“Every now and then the universe will conspire to give you a pleasant surprise when you least expect it. As a musician who had just started out in a band, there was nothing more awe inspiring that meeting a living legend in music.
It started out as a random gig at the Taj
Holiday Village in Sinquerim in 1994 and I was playing bass guitar with a guitar that was gifted to me by my father; a rare limited edition Hofner Violin Bass which was also known as the Beatle Bass after Paul McCartney who used to play it during his years as a member of The Beatles.
That night, among the guests, having his dinner was a certain Mr George Harrison, lead
guitarist of The Beatles and a living legend in the music industry.
George Harrison was fascinated with
Indian music and even used the sitar and other Indian instrumentation in the band’s music. Upon hearing that a live ‘Beatle’ was part of the dinner guests, we proceeded to play a few Beatles songs back to back, at which point, a note was sent to us, simply saying, ‘Please no more Beatle songs.. I’ve been hearing them all my life!’ This, in hindsight, makes a lot of sense.
Later that night, while the band took a break the Alegria Folk Troupe and the ‘Oly & Maxie Duo’ performed, after which, we were informed that George was willing to meet the musicians.
So off we trooped instruments in hand to meet the legend. When my turn came, he took one look at the guitar and said ‘that’s Paul’s guitar’ and proceeded to sign it 'Paul McCartney’ with a cheeky smile and then obliged me further by signing some other song books of mine in his own name.
Oly & Maxie, a duo comprising Orlando Noronha and Maxie Miranda, had already performed for George in the afternoon as well and had impressed him with their music to such a degree that he invited them to his table later to play for him and his wife [Olivia] and have a drink which I was also invited to. After a few songs, George called for his guitar which was a
Gibson acoustic handcrafted for him and
invited us to try it out. What followed was an impromptu jam session that lasted close to an hour, ending at 2 am. It was a dream jamming with a member of The Beatles and not one I could ever forget.
happened next totally blew me away. As we were calling it a night, George took the guitar and handed it to Maxie and said, 'Take this with you; you do justice to the guitar.’ Here was a legend in the music business gifting a limited edition handcrafted guitar to a local musician from Goa. After much protesting, George insisted we take the guitar with us and so we did. Maxie eventually went back and returned the guitar before George left Goa as he just couldn’t get himself to keep it. But the grace,
generosity and general awesomeness of that night will stay with us forever.
Over the years, I have been blessed to meet a number of international performing artists but that night will always rate as the best and I have my guitar to remind me of it.” - Ashly Fernandes