most sublime pianist. New book lays bare the life of John Ogdon - By David Leafe Published: 01:28, 28 March 2014 

Brenda and John were married in July 1960 and, as his career took off, so, too, did their spending. Those closest to Ogdon believed that this was largely at her behest.

Once a well-padded, dark-haired young woman with a Lancashire accent, she transformed herself into a fashionably thin and blonde-haired society hostess, with softly spoken London vowels.

In the words of the composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle, who knew the Ogdons from their student days, her gatherings of politicians, prominent businessmen and the occasional aristocrat were ‘tasteless, pretentious, horrible’.

Ogdon’s friends believed he was living in an artificial world that conflicted with who he really was, and this certainly seemed reflected in his behaviour. He started smoking and drinking heavily, downing a bottle-and-a-half of Martini a day.

More disturbingly still, he was soon contending with the early manifestations of the mental illness that would later be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.

On a tour of America in 1971, the pianist began to hallucinate, seeing huge luminous crosses hanging in the sky


On a tour of America in 1971, he began to hallucinate, seeing huge luminous crosses hanging in the sky and, on one occasion, hearing voices which ordered him to stand on a ledge outside the window of his hotel room, 16 storeys up. He duly obeyed and, when passers-by alerted the police, he ended up in a psychiatric ward, before being flown home.

Back in London, he tried to jump from a car while it was still moving and became prone to delusions, including belief in a world conspiracy involving his father, Hitler and the Moors Murderers.

In November 1973, following a concert at the Royal Festival Hall, attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the Ogdons were invited to meet the royal couple. As his wife prepared to curtsey, Ogdon suddenly grabbed hold of her, shoved her to one side and shook hands with the startled monarch himself.

Soon afterwards, he carved crosses on his temples — remember, he had previously imagined crosses hanging in the sky — and took to covering his face with white powder and wearing lipstick.

Once, he cut his throat with such savagery that he sliced through the jugular and would have died, but for a massive blood transfusion. Before long, he was spending increasing amounts of time in and out of various psychiatric hospitals.

His doctors recommended that he should take a prolonged break from performing. But the Ogdons had long been living beyond their means and Brenda Ogdon would not countenance any drop in her husband’s earnings.

Strong anti-psychotic drugs he was taking were giving him difficulty co-ordinating his hand movements.

In 1975, they were forced to sell their mansion in Regent’s Park, but the small profit was swallowed up by their fast-growing debts.

The source of the experience

Ogden, John

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps