From 1964 to 1970, George Harrison and Patti Harrison (Boyd) lived in a house in Surrey, England that they painted psychedelically with a little help from their friends. The home, known as Kinfauns, was quintessentially hippie with its Indian-influenced interior and a giant trippy mandala mural, a creation of the Dutch art/music collective The Fool, framing the fireplace. Imagine a Haight-Ashbury crash pad for millionaires.
The Harrison’s cosmic hideaway was the setting for Beatle songwriting sessions and the recording of demos for the White Album. It was also a hangout for George’s musician buddies, including Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful, who famously painted a message on the side of the house that read “Mick and Marianne were here & we love you.”
In 1969 Patti and George were arrested in their home for possession of a small chunk of hash. The Drugs Squad chose the day of Paul McCartney’s wedding to Linda Eastman to launch a raid on the Harrison home. The bust resulted in a huge media event - an absurd outcome for an inconsequential amount of smoke. But at least we know where the inspiration for the artwork may have originated.
A George Harrison bonus post here on the tenth anniversary of his death.
Harrison’s 1976 hit “Crackerbox Palace” was written about his visit to the Los Angeles home of the great Beatnik comic, Lord Buckley, after a chance meeting with Buckley’s manager, George Grief, in France. Harrison was a big admirer of Buckley (as was Frank Zappa) and thought the name of his house would make a great song title. The song includes references to both George Greif (“I met a Mr. Greif”) and to his Lordship (“know that the Lord is well and inside of you”).
Python member Eric Idle directed a promo film for “Crackerbox Palace” shown on SNL that featured Neil Innes (in drag and in other weird costumes). You can spot Harrison’s future wife, Olivia Arias, in a flash as one of the women on the bed and director Idle can be seen as one of the people in the chair. What’s really wild about this clip is that you can see how George Harrison lived like, uh, royalty in his Friar Park mansion. The house and the grounds are really a sight. The final pull-out shot shows some insane landscaping.
Beatle George Harrison died ten years ago on November 29, 2001.
Below, you can watch the entire historic Concert For Bangladesh performance featuring George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankar, Leon Russell, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Badfinger, Jesse Ed Davis, Klaus Voorman and Mother of Invention Don Preston.
Harrison walks onstage at 22 minutes in—after a fiery opening set by Ravi Shankar—and the supergroup (led by bandleader Leon Russell) launch into his blistering anti-Macca number “Wah Wah,” one of the best songs on his sprawling All Things Must Pass album.
(You might not want to wait too long to watch this one, who knows how long this is going to last on YouTube…)
A “lost” film produced from “top to bottom” by George Harrison, has been rediscovered and released on DVD by the British Film Institute. Little Malcolm was made in 1973, and starred John Hurt, David Warner, John McEnery, Raymond Platt and Rosalind Ayres. Based on the play Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs by David Halliwell, it was Harrison’s first film as producer, and one that was thought long lost, as director by Stuart Cooper explained in an interview with the Guardian:
“George never said this to me,” says Cooper, “but I definitely got the feeling that Little Malcolm may have been the first and last time George ever went to a play. But he was a big, big fan of it and also a big fan of [its star] Johnny Hurt, so he was in our corner already. Also, at the time, the other Beatles all had a film gig, John had done Imagine, Paul, I guess, directed Magical Mystery Tour, and Ringo was in Candy and The Magic Christian. So the only one without a film gig was George. He financed Malcolm through a company called Suba Films, which existed solely to receive profits from the animated Yellow Submarine. It was financed entirely by Yellow Submarine! It wasn’t a big budget, somewhere around a million, million and a half pounds – not expensive. He financed it top to bottom. He stepped up, wrote the cheque, and we made the movie.”
Little Malcolm is the story of Malcolm Scrawdyke (Hurt), a delusional Hitlerite revolutionary, who plots his revenge after his expulsion form college, by forming the Party of Dynamic Erection, with fellow slackers, Wick (McEnery), Irwin (Platt) and Nipple (Warner). Malcolm’s battle is against an unseen enemy, and the film is a mix of Young Adolf meets Baader-Meinhof via Billy Liar.
