Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oh my IS George!

On March 22, 1976 Ravi Shankar held a concert at the Roxy club in Los Angeles.  George Harrison was in attendance at the show.   I have often thought how it would be interesting to be at the same concert as one of the Beatles who was also just watching the show.   This fan, Cindy Noe wrote about her amazing experience of the Ravi concert with George in the audience in the March/April 1976 issue of the Harrison Alliance.   

George entering the club with Olivia.  Photo:  Ron Galella

Oh my God – it is George!
By Cindy Noe

We went to the Roxy an hour early and the line was already down the street.  When we finally got in we sat down where we could, and immediately started scanning the crowd for familiar faces.  Karen was also looking or a friend of hers form A&M, so she went to ask a likely looking guy who was standing in a doorway.  He said he didn’t know (with an English accent), so Karen sat down again.  Linda Arias came in and went to talk to him.  It then occurred to Karen that she had just spoken to Terry Doran.  We still didn’t see George, and we began to feel that we had jumped the gun a bit – that he wasn’t going to show up after all.  So we stopped looking.

Sue suddenly grabbed my arm and almost crushed it.  I jumped and said, “Where?”  “Over there at the table just sitting down.” She said.  “Oh my God!  That’s HIM!” I said and grabbed Karen.  She said, “What?”   “George—over there!”  I told her, but Karen kept saying “where where?” and when she finally saw where we were pointing she said, “Oh, that’s not him.”

Sue and I looked at each other and said, “Yes it is…”  Then Karen looked at his hands and caught a glimpse of him from the eyes up, and said, “My God – it is George!” and we all started laughing hysterically and ripping each other apart.  The other people at our table didn’t know what we were carrying on about and you should have seen some of the looks we got!  We slowly calmed down, but I must say that I never saw three bigger wreck n my life.  Karen really pulled herself together after a few minutes, but Sue and I were absolutely spastic.  Both of us were visibly shaking.

I think the thing that threw us most was that he looked so totally different from the way he had looked on television the couple of day before.  Picture him in 1969 and you’ve got a good idea of his appearance.  His hair was even all the way round, and shoulder-length.  He also had a mustache and medium-length beard.  He was wearing a navy blue fitted jacket with epaulets (very snazzy!); we couldn’t see the shirt, but he wore cream colored pants; could see the shows either, but who look s at his shoes when you can look at his face!   We got a good look at him as he was sitting only about 10-15 feet from us.  He was with Olivia who looked lovely, with her hair on top of her head in a bun, wearing a white print Chinese-style quilted jacket and white pants.  They were accompanied by Terry, Harry Nilsson, Jim Keltner and a whole troupe of others.  The entire group took up about three tables.  I was amused at the way George was very much the center of the group’s attention.  Every time he spoke, everyone leaned in to listen to him.  It really was funny!

As I said earlier, Karen had really gotten herself together, and turned to me and said, “I’m going over to talk to him.”  I was still in pretty bad shape and said, “What are you gonna say to him?”  and she said, “Just hello- how are you.”  She was very cool and I was just amazed, so I said, “If you’re going over to him so am I.”  Sue said, “If both of you go, I go.” So we all got up and started to make our way to his table.  We were worried about bugging him, but we never go the chance anyway.  A guy standing by his table said to us, “he doesn’t want to be bothered,” and Karen said, “Can’t we just say hi?” and the guy said, “ He doesn’t want to be bothered,” again, as we watched some people getting George’s autograph.  He was very nice to them and I’m sure he wouldn’t have been bothered by three cheerful “hellos” but we could appreciate what the guy was trying to do, so we went back to our seats.  At least we got to stand very near him!

Just then a whole bunch of people recognized George and we were worried that the might feel harassed and go backstage instead, but the people were cool and decided to leave him alone after all.  Shortly thereafter the lights went down and the show started.

It goes without saying that Ravi was magnificent, but I daresay that George gave us quite a magnificent performance himself!  We all know how he loves the music; he was really getting into it all through the show – quite loudly!  He was so cute!  He’d be quietly listening to Ravi and just bobbing his head and all, then you’d hear a light tapping on the table, getting progressively louder until he was hitting the table with his hands so loudly the people in the audience started turning around to find out where all the racket was coming from!  George would stop, realize that he was making all the noise, so it would be very silent again.  But a few minutes later you’d hear him back at it again – slapping his thighs, clapping his hands, stomping his feet; every time it was the same thing.  He’s clap or stomp loudly by mistake, realize how loud he was being, and then quiet down, but only until he had forgotten himself again and become engulfed in the music.  Every now and then Ravi and Alla would play something that was particularly extraordinary, that really struck George, and he’d laugh so loud that he’d attract attention to himself again, or he’d just make some sound of ecstatic delight, you know?  All through the show he clapped and stomped and intermittently let out a whoop or a laugh.  He was so incredibly enthusiastic!  Ravi even had to shush the crowd a couple of times!  Still the people around Karen, Sue and I didn’t know who it was, and just couldn’t figure out why we were freaking out so much.  Really funny!

George also talked a lot.  Mostly in between numbers, but also during them.  He used his hands a lot to express himself, as everyone listened intently. 

So here was George laughing and stomping and just having a wonderful time and it was so beautiful to see someone so expressive and full of life!  Of course we watched him a lot but that is not to take anything away from Ravi’s performance, which, of course, inspired all this rasa in George.  The Indians have an expression, “Nada Brahma,” which means, “Sound is God,” and to hear Ravi play is to really experience what that means.  Naturally this audience had come exclusively to hear Ravi, so they were very, very warm and appreciative.  I could think of no better setting I’d rather see George up close in, than to be in a small, warm surroundings, with incense burning, and Ravi and Alla playing.  It was such a lovely experience for all of us. 

