I have translated it for a mailing list, so I thought I would have shared this one with you all, as well...
This is the link to it... I know it's long and I know it has many mistakes, as well... for any problem, question, not so clear part, do ask me, and I am sorry for the 'hard' reading... I tried my best, and I guess the headache didn't help me
It's interesting, tho, it's real interesting...
"Judge me just in the end"
Red Ronnie interviews George Harrison
With George Harrison's death, the Beatles are definitely dead. The passing of John Lennon, an unexpected and violent one, had left John kind of "alive", he became an icon, and so immortal. It was like he could appear and create a group that all would want to see again together. But now not, now the tale of the most popular band in the world has definitively ended.
George was the timid one among them, therefore the most sensitive. He was the one who caused the musical turn in the Beatles, that turn which brought them to the Sgt Pepper's masterpiece. George was the one who Donovan convinced, and so he carried the Beatles in India, that trip which transformed the music of the group. George not only was fascinated by the sitar, but also by the oriental philosophies, that in future will be embraced also by the two most famous Beatles: John
Lennon "will marry" the pacifism and McCartney the vegetarianism.
I have met George Harrison in London, 83 of Baker Street, on December 8th 1990, exactly ten years after the killing of John Lennon. It was the time when it was just released "Nobody's Child", the second Traveling Wilburys album, the supergroup that George created with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne.. We began speaking of Formula 1, which Harrison was a deep fan of. He asked me why I had chosen the name "Red Ronnie" and I told that it was a homage to the pilot Ronnie Peterson, died in Monza during 1978, in "a nearly intentional" incident caused by Colin Chapman, the patron of his team, the Lotus. Peterson would
have deserved to win at least two world championships: he lost the first year since he had to let win the team mate Emerson Fittipaldi and he lost the other letting win Mario Andretti.
- - He was my hero because he was against the politics used in racing. He wanted just to race and he was the fastest.
"Effectively he was the fastest. The whole year he pushed Andretti and he always exceeded him during the qualifications. He remained second just for his contract. And the most terrible thing is that in Monza they gave him the old car, otherwise he could..."
- - I know all since I was in Austria two weeks before he won the race. I met him to interview him, and I said: "You will be forced to arrive second". He answered: "Wait until
tomorrow and we will see whether I'll win or I'll arrive second in the world championship". The day after, during the Austria Grand Prix, he got first after the first curve and he won. Therefore in Monza they have given the wrong car.
"Yes, they gave him the old car, but the worst thing was that, when he left the box to heat the car before the race, Colin Chapman said to someone (a friend of mine heard what he said): "Here he is, Ronnie in the next year's Mclaren". He had to race with Mclaren the following year.
- - Lotus boycotted it.
"Yes, what a pity".
- - I had a friend in hospital and via phone he kept me informed of all the happenings. Barbara didn't want Colin Chapman and Andretti to visit Ronnie at the hospital.
"It's been a terrible thing".
-- You recorded an album for the battle against cancer, after the driver Gunnar Nillson died for a tumour.
"Exactly. With Gunnar Nillson. It was dedicated to Ronnie Peterson. It was entitled "Faster". He could have easily won that year. He was way faster than Andretti. Once he came with Mario to visit me; they were good friends. He was a true gentleman: the agreement was that he had to remain behind Andretti and let him win and he respected the deal".
- - George, why do you keep playing, just because you like it?
"As for now, yes, you must do something in your own life and this a thing I am able to do. If I didn't make any music... well, I don't record that much, but I like to make an album once in a while, every year or two. It gives me something to do".
- - The Travelling Wilburys seem to me 4 famous boys without problems, who meet again as old friends and play without any competition, just to have fun.
"Exactly. It's just this feeling. When we write songs, they come out quite easily and with the contribution of the 4 of us. Moreover it's music just for fun, yes, but we want it to be true rock' n' roll, in contrast with today's music which is all computerised. Therefore it's rock' n' roll so that it seems true and so that we have fun playing it".
- - Now you are in touch with Bob Dylan and I seem to
understand that among the Beatles you were the closer to Bob Dylan. Am I right?
