Thursday, January 19, 2012

George at the WB parties of 1976

Tempy Snow wrote a very lengthy account of following George around the United States while he was promoting his album 33 1/3 in the January/February 1977 issue of The Write Thing. I will post the first part tonight and the second part later in the week. It was a really fun story to read!

November 15th, Monday: The morning road to Chicago was long and endless and I was so paralyzed with tension I didn’t even realize that Chicago was where I had seen my 1st George concert almost exactly two years ago. Upon arrival we played a hunch and spent the afternoon at O’hara airport meeting every incoming LA flight with baited breath and raised cameras with our commands form New York: George, Sharon, Carol and Nancy. From George Harrison, though there was absolutely no show (We found out later he’d flown in via WB jet at the other airport). After 12 years of similar failure my disappointment was all too familiar, however one of us left O’hara walking on air – George Tebbens found out he’d been invited into the party.

Kay, Barb and I checked into a downtown hotel. In the room I thought over and over, “Kay, Barb, we’ve got to crash the party!” At that point I couldn’t verbalize. I could only walk to the window, stare out at the skyscrapers and pray; let me meet him after 12 years, let me meet him – but you know I’ll be satisfied with a view of his left elbow. We then drove to the Whitehall where we’d heard George was staying (the party would be held at the Ambassador) and sat in the lobby with Sharon and Carol and Nancy trying to look bland until we were kicked out. Outside, by th waiting limos; nobody was bland; we were all in states of heightening tension. I stood there, trying to convince myself of what was about to happen and vowing to keep my hands off my camera so I could see him.

Then suddenly there he was, strolling out the door in a brown jumpsuit and Billboard sweater. The mind can blow strange fuses; he was in vivid color but the people with him were in black and white. My first emotion was sharp disbelief. That gorgeous man was George Harrison? Cameras flashed, bodies pressed forward. He blurred past me but stopped at the limo to sign an autograph. I made it up to his side, held out my piece of paper and as he signed his fingers brushed my hand. I strained my hand forward so the touch could last longer --- well 12 years is a long time not to be able to touch a friend.

Then he was gone, swallowed up by the big black limo. I was numb, almost too numb to feel joy. I was also satisfied; what had begun with Rolling Stone was now all worth it.

However, my comrades had some senses left. As I clutched my precious piece of paper they herded me into a taxi and cried, “To the Ambassador!” Miraculously enough, we made I there before him! The crowd waiting was huge and a few seconds later George was whizzed through a swirl of screams and grabbing hands. Amazing shades of 1964!

As we stood there, our amazement grew. The windows of the party room overlooked the sidewalk and the crowd stood below chanting “George! George! George!” Flashes went off nonstop behind the curtained windows and the excitement inside made the outside excitement that much more intense. Finally George came to a window and stood there, grinning and waving while the crowd went bananas. Key, Barb and I merely gaped; it was 1964! For a second the ancient potent magic engulfed as all.

Back to 1976 and how to crash. We left Sharon, Nancy and Carol to their plans, went back to the hotel and put on our party clothes. We returned to the Ambassador and took temporary sanctuary in the room of another Cinci fan, Howie, while we made battle plans. Howie, even though an Ambassador guest, had had no luck getting in. Kay went bravely downstairs, gave the guards at the door a story and was told to come back in 15 minutes. Sitting in a hotel room knowing George was a few floors away, did strange things to one’s sanity, however when Kay went down again everyone’s fingers were crossed. A minute later she called form the lobby, “He’s gone already. We missed him leave!”

Dejected, we went to the Whitehall and sat in the bar with George Tebbins, listening to his stories about the party and looking at his prizes, a press kit and a 33 1/3 t-shirt. We were glad for George but our own miserable failure still stung a bit.

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