Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Inner Light meets George Harrison

I already posted how Rich from the fanzine "The Inner Light" met Paul McCartney but before he met Macca, Rich met George Harrison.    I still think Rich had a lot more guts than I ever would!  Also times were a lot different in 1974.   His story was first published in his fanzine "The Inner Light."  I found it in the special issue that is "the best of" the Inner Light called "All together now volume 1"  It was published in 1976.

No pictures to go with story, so I just pulled some photos of George Harrison at the Cow Palace in 1974 to go along with the story.  

How I met George!
By Rich Friedland

Having never seen a Beatle in person, it’s not hard to imagine how excited I was when I learned that one was going to do a tour of the U.S. of A.  As quick as I could, I told everybody I could think of.  Whether they were interested or not, everyone heard me swear I’d meet George no matter what lengths I’d have to go to.

One friend of mine told me he had connections, and could get me a uniform exactly like the ones the maintenance men at the Cow Palace in San Francisco wear.  By wearing this, I would have a great opportunity to go backstage and meet George.  But unfortunately, the day before the first concert in the Bay Area, the plans fell through. 

Other ideas, like the guy I met who worked at the Cow Palace, who was going to let me in early; and then trying to sneak in the Cow Palace by hopping on the back of the equipment trucks at 2:30 the night before the concert, also failed for one reason or another.  

After being interviewed on local television about my eighteen hour wait in line, before opening night, the gates finally opened which meant there were only two more hours of waiting to see the Beatle.
Trying to be clever, I made sure not to be too close to the front of the stage so that my vision would not be blocked by the edge of the floor being right above my head.  Before I knew it people were crowding in front and around us from all angels, and eventually pushed us far enough back that we no longer had any real hope of George really noticing us. 

The minutes melted into seconds, and the light dimmed to almost blackness.  There not too far in front of me I could clearly make out the silhouette of the side view of George’s face.  It was from that moment my constant applause started.  Before I knew it, the lights flashed on and there he was, in front of us.  This time it was not just a picture or an image from a reel of film, it was the real thing.  Looking more like a Beatle now than he has in the past four years!  As I watched him, my heart pounding, my skin perspiring, my balance becoming weak, I thought I was going to pass out.  I couldn’t quite convince myself that the only thing between George and I was thin air and nothing else.  It wasn’t until I thought I saw this god look right into my eyes that I realized we were in the same room at the same exact time.

The next night at the concert, I found myself more hoarse than George from yelling and screaming so much the night before.  This was the night that I had made up my mind to meet him.  During the ten minute intermission, when the band takes its break, Dave and I found a wooden wall which separated the lobby from backstage.  The poorly constructed mass boards left a small opening which allowed us to see what was going on back there.  We noticed only inches in front of us was the back of the long black limousine that George was going to ride in shortly. 

We also noticed that some of the people from Ravi Shankar’s band were fathered around the front of the car.  While I was looking around for the Beatle, I noticed there was a van parked in there with a lot of people walking around and inside it.  There were Indian-type rugs hanging from the walls, and a few policemen on guard.  Before I could take notice of anything else, I noticed Billy Preston walk right alongside of the wall we were standing behind.  I yelled to him, but he ignored us.  I may not have attracted his attention, but George’s accompanying guitarist, Robben Ford, was altered by my voice.  I then yelled to him and asked if he would give an envelope to George for me.  Without saying a word, he sort of signaled a man to come over and take the dinner invitation from me.  I am confident George saw it one time or another because the next hands the little white envelope entered were those of George’s new girlfriend, Olivia Arias. 

It was only seconds later, when I noticed standing right next to Robben was George!  I didn’t quite know what to do first.  I remember reading in “Apple to the Core” that George does not like the type of fans that are loud and wild.  Keeping this in mind, but unable to control myself, I went crazy and starting yelling his name through the fence.   I could barely detect that I had caught George’s attention, and that he was straining his eyes to see me through a small hole in the fence.  I was so excited; I dropped my ice cream cone and told Dave to boost me up.  Above his shoulders I stood with my neck barely clearing the top of the wall.

It didn’t take but a second before the police were warning me to get down.  I told them I wasn’t going to jump over and wasn’t going to get off until I talked to George.  I then looked down and felt a bit strange when I realized that Robben Ford, part of Ravi Shankar’s band, Billy Preston, Olivia, three angry cops and George were all eagerly waiting to see what foolish stunt I was going to pull next.  I guess I satisfied their curiosity when I gave George a short lecture about how he’s the greatest guy who ever lived, and how long I’d been waiting to tell him so.  I asked George to say something to me—anything.  He then looked up at me and smiled and said, “Hi man, how are ya?”  I was so excited after being talked to by a Beatle that I lost my balance, and fell to the floor.

The next night at the concert, George spotted me in the front row right away and smiled.  It was obvious to everyone around me that we had met before.  Not only did he smile at me a lot, but at one time, for some wonderful, unknown reason, he pointed at me, and told me to sing along with Ravi Shankar’s “I am Missing You.”  By the time the concert and “My Sweet Lord” ended, I found myself in front of the long wide crowd of excited Harrison freaks looking right up at George, and once again, he at me.

Until I meet john, Paul, and Ringo I will remember November sixth, seventh and eighth as the three best days “In my life.”


  1. Exclamation Mike!May 23, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Wow, hilarious story. I guess I can't blame him for losing his composure! (The name also sounds familiar, i wonder if I ever met Rich in the 80s at a Beatlefest!). I'm surprised George gave him any attention at all, actually!

    I love that he was going to disguise himself as a janitor!! Beatlefreaks, gotta love 'em!!!

    But what I REALLY have to say is.......I love George's shirt in these pictures!!!

  2. absolutely fantastic snaps - thanks Sara for sharing these

  3. in front of the long wide crowd of excited Harrison freaks - I would say so

  4. still love the guy after all these years- George!