Halliwell wrote Little Malcolm in 1965, it was his first and most successful play. Directed by Mike Leigh, the role of Malcolm was originally played by Halliwell, who explained his thoughts behind the drama at the time:
“The Nazis made a big impression on people of my age, they almost destroyed Europe. But as well as being pretty threatening they were also seen as a laughing stock even during the war.”
David Halliwell was a loner. He lived alone and, typically, it seems he died alone. Indeed, his eponymous loner, Little Malcolm Scrawdyke, was in many ways a self-portrait, although David always denied this. Having met at Rada and become close friends, he and I founded Dramagraph with Philip Martin in 1965, and I directed and designed our original production of Little Malcolm at Unity Theatre. David played Scrawdyke. He was impossible to direct, resisted cuts, and the production was famously overlong and unwieldy. But it was and remains a magnificent piece of writing, and it is truly tragic that this quite brilliant and original dramatist procrastinated for the remaining 40 years of his life.
...pioneered the idea of lunchtime theatre and multi-viewpoint drama and left his mark on several close collaborators, including Mike Leigh.
Unfortunately, through his determination to do things his way, Halliwell never fully developed his ideas, and as Billington noted, “Halliwell suffered the fate of the pioneer whose ideas are refined and improved by later practitioners”.
Originally Little Malcolm ran for 6 hours, but after subbing by Leigh, it transferred to London’s West End, where John Hurt took over the title role - it was a career defining performance - one of many in Hurt’s case - and after a short run, moved to Dublin and New York. The play won Halliwell a Most Promising Newcomer Award, and also attracted Harrison’s interest, enough for the Beatle to bank roll the movie. But once made, the film was caught up in The Beatles’ acrimonious split, as Cooper explained:
“In the end, we got hung up by the Beatles’ breakup, when all of the Apple and Beatles assets went into the official receiver’s hands. So Little Malcolm just basically sat there for a couple of years. Whatever heat and buzz we generated was all lost. It didn’t diminish the movie but it stopped the momentum. George had to fight to get it back.
“Berlin was the first airing we managed, but it won best direction and the response was incredible. We got great reviews from Alexander Walker and Margaret Hinxman, but by then it really didn’t have any legs. It was a film that got lost, and I had to put it on a shelf and say to myself, well, there might be a day for that one day – and here we are now, after so many years.”
In 1974, Little Malcolm won the Silver Bear at Berlin Film festival. It was Cooper’s first, he won a second in 1975 with Overlord before directing Hurt, Warner and Donald Sutherland in the film version of Derek Marlowe‘s The Disappearance in 1977.
“Basketball Jones” was a song/routine/character from Cheech and Chong’s 1973 Los Cochinos (“The Pigs”) record. The original album cover had a secret compartment where you could see how they smuggled pot, sandwiched in their car door. I bought this LP at a garage sale when I was about ten and just starting to get into comedy albums. I only half understood the idea of “drugs” at the time, I’m pretty sure, so I can’t imagine a Cheech and Chong album made much sense to me at that age. But I loved the routine “Basketball Jones” by Tyrone Shoelaces & Rap Brown Jr. H.S.” and would go around singing the musical part of it like ten-year-olds do.
The song is about teenager Tyrone (as in “tie your own”) Shoelaces and his love of basketball sung in a falsetto voice by Cheech Marin. It’s catchy as hell, but small wonder, dig the backing band: George Harrison, Klaus Voorman, Carole King, Nicky Hopkins, Tom Scott, Billy Preston, Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector and Michelle Phillips. The animation is by Paul Gruwell and was made in 1974.
This cartoon has also made some impressive Hollywood cameos over the years, in Robert Altman’s California Split, Hal Ashby’s Being There and in the 70s underground comedy Tunnel Vision. It was also parodied in a 2011 episode of The Simpsons (”A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”).
Who needs Martin Scorsese’s documentary on George Harrison, when you can have this roughly cobbled together sequence of prime cuts of Pirate George causing mayhem on Eric idle’s Rutland Weekend Television Christmas Special.
MOJO: Years ago, John [Lennon] was quoted as saying that George was ‘the kid’ when the Beatles began and that John treated George as such. How long did that last?
