Wednesday, January 11, 2012

George November 1976

If you pay attention to the comments section of this blog, then you might have read on that post of George in the sweater with the pretty girl on his arm that I had found out more about those photos. The answers came from a story George Tebbens wrote for "The Write Thing" for the Jan/Feb 1977 issue of the fanzine. I couldn't help but think that these photos were taken in November 1976 in Chicago. George should have have traveled 6 hours south to see a new-born!

On November 1, 1976 it was announced that Warner Bros. was to throw a press party to celebrate the signing of George Harrison and Dark Horse Records. As most anyone who knows Hari, the announcement of this was a shocker. I couldn't believe someone as anti-press and anti-fan as George had seemed to become would do something like this much-less give fans advance notice on a pre-party radio interview.

The party was Nov 15 and that afternoon a friend on a newspaper here invited me to go along with her. From what her invitation said it was to be a small gathering for the press to meet George. As it turned out there were 100 in attendance plus for a short while about 20 other lucky fans who managed to crash. The party started at 7:15 pm and George showed up around 8pm. As soon as he walked in a barrage of flashes went off. It took me a minute to finally reach him. When I did, he was smiling and posing for about 7 or 8 photographers (actually some were fans) and not for just one or two shots but for dozens each. Throughout the remaining hour George spoke to several columnists form each of Chicago's 3 major newspapers, about a dozen D.J.'s, a few newsmen from local stations and the Chicago based executives from Warner Bros. and their guests.

About 9 pm everyone headed into a banquet room for dinner. I still don't know if George ate the prime rib or just the potatoes and string beans. Dinner lasted til about ten, at that time Mo Ostin, head of Warner Bros. Records (U.S.) gave a little speech about George's career and welcomed him to W.B. George got up to a round of applause and started joking about the ad in Billboard mag. the week before. "Well, unaccustomed to full-page ads as I am, I'd like to thank everyone." He also dedicated "Learning How to Love" to Herb Alpert, head of A&M Records who just sued George to get rid of him and Dark Horse Records.

Everyone at the dinner was given a 33 1/3 press kit and t-shirt that said "I was with George Harrison at 33 1/3". George had a booklet from the kit in his hands and went over some of the songs as they were played. The first was "Woman don't you cry for me." It reminded me immediately of something from All Things Must Pass. Next was "Beautiful Girl", after hearing this I was really impressed cause this is the first slow song in years George has done that didn't drag and wasn't religious. "Beautiful Girl" reminds me of something from around Rubber Soul especially the way he sings the verse that starts with "and when I saw the way she smiled at me--ee"

After the song finished, George checked out the video-cassette machine and told everyone the next two films to be shown were produced by Eric Idle of Monty Python. He explained that the reason for making the films was to use them as a means of promotion in areas outside the US where radio isn't so varied.

"True love" was the first film to be shown. George and a female companion were dressed 1920's style and riding in a gondola. You had to see it as it was very funny and hard to explain why. The second film was for "Cracker Box Palace" again it was very Beatle-Pythonish. These were filmed on the grounds of Friar Park (George's home for anyone who doesn't know) and showed George more as a Beatle circa 1965 than an "ex", which is what he's like to be known as today.

The last song was "This Song". Although the film was shown on Saturday Night Live it wasn't ready for the party. Instead George told everyone to dance along with him and his partner. This shock was too much for everyone, we all just watched. "This Song" ended and the party was over. He did pose for some publicity shots and answered a few more questions. He told one reporter, "I'm going to India for a week, then to a friend's wedding in L.A. December 15." When asked who's wedding, he said "My friend Keith Moon." But everyone knows by now Keith messed up a possible Beatles reunion by postponing his wedding.

By now it was 10:30 and George left. Back at the hotel where he stayed a couple fans got ot see him. He was still smiling, stopped for autographs and didn't mind anyone taking photos.

One girl asked for another autograph, this time for her sister. He turned and obliged and said with a smile, "What a cheap excuse for a few more photos." After saying goodnight he went to his room to tape a few radio interviews.

I don't know why George's attitude had changed so. It may have hurt his ego being dumped by A&M or could it be he may be tired of Paul getting all the glory and touring America so successfully without the kind of bad press he received. One can only speculate.

After listening to 33 1/3 and seeing how he has changed on a personal level, maybe in 1977 George will shine again as a true star. 33 1/3 is a step at giving his fans what they want. Hopefully he will tour this summer as planned the way he should have done it two years ago.

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