Thursday, 22 April 2010

The more I learn the less I know

About a week ago I saw news of an interesting auction of very rare memorabeatlia (mostly items belonging to John or George which they had given to press officer and close friend Derek Taylor, who had then passed to beatle-book author Geoffrey Giuliano).

Michael Gerber over at the wonderful Hey Dullblog then wrote a thought-provoking post about the auction drawing attention to one of the items up for sale in particular. It's a memo from George which was posted on the wall at Apple HQ at the time, containing the following words "A flower on its own is pretty. A flower in a garden is beautiful" - apparently beseeching the other boys not to allow the continuing disintegration of the band.

My immediate reaction on reading this was that I would have believed that kind of sentiment from anyone else in the band - except George! Paul yes, because outside of Brian Epstein, he was the biggest fan of, and believer in, the Beatles right from the start. Ringo, cos the band was pretty much his life, with his actor-for-hire services enough to keep him busy once he had laid down his drum tracks on the latest record. John - well, okay he was pretty vociferous in comparing the break-up of the beatles as a slow death, a divorce, as painful as passing a watermelon (he might not have said that last one actually...), but in the end he wasn't the one to officially make the announcement that the band was over - Paul gazumped him on that in April 1970.

But George? Holy Radha Krishna Temple, Batman! I had been under the impression from various interviews and articles that George had pretty much lost his mojo for playing at being a beatle after his trip to India in 1966, and the world of consciousness which that opened up for him. In the Anthology he stated that during the worst of the 'winter of discontent' he knew he could be happy enough on his own rather than expend energy trying to combat the slog of the increasingly bickering band.

Michael Gerber had figured out that the memo could probably be pinned down to a date between John first declaring he wanted to leave the beatles (September 1969) to Paul's official announcement 7 months later. So out of interest I had a look at what George was up to in that period, as if something would give me a sign as to his state of mind and whether he really would have written a plea on Apple headed paper asking the boys to stay together.

The very first item I came across was that on 2nd December 1969 he took to the stage for the first time since the beatles played their last ever official concert at Candlestick Park in August 1966, forming part of the backing group for Delaney & Bonnie (alongside his good friend Eric Clapton). George ended up doing 6 consecutive gigs with them (the pic at the top of this page is taken from a gig in Denmark after these 6 UK dates), staying in local hotels along the way, very much like the package tours the Beatles played on from 1963-65.

Okay, George certainly wasn't the only beatle striking out on his own during this time, but I just can't reconcile the George of this period, gigging again as part of a large band, as having written that memo. However, if the memo is in fact above-board and genuine then I just have to accept the fact that maybe the final days of the beatles weren't as dark as I had been led to believe from all that I've read and seen in the past 25 years. Even on the Anthology I suppose that memories of the three remaining beatles could be skewered by emotions or forgetfulness 20 years later.

But the most significant outcome of the revelation of this memo is that it makes me realise there is still so much for a beatle student like me to learn! Write out a hundred times "must try harder"...:-)

1 comment:

  1. there is an interview with George from April/May 1970 in NYC (he was doing demos with Dylan) and he's quite positive about the Beatles, even a few weeks after Paul's announcement. He talks about a break, everyone doing solo things, then getting back together later. I don't think he had such a dim view of the group at that time.