Date: 23 November 1971
Show: The Dick Cavett Show
Interviewer: Dick Cavett
Broadcast: 23 November 1971
DICK CAVETT: I guess everyone knows by now that you're Gary Wright.
DICK CAVETT: Where do you know Gary Wright and this group from?
GEORGE: From England. He used to be in a band called Spooky Tooth and I met him during my album, All Things Must Pass. He came and played piano on the whole album, so I returned the favour tonight.
DICK CAVETT: That's very nice. Now how many in the audience knew that George was in the group up there? How many didn't know?
GEORGE: I'm not in the group; just for now.
DICK CAVETT: No, I meant that they recognise you there in that subtle way we had you camouflaged, bending in the background like that. You know, you're only the second member of your former organisation that I've ever met. I know John. . .
GEORGE: You didn't meet the other eight.
DICK CAVETT: No. Were there that many?
GEORGE: Yes, hundreds.
DICK CAVETT: Really? I only know John.
GEORGE: You know the eighteenth Beatle?
DICK CAVETT: There were rumours that the Beatles were not always the same person. In fact, there was once a rumour that it wasn't even the real four of you who came here over on one trip, that they just sent four. . .
GEORGE: We just sent four dummies out there.
DICK CAVETT: That, and what was the other one? Oh, that you actually were all bald, and had no hair, and that was so you could go out in the street and not be recognised.
GEORGE: It's all truth. Pure truth.
DICK CAVETT: Oh it is? Oh, well then, they aren't rumours.
GEORGE: Let's take a little march through time with bird's eye frozen orange.
DICK CAVETT: Plus . . . well, he's right. You weren't supposed to see that. Let's do take a little march through time.
GEORGE: He couldn't miss it, really.
DICK CAVETT: I know. No, no, is this confusing you a little bit? This set-up?
GEORGE: It is, all these cameras, don't know which one I'm supposed to be looking at.
DICK CAVETT: Must be exciting for you to be next to a famous person.
GEORGE: It is, it's very exciting. I don't do this every night, you know.
DICK CAVETT: No. I do, unfortunately. No, you're probably wondering what we were looking at. George saw the lights go on over the cameras, which give me the lead-in to the commercial. Actually, I don't think the audience at home cares what we're looking at, I mean, they're more interested in what we think.
GEORGE: Well, I want to know what's looking at me, really. You know, I like to check it out, where, there he is.
DICK CAVETT: They always say you don't have to worry about what camera's on, that they'll find you.
DICK CAVETT: That's how I. . .
GEORGE: Big Brother is watching you.
DICK CAVETT: Whatever. Yoko sat in that very chair.
GEORGE: Oh. Well, I bet many people have sat in this chair.
DICK CAVETT: Well, a lot of people have sat in it, but I was just thinking. . .
GEORGE: I saw the show, it was very nice.
DICK CAVETT: Did you see that? Yeah.
GEORGE: There was one thing they forgot to plug. So I thought I'd plug it for them, and that's their new Christmas record. "We wish you a merry Christmas, war is over." Get yours now, thank you.
DICK CAVETT: Is there such a record?
GEORGE: Yes, he made it after he was on the show, so he didn't get a chance to talk about it.
DICK CAVETT: Is there a slight undercurrent of hostility between you and the other members of the group? You can tell me, I'm not going to tell anybody.
GEORGE: No, no. Really, John, you know, I just thought I'd take the opportunity and promote his record for him. "War is over if you want it, happy Christmas." Apple Records.
DICK CAVETT: Well, are you in any sense in contact with each other, I mean. . .
GEORGE: Yeah, I saw him last night, actually, at the premiere of Raga, which is what we should talk about, maybe.
DICK CAVETT: Okay. But I mean, what did you say?
GEORGE: I said, "Hi, hello."
DICK CAVETT: Do you have writers who think of these things, or do you just have them ready and you can just snap them right out?
GEORGE: Yeah, we have writers at home. Rooms full of them.
DICK CAVETT: What did he come back with right away?
GEORGE: With "Hi."
DICK CAVETT: Yeah? Gee, this sort of beat . . . was there more, or did you just go on. . .? It's pretty good.
GEORGE: Well, you've got real boring people, you know, to talk to on your show. I'm probably the biggest bore you've ever had on the show.
DICK CAVETT: Really? You think?
DICK CAVETT: Well, I'll be the judge of that. Listen, I'll tell you. . .
GEORGE: Oh, well I don't really, you know, they ask me, "Do you want to come on the Dick Cavett Show?" And I said, "I got nothing to talk about, really." They said, "Well, think of something, you know, anything." So I thought, okay, we'll go and talk about Raga, which is. . .