"Yes. We all met Bob in 1964, but during the years I have seen him again just few more times. John knew him a little, but I used to see him every 2 years and now it's been a long time that I have known him. Naturally he played with me the concert for Bangladesh and moreover I have written a pair of melodies with him in the 60s".
- - The concert for Bangladesh, that you organised, has been the first big beneficence's concert. It has been many years before the Live Aid that today is so well known. Why have you done this concert for the Bangladesh? I know that there were money problems. Am I right? In the
things that you and your wife now do, all the aspects are well pondered.
"You must remember that in 1971 nobody has ever made
something like that and it was difficult to know how to manage it. What it should be done, is to create a beneficence fund before the concert. So all would go in the right way. But it happened that, organising all so fast, the beneficence fund could be used only after the concert. And it would have gone well if that US Finance's officer didn't insist that our intention was just to have incomes. All he wanted was the 50% of the profits. Consequently we hired lawyers who had fought with the US Tax Office for 12/13 years. In the end, we had to give him the same a percentage of the money we gained, just end the contest. But we collected quite a few, something like 14 million dollars, not bad for that years, but nothing compared to what it can be collected nowadays. If that experience didn't occur, perhaps it would have been easier also for
others to organise beneficence's concerts".
- - If John Lennon were alive, would the Beatles get together again just for the Live Aid?
"I don't know. Who can know it? If John were alive, there would be more possibilities. But we decided not to make more concerts as the Beatles. Also when John was alive, they offered us so much money, the last offer was 84 million dollars, just to play another concert together. But we didn't want to do it ".
"Because we had already been the Beatles and the group was over. That time it could seem that we would have played together just for a cliché or for money. Now, that some time has passed, perhaps it would be great to do it just for fun, but it is impossible because, anyway, he's not here".
- - You decided not to make more live concerts even before the group split up, why?
"Because in the 60s going in tour was too hard. It was simply too exhausting. We couldn't listen what we were playing and music got way worse. Add to this that fact that our discs were too elaborated, way more than the first ones, we weren't able to reproduce them on the stage. But mainly we took that decision because wherever we went there were disorders. Or because we
found ourselves in the middle of students disorders like in America, racial disorders in the south. When we went in Canada there were disorders between people who talk French and people who talk English. The same in Japan. Wherever we went, we always encountered local political problems and adding to them, the Beatle-mania, it was terrible, it was dangerous "
- - Now you and naturally your wife are involved in a project to help Rumanian children, but you care personally that all you do arrive to destination, Am I right?
"Once more, first of all it must be obtained the right authorisation from the government, thing that we had to do before anything else. The other thing is that through an English newspaper, the Daily Mail, the country has contributed with more than a million pounds, a lot! Therefore, the money aren't sent in Rumania. The
Rumanians don't care about that. Now, what she tries
to do, is to succeed to convince the government and the Rumanian people to recognise the own problems. The rest of the world is trying to help, but the Rumanian people don't care about it. But with the money we collected in England, they would be able to buy the trucks to help the children and the orphans' houses. Simple things, like to repair the chicken, the bathrooms, the toilets. Before there were 2 children for every bed, so they would supply more beds, more dresses, this sort of things, you know. So they buy the material in England and our collaborators go there with the trucks, go in the one orphan's house, repair the electrical system, the
hydraulic system for the bathrooms, set new floor's tiles in the bathrooms, you know, all those things that we consider essential. In some way, they still live in early century's conditions. So the money are spent well"
- - Today I have bought this book: "The Quiet One, the life
of George Harrison".
"I don't know anything about it. It doesn't have nothing to that to do with me. In fact, you shouldn't even publicise it. I haven't read it, I do not who wrote it, I don't know what it's written, if it's good or bad".
- - But aren't you curious to read a book that is about you?
