Editor's Note: The first part of this incredible evening spent with George Harrison, Scotty Moore, and D.J.Fontana was previously published on Blinded By Sound and can be read here.
Can anyone fathom being invited into George Harrison’s music room and being given permission to pick any guitar from the entire Beatles history and beyond and sit down and play? It came naturally to Scotty, as he was never star struck by anyone and seemed fully at ease around George, Alvin and Joe.
After everyone, including me, had picked an instrument (mine was “Rocky” the Magical Mystery Tour Stratocaster), George asks if I would mind taking some pictures and film with his brand new Sony minDV camera that he had not yet used. My heart jumped as I had my camera also but tactfully kept it in my briefcase all evening until then. George told me to take any pictures I wanted but to please refrain from publishing them, as it was the inside of his home. The photos remained unpublished until after he passed and I sought permission from Olivia before I would breach his trust. At least I have a couple dozen shots to prove that this dream did exist – but Olivia has the video footage (I would love to see that!).
During the jam session/photo fest, George asked me to take some posed photos with the boys for his personal collection and had them sit on a loveseat a couple of feet away from Charlie McCarthy. I had handed “Rocky” over to D. J., a non-guitar playing drummer, to hold while I sat up the cameras and he just kept holding it during the photo shoot. It adds a bit of humor to the shots – keeping in the mood of the evening. I asked if I could join them for a shot and handed the camera over to Alvin. When anyone looks at the shot now, they see a Beatle with a goateed, happy smile, Scotty looking like Bela Lugosi, D. J. completely out of place and the guy in the green sweater and shit-eating grin in front. When I sent photos to George later, he said he loved those the best.
Scotty’s Bela Lugosi look was from the long nights of playing and days of traveling – this was supposed to be his day off. Around midnight, I suggested getting him back to the hotel so we began to wrap things up and put guitars back on the wall or in their cases. I had earlier asked to take a photo of George and Olivia in front of the recognizable jukebox in the living room but just before we did George asked if Scotty and D. J. would mind signing a couple of things for him, Olivia, and Dhani (this coming from the man who had earlier wished the originator of the custom to be strangled). I always carried vintage and recent 8x10 promo shots of the guys in my briefcase and pulled them out as George goes to a closet and returned with a box filled with Beatles Anthology promo VINYL!
By the time the boys had signed photos for him and George signed LPs for them, their kids, grandkids as well as for his buddies Alvin and Joe, there was not a one left for me. Not to be neglected, I pulled out my Scotty Moore tour itinerary book and had George sign the back. Now I had a true collector’s item as there were less than ten of these printed for people on the tour. He signed, “Love, George Harrison” and added his Sanskrit name. In the meantime, Olivia grabbed a notebook from my case and had written down their personal contact info (they had just gotten email that day!). I only spoke with them a few times over the next two years but I would send them special Elvis, Scotty, Bill and D. J. items from time to time. Scotty and D. J. had me send a signed photo to Olivia after the attack later in the year and made it out to: “Thanks Slugger!” There was a true feeling of having known these people all my life and they felt the same way. I had rarely seen Scotty so in-tuned to another musician as he was to George.
As George, Olivia, Alvin and Joe walked us to the car, Olivia said, “Oh, you didn’t get your photo in front of the jukebox.” Knowing Scotty and D. J. were exhausted, I said, “There is always the next time.” I wasn’t being facetious; there was feeling that there would be a next time but with Scotty’s heart problems, the return of George’s dreaded throat cancer as well as my own soon to be diagnosed illness, it was not to be.
On happier note, as the hugs went around beside the town car, I was the last and hugged Olivia in appreciation for everything. As I turned to George he put his arms around me tightly as he said, “Thank you Danny.” The only people who call me Danny are family and the friends I knew before 1987. I assumed it was a gesture of kindness or a familiarity due to the pronouncement of his son, Dhani, but, for me, it was special. I have to say that, over the years, I have met and become friends with many of my childhood and teen idols but this evening I met the few people that seemed completely at peace, inside and out. Knowing this made it much easier to take a couple of years later when he finally succumbed to the cancer that had returned. A friend called me with the early morning news report. I could cry but I was crying for our loss, for Olivia and Dhani, not his; George is truly at peace.