Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

You are viewing GEORGE HARRISON

GEORGE HARRISON – THE FIRST BEATLE ON AMERICAN SOIL

By Posted on 0 , 8

In the summer of 1963 the Beatles had some time off and while the other three members of the band went on holiday to Europe, George Harrison became the first Beatle to visit America, when, on 16 September 1963, along with his brother Peter, he went to Benton, Illinois – population, 7,000 – to visit their older sister, Louise.

According to George, “I went to New York and St Louis in 1963, to look around, and to the countryside in Illinois, where my sister was living at the time. I went to record stores. I bought Booker T and the MGs’ first album, Green Onions, and I bought some Bobby Bland, all kind of things.” George also bought James Ray’s single ‘Got My Mind Set On You’ that he later covered in 1987.

When the Harrisons arrived in Benton, George and Louise hitchhiked to radio station WFRX-AM in West Frankfort, Illinois taking a copy of ‘She Loves You’ which had been released 3 weeks earlier in Britain and on the day of George’s arrival in America. ‘She Loves You’ got a positive review in Billboard but very little radio play, although WFRX did play it. According to DJ Marcia Raubach “He was unusual looking, he dressed differently than the guys here. He was very soft-spoken and polite.”

It’s often claimed that in June 1963 Louise took a British copy of ‘From Me To You’ to WFRX that she had been sent by her mother and that Raubach played it. This is probably true but the claim that this was the first time The Beatles’ music was broadcast in America is not. ‘From Me To You’ was released in Britain in late April and then topped the British singles’ chart for seven weeks’. With the Beatles at No.1 in Britain Vee Jay records released their single of ‘From Me To You’ / ‘Thank You Girl’ as VJ 522 on 27 May 1963. The single was made ‘Pick Of the Week’ by Cash Box magazine, but was not a success.

With the Beatles success in Britain in early 1963 Parlophone were anxious to take advantage of their new asset and so contacted their sister label in America, Capitol Records that was owned by EMI. Capitol was underwhelmed by the Beatles records and so decided against releasing any of their records. Instead Parlophone turned to a small US label called Vee Jay, a company started by a husband and wife in Gary, Indiana that specialised in black R & B music.

It was an irony probably not lost on the Beatles who loved and had been influenced by exactly that kind of music. In February 1963, two days after ‘Please Please Me’ made No.1 in Britain, Vee Jay released it as a single in the US. VJ 498 did get some airplay from the major Chicago top 40 radio station WLS and it even made their own chart for a couple of weeks, but nothing happened nationally on the Billboard charts. Not helping the band was the fact that Vee Jay managed to miss-spell the bands name on the record as “Beattles”.

So it was that when George stayed at his sister and brother in law’s house in Benton he really was an unknown in America; Louise’s husband Gordon was a Scottish mining engineer who had emigrated to work in Illinois’s coal mines. George did play with a local band, The Four Vests and later members of the band took him to a Mt Vernon, Illinois music shop where George bought a red Rickenbacker 420 guitar. George wanted it to be re-finished in black, which the store-owner did for him. The guitar was first seen in public on 4 October on TV’s Ready Steady Go, the day after George and his brother returned to London.

Back in Britain, Beatlemania proper was about to begin. On 1 November they began their first tour as undisputed headliners. The venue was the Odeon Cinema, Cheltenham, and the sedate town in the West of England had never seen anything like it – so much so that one newspaperman coined the phrase ‘Beatlemania’ in an attempt to describe it. Three days later Beatlemania met royalty when the band appeared at the Royal Command Performance at a prestigious London theatre. John Lennon famously quipped that the people on the cheap seats can clap; those in the expensive ones can simple rattle their jewellery.

On 7 February 1964, The Beatles left London’s Heathrow Airport on-board a Pan Am Boeing 707 for New York’s JFK Airport where, upon arrival, they held a press conference. The American press unsure what to make of the four boys from Liverpool tried everything from sarcasm to open mouthed incredulity. The following day, after a press-call in a cold and snowy Central Park the band rehearsed for their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Ironically, they were without George for the press call or the rehearsal as he was feeling unwell. Fortunately by the following day George was better and at 8 pm the band appeared before an audience of 73 million people – exactly a year earlier they had been playing to a few thousand at a cinema in Sunderland in the north of England as a lowly support act to Helen Shapiro.