"Just because you showed it to me. They exist so many books on the Beatles, and a couple about me. I would get mad if I read all this stuff, since they are, mainly, things that have heard or read in newspapers, or things that they have seen you make in interviews. Most of the books bases on interviews they have seen or collected during the years in newspapers and reviews. They won't tell anything that I don't know about me. It depends also on the attitude that author choose to assume. Usually, to earn more money, you need to write about the worst happenings, it doesn't matter if they aren't true. This is what happens, so it makes no sense reading them. It would make me angry and it's not
worth the pain".
- - Have you read the book by Albert Goldman on John Lennon?
"No. They report a part on the newspaper and I have read a few of it, but I don't like that man. He's a churlish man. He's the same one who has written the book on Elvis. The only thing that interests to him is to create a scandal to earn more money. Because there is
people that loves to read that, it doesn't matter if they are
true or false. It appeals also because the newspapers can write a part of the book weekly, and in this way, they sell more copies".
-- In your opinion does a public figure like you, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, have to be judged just for his music and for what he produces or also for his private life?
"Perhaps for both, but it's not right to judge person when he's still alive. You know how it is like, a day we could make something great and the day after the biggest mistake. Life has good and bad moments, and it's a wheel that turns and I believe the best moment to judge a person is the day he dies. That's what I think, but sometime, especially with the Beatles, they make film, Tv series and write books like we have already died. They used to wait for a person to die, before writing such things. Now they write whatever anytime ".
-- Today, for example, I buy this sort of things just because I like to see the pics. When you see things from the past, does it annoy you?
"The characteristic of these books are the photos, unfortunately they are copies of the copies of the copies of the copies. Let's say that I could take this, take a picture of it and make other copies. You see, they are all old copied and stolen photographs. I can't confront myself anymore with the Beatles. For me it's like watching a picture of the Monkees or of the Bay City
Rollers. It doesn't mean nothing for me"
- - But you were the first.
"Actually no. We weren't the first. In the beginning we used to play only the music of the artists we loved, like Chuck Berry, Bo Didley, etc. All must start from someone else. Nobody is 100% original. And the Beatles became very original thanks to their songs, but we began simply trying to copy Buddy Holly, Little Richard and similar".
-- Was it controlled or were you like in a dream?
"Yes, it has happened all so fast that.."
-- For example, do you remember when they took this picture?
"No, I can't guess just on the dress and the hair. It would be the same one for you. If I had a picture of you when you were 18 years old, in my photo album, it wouldn't be different, it's just that I was more exposed to
the public than you, but in the end we are all the same".
-- Why hasn't your wife Patti tried to destroy the Beatles as Linda and Yoko did?
"I didn't say that. Why hasn't she done it? I don't know. I'll give you her phone number so that you can ask her. I do not know it ".
-- No, no. I believe that all are against Yoko Ono. I have said that, not you. You are not saying anything.
"Yes, but I don't think this is correct. Many factors contributed to the split up and it didn't happen just for Yoko. We were dividing in anyway. We arrived at a point when we felt kind of 'trapped' in the Beatles. Beyond other things, our manager died and we were changed a lot and I believe that Yoko has perhaps helped to speed up John's decision , but I don't think it's correct to consider her the only responsible person.
-- Ok, but when today you see what Yoko Ono has done, i.e. she made a John Lennonn concert when it was considered to be all the Beatles', and you see just Yoko and John, John and Yoko
"I don't know, I am part of the Travelling Wilburys".
-- You won't ever be able to tour; it's just one think you do for fun. Could you tour with the Travelling Wilburys? No, you are too famous...
"Also the Rolling Stones are famous but they did actually tour. If we wanted we could tour..".
-- Are you organising it?
"No, the big problem is that Jeff Lynne and I don't like to be watched".
"You know that I don't like to be on stage with many people looking at me. Simply I don't like it. I prefer my intimacy. I like the idea of playing in a group but I don't like
the idea of people looking at me. As for me, to be like that in a show, you must be an exhibitionist to be a
star or what people define a star ".
-- It's strange to hear this from you. Since the beginning you have made the wrong career.
