18 December 2012
One of the reasons George is my favorite Beatle is because there's so many cool stories about him, and yet, being the mysterious/private guy he was, most people don't know about them. The ones I've read really give a sense of what a wonderful, generous, fun and interesting guy he was, so I thought it might be nice to compile them all into one thread.
I have to go study though, so for now these are two nice fan ones I saw on the Huffington Post and tumblr:
orsojo: "I have a friend that worked at the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Lancaster, MA who met George when he went there in the 90s for panchakarma treatments. He said that you wouldn't know that George was a celebrity by the way he acted and interacted with the staff. My friend was a amateur guitar player and when Harrison learned about this young guy's love of playing, he asked if after dinner one night he would like to get together to play. They did and just sat together enjoying the sounds they made. My friend said that looking back on it, it was surreal in a way to be sitting and playing guitar with "one of the Beatles," but that it seemed more like just meeting a nice guy who shared your love of playing the guitar." - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeanne-ball/george-harrison-meditation_b_991876.html
niceboulder: "So my friend Nicole told me a story of how she used to work in the pub where George Harrison would bike to regularly and how one christmas instead of tipping all of the waitresses there like usual he bought every single one of them a small diamond necklace. They were all so stunned and thankful and oh my god so happy and he hugged them all and he said his wife helped him pick them out. And oh my god how can you not love this man." - http://niceboulder.tumblr.com/post/30784642387/so-my-friend-nicole-told-me-a-story-of-how-she
20 December 2010
18 December 2012
In 1974, When the Dark Horse Tour came to California, George visited the Free Clinic in San Francisco. He spoke with some fans and he donated money to the clinic. Here is a short blurb about that visit.
Before his 1974 tour, he had decided that several concerts would be benefits, and he had heard about the plight of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic. The Free Clinic opened in 1967, the year of Harrison's first visit, and had survived the district's post-Summer-of-Love speed/rip-off/deterioration phase. The clinic had grown but had lost federal revenue-sharing money marked for 1975. It was set to shut down part of its medical sector, which, the previous year, spent $67,500 to treat 10,000 patients. Harrison donated net profits from his first Bay Area concert to the clinic -- a total of $66,000.
The day after that first concert, Harrison, future wife Olivia Arias, who was at that time working for his record label, Dark Horse, and several others visited the clinic. This time, he was no pied piper leading an adoring mass. Patients at the clinic recognized him. But, as founder Dr. David E. Smith said, "Nobody gaped; nobody mobbed him or kissed his ass." Harrison toured the clinic and chatted with several staff members.
"He said he hoped to start a ripple with other musicians doing the same kind of things," writer Amie Hill, a clinic volunteer, reported. "The doctors gave him a plaque, and someone told me he said, 'Don't thank me. It's not me, it's something else over us that acts through people like me. I'm just an instrument.' "
And as he spoke, he broke into one of his songs, "The Lord Loves the One."
18 December 2012
“The visit came about thanks to meeting George's friend and master luthier, Danny Ferrington, in January 1999 at that year’s NAMM music trade show in Los Angeles. That was the show where my wife Liz and I and my brother-in-law, Dale Webb, first introduced Dale’s Fluke ukulele to the marketplace. “At our booth, besides the Fluke, we were presenting several of our Jumpin’ Jim’s songbooks and my book, The Ukulele: A Visual History. Danny Ferrington happened to pass by our booth and saw the uke history book. He commented that George Harrison was his friend and that George had given copies of the uke history book to his pals as a gift that past Christmas. He also went on to say that George was in Los Angeles at the moment and would love to see our vintage uke collection. Naturally both Liz and I, who lived in Los Angeles, were thrilled with the idea that a Beatle might want to visit our home. However, because we couldn’t imagine such a thing actually happening, we didn’t tell anyone and pretty much put it out of our heads.
“A couple of weeks later, on February 2, we were still doubtful even as Danny kept calling with hourly updates on the various stops he and George were making as they supposedly were making their way to our home. And then sometime in the early afternoon Danny and George Harrison walked into our living room. My first memory was that George grabbed a banjo uke resting on a stand and began to strum and sing the Formby song (and Herman Hermits hit) ‘Leaning On A Lamppost.’ And for the next three hours we talked ukuleles and sang songs. George sang and strummed several original songs that eventually ended up on his last CD, “Brainwashed”. “As it happened, at the time of George’s visit, Liz and I were putting the finishing touches on our Jumpin’ Jim’s ‘60s Uke-In songbook which was to include a number of Beatles songs arranged for ukulele. We were very excited about this book because it was going to be the first uke songbook to feature songs from the 1960s and we were especially pleased at how good these classic tunes sounded on the ukulele. As an example I pointed out the arrangement for ‘All My Loving.’ And then a moment later Liz, Danny Ferrington and I were all singing and strumming ‘All My Loving’ with George Harrison. Liz and I stole a look at each other while this was occurring as if to say ‘treasure this moment– this is about as good as it gets.’
