Seaford-based Alex Eberhard will be leading the All Things Must Pass Orchestra in their first concerts for three years.
They come bearing approval and encouragement from the man who really matters, George’s son Dhani whom they met when Alex and fellow guitarist Bernd Rest did a duo performance near Henley last year – not far from where George lived.
Dhani booked a table at the restaurant where Alex and Bernd were gigging and embraced Alex warmly after the performance. As Alex says, it was a funny thought that two Austrians should be playing George Harrison in England to George Harrison’s son.
“The place we played was The Crooked Billet, a gastro pub, and the landlord got in touch with me because it is also a music venue. He sent me a clipping from an old newspaper from the 1990s, a little article saying that George Harrison had been stopped playing there by the police because of the neighbours! George Harrison and his family frequently would go there for a meal and at some point Gary Moore’s wife had a birthday there and Gary Moore and George Harrison were jamming and the neighbours complained. They didn’t know that it was George Harrison playing.”
As for Alex’s gig, which was postponed twice from May 2020: “They set up a marquee and we played in the marquee and a month before the gig the landlord said Dhani Harrison had booked a table. The gig was built around the celebration of the 50th anniversary of George Harrison’s album All Things Must Pass.”
Alex and Bernd were doing two gigs that and didn’t know which night Dhani would turn up, the first night being his mother’s birthday. In fact he came on the second night.
“I could see him. He was sitting there with his partner. And afterwards the landlord introduced us. He was really great. He was telling us about the rehearsal with Eric Clapton for The Concert For George (a memorial concert for George which was held not long after he died). We were introduced and he came up and gave me a tight long hug.”
The All Things Must Pass album has always been a particular favourite for Alex.
“It was the first solo album of a Beatle that I bought as a teenager. 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 a few 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. It has been going a number of years now, and 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.”