PAUL: It probably lasted a couple of years. Just because of his age, in a group of men who’ve grown up together, particularly round about their teenage years - age matters. In John’s case, who was three years older than George - that meant a lot. John was probably a bit embarrassed at having sort of ‘a young kid’ around, just ‘cos that happens in a bunch of guys. It lasted for a little while. It was particularly noticeable when George got deported from Hamburg [in November 1960] for being underage. Otherwise, when he first joined the group, he was a very fresh-faced looking kid. I remember introducing him to John and thinking, Wow, there’s a little bit of an age difference. It wasn’t so much for me ‘cos I was kind of in the middle. But as we grew up it ceased to make a difference. And those kind of differences iron themselves out.
MOJO: I’m curious about George’s process in the studio. Do you recall any stand-out moments where George brought something in or made a song click?
PAUL: Oh yeah, sure. There were quite a few. I would think immediately of my song “And I Love Her” which I brought in pretty much as a finished song. But George put on do-do-do-do [sings the signature riff] which is very much a part of the song. Y’know, the opening riff. That, to me, made a stunning difference to the song and whenever I play the song now, I remember the moment George came up with it. That song would not be the same without it.
I think a lot of his solos were very distinctive and made the records. He didn’t sound like any other guitarist. The very early days we were really kids and we didn’t think at all professionally. We were just kids being led through this amazing wonderland of the music business. We didn’t know how it went at all - a fact that I’m kind of glad of ‘cos I think it meant that we made it up. So we ended up making things up that people then would later emulate rather than us emulating stuff that we’d been told.
In the very early days, it was pretty exciting. I remember going to auditions at Decca and each of us did pretty well, y’know. We were in a pub afterwards having a drink and kind of debriefing and coming down off the excitement, but we were still pretty high off it all. And I remember sitting at the bar with George and it became kind of a fun thing for us for years later. I would say, [adopts awed voice] When you sang [Goffin & King’s] “Take Good Care Of My Baby,” it was amazin’ man!’ I’m not sure we said ‘man’ or even ‘amazing’ in those days, but… That was a special little moment and it just became a thing between me and him: [awed voice again] ‘When you sang Take Good Care Of My Baby’...’
Part 2 is here. Below, the trailer for Martin Scorsese’s upcoming documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World, out next month.
George Harrison’s exotic soundtrack to swinging 60s cinematic head trip Wonderwall was the first solo Beatle project (that is if you don’t count Paul McCartney’s soundtrack to The Family Way, which was credited to The George Martin Orchestra). Wonderwall Music is all over the musical map—delightfully so—with songs ranging from classical Indian ragas to jaunty nostalgic-sounding numbers to proto-metal guitar freakouts. It’s a minor classic, I wish more people knew about it. I’ve long been an enthusiastic evangelist for this album, sticking tracks on mixed CDs and tapes for quite some time.
With Ringo Starr (under the pseudonym “Richie Snare”) and Eric Clapton (here credited as “Eddie Clayton) and some session musicians, Harrison recorded the “English” portion of Wonderwall Music in December 1967. The Indian musicians were recorded the following month in Bombay. Peter Tork from The Monkees plays an uncredited banjo part on the record. It was released on November 1, 1968, just a few weeks before the White Album, and was the first release on Apple Records.
There are a lot of great tracks on Wonderwall Music, but the one I want to highlight first is “Ski-ing” a two-minute long sonic SCREAMER wherein Eric Clapton comes up with the blueprint for the Buttlhole Surfer’s guitar sound back when Paul Leary was just a little kid.
“Party Seacombe” (amazing!):
Another minor masterpiece with “Red Alady, Too”:
The trailer for Wonderwall, directed by Joe Massot and starring Jane Birkin, Jack Magowran and Iain Quarrier.
John, Paul, George and…Jimmie? It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it? But for ten days in 1964, Jimmie Nicol was one of The Fab Four, drafted in to replace Ringo Starr on The Beatles first world tour.