“There are two other moments that are worth sharing. The first came about towards the end of the visit when I asked George if he would be willing to write a short note on why he liked the ukulele. He sat at our dining table and composed the charming paragraph that became the ‘appreciation’ in the ‘60s Uke Insongbook. “The other great moment was an unexpected flourish as George and Danny were leaving. At the end of our goodbyes George ran over to the piano and grandly played the famous intro to his song, ‘Something.’ And with that he said ‘See you later’ and dashed off. After Danny and George were gone Liz and I were left stunned and amazed. The year before we had made the somewhat crazy decision to leave good jobs (I worked for Billboard Magazineand Liz was a highly regarded graphic designer in the movie biz) to go full time into the ukulele business. At that moment we became convinced that George’s visit was a blessing that we were on the right path. We still do.”
As Harrison’s health deteriorated in 2001, his friends used the uke to lift his spirits. Longtime friend and musical collaborator Jeff Lynne said that, toward the very end of Harrison’s life, “I'd sit beside him and play some ukulele very quietly. He'd wake and smile. . . . I half expected him to tell me I was doing it wrong. George was passionate about the ukulele. He played it brilliantly, studied it, and collected hundreds of vintage instruments. There's not much you can do with a ukulele that doesn't sound happy. I think that's why he liked it.”
18 December 2012
November 30, 2001
Writing almost exclusively these past weeks, and months (and, it seems, years), on the topic of international terrorism, and the threat posed by recent unwelcome events to the "broadband education" of our sons and daughters, it comes as an odd sort of relief to be able to say some things about the unwelcome death of a friend, and the passing of a cultural icon. The experience, however sad and sombre, is uplifting by comparison.
The person I am talking about is George Harrison, the ex-Beatle. I met George (and his lovely-wife-to-be Olivia) on an airplane headed from the islands of the Seychelles to Bombay, India. It was a day in December, 1976. George was an ex-Beatle; I was the owner of the successful student travel company, ALSG, and a dabbler in the electronic recording arts as the proprietor of the Massachusetts countryside recording studio, Long View Farm.
We had a lot to talk about in the airplane, and in the Bombay hotel Taj Mahal where, by further coincidence, we were destined to stay for a week or so. Only, it wasn't about the Beatles that we talked, or about the student travel business in the United States, or about the Massachusetts recording studio (which would soon, with a word or two of encouragement from George, be called upon to host the second-most important rock 'n' roll band in the world, the Rolling Stones.) It was about living gods that we talked.
That's what he was doing in India. That's why I was there. We were hunting for living gods —divinely empowered human creatures who could do things like levitating matchboxes from across a room, or like living in a cave for two decades, like Rip Van Winkle, on nothing but the smell of incense and lofty thoughts.
It turns out that we both had the same paperback book in our flight bags, Paramahansa Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi." We had each read it several times. He autographed my copy of the book; I underlined the paragraphs I liked best in his. The book was to be our Michelin Guide, here in the land of virtual saints and sidewalk transcendence.
Neither George Harrison nor I would think any less of the paperback book because we could find no living gods on the sidewalks of Bombay. With great humor and optimism, George assured this author that all good things take a while sometimes to materialize, and that we should satisfy ourselves in the meanwhile with the beauty ingredient in the here-and-now.
Bombay, for example. George taught me how to purchase silver necklaces in tiny stores in alleyways, and how to haggle for sandlewood carvings which told the story of Indian religious figures, including elephants.
George's friends, as another example. He took me an hour outside of town in a lurching, speeding taxicab to the place where Ravi Shankar lived. There was a reason for the trip. Ravi Shankar's niece was to be married that day, in the presence of a demi-god of the West, who was of course George himself. I was happy to be there, eating with the fingers of my right hand while sitting cross-legged on a polished floor, and listening to the music of sitars.
George and I left Bombay in 1976 without having located any living gods. George was not giving up, however. "You've got to come up to Benares, Gil," he said. The every-twenty-year spiritual festival of the Kumbla Melawas just about to begin, and people said that on occasions such as these there were living gods to be seen on every street corner, and in every country cave, each with wisdom to dispense.
