Sunday, January 22, 2012

George at the WB parties of 1976 (part 2)

Tempy, and unknown girl, George and Denny

Here is the 2nd part of the story of when Tempy Snow went around the country following George Harrison while he was promoting his 33 1/3 album in 1976. This part of the story takes her back to her hometown, Boston, where she has the best part of the story! Enjoy!

Onto Boston! The first thing I did was call out “sick” from work, otherwise called a bad case of jet-lag. The second thing I did was decide to take a taxi home, much quicker. When I reached my apartment it was close to six and I didn’t even know where the party was. Suddenly remembering the name of Joe Bergman I called all the likely hotels in Boston and asked for her. When the Copley Plaza admitted she was there I laughed; John had stayed there two months before, he must have recommended it to George. It was now quarter after six. I was wearing a sweater and jeans and my hair was filthy, but I could only summon up enough wits to grab my camera and my last roll of film and run over to the Copley before it was too late.

As I arrived panting in the lobby I saw two fellow Boston fans, Tina and Penny already sitting outside the party doors. “We were wondering where you were,” they said. “Chicago, you know. I saw him in Chicago.” I blithered and noticed the absence of my fellow George freak, Blue. I called her, blithered some more but got the message across. She said she’d be right in. Then Denny, another local Beatle fan, arrived and the group of us looked sadly at the guarded doors which invited guests were already going through.

Figuring I’d have a long wait all night in the lobby I said to hell with my coat and went to check it. I was asked at the check counter if I were with the WB party and I heard myself say, “yes.” I was, in a sense, directed to the complimentary WB check booth and feeling momentarily important I checked my coat and returned to the doors and nearly died. Denny was inside the party! (By a mistaken identity I found out later). I felt my body tremble with a sudden violent wave of determination to get in. In July, I had crashed Paul’s end of tour party through the same principal – seeing George Tebbens getting in and then being inspired with hidden courage to make it as well. Only in the lobby of the Copley it was to a much more intense degree. Twelve years hovered over my shoulders.

Less than 10 minutes later, while I was still standing there seething with will, George in a white suit came through the lobby. Everyone rushed up to him but I stood where I was by the doors. He flashed by me, up the stairs and into the party. A second later I went flashing by the security guards, up the stairs and into the party. When I found myself in there it was like discovering I was dreaming within a dream. Denny came up to me, all smiles and excitement but I could only stand there trying not to wake up. Then George was standing beside us and Denny was busily showing him one of his photo albums which George graciously looked through, cover to cover. When he saw a picture of Pattie, he laughed shortly but easily and said, “Oh, there’s a person I used to know.” I realized that would hurt less. George enjoyed the concert photos the best but refused Denny’s offer to take on, saying he had his own tour photographer. I decided I better say something and asked him if he was going to tour. “Yes.” George said, “next year.”

Then he was whisked away to meet more important people, namely the radio, newspaper and magazine people who were going to hopefully soon help promote 33 1/3. A WB photographer hovered around him constantly taking picture after picture and I and several other people with cameras gave him plenty of competition. I madly used up my one roll of precious film praying it would come out as I had no flash and the room was cocktail-party dim. In between shots, I stumbled over to the bar and asked for a Coke and was foolishly pleased a short while later when I overheard George tell someone that drink in his hand was also a plain Coke. Doctor’s orders, he could not drink because of his hepatitis. He smoked an English cigarette while telling someone else that he did not have USA residence yet as if to emphasize the point. He also spoke enthusiastically of a holy man in India to some uncomprehending woman and more calmly about a Beatle “reunion” at Keith Moon’s wedding on December 15th. What else he may have said escaped me. I was too busy focusing him in as he stood a mere 3 or 4 feet away from me and then standing there gaping that he was 3 or 4 feet away from me and flashing by at the speed of light. At one point I collapsed at a table with Denny and muttered over and over, “I can’t believe this.” At another point, I summoned up enough nerve to interrupt George for another autograph –“for a friend in Cincinnati”—Kay, who’d gone so far with me but not far enough.

Suddenly it was dinner time and the 50 some guests began sitting down. Denny, on the advice of a friend who’s heard rumblings from security, left but I could not bring myself to follow him. I sure as hell wasn’t going to wake up from the dream now. I stood awkwardly at the back of the room until everyone was seated, spied an empty chair, decided I had nothing to lose, marched over and asked, “Is anyone sitting here?”

