When George Harrison calls you and then you hang up the phone, you’re like a kid in a candy store, right?
It was crazy, because my brother who’s 13 months younger than me, Rob, has an incredible George Harrison impression. So when I got home and heard the message I just laughed because the message sounded like, “Hello Will, this is George Harrison calling. I’d like to steal you away from that television program for a night to come play with me in London at the Royal Albert Hall and please give me a call and blah blah blah…” I called my brother later that night, and said, “Hey man, great George earlier, that was so funny.” He said, “I didn’t call you.” I said, “You didn’t call me, alright I got to go, I’ll call you back in a little while.”
I listened to the message again and he was calling me from Flyer Park, his house. For real. He flew me over on the Concord and stuff. It was just incredible to go do this one off with George. I learned a lot of material in a short amount of time. We had one rehearsal and we hit it the next day.
That’s wild. My favorite Beatles song is “Something,” (written by George Harrison) but I remember reading a headline calling George “The Forgotten Beatle.” Why do you think that’s the case?
I think its just personalities. It causes people to insert themselves or assert themselves to a certain energy level. George, like John and Paul grew up in the working class environment. Liverpool is really competitive. You can get the feeling from George’s gentle nature that he wasn’t the pushiest person among the group, he wasn’t the control freak of the group. He was a gentle soul, gentle guy. Great sense of humor. Spiritual of course. You could probably get the sense that he was intimidated by those guys. As talented as he was he probably didn’t really know how to put his foot in the door and leave it jammed in there, until somebody said, “Check me out, I got some great songs here.”
While all that was happening he was gently improving his song writing skills as time went on. Maybe that’s part of the reason. He wasn’t that pushy of a guy.
George was known for bringing a sort of wacky instruments into the studio. I think of “Norwegian Wood”….
How long would it have taken for us to hear Indian music if it wasn’t for George?
Good point. I knew what he did on “Norwegian Wood” but to look at the list of sounds he contributed, it’s incredible. At the Beacon, have you started to think about how you’re going to approach recreating those songs?
We know exactly what we’re going to do. We’ve been working on this for months already.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far in rehearsals for the band?
Organizing everything. There are so many people involved. There is a choir of six people. As I’m talking to you, I’m writing song titles on a CD for someone who’s about to pick up his choir book in five minutes. I’m writing “Isn’t It A Pity” and “Got My Mind Set On You.” There are so many layers to this. I think the biggest thing for us is the creative arguments we had about what’s going to be on this show. What are we not going to do. I’d be happy to recreate the show I did with George. The other guys who are younger than me came in and have a different take on it. For example, when The Beatles broke up I wasn’t nearly as receptive to The Beatles solo material as I was to The Beatles material. I used to say, “it’s one fourth as good The Beatles.” That was my take.
Of course, there are some great gems on the solo stuff. We’re doing a lot of All Things Must Pass in this show. We are trying to address a lot of George’s features in The Beatles. A lot of those tunes. Of course we have our normal array of strings, horns and stuff like that. We also have two extra rhythmic sections players to fill in the other blanks. A lot of George’s albums and his “biggies” like “What Is Life,” “My Sweet Lord,” and “Wah, Wah” are huge production numbers. It takes a lot of people to make that sound.
We have our work cut out for us. We’ve been working on it for a really long time. We are just about ready. It’s only a matter days from now.