I didn't go. I had my business career to attend to, back in the United States. There was a recording studio to watch over, and American students to send to Europe and to points beyond. I tried to explain this to George months later, on the telephone.
And now it's 25 years later still. The recording studio became well known, and filled itself with rock stars. I am still officiating over the travel of American students to Europe and to points beyond, with great passion and dedication. But George Harrison is no longer teasing me about the rarity of living gods, having taken on some of these trappings himself a night or two ago in Los Angeles.
Beats obsessing about the terrorists, thinking these thoughts.
Dr. Gilbert Scott Markle
This link gives a more detailed version of the story: http://www.studiowner.com/essays/essay.asp?books=0&pagnum=28
This was one of my favorites that I came across. I just love the images it conjures up in my head. I hope it's ok that I keep posting these. If it's considered spam I'll stop.
8 November 2012
18 December 2012
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Part 6 (last part)
8 November 2012
21 November 2012
8 November 2012
PBS has the story about Leslie from the Antiques Roadshow up here now. She says she's going to write a book about her experiences meeting George.
They've also posted an audio recording she made of Paul.
27 December 2012
The video said that if you want to be in a rock and roll band you might as well be in The Beatles lol.
"When I was a robber *Piano Chord* in Boston Place"
"Let's hope this turns out pretty darn good huh"
"Pete may be the best, but Ringo is the star"
Paul:"Don't be nervous John"
John:"I 'm not"
14 April 2010
This is one of my favorite stories from the documentary Living In The Material World.
To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.
18 December 2012
Freaky… I think this woman who was recently on Antiques Roadshow is the Leslie of your last few posts:
Whoa, how weird. Thanks for the links.
From Eric Idle's Greedy Bastard Diary. There's a lot of great George stories in there:
Day Forty. Shuffle off to Buffalo.
Saturday, November 8, 2003 – Day off in Buffalo
Further down the mall in St. Louis there is a Beatle souvenir shop, though sadly they have no Rutles stuff. I made some Rutle merchandise for Can't Buy Me Lunch, but I gave it all to George who adored all Rutle stuff. I think the most successful present I ever gave him was a Rutle guitar, which Danny Ferrington made for me. It featured the Rutles looking out of the windows of a car, and George was thrilled with it. George once gave me the most spectacular present. It was Christmas 1975 and my marriage was breaking up and I was very sad and it was snowing and my little two year old son and I were alone on Christmas Eve. There was a ring at the door and we stood on the stoop bewildered as two men unloaded a big bulky heavy object from the back of a large truck and carried it inside. Carey and I looked at each other puzzled. What on earth was it? It was wrapped in corrugated brown paper and tied up with string, so we set about ripping the covering off. To our amazement and utter delight it was a juke box filled with rock and roll classics! There was a note on it which said "Every Home Should Have One, Happy Christmas, love George and Liv." Well we plugged that thing in and it glowed and throbbed and pulsated with sound and we danced madly to it all that Christmas. What a great gift.
18 December 2012
I had always wanted to meet George Harrison. Throughout my entire adult life, if you asked me who was the one person I would most want to meet it would have to be George Harrison. So, I was thrilled when Laurence was asked to do a session for George on the soundtrack to the movie “Shanghai Surprise.” I was also nine months pregnant with my second child. Undaunted, I was clearly not going to miss my big opportunity to go to the recording studio even if I was as big as a Volkswagon.
The night before the session I was going through my ever narrowing options of what I could comfortably wear and look reasonably ok in, when the unthinkable happened. I went into labor. I couldn’t believe it. I was not due for another 3 days, and if I had to give birth, then I wouldn’t get to go to the studio. What a dilemma. I ignored the labor for a while, hoping it was a false alarm. When I had a contraction and Laurence asked if I was ok, I tried pretending that it was not that bad, but babies have a way of setting their own timetables and finally I had to admit that I was going into hard labor and we needed to get to the hospital. Laurence grabbed all the things you are supposed to take, (Including his guitar) and we headed off to give birth. It was a fairly easy labor this time (Not like the dramatic epic of Nico’s birth) and Laurence played guitar for me through most of the process. This was wonderful, up to a point, but when the nurses all gathered in our room to hear him play I had to get their attention back to the fact that I was the one in labor.
I was thrilled, of course when I delivered Ilsey, a beautiful, healthy 7 pound girl. She was born at 7 in the morning and after we settled down Laurence needed to leave to get to the session by the late morning. I was sorry he had to leave so soon, and I knew he was going to work with George, so I was pretty jealous, too. Oh well.
