Monday, December 11, 2017

The Catalyst for Rishikesh

When one hears George Harrison's comments on the Summer of Love out of context, they're quite condemning. George stated that he thought he was coming to an enclave of enlightenment, what he found in the Haight were "bums." What many don't realize is that George wasn't condemning San Francisco, so much as a false Hippie spiritualism in which he included himself; one that, for him, centered on Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. Beatles Publicist, Derek Taylor, said, "Photographs tell the story of this great visit by one of the Fab Pied Pipers; it is one of the best-known moments in The Great Novel. The crowds that gathered, well-meaning though they were, pressed upon the English visitors and made life difficult and a little dangerous. George didn't enjoy Haight-Ashbury, yet it was right and inevitable that one of Them should have been there in those times."

Pattie Boyd explained, "We were expecting Haight-Ashbury to be special, a creative and artistic place, filled with Beautiful People, but it was horrible - full of ghastly drop-outs, bums and spotty youths, all out of their brains. Everybody looked stoned - even mothers and babies - and they were so close behind us they were treading on the backs of our heels. It got to the point where we couldn't stop for fear of being trampled. Then somebody said, 'Let's go to Hippie Hill,' and we crossed the grass, our retinue facing us, as if we were on stage. They looked as us expectantly - as if George was some kind of Messiah."

San Francisco was the last leg of a trip to California that began in August 1967. It was in L.A. that George rented the house on Blue Jay Way from the manager of torch singer, Peggy Lee. On the 2nd day of their L.A. visit, George and Pattie, along with Neil Aspinall and Magic Alex, visited Ravi Shankar's new Indian music school on the Sunset Strip, where later that night, Harrison and Boyd would have dinner with the great Indian musician.

The next day, Pattie would read an advertisement for the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and arrange Transcendental Meditation classes in London, stating that "something was missing from our lives." After the debacle in Golden Gate Park, George, through Pattie, would discover a path to peace and spirituality; turning on the other Beatles to TM on August 24, 1967. It's interesting how rich each of The Beatles' lives were, if by rich one means filled with adventure and excitement. After George and Pattie's return from California, The Beatles would be photographed by internationally acclaimed photographer Richard Avedon.

The Beatles et al determined to attend a ten day seminar with the Maharishi: "At the end [of their meeting at the London Hilton]," Pattie Boyd said, "we went to speak to him and he said we must go to Wales where he was running a ten-day summer conference of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement. It started in two days' time. We lept at it."

The Beatles, following the meeting with the Maharishi, had renounced drugs, but drugs would still play a major role in the band's future. Before the end of August, Brian Epstein died of an apparent drug overdose. That event would change the course of The Beatles' lives and their career, mostly through their journey to Rishikesh.