Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Live From New York - It's Saturday Night!


Liver From New York - It's Saturday Night!

By Madeleine Schatz

The Harrison Alliance

October/November/December/January 1976-77


On Wednesday night (November 17, 1976) Patti and Jennie called to tell me that George would be taping the “Saturday Night” segment on Thursday the 18th.  Thursday morning after I got to New York I started calling different people and places who I hoped could give me information about the taping, press party, etc.  I wasn’t getting much of anywhere and eventually went to the Hotel Carlyle, where George was staying.  Some people I knew were waiting in their car and asked if I wanted to wait with them, so I got in the car and we waited together.  While waiting, we got out and talked to the chauffeur, but he wouldn’t/couldn’t say who he was driving.  After a while, it became apparent he was driving George though.

After waiting a while, we saw some people leaving the hotel with 33 & 1/3 t-shirts and other promo stuff.  Then around 4:30, we saw George coming out.  Olivia was with him, as well as some other people.  We got out of the car and went over to George.  Someone asked him “do you mind if we take pictures?” and he didn’t mind, so we were taking pictures and people were asking him stuff.  Someone asked for an autograph, but then seeing he was carrying a lot of stuff (including a pair of shoes) and had no hands free to sign, she said, “Oh I guess you could do it another time.”  He was really nice, sort of quiet and shy like he usually is.  He was slowly getting into the car and asking Olivia where she wanted to sit – “we’ll sit in the back” and “we’ll sit in the front” sort of thing, like in Yellow Submarine.  They eventually sat in the back of the car then left.

Our car was facing the wrong way on the other corner, so we had to go all the way round the block to go downtown to follow the limo.  By the time we got to NBC, they were already inside.  We parked there for a while but then figured the best bet would be to go back to the hotel as we figured we’d never get into the taping.  There were a million entrances and an underground garage, and someone inside had told us we’d never have a chance of getting in, that it was for invited guests only.  Before going back to the hotel, we went out to eat.  A little while after we got back to the hotel, the limo came back to pick up some more people to go to the taping.  We talked to the chauffer again, who once again couldn’t tell us anything definite, and then said, “Did you ever think of following limousines?”  We took that as a hint to follow him when left, so we pulled the car so that it was facing the same direction as the limo and waited.  As the limo left, we followed it all the way to NBC, really close.  We managed to park our car fairly near the limo.  Someone in the car had to go inside to make a phone call and while she was inside, NBC people in there were saying there were free standby tickets to see George Harrison.

There were about 25 people there and we joined them.  Everyone was pushing and shoving.  We were all worried about keeping our place on line, as we weren’t guaranteed in, only if there was enough room.  Finally, they said there was room for everyone, and we were let in.  This was around 7:00, and the taping was to begin at 8:00.  The rest of the time they’d been setting up/rehearsing.

We were shown seats in the balcony (last row), but the place was so small it was really good.  Paul Simon was closer to us than George, but George was facing in our direction, so we could see him really well.  We were told that they’d be taping “Here comes the Sun,” “Homeward Bound” and “Bye Bye Love” and that our main problem as an audience was going to be keeping it fresh, applauding each time as though it were the first time.  Of course, that was no trouble for us since everybody was so freaked out that we’d gotten in.  In our section there were mainly Beatle/George fans so we were kinda wild – we were really into it.  The announcer came on and explained what was going to happen, what songs, etc.

Then George and Paul came onstage and sat on high stools with their guitars.  While they were getting settled, George as asking if it would be okay to move the mike out just a bit because the guitar was hitting it.  He said it sort of quietly and slowly and he was trying to move the mike a bit.  Then Paul said could they move the mike because George’s guitar was hitting it, and someone moved it a little, then they went on with getting ready to tape.  It reminded me of “Let it Be” the part when George got the shock from the microphone.  It was such a funny feeling and I said, “Isn’t it a lot like ‘Let it Be?’” She agreed.