MIKE LOVE REMEMBERS GEORGE HARRISON

By Posted on 0 1

Beach Boys’ frontman Mike Love addresses each one on his latest solo album “12 Sides of Summer.”

Among original material, revamped band classics and covers, listeners will find a poignant reimagining of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” written by friend, George Harrison.

“There was something very special about singing ‘Here Comes the Sun’ — a song that was so meaningful to me and millions of other people — on the album,” says Love, who plans to perform the track in tribute to Harrison with The Beach Boys in Saratoga on Sunday. “Doing it with the traditional harmonies that we’re known for was a beautiful and mystical experience.”

Love’s friendship with George, dating back to the 1960s, was strengthened after The Beach Boys singer traveled with The Beatles to Rishikesh, India in 1968 to study under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the guru known for developing Transcendental Meditation. Over the two months they spent in India, the musicians attended lectures, played music and celebrated each other’s birthdays: Harrison’s on Feb. 25 and Love’s on March 15.

“He was such a cool person,” Love says. “People would say, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ was the best album,’ and George would say, ‘No, it’s just another album.’ He was so down to earth and yet so into spirituality.”

Along with sharing an astrological sign and an interest in metaphysical teachings, Love with The Beach Boys and Harrison with The Beatles remain part of a small, elite group of artists to have achieved 12 Top 10 hits within five years. While some, including Paul McCartney, may have regarded the bands as rivals, Love saw them like a “mutual admiration society.” And Love was the one who convinced McCartney at the breakfast table in India to “talk about all the girls around Russia” in the song that eventually became “Back in the U.S.S.R.”

In a track called “Pisces Brothers” on his 2017 double album “Unleash the Love,” Love shared his feelings about that time and place and Harrison, in particular. He often pairs the tune with “Here Comes the Sun” on the current Beach Boys tour, as a reminder that there’s light and warmth even after the “long, cold, lonely winter” of Harrison’s loss.

“When he passed away, I felt very melancholy about that,” Love says. “But he was a great guy, a great soul, who left us some great music. He was always looking at things in the positive. It’s winter, it’s cold, there’s still ice and snow around, but here comes the sun. That’s the way I approach a negative and try to find a silver lining in the cumulonimbus cloud.”



PATTIE BOYD TO RELEASE NEW BOOK NEXT YEAR

By Posted on 0 , 0

A book described as an “extraordinary visual memoir” is coming from perhaps the most famous muse of all time, Pattie Boyd. The model, photographer and author is, of course, the former wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Pattie Boyd: My Life Through a Lens, is being published April 7, 2020, via Simon and Schuster’s Insight Editions imprint.

It’s available for pre-order HERE:

UK… HERE

USA..HERE

Born in England on March 17, 1944, Boyd pursued a successful modeling career before meeting the Beatles’ George Harrison on the set of the 1964 film, A Hard Day’s Night. The two married when she was just 21, on January 21, 1966, and Boyd became a source of inspiration for Harrison’s songwriting, sparking his interest in meditation and Eastern philosophy.

She later became involved with, and married, Eric Clapton, inspiring legendary songs such as “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight.” As part of the rock and roll elite of the ’60s and ’70s, Boyd took countless portraits of some of the most well-known artists of the 20th century. Her photographs of the Beatles, Clapton, and other rock icons have been featured in various exhibitions throughout the world.

In addition to her photos, Pattie Boyd: My Life Through a Lens will include drawings, paintings, and mementos, as well as her own memories collected from a life shared with pop culture icons.

Her memoir, Wonderful Tonight, debuted at the top of the New York Times bestseller list in 2007.



