Why no George Harrison at The Last Waltz?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Interpolantics, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Monasmee

    Monasmee Forum Resident

    Albuquerque NM
    Here's another George connection.... by way of Todd Rundgren engineering The Band's Stage Fright (1970), then producing Badfinger's Straight Up (1971).
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  2. Ha actually no. I loved his performances as I watched it live. Not until I saw the film was I surprised his pants didn’t split down the middle.

    Still I love that performance every time I see it.
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  3. Hey Vinyl Man

    Hey Vinyl Man Forum Resident

    As I understand it, they only "almost had to boot Muddy Waters" because Robbie wanted to make room for Neil Diamond. Once Levon let him know in no uncertain terms that that wasn't going to happen, there was never any real danger of it happening. (Of course, that's from Levon's own book, so take it with a grain of salt. But still...) Also, the Band did have a legitimate tie to Muddy besides being heavily influenced by him: Rick and Levon (and maybe Richard? I can't recall for sure) played on his then-latest album.

    Agreed, but remember, Robbie was calling the shots.

    He was reportedly supposed to go on much earlier than he did, but pushed back his performance because he decided he didn't like his original outfit. Given how...erm...dated his suit was, I was going to say I've always wondered what he was wearing before. But I see that's been answered upthread.
  4. Siegmund

    Siegmund Forum Resident

    Britain, Europe

    Wonder if Todd was invited? Somehow, I doubt it.....
  5. beatleroadie

    beatleroadie Forum Resident

    Turd Runtgreen? No way!
  6. Mal

    Mal Phorum Physicist

    Leave Sodd Runtlestuntle alone :cry:
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  7. RayS

    RayS Paying attention like a rattlesnake does

    I can't speak for his thoughts beyond January 1969, but during that time George was quite obsessed with The Band, and The Basement Tapes. His original vision for "All Things Must Pass" was to have it sound like The Band, leading to a funny comment from Lennon, who already had one foot out the Beatle door and apparently felt put upon, having to actually work on a George song.

    George: "You're supposed to be The Band on this one."
    John: "I have been long enough."

    Not exactly supportive in that communal 1968 Band-y kind of way, although probably nicer than his overall feeling about the session ("I think I'll pass away").

    I agree with the many of sentiments presented upthread - George was in no hurry to be in front of a concert audience again after Tour '74 - especially when his performance would be filmed, recorded and released. And considering that he was in a phase where there were so many lawsuits flying around that he accidentally sued himself, he probably had no desire to play the rights negotiation game that he himself dealt with when he put together the Bangladesh album.
  8. fallbreaks

    fallbreaks Forum Resident

    Well said. George's idealism was one of his most attractive and influential traits, and it's a shame it received such a battering in the early 70s.
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  9. It was George's bath night?
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  10. Jackstar74

    Jackstar74 Forum Resident

    John wore hats a lot especially 64-65
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  11. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

    George tried out a version of "To Kingdom Come" (from January 8, 1969), which I cannot find on Youtube.

    Anyone able to find it??
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  12. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Not so. The general conceit was that the got musicians who had been backed up by members of The Band on their own recordings. With the exceptions of Dr. John and Van Morrison, every featured musician had released an album featuring at least some Band members on some songs. And of those two exceptions, Van of course had appeared with The Band on their own Cahoots album, while Dr. John had worked with The Band on the Bobby Charles album. Ringo had been backed by Band members on the Ringo album, and Levon Helm also appeared on a track on Ringo's Rotogravure. So no, they didn't get any musician they could... they only got musicians they had backed up on projects or worked with in some capacity.

    Levon also drummed on "See the Sky About to Rain."
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  13. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    I'd say take it with a whole bag of rock salt. I don't believe that story at all. I suspect it's just Levon trying to make Robbie look bad.

    If he was, it was only because they other guys were letting him. Theoretically, Robbie had no more power than the other four. If they really were opposed to anything, they could outnumber him. I get the sense it was more that they were passive and none of them wanted to be bothered with making decisions, so Robbie stepped up and did it himself. But then 25 years later Levon was happy to nitpick and second-guess the decisions Robbie had made in the leadership void created by the other guys.
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  14. Wright

    Wright Forum Resident

    Right, I got a bit carried away there. Still, Ron Wood doesn't have any connection. And what about the Staple Singers? Anyhow, I still think the conceit is a little... conceited? It's like David Bowie showing up at a Rick Wakeman concert.
  15. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Ronnie Wood wasn't a featured performer. I suspect he just crashed the party, and then hopped onstage at the end. Meanwhile The Staple Singers (and Emmylou Harris for that matter) did no appear at the actual Last Waltz show.

    I think the intent of the conceit was to make them look humble... "shucks, we're really just a bunch of back-up musicians when you get right down to it." But you're right that it kind of has the opposite effect (whenever Robbie tries to look humble, it backfires).
  16. partially because George’s pal Eric was obsessed with them.
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  17. WilliamWes

    WilliamWes Forum Resident

    New York
    I thought at the Get Back sessions George mentioned that he was at Big Pink in December 1968 with the Band while they recorded The Band but didn't guest on anything.
  18. notesfrom

    notesfrom Forum Resident

    NC USA
    The Band were still waiting for their invitation to play at the Bangladesh concert.
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  19. Hey Vinyl Man

    Hey Vinyl Man Forum Resident

    I agree with your second point, but what's to doubt about the Muddy Waters story? It makes perfect sense that only Robbie would want Neil Diamond there (since he had produced his latest album, and his style was nothing like their influences or the other musicians they associated with). And it's not as though Levon's story makes him look very good. He was basically shooting the messenger (the roadie who said Robbie wanted to know if they could drop Muddy) and couldn't be bothered to confront Robbie himself.

    The Band was recorded at Sammy Davis Jr's house in West Hollywood (and at about the same time as the Get Back sessions in London). There were some unsuccessful efforts at a session in New York before that, which could be what Harrison was referring to; but nothing from those sessions was used. So even if he had played on them, he still wouldn't be on the album. Having written a song that they played on with another performer wouldn't be enough to qualify him for the Last Waltz, but I've got to think they'd make an exception for any Beatle if he were interested. So my guess is he wasn't.
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  20. ZippyPippy

    ZippyPippy Forum Resident

    He was parking the car...
  21. Monasmee

    Monasmee Forum Resident

    Albuquerque NM
    My guess is that The Band thought that George's presence would upstage them.
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  22. Kingsley Fats

    Kingsley Fats Forum Resident

    I have to agree with George on that one.
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  23. Kingsley Fats

    Kingsley Fats Forum Resident

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  24. pool_of_tears

    pool_of_tears Music Appreciator

    Eastern Iowa
    Danko and Helm appear on Neil’s On The Beach album
  25. Rose River Bear

    Rose River Bear Forum Resident

    The Band did not want to be upstaged by George's edgy and spontaneous style. o_O
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