Starr had collapsed with tonsillitis, and rather than cancel the tour, producer George Martin decided to call in a temporary replacement - Jimmie Nicol, an experienced session musician, who had played with Georgie Fame and jazz musician, Johnny Dankworth, amongst others. Lennon and McCartney were fine with the idea, but Harrison was a bit shirty, and at one point threatened to walk off, telling Martin and Brian Epstein: “If Ringo’s not going, then neither am I - you can find two replacements.” It was soon resolved and within 24-hours of the initial ‘phonecall, Nicol was playing drums with the Fab Three in Copenhagen. He later recalled:
“That night I couldn’t sleep a wink. I was a fucking Beatle!”
The next leg of the tour was Australia and Hong Kong, and Nicol soon found himself at the heart of Beatlemania. Fans screamed his name, his photograph was sent around the globe, and he was interviewed as one of the band by the world’s press. Nicol later reflected:
“The day before I was a Beatle, girls weren’t interested in me at all. The day after, with the suit and the Beatle cut, riding in the back of the limo with John and Paul, they were dying to get a touch of me. It was very strange and quite scary.”
He also gave an inkling into The Beatles’ life on the road was like:
“I thought I could drink and lay women with the best of them until I caught up with these guys.”
Ten days into the tour, Ringo had recovered and quickly reclaimed his place. Nicol was paid off by Epstein at Melbourne airport, given a cheque for $1,000 and a gold Eterna-matic wrist watch inscribed: “From The Beatles and Brian Epstein to Jimmy - with appreciation and gratitude.” It was like a retirement present. Within a year Nicol was bankrupt, owing debts of over $70,000, and all but forgotten. So much for his 15 minutes of fame.
“Standing in for Ringo was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Until then I was quite happy earning thirty or forty pounds a week. After the headlines died, I began dying too.”
Nicol went on to play with Swedish guitar band, The Spotnicks, but by the late sixties he quit pop music and relocated to Mexico. It was later claimed he had died, but as the Daily Mail explained in 2005, this was false:
At 66, his square-jawed looks have given way to grey jowls, the smile oblieterated by missing teeth. Anything that might remain of his Beatle haircut is tied back in a scruffy ponytail. But he still has his principles. Despite the lucrative rewards of today’s Beatlemania industry, he staunchly refuses to cash in….
It has even been reported that he died in 1988. This week, however, after a difficult search, I confirmed reports of his death are greatly exaggerated. One morning he could be foind visiting a building society, eating breakfast in a modest cafe, then returning silently to his London home. At this flat you could see sheet music through one window but no sign of any drums. He didn’t answer the door when I rang. If he got my messages about the new book, he didn’t reply.
When I eventually made contact, the conversation was predictably brief: “I’m not interested in all that now,” he said. “I don’t want to know, man.”
Here is footage of The Beatles’ tour of Australia and Jimmie Nicol’s time as the fifth Beatle - the Beatle who never was..
Rare clips of The Beatles on tour, plus Jimmie Nicol interview, after the jump…
October 14 will see the long-overdue DVD release of the 1971 documentary Raga narrated by and featuring Ravi Shankar. Digitally remastered from a 35mm print, from the looks of the new trailer below it should be stunning. I’ve always loved and been intrigued by the Apple Records soundtrack LP so I’m looking forward to finally seeing this in pristine quality.
What follows below are a pair of newly uploaded Rock Music Exposed clips from YouTube channeler, Triplexity, and were apparently culled from the two-part ‘89 documentary, Hell’s Bells (which, to my knowledge, remains in VHS-only exile).
The intro, clip 1 of 36 (!) and found here, lays out the Hell’s Bells agenda, “to help people understand the big picture, peel back the veneer of pop culture, and gaze into the bedrock of truth that lies beneath.”
Since it also hopes to serve as, “a wake-up call, an alarm warning of the fire raging just down the hall,” you can bet your salvation its earnest-but-porny-looking narrator means a “Christian truth.” I know, sounds like a snooze. We’ve seen—and smirked—at this kind of crap on numerous occasions.
But readers of Dangers Minds might find far more compelling the below clips, 12 and 13. In them, Hell’s Bells puts under the Christian magnifying glass Kenneth Anger, Mick Jagger, Timothy Leary and The Beatles.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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