“You are now,” a newspaper man told me. I sank down, still able to somehow feel more shock waves wash over me. I had only prayed for a miracle, not a perfect one. However, as I sat there besides important talking men in suits and their ladies in semi-evening wear, I began to feel decidedly self-conscious. I looked like a grub, a dirty one. I bend my head over my oysters and my suddenly nervous finger promptly slid over my plate. After that my dream like reality took over and I managed to chat away half-sanely to the VIP beside me and eat half sanely as well. Since I only had one meal in two days I ate like a horse despite the fact that George was sitting a table away from me. Also, two heads obscured my view of him; it gave me a brief time to contemplate just what was happening to me and I began to feverishly thank the Universe in general.

After the beef wellington, carrots, potatoes and almond soufflĂ©, heads moved and I was able to see George again. A girl from my table got up, went over to his and began snapping pictures. George made faces and plopped a napkin over his head while everyone laughed heartedly. Then Mo, the Prez of WB, went to the microphone stand. Incredibly enough it was situated almost right beside me; I couldn’t have picked a better seat if I’d wanted to.

Mo laid out his speech, “We all know about George Harrison as being one of four young men who changed musical history of the world…” however Mo had known him through mutual acquaintance of Mick Fleetwood and Gary Wright. When George and Gary had been in Lappland together on vacation they had sent him a picture of them standing beneath a sign saying, “2 Mo” –which really meant 2 miles to a town called, “Mo”, but Mo was touched by the gesture and kept the picture on his desk. Then he was very pleased when WB thereafter signed George. 1976 had been a great year for them and George had really capped it off. Then he spoke of how George was a great person, the concert for Bangla Desh showed his humanitarianism, his friend with Eric Idle showed his sense of humor and his devotion to God showed his deep spirituality.

During Mo’s speech George started to give out what I can only describe as “Let it Be” looks. It became eerie for me to see something so hauntingly familiar, something out of a time-warp.

Mo ended his speech by honoring George’s spirituality, presenting him with a little green elephant God. George went up to the mike, all smiles, thanked Mo and said that in India the elephant is a symbol of removing obstacles and that’s how his life had been going recently. He noted in particular his signing with WB and his regard for Mo. He also said he’s had a lot of friends at A&M but the “vibrations weren’t right.”

Then he spoke briefly about 33 1/3, describing the meeting with Lord Buckley’s manager which had inspired “Crackerbox Palace” and the legal background behind “This song.” He drew laughter at the end by saying he had to go on Saturday Night Live in order to pay off his lawyers.

He sat down and they played a cut off 33 1/3, which I liked right off but to this day cannot remember which song it was. Then they showed the flims “True Love” and “Crackerbox Palace” which, needless to say, I liked as well. Afterwards I would remember nearly every scene movies had been my world for 12 years not the man in the white suit a few feet away from me. After the films, “This Song” was supposed to be played but the engineer put on the wrong cut. George jumped up and cried, “Sorry, track 3!” Then he grinned and said, “This one’s nice too.” More hearty laughter. During “This Song” George sat bouncing to the beat and I did as well. Then he gave me the famous stare. Either I was just too freaked or subconsciously remembering that the I Ching had advised that with firmness and correctness came good fortune, but I merely stared back, calmly. He turned his eyes away first. And again I found myself thanking the Universe.

The applause at the end was enthusiastic and I felt relieved. No more down Rolling Stone articles would be written this month.

Before the party broke up Mo suggested George sign the 33 1/3 t-shirts everyone had found on their chairs. George spent 20 minutes signing shirt after shirt, grumbling good-naturedly, “Thanks a lot, Mo.” Then Denny re-entered with a UPI friend who shot picture after picture. George gave Denny a look and said, “Oh, so we’ve got UPI here now.”

As for me, I only stood as close as I could to him, knowing the dream was about to end. And I sensed a hint of disapproval from George that I was there and so constantly hovering but as he passed me on his way out I offered my hand and said, “good night, George.” His handshake was limp and moist and I think my eager one crushed him. However, that touch is the one thing that convinces me the whole thing was real to this day.

Out in the lobby George chatted with the small crowd waiting for him for about five minutes and gave Blue a smile and autographs. After he had disappeared into the elevators Blue and I became semi-hysterical. He had been healthy looking, happy and nice to fans and that for us was all that mattered.

November 17th-Wednesday: The next morning Blue and I, along with The Harrison Alliance saw him leave the hotel. I did nothing but take pictures, making up for what my camera had missed in Chicago. And after that I walked down the street, so high Blue had to pull me back from oncoming cars. Strange how within such a glorious feeling of life I didn’t care about it anymore. I can never forget that highness at the end. That is what being a Beatle fan should be all about.

1 comment:

  1. Sigh... George is SOOOO Handsome! And this story was great!!! Thanks Sara!