frank arno

5

George Harrison, 1987

Photos: Peter Figen

“Even a hard-nosed music journalist such as myself trembles in reverence when he is given the chance to sit across from George Harrison. Even if it may only be for a few minutes. He wasn’t the smart ‘charming boy’ like Paul McCartney, not the clown like Ringo Starr, let alone the cynic and do-gooder like John Lennon - but he was George Harrison. In his quiet and spiritual way, George Harrison moved me more than all the other Beatles combined. His wonderful melodies, his clever texts about growing closer to God, his calmness in the chaotic situations with McCartney and Lennon - how centered he was. And I always knew: if I could ever meet a Beatle, probably more likely on a professional than on a personal level, then it should please be George.

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Even a hard-nosed music journalist such as myself trembles in reverence when he is given the chance to sit across from George Harrison. Even if it may only be for a few minutes. He wasn’t the smart ‘charming boy’ like Paul McCartney, not the clown like Ringo Starr, let alone the cynic and do-gooder like John Lennon - but he was George Harrison. In his quiet and spiritual way, George Harrison moved me more than all the other Beatles combined. His wonderful melodies, his clever texts about growing closer to God, his calmness in the chaotic situations with McCartney and Lennon - how centered he was. And I always knew: if I could ever meet a Beatle, probably more likely on a professional than on a personal level, then it should please be George.

And today is the day. George Harrison’s LP Cloud Nine had just been released, 1987, and he is the guest of honor in a show hosted by Günter Jauch on ZDF, in which he will introduce a song. The editorial office of the Abendzeitung requests a feature from me, what it was like and things like that, not an interview, 'because you can’t reach a star like that. Just write something about the TV show. And maybe one or two quotes from Günter Jauch about the topic Beatles and such.’ Once more completely uninformed, I trotted along to the ZDF studios in Unterföhring, without the slightest clue as to what would come of this. In Unterföhring there is a troupe of journalists in front of a door with a star plastered on it and two bulky men are standing there, whose features clearly state 'anyone who tries to get by me should write their will first.’

Suddenly Fritz Egner stands next to me, a dear radio colleague from Bayern 3 and I’m very happy he’s present. 'We’ll never get in there,’ says Fritz. 'You’re probably right,’ I say. […]

Suddenly, Günter Jauch taps me on the shoulder, another former colleague from the wild radio times at Bayern 3. He is the host of the ZDF show with George Harrison as a guest. And he doesn’t say much aside from maybe 'Hello’ and 'How are you?’ - and winks at Fritz and I to direct us to the first floor of the building.

No star on the door, no bodyguard, instead, a small, humble room. And inside it George Harrison with a cup of tea in front of him. Günter introduces us, and that’s all for the moment. Fritz is more experienced in dealing with superstars than I am, and his English so perfect that I can only be ashamed. Thank goodness Fritz immediately switches on his [tape] recorder and starts the conversation. George Harrison and Fritz Egner speak about race cars, about Buddha, about God and everything else. I just sit alongside and am practically paralyzed. Never, really never, have I been frightened of meeting stars, but this time I nearly wet myself. George Harrison! THE George Harrison!

Fritz asks and asks - it all rushes by me like a quiet and sweet river. George anwers and answers, and I am blessed, even though I can’t understand everything. George Harrison is dressed completely normally, and he has radiates tranquility. 'Dear God, this person has found his calmness within you! I thank you for this moment!’

In the end, he signs autographs on promotional cards for Cloud Nine for Fritz and myself. But as I am leaving the small room, he brings me back again and wants to see his autographed card again. Good God, does he want to take it away again? No! He draws a big heart and a big peace sign on the back.

'What do you mean with that?’ I ask, as composed as possible. 'It means nothing more than love and peace, my wish for all people in this world.’

'Can I use this sign and word with my signature, too?’

'Of course! All sweet people should do so!’

And then he hugged me. George Harrison hugged me. Even though I hadn’t even conducted an interview or anything else. He didn’t know who I was. And he still hugged me. With Love and Peace. It wouldn’t have taken much else and I would have floated away.

And since then, the heart and the peace sign - or even the words 'love and peace’ - are a firm and unshiftable part of my signature. I couldn’t imagine anyone or anything changing that.

Love and Peace, dear friend, God bless you!

—  Arno Frank Eser remembers meeting George Harrison, translated from the German book Beatlemania (2010)