Badgering a Beatle

•  Was I too hard on George Harrison in a 1987 Good Morning America interview?

•  He didn’t have to invite Paul McCartney onto Cloud Nine . . but I had to ask about it

•  Watch him give me the stink-eye

I’ve told the stories of my Beatles encounters already, but I recently unearthed a copy of the piece on George Harrison I did for Good Morning America in 1987 about his first solo album in five years, Cloud Nine. It kind of brought me up short.

In my memory, the taped package existed as a warm recollection of my first sit-down with a former Beatle. A Beatle whose stature had grown steadily in my estimation – and appreciation – since the Fab Four arrived on these shores.  

Talking about Harrison with Charlie Gibson

But as I watched this GMA piece for the first time in 32 years, I was taken aback by how I pursued a notion that there was something maybe . . wrong . . about Ringo Starr being asked to play drums on George’s album but Paul McCartney being snubbed. (As you watch this short clip, notice how I used the tried-and-true interview technique of using silence after his initial answer to create a vacuum that an interviewee usually can’t resist filling):

Not content to let that suffice, I brought up a concert earlier that year in London, The Prince’s Trust, at which George and Ringo shared the stage. I asked why it had been reported that Harrison had been apprehensive about that. He explained he was wary the charity concert promoters might have “a plot” to sneakily get him, Ringo and Paul to unwittingly appear on the same stage. ‘And then,” he continued, “they’ll say ‘Hah! Be the Beatles!’ We can’t be the Beatles”

By this time, I imagine, George was thinking, “Damn. Will this guy drop it? Can we move on, please?” I mean, look at the shade he threw at me:

So, was I just doing my job, asking what many Beatles fans might have, if given the priceless opportunity to question George Harrison?  Or did I press too hard, hoping to stir a pot of controversy, to get a headline like “George Admits: ‘I Want No Part of Paul”? (Not that there was social media, where that sort of flap would blossom, in 1987.)

More posts like this, here

You be the judge. Watch the entire package, which might offer context, nuance. Me, I just wish he could be here now, as one of his songs goes, and I could tell him if I pissed him off, I’m sorry. To which he would be right to remind: beware of darkness.

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