George Harrison in 1974: Why Did He Decide To Tour?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Panther, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. Panther

    Panther Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Tokyo, Japan
    Harrison spent most of 1974, it seems, working on Splinter's album. Then, he rushed out Dark Horse (recorded when he was "hoarse" himself) in time for the big American tour for the end of that year.

    It's so odd because doing any kind of tour is a very non-George kind of thing to do. Then, doing huge American shows in hockey rinks to 20,000 a night is the most un-George thing ever. Yet he did it.

    With Material World having been another smash hit the year before, and with Ringo's "Photograph" having hit #1 in the US, etc., George would not appear to have been in need of cash-flow.

    Having followed The Beatles' various stories and histories for decades now, I have never seen any adequate explanation for why George decided to tour in 1974. In short, why'd he do the most high-profile, energy-sapping kind of tour imaginable?

    I can speculate on a few things that may have been factors (none of which really satisfies me, however):
    - Bob Dylan had returned to live performance in early '74, and so it was in the air for sixties' icons to do big 70s'-style tours
    - Pattie having left him, George needed something big to boost up his own ego (?)
    - Ravi Shankar pushed him a bit (as he had with the Bangladesh project) -- perhaps with a slightly ulterior motive

    But looking back on it, it still seems a bizarre decision for George to have made.
  2. johnny moondog 909

    johnny moondog 909 Beatles-Lennon & Classic rock fan

    First solo Beatle to tour the USA !

    His 1st 3 solo albums had the Midas touch..& he helped Ringo get a #1 & 2 more top 10s as cowriter & coproducer....Splinter had a hit out the gate, he might've felt confidant & invincible, boosted by all that success, & coke & booze.....

    I'm just winging it though I don't know. Or if anyone else does either.
  3. Naughty Chord

    Naughty Chord Hole in my Socrates

    Sub-Tropo Texas
    Well 1974 is when he started Dark Horse Records so promoting that would certainly be a consideration. Ravi was one of the first artists signed to the label so the tour would promote Ravi. In the 1979 interview quoted below George emphasizes that it was a joint tour with Ravi even if it wasn't promoted that way. I think, to some extent, Harrison thought of the 1974 tour the US leg of Ravi Shankar's Music Festival from India which had just finished a European tour.

    Add that to the fact that he had the new Dark Horse album to promote and he had a band that he really loved playing with. The tour also served to promote Billy Preston who had some recent hits on Apple Records. Billy played a huge role in helping George out with vocals since his own voice was shot for most of the tour.

  4. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Cocaine costs money.
  5. bward

    bward Forum Resident

    Boston, MA USA
    I’m thinking he needed the money to keep Friar Park and his lifestyle afloat.

    He was getting divorced and the Beatles lawsuit was tying up money.

    That’s my guess.

    Too bad it was such a horrible experience for him. Imagine if we had a well documented well performed Harrison concert to look back on today.
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  6. ZippyPippy

    ZippyPippy Forum Resident

    Interesting to hear George lament in 1979 that artists wouldn’t go out on the road or do promotion...
  7. 2141

    2141 Forum Resident

    Yes, different world back then. It wasn't always easy for a band to get signed, but when they did get signed they were much more taken care of and developed, and they expected that. Contrast to today, most bands just put stuff out on their own, wherever they can online, and basically have to tour to make any money at all. It's all DIY.
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  8. majorlance

    majorlance Peter Stone Brown 1951-2019

    Collingswood, NJ
    Actually, Billy left Apple in 1971 to sign with A&M, where he had his biggest hits (Outa-Space, Will It Go Round in Circles, Nothing from Nothing).

    I do agree that Billy's vocals & stage presence salvaged a show that was otherwise lackluster at best. (I was there.)
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  9. Paul Gase

    Paul Gase Everything is cheaper than it looks.

