Monday, January 31, 2011

My Groovy Visit with George Harrison

Here is another article about meeting a Beatle (George this time around) that was published in one of the Teen magazines in the late 1960's.

My Groovy Visit with George Harrison
by Rodney Bingenheimer

Would you believe George Harrison standing in his underwear in a store window facing onto one of Hollywood's busiest streets? Would you believe George Harrison getting an Orange Julius at a sidewalk stand? Would you believe George Harrison trying to work the jukebox in a Hollywood coffee shop and finding out he didn't know how? It all happened and it happened on the most normal day in the life of George Harrison since he became a Beatle. It happened in Hollywood in August and it happened with me. and because of what happened on that day, George is in England right now telling the other Beatles to "come to Hollywood, it's the only place to be."

I met George over a year ago at the Beatle concert in Los Angeles but I didn't see him again until this August when he flew over to see Ravi Shankar's concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I don't know if you know it or not, but George has studied the sitar, an Indian instrument, for some time now with Ravi Shankar, his teacher. They lived together in India last year when George devoted all his time to Indian music. This year Pandaji (as Ravi Shankar's students call him) moved to Hollywood to start his Kinnara School of Music.

The Kinnara School held a special press conference in honor of George right after he arrived. After the conference George and I got to talking and he asked me, "Do you know where I can get some groovy things?" I sure did, and the next day we were off visiting all the groovy stores in the Hollywood area.

We went to Fred Segal's Men's Shop first. George liked just about everything there and by the time we got out of the door, he'd bought about two hundred dollars worth of weird sunglasses, paisley pants and other things. I bought him the glasses you see him trying on in the picture. They're made out of bicycle reflectors and when you look through them they seem like little bits of all sorts of colors all mixed up, like a kaleidoscope.

We were a little hungry after that so we stopped next door in Broiler Heaven. George won't eat meat because of his religion so he ordered a cheese sandwich. then he asked me what a chocolate malt was before he decided to order one; he'd never had one before. They served potato salad along with the sandwich and he didn't know what to do with it -- he'd never eaten potato salad before either! He piled it on top of his sandwich an date it that way. I'm going to try that sometime because he really seemed to like it, even after I explained how you really eat it.

He tried to play the jukebox and found out he didn't know how. He wanted to hear "Light my Fire" and "San Francisco nights" so I showed him how to operate it and gave him a little lesson in American small change at the same time.

It's really funny. He'd been in the United States many times before but always after he'd become a Beatle. Well, when you're a Beatle things are always already done for you. and you don't have to do anything at all . Whatever you need just mysteriously appears. On this trip, George discovered that he didn't know anything at all about America, really. He didn't know American food, money or amusements, you name it. It was just like his very first trip to some foreign land and he had to learn everything for the first time. He didn't know how to order in a restaurant or how much money anything cost (he ran out of American money early in the day and had to persuade the shop owners to accept British currency) or anything. It was really funny because he'd been here so many times before.

After we ate we started on our shopping tour again, driving down Santa Monica Boulevard in a bronze Monza. If you were driving in Hollywood in August and you thought you saw George Harrison in a four-door Monza with a Monterey Pop Festival sticker on the bumper you were right. It really was him.

As we were driving to the next shop, George talked about how odd everything was. People recognized him but he didn't get mobbed. He kept saying over and over again how great the people were because they realized that he wanted a little time to be a normal person and do normal things. Whenever someone did come up, they were very polite but most of the time when people recognized him they just waved or smiled to say "hi." and then they went on about their business. He kept saying that he was going to tell Paul, John and Ringo to come to Hollywood because they could really have a good time here.

We went to Headquarters and George went totally ape in the black light room. Black light is actually a purplish sort of light that makes things glow like they're electric if they've been painted with special paint. George bought every black like poster the man had in stock and some black lights to go with them. he got around thirty soakers and a psychedelic Beatle poster. He tried to buy the Superman suit hanging on the wall for John but the shopowner wouldn't sell it.

George wanted to walk to Sat Purush, an Indian shop on West End Boulevard, It was the first chance he'd gotten in all these years to just walk on an American street. That's pretty funny, isn't it, when he'd been over here so often? Well, walk we did, and everyone was great. They just smiled and waved and nobody tried to mob him. George really liked everyone because they were so nice to him.

George started trying on just about everything in Sat Purush. He was running all around the store in his underwear -- he even went into the window display in his underwear to try on shoes! It was pretty funny!

There were some people sitting on the sidewalk right outside Sat Purush and George went out and sat with them for a little while, right on the street. All of them were talking and there were other people walking around them -- some of them recognized George and some didn't but everyone was real cool about the whole thing.

We stopped at a sidewalk stand to get George's first Orange Julius and he liked it a lot. Then we went on to Siderial Time, a store on Santa Monica boulevard with possibly the grooviest clothes in town. George wanted just about everything in the store but finally settled on some special ribbon shirts just like the ones that Larry, the owner, designed especially for the Lewis and Clarke Expedition. He really loved them.

then we went over to my house where we talked for a little while. He invited me to come to San Francisco with him but I couldn't go. He promised to come back soon so we could do some ore exploring together. Just think, we have all the rest of California to go yet!


  1. Hey! Isn't that the same Rodney who hung out with Bowie in the early '70s?

  2. It could have been. It seems like he hung out with a lot of rock stars. It says in the article that he was Davy Jones' stand in on the Monkee's tv show.


    It's the same guy, there's a fun documentary on him "The Mayor of Sunset Strip". Check out his page on wikipedia.

  4. Is the guy also the same source for either the Les Paul or Telecaster?
    Will chsck Beatles Gear book!


  5. That sounds amazing! Im jealous :]

  6. Yes, it's Rodney from KROQ. He also brought Bowie over to the US...

  7. Great "fly on the wall"/"witness to the revolution" personal asides by the man immortalized in song by the GTO's

  8. First time I've read this article. I don't doubt that my friend,RODNEY BINGENHEIMER,did indeed hang out with George Harrison! RODNEY has been everywhere with anybody important....I was IN his movie,btw….

  9. As for DJ's, Rodney Bingenheimer IS the Beatles of radio. His Rodney On The Roq radio show, is personally responsible for breaking in hundreds of important musical acts in America, becoming arguably the most influencial fm disc jockey of the last 40 years, and counting. EVERYONE From the Sex Pistols to U2, from Blondie to Katy Perry,owe him a great debt of gratitude for their iconic careers. Rodney is beyond legendary & truly godhead!