Tonight I am starting a three-part story about a group of fans that were able to go to several stops on George Harrison's 1974 Dark Horse tour. As usual, it was more than just seeing George, but also the adventure that occurs that makes these stories so interesting.
Written by Brenda Lo
With a Little Help From My Friends
Well, by the time this gets into the newsletter, a month or more will have passed since the Chicago shows of Mr. Harrison. But ohh, will the memories always be there!
I couldn’t even imagine me at a “Beatle” concert, but when I finally realized I’d be seeing FOUR of George’s it was like a dream come true! (just for the record Paul is my fave!)
The day came to finally fly out to Chicago, about a 3-hour plane ride and we touched down in Chicago at O’Hare. Plans were that about 25 of us would be staying at the Holiday Inn down on Lakeshore Drive by Lake Michigan. Most of us had sent in our reservation to Barb so that was all set.
I got an airport bus right out of O’Hare which would be taking me right down to the Inn. And on the way out of the terminal on the bus, I saw a mucky green airplane which I later discovered was George’s! And by that time it was too late. Oh well.
Being a stranger in town I finally got to my destination at the Inn. I was a bit tired and wanted to get to my room, so I stood in line for two hours to get my room (I flew in alone) and when I finally got to the desk, they said there was no reservations under my name or Barb’s. So, upset as I was, I put my suitcase down by a door in the lobby and waited. There were so many people running around. I didn’t have a clue if any of them were there for the concert or not. After about 15 minutes a girl came in the door and I noticed a Yellow Submarine pin on her coat so I asked if she was there for the concerts and she said yeah. I was so relieved! Key was with the Cincinnati people (Barb, Sue and Stephanie) so we all stood around in the lobby and I had told them what the desk had told me about reservations, so we all stood confused and then Kathy and Chris came in and along about 5 Barb trudges in and gets our reservations all straightened out so we all got our rooms.
A few hours later some more kids from the Chicago area showed up and most of us were standing around in the lobby and someone said something about Ravi and the gang staying at our hotel. No sooner said than done, and I looked over by the elevators and there stood Mr. Shankar himself! About that time alarms and bells started going off because an elevator had gotten stuck.
Well, Bonnie and I decided we wanted to get Ravi’s autograph, and about that time he stepped into the elevator and the door closed (we had found out he was in room 916 earlier). So, Bonnie and I in desperation ran up 9 flights of stairs to try and catch him. Bonnie was about 3 flights ahead of me and when I finally got to the 9th floor, she came around the corner from the elevator and said “I got it.” So, I walked around to the elevator and there he stood, so I got his autograph and we started talking to him about the tour and an elevator opened and we all got in (Ravi too) and headed for the lobby. Ravi was very nice to us and when I told him I’d come from Oregon just for the concerts, he smiled and goes “Really?” He seemed pleased. Also said how long it had taken George to learn to play the sitar and stuff.
We got back to the lobby and Ravi got out (as we did) and went around to the front desk for something. (Meanwhile, they had gotten the elevator unstuck and were taking a guy out on a stretcher). Then he went back to the elevator and we were still standing there, so we rode back up with him and talked some more. He was probably glad to get rid of us even if he was being nice to us! I really don’t think Ravi could be mad at anyone.
Anyway, later on that night, well, into the evening, we were so sure that George was staying there too, so some of us waited in the lobby for a while. There were some members from the band and road crew hanging around in the lobby too. A guy from the India group were there, so I went over to him and talked to him for a while. His name was TV. He really enjoyed talking to us and he was really great. And of course, there were some guys from the crew wearing “Dark Horse” shirts and that’s how we knew they were part of the tour.
Long about 12:30am members of the band were still arriving, and we were so confident George would be along too. So, this tall dude with blond hair looks at us all and goes “George Harrison is NOT staying at this hotel. Will you kindly leave!” HE had a British accent and we just stood there. How the Hell could we leave when that’s where we were staying! We had just as much right to be there as he did! That was one thing we were all floored about. Of all the Holiday Inns and other hotels in Chicago, Ravi and friends picked the one we did! It wasn’t planned or anything because we didn’t know Ravi was there until we had our reservations!
