Sunday, October 14, 2018

Backstage after Ravi Shankar's concert

This story written by Renata Frankowska comes from the October 1979 issue of "With a Little Help from my Friends."    The autumn of 1979 seems to have been a busy time for the guys, especially George. 

Note:  photo does not match the story

Backstage after Ravi Shankar's concert
October 14, 1979 - London
By Renata Frankowska

I bought the tickets a few days before the concert, which was at Royal Albert Hall in London, 7pm on October 14, 1979, to make sure I got in.   There were two of us going - my friend from work Daryl, and me.   So here we were inside of Royal Albert Hall, a beautiful, huge place, which that night was almost sold out.  I was looking forward to this concert, as I saw Ravi in the same place, the same time a year ago, and enjoyed his playing.  Anyway, the concert had started on time and was supposed to finish at 10pm.  Ravi performed along with Alla Rhika and two other musicians and of course, he was as great as ever.

All the times I've been over there I've been looking for a sign of George, watching all the men suspiciously, but I had thought George was in the USA and not coming back until 1980, according to the papers.   I was thinking how wonderful it would be if he turned u, as I haven't seen him since 1976, that special incredible day at Friar Park!

The concert finished around 10:00 and after we left our seats, we decided to go up to the artists' door as everybody was going there to get Ravi's autograph.  We went downstairs to a small room, packed with people fighting for Ravi's autograph.  I started looking around, and my eyes stopped at the dark corner of the room, as the person standing there just looked very curiously at my t-shirt (with a picture of George and "Harrison" written underneath).  I looked over there and I started to feel my face go red.  It was George.   I looked again to find out if it was really him and looked at the lad by his side -- it was Olivia.  "I'm gonna faint in a minute," I said to Daryl.  "Why?" she asked.  "Why?" I almost shouted.  "Because over there in George!  George Harrison!"  And indeed, there he was, standing patiently behind the crowd waiting for his turn to see Ravi!  I could feel how the fear was paralyzing my body but I decided to move near him and say hello.  I doubted if he remembers me from '76, but it was worth trying! So, I moved nearer.

"Hi George,"  I said with a trembling voice.  "I don't know if you remember me -- I met you in Friar Park in 1976.  I'm from Poland - my name is Renata."   George looked carefully into my face -- you know, the way he looks at people -- straight into your eyes.  I could feel that look going right through me.

"Oh, hello," he said.  "How are you?"

"Oh, ummm, I'm fine, thanks...Hi Olivia."  She said hello, and I said, "I've just been to see Ravi's concert."   George asked, "how did you live it?"  I said it was beautiful, really beautiful, and added, "George, I thought you were in America.  I read in the paper you were going to stay there until 1980."

"Oh, no, no," he said.

God, I thought, isn't it incredible?  There I am standing in here and talking to him, talking to George, the person that affected my life so much.  I couldn't understand why on earth I was feeling so peaceful and calm.  It was like a mixture of being shocked and shaking, and still being peaceful inside.  Very strange!   I kept looking at him, trying to remember every detail.  He had short hair, cut on the top, and he's growing a mustache and a beard.   He had on cream color cord trousers, beige shirt, and a wooly cardigan sweater (blue), and cord sports shoes.  He still wears a "collar" but the earrings are gone.  He had a number of rings on his fingers.  Olivia looked very nice too, wearing a dark purple suit.  Anyway, there I was standing near him, trying desperately to find questions in my mind I wanted to ask him so many times, and I forgot everything!  Almost, anyway.  I asked him about "Beatlemania" and the rumors of them sueing this show.  But he just shook his head and said, "You probably know more about it than I do."  Then I asked him about Dhani, and he said he was fine, and then started talking to Olivia.  She asked me all these questions -- what I was doing, where I was working and living, etc.   She really is very friendly and she hasn't changed a bit since I last saw her.  I wish they'd had Dhani with them -- I'm dying to see him -- but he was probably in Henley.   I asked George about his album if he planned to release a new one soon, but he said no. "We're dying to see you on stage, George," I said.

"I don't do things like that anymore," he answered with a smile. 

I was really so shocked and surprised, I couldn't remember more questions to ask him, so I was standing near him feeling embarrassed.  Suddenly George said to Olivia, "Let's go," and they tried to make their way to Ravi through the crowd.  I followed them to another room, still packed with people, mostly Indian.

George was standing nearby the wall, still waiting for Ravi.  I kept looking at him now and again.  I noticed that he looked thoughtful and very serious most of the time.  He was talking to a guy which it seemed he knew very well, and it probably should be against good manners, but I was trying to listen to what he was saying!  He was talking about Ravi being surrounded by so many people, while he must have been exhausted after two and a half hours of playing.  "...And look at all these people," said George.  I looked at him and he looked straight into my eyes again and I could feel the power of that look.  "He looks tired," I said to George, meaning Ravi.

"Yes, he's very, very tired, and you really shouldn't be in here, you know."   I felt really embarrassed about the whole situation so I said, "Well, we'd better leave," but we didn't!  Some irresistible power kept me there.  There was a mirror opposite George and while he was standing, back to the crowd, he was facing the mirror, so I could see him very well.  But he could see me too, so every time I looked at him, he gave me a look back, very serious and rather frightening.  I saw a man who was playing in Ravi's and asked him for an autograph.  He asked me where I was from and when I said Poland, he said he'd just been to Warsaw.  He also said a few nice things about Polish people and my country and I felt so pleased about it.

Well, that was the time to leave, as George disappeared somewhere and Daryl and I had to catch the subway home.  I was shaking and going crazy, saying over and over again, "I don't believe it!  I don't believe it!  What a fantastic night!"

No comments:

Post a Comment