THE BEATLES’ FIRST CONTRACT WITH BRIAN EPSTEIN SELLS FOR £275k

By Posted on 0 0

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and original drummer Pete Best, signed the document on 24 January 1962, before achieving fame.

It gave Brian Epstein responsibility for finding the band work, and managing their schedule and publicity.

The document was the first of two contracts drawn up between Epstein and The Beatles.

Gabriel Heaton, a specialist at Sotheby’s auction house, which was in charge of the auction, said: “Epstein was just blown away by the passion, the energy, the charisma, the raw sexuality on stage.” “The Beatles had the stage energy but he instilled a sense of professionalism in them,” Mr Heaton added. “Epstein stopped them eating on stage, made sure they played the songs properly and coherently, and he got them bowing at the end of a set.”

The contract outlines Epstein’s fee would be 10%, rising to 15% if their earnings should exceed £120 a week. Paul McCartney had negotiated Epstein’s fee down from 20%.Under 21 at the time, McCartney, Harrison and Best had to ask their parents’ consent to sign the contract.After Best left the band, another contract was signed on 1 October 1962 with Ringo Starr as drummer and Epstein taking a bigger percentage of their earnings.

That document has now sold at auction for £275,000, raising money for the Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation.

Then a record shop owner and music writer, Epstein discovered the Beatles performing at Liverpool’s Cavern Club in November 1961, remarking on their “star quality”. He extricated them from a German recording arrangement and a label deal with Polydor, and signed them to EMI label Parlophone.
 

THE NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS : ‘GEORGE HARRISON IS A ROCKER AGAIN!’ (ISSUE 1968)

By Posted on 0 , 5

George Harrison spoke with Alan Smith for an exclusive interview that would be published in the September 21st 1968 issue of The New Musical Express.

“Richard. Little Richard. That’s who I’d love to record. He’s a fantastic character with a fantastic voice – and whether he’s singing rock or gospel, he’s still great.”

George Harrison unconsciously tapped his soft shoe in rhythm as he talked and we both jumped at the deep end of nostalgia as we chatted about the good old days when Elvis was King and Richard used to tuttifruit his head off.

Extending his ‘I’m a Rocker Again’ thesis and continuing his comments reported recently George said he didn’t care to dwell on the ‘Mystical Beatle George’ anymore.

“It’s still all ‘Within You, Without You,'” he added, “but I don’t want to go into that any more ‘cuz now I’m being a rock and roll star.”

The crooked grin broke into a crooked smile.

“I’m still writing, though, and after ‘Sour Milk Sea,’ I’ve got a few songs I’ve done on the next Beatles’ LP. At least, I think they’ll be on it. We haven’t worked it all out yet.

“I’ve got a lot of songs kicking about in the air, and there’s also about two or three I’ve got at home. But I don’t know whether to do ’em or not.

“Sometimes I write them and with the mood I’m in, they’re OK. But I come back to ’em later and I’m not in that mood anymore. So I think, ‘Oh, well… Rubbish!’

“I’ve been doing that for years.

“Come to think of it, I’ve probably thrown away at least 20 good songs which, had I followed them through, would have been at least as good as all the other ones.

“Sometimes I put on a tape at home, and I find there are five bits of songs I wrote around 1954-five-six-or-seven, that I just forgot completely about.

“I’ve got a song I liked when I first wrote it, and I still like it, but in between I thought, ‘Aw, this is a bit too much. People are not gonna believe this.’

“Anyway, I took it out recently, looked at it, and I know they’re still not going to get it. The reason is it still tends to have that deep meaning thing — and I’m trying to get out of that.

“I now want to write songs that don’t have any meaning, because I’m a bit fed up with people coming up and saying, ‘Hey, what’s it all about? What does it mean?'”

I asked George if he got any really creative experience out of writing and recording.

He said, “Of course — it’s all like a challenge. You get the idea and you’ve got the bit of plastic to put it on but then there’s the actual thing of going through all that bit of getting musicians together and making people do things the way you want, trying to get the best out of it.

“And then, in the end, when you’ve done all that, you’ve got a little thing there, like a painting. And you put it out, and people say, ‘Oh, it’s a load of …… man.’