    Pretty sure George needed the money. Two shows a day, with a shot voice? He was collecting some serious revenue, but at a cost!
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  10. 2141

    2141 Forum Resident

    I saw it too, one of my first concerts and gotta say I was disappointed. As a big Beatles fan I was expecting more I guess, but it was more of a head-scratcher than anything else. Still glad I saw it, but yeah, I would have to agree with most critics of the time, George kinda blew it with this tour.
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  11. Naughty Chord

    Naughty Chord Hole in my Socrates

    Sub-Tropo Texas
    Appreciate the correction. I didn't realize he had already left Apple. I remember how huge those songs were on the radio back then.
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  12. Christian Hill

    Christian Hill It's all in the mind

  13. mercuryvenus

    mercuryvenus Forum Resident

    Maryland, USA
    My sense is he felt like he was on a winning streak. You have to remember that he was coming off of a banner few years. After being in the Lennon/McCartney shadow since he was a kid, he had released an enormously successful solo album (that was even more heralded than John's and Paul's initial solo offerings), had been the first rock artist to headline a star-studded charity show, and had written a couple of smash hits for Ringo. Things were looking up.

    Of course, by all indications, his personal life was very rough at that point. His mom had died and Patti had left him. So maybe he needed a distraction? Who knows, but clearly the '74 tour rattled him on a number of levels. If Roy Orbison had lived, I think he probably could've been convinced to do a couple of Wilbury shows (Tom Petty said George would always bring up touring when he got a few drinks in him) but I think the '74 tour just reinforced in his brain how much he hated doing the big, endless tours.

    In any case, I wish we could see some footage from that tour. I totally respect that he never wanted it released, but the selfish part of me would love to see it. Moreover, while I get the impression George thought everyone hated it, everyone I talk to who went to one of the shows said it was actually pretty great.
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  14. majorlance

    majorlance Peter Stone Brown 1951-2019

    Collingswood, NJ
    Yep, GH was just my second rock concert. It definitely suffered in comparison to my first, the Dylan/Band reunion tour earlier that year.
  15. Panther

    Panther Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Tokyo, Japan
    I have often wondered why George (or now, Olivia/Dhani) didn't release more live stuff from 1974. George had always planned to issue a live record from it, and in early 1975 (well after the tour ended), he was still talking up the live album. But instead, he then dropped that and ran off to L.A. to cut Extra Texture.

    I kind of get why the live record didn't appear at the time, because word of mouth wasn't overly strong and it may have been a hard sell. But that tour has aged very well, and is the kind of thing that would be praised to the skies today. It just seems odd there's no official documentation (aside from one or two B-sides).
  16. BeatlesObsessive

    BeatlesObsessive The Earl of Sandwich Ness

    Also... he was liberated to do more. He wanted to promote Indian music... he wanted the APPLE label to thrive in the wake of McCartney's withdrawal. Not only was he perfectly happy to toil by himself in the dark but his music and production seemed to be in demand! All the perks of being a Beatle.. general acceptance and good will from just about all people and universal recognition by musicians great and small and NOBODY saying "oh alright we'll do one of yours now...". It must have been a rush of liberty and affirmation long before we get to issues of megalomania and ego. He thought he could do good for the Krishna's, Ravi, Badfinger, Bangladesh, APPLE and maybe it didn't hurt that mere months earlier he was being told his songs were crap and next thing you know he's fronting Derek and the Dominoes (he knew them when they were knee high to studio musicians!). He had finally got himself free no more Wah Wah!!!

    He also knew that the Beatles and APPLE were over in the next year and a half! He knew to KEEP himself free the already going concern that was Dark Horse needed as big a push to get off the ground as APPLE at least and it needed to be a REAL business with well promoted and prepared acts under contract. He spent that year getting multiple albums ready...pushing the Indian tour ..he got behind schedules laryngitis, assurances that his presence could help the tour succeed. Schedules clashed deadlines loomed...Warner Brothers beckoned... it overwhelmed him and he crashed.
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  17. ralph7109

    ralph7109 Forum Resident

    Franklin, TN
    Are you counting the Concert for Bangladesh as his 3rd solo album?
  18. 2141

