George and me
|Poster for “When We Was Fab”.|
Back in 2001, I was taking a course in how to become a webmaster and make websites. As an exercise, I made a Beatles website. It was part of the course – and the website was to demonstrate various techniques we had learned. It was offline, just available on the school server and could only be accessed from within the school. At the same time, I was also responsible for the real life website of the Norwegian Beatles fan club, Norwegian Wood.
On that school Beatles website, I wrote a little bit about the members of the Beatles and what they were up to at the time. In George’s entry, I commented that all Beatles fans were very concerned about George’s health. At the time, I knew that he was troubled.
Near the end of November, I was lucky to attend an intimate concert with one of my favourite Norwegian performers, a very popular and talented singer, songwriter, guitar player and comedian – it was truly a great night out. The next day, I woke up to the news that George Harrison had died.
I didn’t show up for school that day, I stayed in and wrote updates on the Norwegian Beatles fan club website, I wrote about George and put up photos of him, as well as making a protocol where fans could write a few words to share their sorrow.
One regret I’ll always have, is that I never got to see George, not is concert and not in person. Just like Paul McCartney’s appearance on the Prince’s Trust concert in 1986, George’s appearance at the 1987 gig was a secret before the show. Had I known, I probably would have been there – I used to go to London at least once a year throughout the eighties.
I wanted to go and see his concerts in Japan in December 1991, but it was too far away and far too expensive. I traded videos with people, and had quite a few amateur recordings of the shows, recorded by Japanese fans with camcorders.
Shortly before George was to play his Royal Albert Hall concert in 1992, I read about it in a Norwegian newspaper and contemplated going over to see the show, but decided against it. I reckoned that the Japan tour must have made him enjoy doing concerts again, and I was hoping that he would tour elsewhere as well, possibly even coming to Norway. I also figured that the concert at the Royal Albert Hall would probably sell out quickly, so I thought my chances of getting tickets were slim.
Sadly, that concert was to be his final full concert and he never toured again. And when I read that the concert hadn’t sold out after all, I deeply regretted not dropping everything and flying over to England.
My one “near George” experience happened a few years earlier, when I went to see Bob Dylan in London in 1984, as he was playing a concert at Wembley Stadium. Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and Chrissie Hynde joined him on stage, I later learned that George had been there too, but he was just standing in the wings of the stage and didn’t step forward to play alongside the others. Six songs from the concert I attended were released on an LP later that year, as “Real Live”.
I also happened to be in London in 1988 when George was due to appear on the popular chat show “Wogan”, which was being broadcast live from BBC Television Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush. I bought an empty VHS cassette and asked the receptionist at my hotel if she could tape the show for me and then I went over to the theatre. I was not the only one, several other Beatles and George fans were there, waiting for George to arrive at the scene. A large poster for “When We Was Fab” was promoting his current single on a nearby wall. Sadly, the night was a waste, as we never saw George arrive or leave. When I finally got the chance to view the taped show after having arrived home in Norway, I understood why: yes, George appeared live on the show, but via satellite from Hollywood.
The year after George’s death, I got word about the “Concert For George”, which was going to take place in Royal Albert Hall. The day the ticket sale started, I engaged all my fellow students at the school to try and get me tickets via the internet, while I was on the phone, trying to get tickets that way. Our efforts were fruitless, the tickets were soon sold out. Still, I didn’t let that stop me, and I managed to score a ticket from my friend in Liverpool, Jean Catharell. I went over to London a few days before the concert, and there I managed to buy some more tickets, which enabled me to phone friends in Norway and have them come over for the show.
It was a beautiful concert and a fitting tribute. The best part was of course when Paul and Ringo were on the stage at the same time, exchanging nods and looks during their performances. This was the first time the song “Photograph” took on a whole new meaning, and you can actually spot me in the background on that song during the chronological version of the concert film. We all felt close to George that night.