“But it doesn’t matter. Not to me anyway, because you get a lot of people who do like it, and it is worth while.”

We got onto the Beatle fan’s biggest hope of all — Will the Beatles ever play live again?

Answer from George, with that smile again, “It just depends. The thing I’d like to do most of all is play resident in a club. Not to go touring… because I didn’t like all that traveling and playing, and all that sort of thing.

“But if we were to do a live show, I’d prefer to do it like at the Top Ten in Hamburg for three months, and just play in the one place for about three months. Then we could get rid of the myth once and for all of the Beatles being something apart from everybody else.

“Obviously, we go through cycles. At the moment, it’s all that bit like getting my guitar out again, and it’s happened quite a bit on this next album of the Beatles.

“We’ve got ‘together’ for it. Like, in the early days we were pretty good because we played for so long in one place. That’s why I’d like to do a resident spot. Then you’ve got your amps and your drums set up, and get used to the one sound.

“All these people come to see you, too, so you can’t hide. You can’t fake anything. It’s like, you know, you’ve got your trousers down. And there’s nothing to hide.

“Now, we’re trying to get as funky as we were in the Cavern. ‘Cuz in the Cavern and Hamburg, all we really were was thump-thump-thump. But so together, you know, because we were playing all the time. And those were the days when we used to think that ‘Twist and Shout’ was too way-out for a single. All very ‘Shadows’ it was, then, and getting into suits.

The next album is much simpler than ‘Pepper’ because it’s more down to guitars, bass and drums, and maybe a piano. There’s a nice one of Paul just playing with his guitar, singing by himself but with just a bit of brass on it.”

We got on to the subject of the King, and George said, “I remember at school there was all that thing about Elvis. You never really wanted to go to school, you wanted to go out and play or something. So when some record came along like Elvis’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ and you had this little bit of plastic… it was so amazing. Now, it’s hard to realize that there are kids like I was, where the only thing in their life is to get home and play their favorite record, and maybe it’s ours.

“We know Elvis is great. We know he is. He stopped being a rocker, and they made him go into the Army and by the time he came out he was a clean healthy American doing clean healthy songs and films. But basically, he’s got such a great bluesy voice.

“It would be great if the Beatles and Elvis could get together for an album. It really would.”

 

THE STORY BEHIND GEORGE HARRISON’s ROSEWOOD TELECASTER

By Posted on 0 , 0

Fifty years back, on January 30, 1969, George Harrison stepped on to the roof of his group’s Apple headquarters in London and plugged in a Fender Telecaster. Famously, it would be The Beatles’ last ever public performance. Not quite so famously, his guitar was an unusual model, a new Rosewood Telecaster that he’d recently received from Fender.

In fact, it was the fourth Fender guitar that The Beatles had acquired. During their early years, the group hadn’t owned any Fenders, although George had written to a friend in 1960 that the guitar he “might manage” was a Strat. Instead, he decided to indulge his passion for Gretsch guitars—the brand used by one of his six-string heroes, Chet Atkins—and bought a secondhand Duo Jet, and, later, a couple of Country Gents and a Tennessean.

But George didn’t have to wait too long to get his Fender: in 1965, he and John Lennon each acquired a secondhand Strat for studio use. Two years later, Paul McCartney bought an Esquire. Paul was becoming increasingly confident with six rather than four strings. After all, he’d started in the group as a guitarist. He soon put the new Esquire to good use, for example playing it for his soaring, concise solo on “Good Morning, Good Morning” during the Sgt Pepper’s sessions at Abbey Road.

On stage, though, it was a different story, and the public face of The Beatles remained distinctly Fender-less. This was the image that almost every fan had of the group, and it was an image that troubled Don Randall, the sales boss at Fender. Understandably, he wanted the world’s most famous band to be seen to play Fender.