"Perhaps I have had too much of it in the 60s. II like the idea of playing in a group that is meant to be just for fun. But other problems are too many. The most important is that to tour you need too much time for the preparation. And then, when you decide to do it, why not a big one? You end up going around of the world for 9 months a year. But what happens to the rest of your life? I have one life, as you have it. It would be like if they put you in television for a whole year, without being able to get home, to see your family and to make all the other things that you like. I don't like this idea. But, who knows, Perhaps but one day I will wake up with the crazy idea to decide to start a tour ".
-- Are you deep connected to your house?
"To my house? Just because I live there".
- Do you like it since you obviously live among trees
"Yes , I like to be at home, even if every house would be good, a house just has to have space, my intimacy and an healthy air. I like to live in the country; I don't like the city. I like the trees and things like that".
-- You give me the impression to be a man who likes to walk, to think a lot and who loves the solitude.
"I like the tranquillity and the calm. Sometimes I like to be by myself, but most of the time I like to be with friends. They are a relief".
-- In this period the peace symbol has got trendy again
"It remains always an great symbol".
-- Do you think the symbols can help to obtain peace? Do you think that the masters of war and power paid attention when the Beatles or John Lennon spoke about peace? Or when we talk of peace now. Do you think it helps or that they care of it?
"I believe that there was a time when people got it. Yes, I believe that there are many good persons in the world who love peace.Buy everyone could take that symbol and transform it in something negative, if they wanted. It's like the symbol Hitler used, the swastika, today everyone looks at it like it's a negative symbol. But Hitler had stolen the swastika from India and still today, if you go to there, you can see the swastikas inside the temples. It's an ancient, good and positive symbol. Hitler liked it as a brand. As we use, for example, on the discs, the Travelling Wilburys logo. It's something that capture the attention. Hitler must have thought: "That is a beautiful brand to use". Now, thanks to him, it's seen like a symbol of the evil. So you could also take the symbol of peace and give it to a guy like Hitler. It is not the symbol itself, but they are the actions that accompany it that are important ".
-- You have released "She' s my baby", a beautiful love song.
"We have all gone through the complicated phase and even the Beatles have written real complicated lyrics, Bob Dylan too. It's great to sit and write something simple, it's ingenuous"
-- But the Beatles wrote real complicated songs.
"Yes, some were complicated ".
-- You have written "Revolution". And today "Revolution" has an advert's jingle.
"Yes, this has happened for a few, but now we stopped it".
-- How is it possible?
"It's possible because the copyright of the disc has been taken when we were young people, we have signed the disc but nobody told us: "Now we steal the copyrights". That time, the copyrights were sold to someone who consequently sold them again and so on. So the people that now owns them, says that he can do what he wants with the songs, just to make money".
-- But now the owner is Michael Jackson. And why does Michael Jackson act like that? He's an artist as well.
"He loves the money as well. But, however, we have stopped it because the publisher can use the music as he wants, but he cannot use the disc. Now it's all fixed and it shouldn't happen again, at least they cannot use our
discs to make adverts. But if I want to give one of my
songs for an advert, that's ok. But what has happened, using the music created by the Beatles, it can't be corrected.
-- For example, you have written "Something", do you have any right on this, any decisional power?
"Yes, I have it, for example, if you wanted to make an advert. Actually the most requested song written by me for an advert is "Here comes the sun". For example, every year I receive at least 5 demands to use it in an advertising. I don't want it to be done because when I watch the TV and there's an advert with a song like "California girls" by the Beach Boys, the song gets less important and less valued. If I wanted I could let my song to be used, I can give the copyrights and they
it record it again, but I wouldn't give the Beatles disc to make the advert".
-- Among all the songs you have written, which is the one you are prouder of?
"I think no one. I like different songs for different reasons, I can't think of any right now. Usually I like the last one it, that one that I have written recently. The last songs are always the best ones. Then I'd said... There are songs on "Cloud Nine" that I like... "The devil radio"... But it is obvious that the two songs that I have written, as for the success I gained as a writer, and that have had more impact so far are "Here comes the sun" and "Something".