    2141 Forum Resident

    I'm curious, why do you say the '74 tour has aged very well? I haven't seen anything of it since I saw it in person as a teen, but my memories of the show were not that great, if fact truth be told, it was kinda of a disappointment. As everyone knows George's voice was gone (very true), plus a big middle of the show was Ravi doing his thing. Not very rock n roll to a teenager if you know what I mean. But it could be the show would look and sound much better now. I would love to see it again and find out. :agree:
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  19. Culpa

    Culpa Forum Resident

    Philadelphia, PA
    Interesting that the tour started November 2, but the Dark Horse LP wasn't released until December 9, with the tour wrapping up on December 20. A large majority of the fans who saw him on the tour did not have the opportunity to hear the LP first, only on that last leg on the east coast.
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  20. wildstar

    wildstar Forum Resident

    ontario, canada
    This is true. When Paul sued the other Beatles (though he really wanted to sue Klein) their funds were frozen awaiting the outcome of the court case(s). During that time they were all receiving a stipend/allowance from the band's accounts. Paul has said that during that time they (the McCartney family) relied on Linda's share of the publishing on their co-written songs to live on, since he wasn't receiving his share. If all of their "Beatles money" was tied up (record sales and publishing) then the road may have been the only way to directly earn money (that they had free access to).

    BTW their solo album royalties were frozen as well, all funds going into the Beatles frozen accounts, since they were not signed to EMI as solo artists, but rather - still - as "The Beatles" until Jan 1976. They wouldn't see any record royalty money (from either group or solo records) until the court cases were settled and the Beatles partnership was legally dissolved.

    So it is possible that George didn't want to tour, but felt he had no other option financially. Friar Park was/is probably quite expensive to maintain.
  21. johnny moondog 909

    johnny moondog 909 Beatles-Lennon & Classic rock fan

    Yes, in the context of this discussion & thread I was. Obviously it was a live concert recording, & a collaboration.

    Harrison professionally, artistically, was way up high, until the Dark Horse album & tour.
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  22. BornBeforeTheWind

    BornBeforeTheWind Forum Resident

    He thought he was a frontman. He was wrong.
  23. idreamofpikas

    idreamofpikas Forum Resident

    I'd say the cracks began to show with Living in the Material World. It was a hugely anticipated album and some of the earliest reviews were hugely positive but soon it became pretty mixed with a fair few critics being pretty harsh on it. It may be the only album that spent 7 weeks at no1 in the 70's and still did not reach Platinum status.
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  24. bewareofchairs

    bewareofchairs Forum Resident

    lol, he never wanted to be a frontman.
  25. johnny moondog 909

    johnny moondog 909 Beatles-Lennon & Classic rock fan

    Well you can certainly make that case. I'm on the fence whether I agree with you, more than 50%.

    I'm probably older than you. I experienced it in real time. I was very young, but old enough to read the music press. In hindsight we maybe can say after the enormous critical & commercial success of both ATMP & Bangladesh, that in retrospect Material World was a bit of a hindsight maybe.

    But frankly Harrison had his 3rd #1 album in a row, 2nd #1 single, plus everybody sort of knew he had a hand in Ringo's #1 Photograph, & What is Life had peaked at #7. So yes technically you're correct, but Harrison along with Ringo, the ex Beatles no one expected much from, Harrison out of the gate 3 #1 albums & 3 top 10 singles including 2 #1s & a cowrite on Ringo's #1, he had to slip !

    Further Harrison didin't bother with a catchy 72 single at all, or a follow up single to "Give Me Love" ! Most people get a number one smash & hurry with a follow up, just to try for another top 10, he didin't even bother ! Not a ton of upbeat poppy songs on Material World, but he certainly had a strong shot at top 10-15, with Don't Let Me Wait Too Long, or The funky Sue Me Sue You Blues....with the waves of new Bearlemania in 73, I'd have had a gas, if Harrison gave the Beatlesque "Try Some Buy Some" a shot.. not typical "singles" fare, but so Beatley...

    Anyway Dark Horse was a strong tune for a single, if he had done the vocals when his laryngitis had healed, & done a more commercial arrangement...

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