Thursday, February 8, 2018

All it takes is guts and persistance

All it takes is Guts and Persistence
Harrison Alliance
December 1974/January 1975 issue #16

It would take page upon page to explain exactly how it happened, but somehow my friend Madeleine S. became acquainted with Bill Graham, the promoter of the tour.  She had been to at least six shows by the time Madison Square Garden rolled around, and if I remember correctly, she had met with Bill or his associates at least once every gig.  Bill had promised to get her backstage but so far he had let her down. 

Thursday afternoon after lunch, Madeleine went down to the Garden to speak to Bill, while the rest of us went back to the hotel to rest up.  I had been up all night save two hours, in order to finish embroidering the Dark Horse logo on a t-shirt, and I was dragged by the long bus ride into the city, so I had to get some sleep.    Madeleine came back a few hours later to tell us she had spoken to Bill, and he had promised to take her backstage o meet George between shows on Friday.  She showed us a little black Aum badge with a sky blue background that Bill had given her to get through security, and she said he had told her to meet him at the stage at the afternoon show and he’d see what he could do.  Well, we figured if the badge would get her through security on Friday, it could get me through that night!  It was certainly worth a try!
A badge like the one from this story.   Part of Sara Schmidt's collection 

I was really disappointed with the seats I had for Thursday night even though they were $9.50 seats, but I managed to get a seat in the 2nd row behind the stage, which were more to my liking.   I really didn’t think the badge would work that night because they used a different badge each show, and I was content with where I was sitting, but Jennie prodded and persisted and said the least they could do is send me back to my seat; so just before the house lights went down after intermission, I made my way down to the lower loge runway.  Security tried to move me, so I showed them the badge and one of the guards started hassling me, that I should know better than to be up on the walkway, that I should be in the orchestra where I belonged!   Well, I didn’t want to upset the poor man, so I came down to the orchestra and made it into the fenced in part (the first 30 rows were fenced in and heavily guarded) with the badge.  This was during “For You Blue.”

I walked all the way up the side aisle where the security guard had been; I think he talked to me a bit, but Iw as so intent on watching George I don’t really remember.   I do think that the Dark Horse shirt I embroidered help me look a bit more official.  I then crossed over and made it to the left center aisle to about the 10th row and crouched there for a while; I was determined!   The next thing I knew he had finished the number and the formal introductions, and I found myself walking directly up the center aisle, with George dead ahead!   I somehow managed to get to the 2nd row; George was standing directly above the aisle; the only thing between us were a photographer, a security man, the stage barrier and 10 feet of space!   I remember the song was “Give me Love,” and him getting into his acoustic, then standing at the mike bathed in yellow lights, but that’s all.   Funny how the rest of the world melts away when you’re that close!   Since I wasn’t a working photographer, I couldn’t stay in the aisle for long, but I stayed until they asked me to leave.  I wasn’t going to leave on my own accord, but when they did ask me, I didn’t push it and went.

A lot of what exactly happened is hazy, but I remember a security man pulling me over to some big-wig for Garden Security, and this man telling me, “What are you doing out here?  Get backstage where you belong!”  It was flipping me out, what was happening, and it’s a weird story, but eventually, I ended up backstage – walked right through security.    As soon as I got backstage down the hall a ways, I was approached by a roadie.  He asked me if I had ever been backstage before.  I told him tonight was my first time backstage.  He asked where I got the badge, and I told him Bill Graham had given it to me after I had bugged him for it all week.  He then gave me some story about this and that, and how I couldn’t’ take photos backstage, so not wanting to push it, and not wanting to bump into Bill, who wouldn’t have known me, I went back out on the floor.  As soon as I went back out, the ushers and security men were trying to push me backstage again, only by a difference entrance, one near the special box Mr. Harrison and Geoff Briton had been watching the show from.  Unfortunately by some other security man. I went back and tried to cut across the orchestra floor again, and the ushers and security men were still trying to push me backstage again, so I told them that “they” wanted me on the other side of the Garden; they sent me out into the hall and I had to go around that way.  Meanwhile, the band played on.  I think I remember hearing “Maya Love” while walking back. I think I hung around the orchestra for a while, went to talk to Jenn, went back down again, and went back to my seat to be with Jenn for the endo f the show.  I remember boogieing back to talk to Jenn to “Tomcat” and later, he was just finishing “While my guitar gently Weeps.”  I should’ve stayed in the orchestra for the end of the show, but I had a really fantastic time with Jenn for the last bits.   It was so funny to her because I kept asking her if he had already sung this or that before they started Billy’s two songs.  It was so incredible that something like that came about so unexpectedly, and it really left me incoherent, and so supercharged.  It means as much as a front row ticket would have meant to me.

Friday afternoon Madeleine used the badge, and she left us during the Indian music set.  She met Bill down front, and he took her backstage during intermission.  She had the same problem with the ushers shoving her backstage before she got to even meet up with Bill.  When she met with Bill she asked him to speak to George about her so that George would have something to say because she was afraid she’d be so tongue-tied in the shock of it all.  Bill took her through several curtains and rooms and they finally stopped; he told her to wait there.  The exact story of getting there is hazy Madeleine was so incoherent from shock when she related it to us.  Bill took her into the room and said “Good Luck” and then left.

Olivia was in the room and asked Madeleine her name.  The next thing she knew, George was walking across the room directly to her, and as if they were old friends, put his arms around her!   She was so overwhelmed and she automatically put her arms around him and hugged him back.  He asked her her name, and she told him it was Madeleine.  She said something to the effect of “I love you George” in her cute and charming way, but George only replied, “It’s Krishna that you love.”  He was told by Bill how many concerts she had attended, so he asked, “This is your 11th?”  In her shock, she said yes, but when he asked again, she said no, it was her 8th concert.  He was knocked out that she had gone to that many.   She told him, “I would have gone to all 50 if I could,” to which he jokingly replied, “If I could I wouldn’t have!”  During this time George was holding both her hands in his. 
A roadie popped in and told George he had one minute before he had to be back on stage, but he acted like he had all the time in the world.  Madeleine asked him to sign her book of autographs and showed him where his father had signed it last summer.  “Where do you want me to sign?” he asked.  She gave him a clean page; he asked her her name again, and this time she spelled it to him so he’d get it right.  The results you see with this article.   She thought that asking to have a photo taken would be ab it much as he had already signed for her, so she didn’t bother.  She remembers that both George and Olivia were very nice to her.  For those interested, he was wearing plaid pants and a white silk shirt when she met him.

After she had stumbled out into the hallway, the roadies congratulating her for finally making it in to meet him, she was interviewed by a writer for Rolling Stone, which caused her to miss much of the 2nd half of the show.  She was so flipped out, it didn’t really matter.

So congratulations to Madeleine and thanks to her for sharing such a precious moment in her life with us.  A very special thanks to her from me personally, for loaning me her badge!


  1. What a beautiful photo of George, that color one. It should be a book cover.(MarkZapp)

  2. Amazing story, thanks to the girls for sharing!