Well most of us finally decided to go n up to our rooms, giving up hope for George’s arrival. So about 1:00am the people from Cleveland arrived – Pat, Joy, Tempy, Maria, Deb and Deb’s sister Patti. They were all beat after the seven hour drive and Pat had worked that day, so we called it a night and hit the sack.
The next day, Saturday November 30 was THE day! I had managed to get a scalper ticket for the 3rd row about 4 feet from George! I had three cameras – an Instamatic, 35 mm, and a movie camera. They were playing some new George songs before the concert over the amps and then the lights dimmed and they played “Lumberjack,” a funny little song. So after that a guy walks out with a funny little hat on and sunglasses over the hat, with a scarf, obviously being the quiet lad, Mr. Harrison! The crowd roared as the rest of the band came out, and they started out with an instrumental. I was so surprised that I wasn’t in hysteria since it was my first concert and second sitting of one of them. I just kind of stared for a few minutes, pinching myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream, and then I started taking pics. One time when I had my movie camera going, he looked into it as if to say “what the Hell’s she doing with so many cameras – and a movie one to boot!” That look almost killed me!
I had gotten to be friends with a chap next to me, and he could never get a pic of George looking to his camera. So, he kept holding his camera way up into the air so George would look over at him. Well, George DID look over at him, and when he saw what this guy was doing, he held HIS hand up and looked at me and laughed. Of course, THAT sent me straight through the ceiling. Wow! I’ll never forget it!
Well – after about 45 minutes or so the Indian part came and George stayed on the stage the entire time Ravi played. During the 2nd show he was off to the side booging to the music and having a good time and he intruded the Indian musicians by saying “We’ll enlarge a bit and add 16 members to the band – well really there’s only 14 but I’m a liar.” You can really get into the Indian music if you’re right in front where you can observe what is going on. But if you are way up in the balcony and can’t see a bloody thing, you just kind of go to sleep. I know because that’s where I got planted in the 2nd show. And the Indian music was rocked up a bit with electric guitars and the whole bit. It really wasn’t too bad.
And I dunno how the rest of the concerts were, but when Billy Preston (or William Everett Preston as George called him!) came on, he really got the crowd rocking. And that cute little dance George and Billy did! Fantastic! (I got it on my movie film!) It was so great! And the end of Billy’s number, George smiles and goes, “That Billy – he’s a gas!” It was so good.
In the first show, they started to play “Sue Me Sue You Blues” and George raked his fingers really hard over his guitar strings and one of the strings broke. He threw his hands up in the air and goes” Hold it! Hold it! “Then the music died out. “I just snapped a string here.” He then looks around for another guitar and shrugs – “Oh well, guess I’ll play without one string.” So, he did! And you couldn’t really tell. He also snapped a string at the evening show, plus nearly dropped a guitar once. He didn’t have a strap on secretly enough and he caught his guitar just before it hit the floor and he had trouble keeping that strap onto the guitar throughout the rest of the concert. Also, that scarf he was wearing, he said Emil knitted it for him, and he kept getting the scarf tangled up with his guitar strap. He wasn’t too coordinated, but Yeah George!
And to sum the concerts up, about the only bitch most people had was all the songs, lyrics were changed around. Such as “Something in the way she moves it,” “While my guitar gently smiles” and in the song “In my Life” he goes “I love God more.” “My Sweet Lord” and “What is Life” were pretty good. He also sang “Dark Horse” and “Maya Love” – great songs! He also said after “In my Life” “God Bless Paul, John and Ringo and the ex-ex-ex’s” In the beginning of the second show he said, “Good evening, Chicago – and it’s windy, just like they said it was!
I might add in the first show he had a t-shirt on that was promoting “Walls & Bridges” - it had John’s eyes (From the LP) across the front of it, and then “Walls & Bridges” around the sleeves. It was really cute. They also of course sold tour books at $2 a shot, all money from them going to the Appalachian Regional Hospital – that’s one thing about George – he’s always trying to help and aid the ones who don’t have it so good and show need help. I’ll always admire that about him – his concern and thoughtfulness of others.
