Private Eye reveals identity of ‘Lunchtime O’Boulez’

Private Eye reveals identity of ‘Lunchtime O’Boulez’


norman lebrecht

October 27, 2021

The london satirical magazine, in its 60th birthday issue, has broken cover for its original leaker of orchestral information, the notoriously waspish and accurate Lunchtime O’Boulez (a liquid pseudonym).

The Eye’s former editor Richard Ingrams reveals that John Boyden, who died this month, started the column after he was sacked as managing director by the London Symphony Orchestra. Booze, bad behaviour and civil war at the LSO were frequent topics of the column, giving the orchestra a more raffish status than its London rivals, an attraction none of them ever quite matched.

Rest in peace, John. M’learned friends can’t get you now.


  • CSOA Insider says:

    John Boyden, thank you for your service and for being a role model.

    Booze, bad behaviour and civil war, as revelations or leaks, are not as bad as they sound. As a hypothetical: violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Meritor Savings Bank v. Vincent) covered up by Orchestra management would be far more serious.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Often wondered who he was. Thanks for the info.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    L o’B content every other week often had common ground with Slipped Disc columns.

    • Garry Humphreys says:

      That doesn’t sound like a compliment! As an Eye reader of several decades I’ve always found the column factual rather than opinionated, hence its value and interest.

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    People may wonder about the name: this was a musical variation of ‘Lunchtime O’Booze’ (the archetypal drunken journalist), the name Auberon Waugh gave to George Gale (1927-90), editor of The Spectator. Quite a neat adjustment, I always thought, and a source of much useful information on the world of music for Eye readers over the years. Gale himself was sometimes referred to in the Eye as George G. Ale!

  • ExLsoist says:

    I recall a piece a long time ago when after the LSO had performed Stockhausen’s Gruppen, Private Eye said that the principal percussion player, Kurt-Hans Goedike, previously referred to by them as the Reichfuhrer would henceforth be called the Gruppenfuhrer. John Boyden, as it now turns out, had a wry sense of humour.

    • Violinbackdesk says:

      This reminds me that Private Eye used to refer to our chairman as “Anthony Camden and his cronies the Mad Mullahs” which annoyed them greatly and eventually led to the LSO suing Private Eye after which it all stopped.

      • norman lebrecht says:

        I don’t suppose that appears, either, in the Morrison book

        • Armchair Bard says:

          Morrison wrote for a while the (sometimes screamingly funny) “Hornblower” column in another magazine. This was around the time when one of its staff habitually answered the phone, “Hello! Classical Morons’ Fortnightly” – the innocent caller, of course, never quite sure what he had just heard…

        • UK Arts Manager says:

          Richard Morrison recounts in his biography of the LSO that Anthony Camden and the LSO were so relentlessly pilloried in “Private Eye” (with Camden being nicknamed – better not repeat it here to prevent NL receiving a similar writ) that they eventually sued the magazine “for defamatory libel” and won. Camden said that the amount he personally reeceived enabled him “to buy a nice apartment in Spain” [Richard Morrison, “Orchestra The LSO: A Century of Triumph and Turbulence” (Faber and Faber, 2004), pg. 203]. Morrison also documents that Clive Gillinson on taking over the manager’s hotseat was soon also nicknamed by “Private Eye” [ibid, pg. 205].

          It was well-rumoured in musical circles that John Boyden was behind at least some of the “Lunchtime O’Boulez” column in “Private Eye” at the time, and now Richard Ingrams confirms it.

          • Armchair Bard says:

            Boyden also dished a lot of dirt on a Former Great Record Company (we’re back to Previn here). His source has never been identified to this day and was likely more than one person, given we all knew JB was LO’B.

            My favourite story concerned a querulous A&R meeting in which at some point the late Peter Andry allegedly knocked things on the head by announcing: “OK, that’s enough: we’ll do ‘Tod und Verklärung’ *and* ‘Death and Transfiguration’.” (He probably put Verdi’s “Ben Trovato” down too, but hey…)