I called my parents and some other people to let them know the good news, a few hours went by as I nursed the baby and napped a bit and then the telephone rang. I said “Hello,” and there was an unmistakable Liverpudlian accent on the other end of the line. It was George Harrison. He congratulated me on the birth of our daughter and invited me to come down to the studio as soon as I was up for it, baby and all.
So when Ilsey was all of 2 days old, the very first outing she ever had was to go to a recording studio to meet George Harrison. He was so incredibly warm. He went to his car and brought out two presents. A teddy bear for Ilsey and a pull toy for Nico. He held the baby and actually danced around the studio with her in his arms. He kissed her head and said a blessing. I spent a while listening to the music and talking to George. I was surprised at how forthcoming and talkative he was, for the one with the reputation as “The quiet one.”
We did have the opportunity to see him again after that, but I will always cherish that particular memory.
18 December 2012
These are from Michael Palin's diary during the Monty Python days. They give a great look at George's friendship with the Pythons as well some mentions of the other Beatles. I especially loved these since Michael Palin is my favorite Python. It's really endearing the way he writes about George:
Saturday November 4th 1972
With Terry and Andre, walked across Regent Street and into Savile Row, where the Apple Studios are situated in a well-preserved row of Georgian town houses. They seem to be the only place that has the technology to cut our multiple B side. Down the stairs to the basement. Into a foyer with heavy carpets, two soft sofas and felt covered walls, all in a rather dark, restful plum colour. A big glass-topped coffee table, designed for only the best coffee table books, was littered with copies of the Daily Mirror. A flamboyant stainless steel strip was sunk into one wall. Immediate impression on entering the cutting room of being in a Harley Street dentist’s consulting room. At one point, about 7.00, I had just come back into the studios after having a drink when a slight, thin figure walked towards me. The face was familiar, but, before I could register anything, a look of recognition crossed George Harrison’s face, and he shook my hand, and went into a paean of praise for Monty Python – with the same exaggerated enthusiasm that I would have lavished on the Beatles had I met them five years ago. He said he couldn't wait to see Python on 35mm, big screen.
Thursday January 9th 1975
Another sign of the times. ‘The Beatles’ company, Beatles Ltd, officially and finally ceased to exist today. The company, which held the Beatles group as such together in various legal obligations, has become increasingly obstructive to their various separate careers. The group haven’t played together since 1969. We began when they finished.
Friday January 10th 1975
By one of those strange coincidences, today was the day that Python and the Beatles came together. In the last two months we’ve heard that George H has been using ‘Lumberjack Song’ from the first BBC LP as a curtain raiser to his US stage tour. So it seemed almost predictable that the two groups would be sooner or later involved in some joint venture. Terry J, Graham and myself on behalf of Python and Neil Aspinall and Derek Taylor on behalf of the Beatles, found ourselves at lunchtime today in a hastily converted office at the Apple Corp’s temporary headquarters in smart St. James’s, to watch the Magical Mystery Tour – the Beatles’ TV film made in 1967. At that time I remember the film being slated by the critics and it vanished, swamped by an angry public who doubtless felt the Beatles had let them down by not subscribing to the image of success and glamour which the public had created around them. When it was suggested at a meeting late last year that we should try and put out the Magical Mystery Tour as a supporting film to the Holy Grail, there was unanimous agreement among the Python group. After several months of checking and cross-checking we finally heard last week that the four Beatles had been consulted and were happy to let the film go out. So today we saw it for the first time since 1967. Unfortunately it was not an unjustly underrated work. There are some poor and rather messy sequences, it’s very obvious when the group is miming to playback and there’s a cutesie Top Of The Pops-type look at Paul during ‘Fool On The Hill’, which is very tacky and dated. However, it is extraordinary still, it is far too impressionistic and odd to be just outdated and many sequences are very successful. It’s also quite long – nearly an hour, but all in all we were pleased. It will have great curiousity value and should be complementary to the Python film, because much of it looks like familiar Python territory. Ringo was suddenly there, talking with Graham and Terry. He was dressed like a British Rail porter, with a black serge waistcoat and black trousers. I noticed his hair was streaked silvery at the sides. He looked rather ashen-faced – the look of a man who needs a holiday. I was given George Harrison’s numberby Aspinall, who said he thought George would appreciate a call – he’s apparently the all-time Python fan, and it was at his mansion near Henley that they had been last night looking at the last Python TV series. Later in the evening, fortified (why did I feel I needed fortifying?) with a couple of brandies, I phoned George Hargreaves (as Derek Taylor and Aspinall referred to him). An American girl answered – or rather a girl with an American accent. She sounded bright, but when I said I was from Monty P she positively bubbled over and went off to get GH. George and I chatted for about 20 minutes or so. He adores the shows so much – “The only sane thing on television” – he wants to be involved in some kind of way with us in the States. He said he had so many ideas to talk about, but I was a little wary – especially when he told me he envisaged a Harrison-Python road show, with us doing really extraordinary things throughout the show, with us swinging out over the audience on wires, etc. Hold it George, I thought, this is hardly the way to get John Cleese back into showbusiness! But he’s clearly an idealist who has warm feelings towards us and it’s very flattering to hear one of one’s four great heroes of the ’60s say he’d ‘just like to meet and drink a glass of beer with you, and tell you how much I love you.’