At first, Don tried to persuade the group’s manager, Brian Epstein, to get the boys more visibly into the brand. “It was the only time we ever tried to buy somebody off,” Don told me. “I sent a member of my staff to try and buy Brian Epstein off.” That plan backfired, and The Beatles continued to be seen on stage with guitars by Gretsch and Hofner and Rickenbacker and the rest.

In summer 1968, Don tried again, and this time he managed to set up a meeting with John and Paul at the Apple HQ. He was still interested in getting them to visibly play Fender guitars. Don turned up at Savile Row and found himself sitting down with Paul at a big conference table. Paul turned out to be an animated conversationalist, brimming with ideas. John wandered in with Yoko, later on, and made a somewhat less positive impression on Don.

Nonetheless, the Fender boss came away happy with a deal to supply the band a pile of Fender gear: a Fender VI six-string bass, some Fender Rhodes pianos, a Fender Jazz Bass, a selection of amplifiers, including a PA system, and the guitar that we’re interested in, a Fender Rosewood Telecaster for George.

Fender had decided to introduce solid-rosewood versions of its venerable Telecaster and Stratocaster, and Roger Rossmeisl was charged with producing custom prototypes, which the company planned to give to George Harrison (Telecaster) and Jimi Hendrix (Stratocaster) to provide publicity for the planned models.

Roger had worked at Rickenbacker, designing their most iconic guitars, and moved to Fender in 1962. Roger and Phil Kubicki at Fender apparently made four of the custom Rosewood guitars, two Teles and two Strats, and planned to choose the best of each to present to George and Jimi. Phil had worked at Fender since 1964, and after leaving nine years later he would create in the ’80s his extended-E-string Kubicki Ex-Factor basses.

The body of the prototype Rosewood Telecaster had a thin layer of maple sandwiched between a rosewood two-piece top and back, with a clear satin poly finish to highlight the beauty of the natural wood, and a two-piece rosewood neck fitted with (what else?) a rosewood fingerboard.

Roger and Phil selected the best body and neck, assembled and double-checked the guitar, and put it in a case. A courier took it to the airport and flew with it in the seat next to him, delivering it to The Beatles’ Apple HQ at the end of 1968, just after the release of the group’s White Album.

The fate of the other three prototype Rosewood models is less clear. The Rosewood Stratocaster intended for Jimi was completed around April 1970, but for some reason it was never sent to the guitarist, and he died that September.

That instrument, the other Rosewood Strat, and the second Tele disappeared, although online chatter suggested that around 2012 a Chicago dealer sold a guitar as the Rosewood Strat that never reached Jimi, and a Rosewood Tele prototype said to have been sent to Elvis Presley went unsold at an auction in 2018.

Later in 1969, George gave away his Rosewood Tele to Delaney Bramlett of Delaney & Bonnie. Delaney kept the instrument until he sold it at auction in 2003, two years after George’s death. It fetched a staggering $434,750, bought by an intermediary for George’s widow, Olivia Harrison.
As planned, Fender put the Rosewood Telecaster into production later in 1969, and it lasted a couple of years in the line. The rosewood-and-maple sandwich of the body made for an unusual and heavy Tele, and Fender tried to lighten the load by shifting to a modified construction with hollowed chambers inside. However, the weight and unusual tonality of this short-lived model meant it was never a popular instrument.

There have been occasional reissues (including a 1985 Made-in-Japan model), and the George-related guitar has been revived a few times in more recent years, including in 2016 a Custom Shop model, the Fender George Harrison Tribute Rosewood Telecaster—announced as a limited edition of 100—and a regular version the following year, the George Harrison Rosewood Telecaster, limited to 1,000 units.

Back in January 1969, The Beatles famously staged that last “concert” on the Apple rooftop in London. Ringo played his Ludwig Hollywood kit, Paul his ’63 Hofner bass, John his stripped Epiphone Casino, and George the new Rosewood Tele. All the amps were Fenders. Billy Preston was there, too, playing a Fender Rhodes Seventy Three. It’s hard to imagine that Don Randall wouldn’t have allowed himself a satisfied smile for a job well done when he saw the Fender-laden performances in the subsequent movie, Let It Be.
reverb.com