Singer and guitarist Alex is the founder of The All Things Must Pass Orchestra.
Regulars at the Festival of Chichester, the orchestra comprises musicians from Seaford, Rottingdean, Brighton, Danehill and Littlehampton. Sadly, it’s music they can’t play right at the moment, but music still with a remarkable resonance.
Earlier this year, Alex, who lives in Seaford, and the band released a new version of the album’s title track, offering it as anthem for our difficult times and hoping for better times ahead. Those better times haven’t come yet. Alex and guitarist Bernd Rest were planning to mark the album’s anniversary this month with a couple of duo gigs in the late George Harrison’s former home town of Henley, possibly attended by his widow Olivia. Those gigs, which had originally been planned for May, have now been put back to January.
The song All Things Must Pass contains the line “Daylight is good at arriving at the right time/It’s not always going to be this grey.” Alex and the band are hoping it’s true.
“I think there is a lot of comfort in that song, and the musical aspect of the song just goes with the message. It is an example of a really, really great song that goes deeper than it first appears.
“It was the first solo album of a Beatle that I bought as a teenager,” Alex says. “I listened to it constantly. I don’t think I realised its significance or its timeless quality. I was a huge George Harrison fan anyway with The Beatles, and when I listened to the album, I found that it was really unusual how the songs were put together, the sounds that he created. It was very unorthodox, things that you couldn’t get your head around.”
And that was a big part of the fascination: “And then you listen to the lyrics and you realise that some of them are really prophetic. With Beware Of Darkness, you have got the line ‘Beware of greedy leaders/They take you where you should not go’ – and you would have thought 50 years later we would have realised that now!”
Alex’s band has been going seven years now: “The original idea was not to have a name for the band. I didn’t want it to be seen as a tribute band. It was just a show called All Things Music Past – Celebrating The Music Of George Harrison. But people kept asking what the name of the band was, and someone suggested that we should be the All Things Must Pass Orchestra. The feedback from the audience has always been very, very welcoming and warm, and we knew early on that we had something that people really enjoyed and that we were able to build up a loyal fan base. It always felt like a family getting together and having fun rather than individual musicians who were unrelated. Having said that, I am a bit sad that our drummer has decided that she wants to quit playing professionally, and that we will have to think about finding a new drummer in the New Year. But otherwise the core of the band has been very constant which I think is a testament to George’s music and everyone’s interest in performing and listening to it.”
It has been a tough year: “When we had lockdown in March, we were thinking it wouldn’t be long and that thank goodness our All Things Must Pass Orchestra gigs were in June because we should be alright by then. Little did we know that it would come to this now.”
But there is still hope for the January duo gigs – and still hope Olivia might be there: “The landlord (at the venue) said she had shown an interest in coming. It would have been great to see her. It would also have been a bit terrifying. I was daily working on the songs. I thought I had better make sure that I was playing the best I could!”