Friday October 3rd 1975
From the Captain’s Cabin to the Work House – the studio in Old Kent Road where we are to re-record ‘Lumberjack Song’. (George loved the song so much he offered to produce it as a Christmas single. It reached No. 51, but no higher as the Pythons refused to sing it on Top of the Pops.) The Fred Tomlinsons have been rehearsing for an hour by the time I arrive (just after 8.00), and up in the control room are Eric and George Harrison. George grasps me in a welcoming hug and Eric pours me some Soave Bolla. Downstairs, noisy rumblings of Fred Toms. I get down there to find them in the usual hearty good spirits – no Soave Bolla in evidence down there – just huge cans of beer and cider! Instead of dividing the song and introduction up into different takes, we just launch in, and soon we’ve done three versions straight through and my voice is getting hoarse from all the added shouting at the beginning. But one of the takes seems to please everybody. George, Olivia, Kumar (George’s assistant), Eric and I leave in George’s BMW automatic for a meal. We drive, if that’s the word for George’s dodgem-like opportunism, to the Pontevecchio in Brompton Road. George’s a vegetarian, but he managed to demolish some whitebait quite easily, and did not pass out when I had duck. (I noticed everyone else ate veg. dishes only.)
Saturday October 4th 1975
At half past four drive up to collect Eric and take him out to George’s house in Henley to mix the song we recorded last night. Eric philosophical about his recent separation from Lyn. He laughed rather ruefully when he told me he’d taken Carey out to the zoo this morning – 'With all the other divorcees,’ as he put it. But he cheers up when we get to Henley and in through the gates of Friar Park, the magnificent, opulent and fantastical mid-Victorian Gothic pile which George bought seven years ago with the Beatle millions. George’s flag flies above its mock embrasures – it’s an Indian symbolic design of the sun and the moon and bears ‘om’ mantra. In the gardens there are grottoes with mock stalactites and stalagmites in mock caves and there are Japanese houses and Japanese bridges and all kinds of other ways in which an enormously rich Victorian can spend money on himself. George has endorsed it all by cleaning everything up and looking after it and generally restoring the place to its former splendours. The nuns whom he bought it from had let it rather go to seed and, according to George, had painted swimming trunks on the cherubs and cemented over the nipples on the some of the statues. It is delightful just to walk around and examine the intricate details of the carving – the recurring naughty friar’s head motif – even in evidence in brass on every light switch (the face is the fitting – the switch is the friar’s nose). It has none of the feel of a big draughty Victorian house, but one can’t escape the feeling of George somehow cut off from everyday life by the wealth that’s come his way. Maybe he feels the same way, for almost the first thing we do is to walk through the grottoes, across the lawns and down to the elaborate iron gates and into the world outside. Henley, with its narrow streets and the fine church tower standing protectively over the little town, with thickly wooded Remenham Hil looming behind. This was the town my mother was born and brought up in – in fact, she had been to Friar Park for tea when it was owned by Sir Frank Crisp, a barrister. Strange to think of the circumstances that brought me into Friar Park sixty years after she came here for tea. Anyway, we all walked down to the local pub – where we drank Brakspear’s Henley Ales and played darts. George was clearly anxious that we should stay the night, play snooker on his Olympic size snooker table, smoke, drink, mix the record and generally enjoy ourselves. But this was my second evening devoted to the ‘Lumberjack Song’ and I wanted to be back with Helen, so I reluctantly resisted most of the mind-bending delights of Friar Park and stuck to a couple of glasses of white wine. Half-way through the evening, George went out into Henley and returned with vast amounts of vegetarian food from a new Indain take-away that had just opened. We all ate too much – George dipping in with fingers only. Home about 4.00. Helen not pleased, as she had really expected me a lot earlier – and I very indignantly tried to tell her how much hospitality I had had to refuse, to get back even by 4.00. Still, it’s no time of night for an argument.
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