by Hans Ebert

At KGV, the leading English secondary school in Hong Kong which I attended, the kids who were thinking of starting up their first bands, myself included, had done away with Brylcreem. We were blow drying and combing our hair forward.

We also wanted to think we could somehow fashion some passing resemblance to one of the Beatles. When this failed, often miserably, it was resorting to adopting a fake Liverpudlian accent.

Yeah yeah yeah, I know, I know.

The only kid in school who had that Beatles ‘look’ thing going for him was a guy named Ian Godber who was in a fledgling band named the Impalas.

Ian bore a passing resemblance to Paul McCartney and it was enough for him to suddenly be interesting to some girls.

This popularity was short-lived when his father- Peter Fitzroy Godber- a Senior Superintendent with the Royal Hong Kong Police- was arrested for corruption by the then-newly formed Independent Commission Against Corruption.

He was finally brought back to Hong Kong from Spain in cuffs to stand trial after doing a runner to their home in old Blighty with his wife and Ian. No idea what happened to either of them. Maybe they became a band on the run?

Getting back to the Beatles…

My favourite Beatle was always George Harrison. He was who I wanted to look like though the odds of someone born in what was then Ceylon and kinda resembling child actor Sabu of “Elephant Boy” fame (?) made it somewhat difficult to pass as “The Quiet Beatle”. Still, this didn’t stop my quest to reach Hari Georgesonland.

In those early days of the Beatles, it was George’s one track on the debut album- “Do You Wanna Know A Secret?”- and on “With The Beatles”, his cover of “Roll Over Beethoven” and the underrated original “Don’t Bother Me”, that introduced me to him as a musician worth getting to know better.

Though it was his cover of the Chuck Berry song that became the immediate hit with fans and was part of their short ‘live’ showcases, “Don’t Bother Me” was a song that deserved studying and provided a glimpse into the songwriter that George was to become.

The same could be said about his songs “I Need You” and “Think For Yourself”, “Taxman”, “Savoy Truffle”, “Piggies”, “Within You Without You”, and the brilliant “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

These were all before “Here Comes The Sun” and “Something”, both included on “Abbey Road”, broke the stranglehold Lennon and McCartney had on the Beatles songbook.

A year after the release of “Abbey Road”, there was the sprawling three disc solo album by George that was “All Things Must Pass”- an explosion of creativity that must have been building inside of him for years. With that still intriguing cover photograph, it was miles away from the early days of Beatlemania.

It’s hard to imagine that this record was released almost fifty one years ago.

Not only underlining the incredible legacy and ongoing relevance of the Beatles as a band and as individual talents, the recently remastered three record set offers more than a peek into things like how and why the Travelling Wilburys came together.

“All Things Must Pass” with all the guest musicians on it, especially some of the most in-demand session players, perhaps also played a role in recording contracts not restricting musicians making music with other musicians under their own names.

Let’s not forget that for contractual reasons, George Harrison had to appear as “L’Angelo Misterioso” when playing guitar on Cream’s “Badge”, which he co-wrote with Clapton. He was also “Hari Georgeson” on a number of recordings by other artists.

It was also George who stepped out of the shadows of the Beatles to perform onstage with Delaney and Bonnie And Friends and brought together all those great musicians for The Concert For Bangladesh. He was always a very giving musician.

He wasn’t really Beatle George. That was just marketing. He was a team player and someone happy to be a side musician.

His “All Things Must Pass” is what really inspired me to think about writing my own songs- not with any lofty ambitions to be a success at it, but just to prove to myself that I could do it.

There was much to learn from George Harrison with his voice that was hardly brilliant, but which suited so well the chords that created his songs.

Those chords he used on “Isn’t It A Pity” and the beautiful title song was another integral part in learning the songwriting process.

By this time, I had grown a moustache and beard, had shoulder length hair and a cream coloured suit made with the symbol for Om just as George had worn at the concert for Bangladesh.

My parents didn’t understand what the hell was going through my head, but it didn’t matter. The fanboy in me lived on. It still does.

#georgeharrison #allthingsmustpass