A migraine saved her from the Manson murders


By Mark Ellis —

(Left to right) Nigel Olsson, May Pang, John Lennon, Jozy, Neil Sedaka
(Left to right) Nigel Olsson, May Pang, John Lennon, Jozy, Neil Sedaka

“I was a super-groupie,” says Jozy Pollock, a blonde, middle-aged woman who dresses conservatively, and lets a prominent silver cross dangle from her neck. “Sometimes it seems like I’ve lived three or four separate lives,” she says.

Born in England, she became the “Hula-Hoop Queen” in her youth.  She married American magician, Channing Pollock, and moved to the United States, where they performed in Las Vegas and twice on the Ed Sullivan Show. Then the two of them went on the road with the flamboyant pianist, Liberace.

Hula hoop queen
Hula hoop queen

After divorcing her husband in 1968, she entered a fast-paced world of elite rock and roll musicians and dated a number of famous men.  She was engaged to Nigel Olsson, the drummer for Elton John as John’s career began to enter the stratosphere.

“We went from tour buses to private jets,” she says, recalling the years 1972-75.  “Elton John is an amazing talent.  The similarities between Elton and Liberace are unbelievable,” she says.  “They were both total showmen, both very generous to a fault, both loved to shop and they were both gay.”

Once she was touring with John in Italy when an article appeared in a local newspaper mentioning John’s homosexuality, before this was widely known.  “I was reading the article and told him, ‘They’re talking about you being a homosexual.’  He said, “How would they know?”  And I said, ‘Come over to the mirror.’

“John was wearing silver platform boots and some outrageous outfit, and I said, ‘Look in the mirror—How do you think they know?’”

Through Pollock’s travels with Elton John she met John Lennon at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, Colorado.  Jim Guercio, who produced many early Chicago albums, owned the ranch and its in-house recording studios.

“Elton was recording and Lennon came up there to do “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” she says.  This was during a period when John

Elton and friends
Elton and friends

Lennon was not with Yoko Ono, but was seeing an assistant, May Pang.

“May and I were doing laundry for Nigel, Elton and John Lennon,” she says.  “I said, ‘May, do you realize we could cut up these sheets and sell them?”

Life in the fast lane

Pollock has mostly pleasant memories of John Lennon, if he was not under the influence of drugs.  “When he was sober he was wonderful,” she say, “but when he was loaded he was an idiot, like most people.”  Pollock experimented lightly with drugs herself, but managed to avoid being drawn into heavy usage. “I was living in the fast lane but I always had my foot on the break,” she says.

Shortly afterward, Lennon reunited with Yoko Ono after she came to the concert at Madison Square Gardens where John appeared on stage with Elton.  “May was totally smitten with him,” Pollock say, “but Yoko came back into the picture, and May was out.  It was like May never existed.  I don’t understand the control Yoko had over John, but she had total control.”

Pollock taught Elton John to play backgammon, and found him to be fiercely competitive.  “He hates to lose,” she says.

Richard Chamberlain as a priest
Richard Chamberlain as a priest

When the AIDS epidemic began to reach alarming proportions, Pollock spoke with John’s manager about the frightening subject.  “He said, ‘It can only be the grace of God that saved me—and Elton too.’”  Pollock notes that John was somewhat shy, and would ask her to approach men for him.  “Elton wanted to go to gay bars and none of the band would go, so I went with him. It made me sad to see all these fabulous looking men who weren’t available to my girlfriends hoping to find a husband.”

One night Pollock went to a large gay bar in West Hollywood with Elton John, Bette Midler, Cher, and Richard Chamberlain  “Richard grabbed ahold of me and said, ‘Don’t leave my side.’  He was totally terrified.  He’s gay, but it was not his scene—it was too overwhelming all the men fawning over him.”

If Cher was bored she would call me for excitement,” Pollock says.  “Cher was really down to earth and quite naïve.  She was not the swinger people thought she was.  It was mostly hype.”

Manson family murders

Pollock had a series of run-ins with actress Sharon Tate. They first met in Italy while Pollock’s husband was filming a movie. Tate was only 16 at the time.  “She was incredibly beautiful then,” she says, recalling the first time Tate’s father brought her to the movie set.  Tate was put into the movie as an extra.  Many years later she ran into Tate in L.A. just before tragedy struck.

“I went to a club called the Daisy in Beverly Hills and ran into Sharon and Jay Sebring.  Sharon says, ‘When are you coming over to the

The wedding of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski
The wedding of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski

house? Try to come this weekend because Roman’s still in Europe and I’ll probably be on my own.’”  Tate was married to director Roman Polanski, who was in London at the time.

On Thursday Pollock traveled to Las Vegas with her boss to catch the opening of Anthony Newley’s show, but she contracted a migraine headache. Friends  persuaded Pollock to spend the night in Las Vegas. They booked a flight home for Pollock on Friday, in the late afternoon.