After the show was over, we rather expected George and company to cut out quickly, but we stayed no ur seats and watched patiently as he sat there talking to his friends.  People were leaving and he was getting by relatively unnoticed for a while, so we went back to his table to try and say hello again, but he was talking so we stood and waited for an opportune moment to speak, when he was suddenly mobbed. He got up to leave with all the folks with him following suit.  We were still standing by his table as he walked away; he turned around once to look out at everybody.  He spotted Karen in her F.P.S.H.O.T.  shirt, stopped dead in his tracks, opened his eyes and mouth in wide surprise, and pointed directly at her!  Of course, everyone else looked too.  Karen opened her jacket to show him the shirt better, and he said to her, “Did you send them?” in the most beautiful, lilting Liverpool accent you’ve ever heard!  We were just knocked over!  She said, “No, a friend of mine made them,” and he did a very animated, “Ohhh!” and nodded, and then walked up the stairs to the private room above the Roxy with friends.  I wish you could have seen his expression.  The way he said, “Did you send them?”  He was darling.  Karen was staggering around saying, “George Harrison just spoke to me,” and Sue and I were jumping around her because we were all so amazed that he had acknowledged any of our presences without, you know, our speaking to him first!  

We afterward went outside to wait for him.  We just wanted to see him one more time before we left.  It seemed to have gotten around that George Harrison was in our presence, to all those who hadn’t know it before, and more than half the audience waited outside too, for about an hour, before they began to filter off.  Nevertheless, a very large crowd remained well over two hours to see hm.  We hung around the back doors while everyone else stood at the front door.  At one point a cop car pulled up by us, in hopes of nailing us for curfew, and they kept nagging us about who we were waiting for.  I guess we looked too clean-cut to be groupies, and they couldn’t figure out what we were doing hanging around the back doors of the Roxy so late at night.  When we finally told them we were waiting for George Harrison, they didn’t know who he was.  They said, “What group is he with?” and we kept saying, “He’s not with a group.”  We eventually said that he used to be with the Beatles, if they could remember them.  Then they started going, “Oh yeah!” and tried to name them all; then they left. 

Out of the 13 people left waiting after some three hours or so, it was apparent that Karen, Sue and I were the only ones who were actually George Harrison freaks – the rest were just out to get the big signature and a picture of a big rock star, as it were, and we were getting annoyed at their hanging around so long.  There was actually a man and a couple of women (older people, in fact, in their 40’s) who had the audacity to bring some old Beatle magazines and the “Illustrated Record” book with them for George to sign or an old picture of him.  We were just appalled at their mindlessness!  A young girl and her mother waiting around saying things like, “When he comes out you grab his legs and I’ll grab his arms.  We’ll get him!  I’m gonna cut off a piece of his hair.”

Ravi left after about 2 ½ hours and the lady managed to nab him – he was gracious enough to sign a photo of himself from an old Beatle mag.  As I said, we were really irritated at their thoughtless behavior.  We were the only ones who knew anything about George.  Some teeny-boppers hanging around couldn’t be old enough to even remember back to 1964.  Fortunately they left.  I mean, it was cold and besides a few brief flurries of excitement (Pete Townsend and John Entwistle departed the Rainbow Bar next door at about 3:00.  Liza Minelli went into the Roxy at about 2:30), it was getting a little ridiculous for us to be waiting out there, but we did.

That one particularly obnoxious lady came up with what she termed a “brilliant idea” which she told us was to honk the horn of the convertible in front of us to bring George down.  We all looked disgusted and Karen said, “You’d better not do that, lady.  We wouldn’t like that.”  She just looked insulted and said, “why not?”  We all proceeded to explain to her that he’d rather not be disturbed, and he definitely wouldn’t come down if he thought there was a group of people down there waiting to jump him.  And that he very definitely wouldn’t take kindly to everybody sitting on his car.  We were very pleasant, I’m afraid, but she wasn’t very smart.  Some guy kept asking us if we know him.  We said not personally but he had spoken to us and we did in a round-about way, anyway.  Everybody started watching us like we knew what was going on; we sat and chanted, wishing them to go away, but things weren’t working out that way.

We could hear Olivia upstairs talking about someone being ill; she kept mentioning aspirin or Pepto Bismol or something.  I sure hope she wasn’t referring to George! We were right under the window; everyone else was moving in on us, as I said, and some guy must’ve heard us mention Olivia’s name,  because he said, “Who’s Olivia?” and asked if we heard a voice up there.  We said Olivia is George’s lady and no, we didn’t hear anything.  Some other lady said, “What ever happened to Pattie?”  I just couldn’t believe that people who knew nothing about him would wait four hours for him in the cold.  Oh well.

Anyway, but six o’clock in the morning we were all dead from exhaustion and Karen and I had to drive back to San Diego, supposedly before her work and my school that day, and people were just going into the Roxy now.  No sign of anyone coming out!  He was just having a nice party upstairs (they played a lot of Rod Stewart).  So we made loud leaving noises and walked in front of the left-over people making it quite clear that it was no use waiting any longer, that the party was just starting.  We never heard when he eventually did come out into the daylight again, but I seriously hope those jerks weren’t still waiting when he did.  I cringe at the thought.


  1. Highly interesting, enjoyed reading it.

  2. lol-" he doesn't want to be bothered" twice but WE want to say hello; waiting around for hours and we know him but others are appalling and mindless; George & Olivia might have wanted a little fun out with some privacy for a change

  3. perhaps the writer & her friends were very young at this time even though one had a job - guess the Beatles were just fair game at any time of day or night