Sunday, April 1, 2012

This is not my ticket stub, but it's a stub from the  same show I was at.


My first Beatle LIVE! 
I was in seventh grade when the Beatles ceased touring as a group in 1966, so I never got to see the Fab Four together in person. 
But now it was 1974, four years after Fabs' demise, and George Harrison was embarking on a North American tour...and his December 20th show at Madison Square Garden in NYC was hopelessly sold out. 
I was 20 years old at the time and working in the warehouse at Medical Economics in Westwood, NJ; I went to college at night and worked during the day to try to help my parents pay MY tuition to Montclair State (at the time) College.
Because of the quick sellout, George had decided to perform an additional show at 4PM on his December 20th date at MSG. 
One of the ladies who worked in the offices at Medical Economics came into the warehouse to look for me. She knew I was a Beatle nut, and she said her son had one extra ticket, two rows from the stage, for the 4PM show; would I be interested?
Maybe money can't buy me love, but it can get me a ticket to that 4 o'clock show of Harrisongs! 
Yeah, yeah, yeah I told her. Her son would meet me at the concert at our seats.
December 20th seemed to take forever to get here. I finally found myself walking through the corridors of Madison Square Garden, looking for a concession stand. At this time in my life, I was not adverse to imbibing in a beer or two every now and then. Before I even got to my seat, I had downed two Beatle Beers. Here Come the Suds! I was ready for Georgie!!
"George Harrison" I kept repeating to myself as I walked to my seat. There it was --- two rows from the stage all right...behind the stage! I sat down next to my coworker's son (who himself was downing some Harrison Hops and Barley). He looked at me: "Good seats, huh?"
Still not sure how to answer, I just nodded my head and said, "George!"

As soon as George bounded onto the stage, I was convinced I had the best seats in the house. Georgie would often turn around and wave to our section behind him. To try to explain the thrill of seeing my first Beatle live is for another blog on another day. For this blog, it's about getting shushed by George! 
After about five songs, the great Harrison introduced his friend, Ravi Shankar, who along with other fine Indian musicians, would perform some songs for the audience. (It was Ravi who had taught George how to play the sitar. George, in turn, pretty much single-handedly introduced the sitar to popular Western music in the Sixties.) Admittedly, I wasn't anywhere near as appreciative of the intricacies and wonder of Indian music then as I am now, but as George left the stage to Ravi, I, along with the rest of the sold-out Garden crowd settled back to enjoy Shankar's set of Indian music.

OK, ya ready? Here comes the shush...
After about a couple of minutes, as Shankar was speaking to the audience, someone in our section yelled out, "It's George!" 
Sure enough, walking right past our section behind the stage, on his way to the dressing room, was George, along with Billy Preston and a couple of the other musicians from George's band .
The great George Harrison couldn't have been more than twenty feet away as he passed my seat. In no time, our whole section of about forty people were calling for George. "Hey, George! George! Hi! George! George!"
He realized what was happening...we were calling his name over Ravi's "hello" to the crowd.
George quickly put his finger to his lips and made a "shush" motion and pointed with both thumbs over his shoulders to the stage, as if to tell us, "Shhhh, you're interrupting Ravi!" While he did this, though, he had a big, appreciative smile on his face; both acknowledging our hellos, yet at the same time being mindful of the respect we should be giving the man on stage.
As George disappeared, a girl a few rows back joyfully announced, "Hey, George told us to be quiet!" I looked around and so many people in the section were either smiling or laughing. "Hey, yeah," a guy added, "we got shushed by a Beatle!"
We were like a bunch of schoolkids trying to stifle laughter so the teacher wouldn't yell. George had asked us to be quiet, but, hey, George had asked us to be quiet! Nobody else at this concert could say that.
We finally calmed down long enough to smell the incense sticks that Ravi had lighted and to listen to the genius sounds of Mr. Shankar.
As George returned to the stage after the Indian music section, I, and I'm sure everyone else in my section, felt an extra special bond with him for the rest of the show. And whenever he'd turn around and wave to us from there on in, it wasn't to shush us, but it was to thank us for loving him.
I swear we cheered the loudest of any section in the Garden.
Long Live George!

--Steve Ludwig

I host my own radio show called STEVE LUDWIG'S CLASSIC POP CULTURE at Check out the archives anytime at all! Thanks...

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  1. You have been shushed by a Beatle... What an honor! Very Cool!!