When they were ready to start, Paul had to introduce George – “My friend, George Harrison.”  There was an applause sign which came on at the appropriate time but we didn’t even have to look at it, we just applauded naturally.  (In the end, they weren’t even using it, because we applauded twice as much as they need us to!)  Some people in our section were clapping to the music but were told not to do that; it was so difficult no to because it was such a natural reaction to the music.   George and Paul went through the three songs with no mistakes, but then were going to do it again and after that, they never got through it without a mistake.  They’d do the first song and then would make a mistake in the 2nd one and have to start over again.  They went through mainly the first two songs – I think they only did “Bye Bye Love” twice.  There were cue cards for George during “Homeward Bound” and when it came to the line about “the movies and the factories,” one time he forgot to sing “movies” and made this funny “woops” noise and then said, “You’ll have to put a red line under ‘movies.’”  (Later we sat in a different place and we could see that there was a red line under ‘movies.’)

The best part was the mistakes and the in-between parts.  In between, they had to adjust the cameras.  They asked for requests from the audience and people were calling out all different George songs.  He did a bit of “Dark Horse” and a bit of “She Said She Said,” and even a bit of “Yesterday!”  He did “Rock Island Line” as well – all the way through, with everyone clapping along and having a great time.  Then it was time to start again, and they kept going through the same songs over and over; one of them giggled or played a wrong note or something, and they would have to start over again with Paul saying, “My friend, George Harrison.”  Each time they made a mistake they had to start to form the very beginning.  It got really funny.  We had to applaud each time; the producers of the show were worried about everyone keeping the applause lively but after a while, it got so funny that we were applauding more than we had been at the beginning.

 After a while, they said there was going to be a break and they were going to show films.  They showed “True Love,” “Crackerbox Palace” and “This Song.”  After that they showed little bits on the monitors of what they had just taped, but after a while turned the sound off.  It was quite a long break; some people thought the taping was over and left.  When they were ready to start again, they wanted the audience to move closer together to fill in spaces left by the people who’d gone, so everyone in our section was moved.  We ended up downstairs on the floor – only a few yards away from George but behind him, so we had a great view of his back.  We could see the front view on the monitors, though so it was okay.  we were quite close.  They were warming up and joking around, and George said something about “So where’s the $750 then?”  (his share of the offer to the Beatles)

They said they’d go through the two songs and after that, Paul would do the introduction to the films George had brought.  They went through that over and over.  By this time George looked like, “Oh, we have to do this song again…”  A guy came to powder their faces a couple times.  Eventually, they got everything right but ended up having to do one more “just in case something happens, so we’ll have another one.”  When it was over, Paul and George went to a backstage area.  We weren’t supposed to go that way but quite a few of us did, and we were just standing there.  George walked back and forth a couple times, then went into a room and closed the door.  We were kind of just waiting around, but eventually, some ushers came and very rudely escorted us out via another route.

We went outside and waited. We waited in the car for a while, then went inside and waited in the lobby for a while, went back out – we weren’t sure which exit George would be using, the 49th street or the 50th street one.  When there was no one else around, the doorman told us it would be the 49th street and we cut through the building to that exit.  We waited and waited and finally, George came out, surrounded by NBC people saying things like “clear the way,” “move over, he’s tired,” “let him through.” People were trying to ask him questions, tell him they liked the show, take pictures, as he was going out to the car.  Someone shouted “long live the Rutles” but I don’t know if he heard it or not.  He was sitting in the car watching everyone for a while, then as the car pulled away he waved to everyone out the back window.

By this time, it was quite late (about 11:30) and we had to work the next day, and also figured we couldn’t make it back to the Carlyle before the limo, so we got ready to head for home.

I remember we were saying we all had to be sure and give thanks the following week (Thanksgiving Day).  We had been so sure we’d never get in; we just couldn’t believe we were actually in there.  It was a funny feeling.  We kept saying, “It’s so hard to believe George Harrison was sitting there.”  I’ll be floating for a while!

1 comment:

  1. George always liked staying at the Carlyle as well as actor Michael York and Ed Sullivan