When Pollock arrived in L.A., she tried to call Tate, but couldn’t find her phone number. Pollock’s roommate wrote down the number, but because of the migraine headache and the resulting delay, the roommate had already left town for the weekend. “I looked everywhere for Sharon’s number; I couldn’t find it, and it was getting later and later. Then Judy Carne called with an extra ticket for the theatre so I thought, ‘I’ll drive over tomorrow.’”

The next morning as Pollock prepared to drive over to Sharon Tate’s house, she was stunned by news reports about the murders.  Tate, Sebring and three others were slaughtered Friday night by cult figure Charles Manson’s followers. Tate was eight and a half months pregnant when she was murdered, and the gruesome manner of the killings, later chronicled in the book “Helter Skelter,” sickened Pollock and the rest of the nation.

“After the killings I was unable to read anything about the case and it wasn’t until I read “Helter Skelter” that I realized the maid had found the bodies Saturday morning when she came into work. It is quite usual in Beverly Hills for maids to be off on Saturday. If she hadn’t come in, I probably would have been the one to discover the massacre. God protected me once again.”

Reeling from her brush with death, it wasn’t until much later when she could come to terms with it.  Pollock now believes God spared her life for future ministry.  “A migraine saved my life,” she says. “God protects you when he has a purpose for you.”

Susan Atkins with Charles Manson in court
Susan Atkins with Charles Manson in court

Several years after the killings, Pollock spoke at the California Institute of Women in a church service. As she left the service she ran into Susan Atkins, one of the cultists who took part in the crime.  “She was the one who actually cut the baby out of Sharon’s body. I had all this rage and emotion rise up and I wanted to get in her face, but the Holy Spirit prevented me.

“It was like God said, ‘You teach others to forgive. Where is your forgiveness?’  I recognized I have to forgive, and was able to just walk away without the confrontation.”

A search for inner peace

After a failed relationship with a man Pollock found through a psychic’s predictions, she was at the end of her rope.  She called a friend named Mike whose life had been transformed by Jesus Christ.  “I said, ‘I’ve had enough torment,” she recalls.

“He said, ‘Jozy, what do you really want?’

“I said, ‘All I want is peace.’

“He said, ‘With Jesus you can have peace, but you have to pray the sinners prayer.’

“I said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not a sinner, I’m a good person.  I’m always helping people.’

“He said, ‘No Jozy, you’re a sinner.’

“So I prayed the sinner’s prayer through gritted teeth.  For six months I rebelled against everything.  I said, ‘Lord, don’t turn me into a Jesus freak.  I just want to do this a little bit.’”

But after six months Pollock sensed she was missing something.  “I went to a Chi Coltrane Christian concert and she was talking about being ‘born again’ and not feeling it; which was exactly where I was in my walk. I found out she had a Bible study at her home so I went. I told her how I was feeling and she prayed with me and laid hands on me,” Pollock recalls.  “I started speaking in tongues.  Suddenly I had a huge hunger and thirst for God.”

“It was hard giving up my will,” Pollock says.  “But after I gave up my will I had peace.”  After Pollock’s water baptism, she says she had a “feeling of falling in love with Jesus.”

“I always had a man in my life, and one waiting in the wings” she says.  “After I was saved I became invisible to men, which is just as well, so I could build my relationship with Jesus.  I’ve been celibate since I’ve been saved.”

“This was God’s shield.  God knew me better than I knew myself.”

Her friends in the fast lane openly mocked her new faith.  “They said, ‘Jozy used to be so much fun, but now she’s the kiss of death—all she talks about is Jesus.’” Pollock admits she “could clear a room.”

“After I got saved I went to an Elton John concert and we all went over to Bernie Taupin’s house afterward.”  Taupin is Elton John’s famous lyricist, who collaborated with John on most of their important pieces. “We ordered burgers, and when they arrived I said, ‘Which one’s mine?’”

“Elton says, ‘The one with the cross on it.’

“Another time I went to another concert and I was wearing cross earrings and a cross necklace and he noticed all the crosses I was wearing.

“He said, ‘What are you afraid of, vampires?’”

Slowly Pollock’s old friends began to drift away, as she stopped going to the parties, and she was drawn more deeply into Christian ministry.  One by one, she sold the pieces of jewelry given to her by famous men.

Today Pollock lives in modest circumstances, far removed from the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

“I don’t want to live in a mansion, but I would like a cozy home with enough space to take in lost women I can mentor,” Pollock says.  “I was

Jozy preaches in prison
Jozy preaches in prison

once a glamour girl, but the fact that I’m not now is no big deal.  They have all the fame, but I would love for them to have the peace I have.”

Called into ministry, Pollock became the first Protestant female chaplain at L.A. Men’s Central Jail.  “I never thought I would be in ministry,” Pollock says. She has ministered to convicted murderers and has confronted and won over Satanists during her prison ministry.


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