And for all f you who didn’t notice at the concert and otherwise, George does wear an earring in his right ear! But as I was saying about the program – it has some NICE photos of George in it. And then the rest of the members of the band. And just for the record, outside of the concert hall, Krishna people were giving out Indian cake, or something like that. No way was I going to eat any of it, but some of the other girls that had the courage to eat it said it was pretty good.
So after the concerts, we went back to the Holiday Inn and went to our rooms. And about 15 minutes later, I was sitting on the can and a girl from outside the door goes “Where’s Brenda? Where’s Brenda”” “A guy from the tour wants to talk to Brenda!” I scrambled right out and went out in the hall, where everyone was standing around this guy. So I walked up to him and someone goes, “He wants that pin of George you were wearing at the concert – the one that flashes on and off.” I said I hadn’t been wearing a pin, just a George shirt. He’d mistaken me for someone else, but we all got to rapping with this guy, and his name was Jeff Raven and he did publicity for the tour and made the hotel arrangements. He was telling us how George has a museum in his house in England, and that he collects old Beatles things and he wanted that button that flashed on and off. So since we couldn’t give him that, everyone scrambled to their rooms and dug up something Beatle, ranging from a George coat hanger to a portrait of George. So, Jeff said that we’d all been so nice to him, he was going to invite us all up to his room so we could preview George’s new album (which wasn’t out at the time). So about 20 of us went up to his room and sat and listened to the new LP. It has about 8 songs on it, but they are long ones. And despite George’s hoarse voice, it’s pretty good. About 1:30AM, we all split and thanked him.
After that, most of us went to our rooms, rapped a while and then went to bed because some of us had to get up early and head for Cleveland. So the next morning me, Tempy, Barb, Richie, Deb and Patti got up around 8:00 and went down and had breakfast. The restaurant was always swamped for breakfast, so by the time we were done eating, the rest of the gang were just getting seats to eat.
Around 11:30 (Sunday) the kids that were going back home to Cleveland and the Cincinnati kids and me that were headed for the Cleveland concerts had to get on the road. We all met in the lobby and got a group picture of everyone that’d met there for the concerts. After that, I noticed TV standing in the lobby watching us, so I went over and said goodbye to him and told him I’d see him in Cleveland at the concerts and he seemed really surprised I’d be at the Cleveland shows! Then I made him pose for a pic and he smiled greatly as I snapped the photo. And a sad goodbye as we headed to Cleveland. There were three carloads of us altogether – Pat, Joyce, Kris and Marla were in Pat’s car and Deb, her sister, Tempy and me in another, and then the Cincinnati kids in their car – but they didn’t leave Chicago until a few hours after we did.
Well, after stopping at a truck stop in Gary, Indiana (blah- the food was rotten – yuck!) and eating we went on and the further east we got, the worse the weather got. It was snowing like mad almost all the way to Cleveland. We left Chicago at noon and pulled into Cleveland at 11:30 that night – over 11 hours on the road when it normally takes 6 hours to drive! So we pulled into Pat’s house and were all hungry and cold. Her mom was good enough to fix spaghetti for us! So we all ate spaghetti and watched an Elvis movie, “Speedway” (not Red Rose).
Then we wondered if George would cancel out his Cleveland gigs because of the bad weather. So Monday morning (December 2) it was still snowing and a lot of airports had been shut down, including Chicago. So Pat called Jeff Raven in Chicago and told him there was no way they could make it to Cleveland for the concerts because the roads were so bad and the weather was zilch for flying. So Raven said George definitely would NOT cancel, and they would fly to Columbus and go up to Cleveland by bus from there. We were all worried and concerned about George’s safety trying to fly and drive, but there was nothing we could do but keep our toes and fingers and legs crossed. So we headed off to the Coliseum around 2pm. Halfway there, they announced over the air that George had canceled both of his Cleveland gigs. We were relieved that they weren’t going to try to fly in and even if they had driven, there was no way they would have made it in time for the show and his equipment was already there. But at the time we were relieved about the cancellation we felt sad because of so many Cleveland kids who were really counting on his shows and who were not fortunate enough to be able to get to Chicago or anywhere else for a concert.