But those songs... The success of a song doesn't depend on how many copies are sold, but on how many people it sings it, it has to be a song that all wants to sing. For example, "Something" has something like 150 or
200 or perhaps 300 remakes. This is an index of how popular one song is. When this song is used in a show by people like James Brown or Smokey Robinson and the Miracles or Liberace and Frank Sinatra. If it's been sung by all these various artists, it means that this is song is a successful one".
-- But if your song it's used by an artist you don't like or by an artist whose last work you don't like...?
"But it doesn't matter, this doesn't matter. It's always great if an artist records a version of your song, even if you don't like it, it's always a compliment".
-- Sure. What do you do now to apart from resting? The Travelling Wilburys are over and no tours are expected.
"No, the Travelling Wilburys aren't over, otherwise I wouldn't be here on this chair".
-- But for you it's over, it begins for us. We listen to it but for you it's over. No tours are expected so, apart from resting, what do you do?
"I have many things to do".
"I have a cinematographic company. It makes me real busy. And many other things. You have said that the Wilburys... The disc is finished but there are videos to film of, there are pants of Travelling Wilbury to make, there are the tables of Travelling Wilbury... the commercial side of it."
-- When you are at home, do you play the guitar, do you write something?
"When I'm at home, I play the ukulele because it is small and it is easy to carry along with you. I like the ukulele. I also play the guitar but normally I play it only when I'm writing a song or when I'm recording a disc ".
-- As a producer of movies, you produced "Shangai surprise" with Madonna. So you have known Madonna, do you know her well?
"No, I haven't known her well. I have known her for a few, about 6 weeks. It has been enough to me ".
-- Is it hard to handle a diva of our days?
"When I met her, it was. She had just married Sean Penn and they always quarrelled. This made the job we had to do harder".
-- Were you a mediator between them?
- - Today is December 8th 1990 and it's been 10 years that John Lennon has been killed. When did you hear that he had been killed?
"It must've been a couple of hours later that. Someone called me during the night, actually it was early in the morning, about 4 or 5 in the morning. When everyone else have heard the news".
-- What have you done, did you get to sleep again? I don't know, have you cried?
"I got to sleep again, thinking that he was just wounded. But... ".
-- Were you still in good touch with John, with Paul and Ringo then?
"I haven't seen him from a long time, the last time we met must have been a year or two before he was killed. Yes, there was a relationship. He lived in New York and
I lived in England, so we didn't see each other a lot."
-- Face to face with the death of a friend how do you feel? What do you feel about death?
"The shock is the most terrible thing. In a certain meaning, death occurs to all, it's the way it happens. As for John, it wasn't a good way to die. But death is in itself like life, it's the other side of the coin, the other side. It's like day and night, life and death, it's all the same thing ".
- - But after the night there is an other day. So, is there after the death another life?
"Yes It's been a long time that you haven't read Bible, eh?"
-- The reincarnation?
"Yes. Actually they have removed it in the Bible, to second the Christianity politic. But Christ did talk about it, about the reincarnation ".
-- I imagine that all will ask you about the death of John Lennon, and my last question is about this: was John really a good guy and were all the things he made for peace, useful? Have they really helped the peace's cause?
"Yes, I think that he helped some people, but it's obvious that he hasn't helped all, but he has been an example. As everyone else.. But he was real honest about the things he thought, and one of those things was peace. It seemed a joke for the way he transmit it or, at least, he tried to, with bed-in, the pacifist protests in bed. But he was sincere on peace matter and this sincerity has been communicated to much people, but
-- You surely know that it has been said that Cia killed him?
"I don't think so, but who knows. To understand, you know too well, it's useless to try now, it's too early. Bob Dylan said it. Who knows, perhaps, I don't know. To know what it's or what it's not ".
-- I hope to see to you performing live so you will be able to suffer again in front of a public.
"I will put a bag on my head".
-- You could be the timid kind that is always in the backstage.
"Then, the quiet Wilbury".
-- You can ask to the lights' tech not to spot you with them.
"Yes, black lights".
- - Yes, so you can remain in the shadow. They will listen you playing the ukulele.. Because it is easy to carry along in a tour.
"Perhaps. Bye "
"Because there wasn't any reason left to keep it all inside"
- Paul McCartney, 1982