DICK CAVETT: A film. You mean, that's it? When we're done talking about that then. . .
GEORGE: Then I go, yeah.
DICK CAVETT: You don't like to talk, then.
GEORGE: Well, not really. Sometimes, if there's something to say, but there's really nothing to say these days.
DICK CAVETT: You know, I had that feeling too. People think that I must love to talk, and that I would love to go to parties and yak my head off, and I could go for months without talking.
GEORGE: Well, you talk every night, don't you?
DICK CAVETT: I know, and I've never liked it. I mean, I don't crave conversation, I could sit in an empty room for days and days. I'd have to leave occasionally, but not to talk, I mean, in other words, I don't have a terrific appetite for talking. The reason I'm rattling on like this is that you've just frightened me by telling me that you don't like to talk. And I figure, I have to fill then this last hour of the show.
GEORGE: You just talk, and I'll watch.
DICK CAVETT: Okay, let's do talk about the film. And then . . . well, before we get to that. . .
GEORGE: Before we get to that, let's get to something else.
DICK CAVETT: You and John and Yoko really do meet though, you're not really gritting your teeth?
GEORGE: No, no. We're good friends.
DICK CAVETT: All of that about her being the problem with the group, was that slightly silly that one woman could be so much of a problem?
GEORGE: No, the group had problems long before Yoko came along. Many problems, folks.
DICK CAVETT: Can you remember who was the first to say, you know, I'll bet we'll break up one day, that this won't go on, that this is sort of a dream that we can't all stick together?
GEORGE: No. I don't really remember anything about the Beatle days. It seems like a sort of, you know, previous incarnation when I think about it.
DICK CAVETT: And a long time ago, like another life?
DICK CAVETT: Yeah. Do you regret any of it?
GEORGE: No, no. Don't regret really anything, you know? I mean, that's what happened and it was good, you know, it was good, but it was also good to carry on and do something else. In fact, it was a relief.
DICK CAVETT: Sometimes they say you were. . .
GEORGE: Some people can't understand that, you know, because Beatles were such a big deal. They can't understand why we should actually enjoy splitting up. But there's a time, you know, there's a time when people grow up and they leave home or whatever they do. And they go for a change, you know. And it was really time for a change.
DICK CAVETT: Don't you think a lot of the people just envied the idea of being world celebrities, though?
GEORGE: Well, some people, you know, would go on and on forever singing the same tune and playing the same gig if they were making some money, you know? But I think we'd all rather give that up and try going on our own and try doing something we really want to do. And if we don't make it, then hard luck. But as it happens, we've all got such a lot of goodwill hanging over from being Beatles. I mean, you probably wouldn't have me on the show if I hadn't of been one, let's face it.
DICK CAVETT: No, you wouldn't get here on looks alone.
GEORGE: We will return after this message from our lovely station.
DICK CAVETT: Oh, now wait a minute. Just because that comes on doesn't mean you have to do it right away.
DICK CAVETT: Do you feel like doing it now?
GEORGE: I just did it.
DICK CAVETT: Oh.
GEORGE: I see, four or five minutes.
DICK CAVETT: He's right, folks. We will return after this message from our local station. See, when you say it. . .
DICK CAVETT: Do you think you might have been the most anxious of the four to get out? I get that impression from reading about you.
GEORGE: Maybe, maybe, yeah. It was very. . .
DICK CAVETT: Why?
GEORGE: Because over the years, you know, I had such a lot of songs mounting up that I really wanted to do, but I only got my quota of one or two tunes per album. And that way, I would have had to record about a hundred Beatle albums just to get out the tunes I had in 1965.
DICK CAVETT: Were you held down by the other fellows?
GEORGE: Well, very subtly, yes.
DICK CAVETT: Yeah?
GEORGE: I would not really, they didn't strap me down or anything like that. But it was just the way things happened, you know. It started off, I didn't write, they wrote, then I started to write, and it was sort of trying to push in a bit.
DICK CAVETT: You don't actually read or write music, do you?
DICK CAVETT: Then how, when you say write. . .
GEORGE: Well, write.
DICK CAVETT: If you have a tune and it hits you, how do you get it down?
GEORGE: Just keep it in your head, you know. Just work it out on the piano or on the guitar.
DICK CAVETT: But then, do you tape it or what preserves it?
GEORGE: Sometimes, sometimes, put it on tape. But usually you can remember it in your head. If you don't, I mean, I write the words down and remember the tune in my head.
DICK CAVETT: Do you wish you'd studied composition and all of that?
DICK CAVETT: You don't need it.
GEORGE: Well, maybe it would help somewhere. I probably wouldn't have to pay a copyist.
DICK CAVETT: Yeah. But you don't miss it, I mean, you can. . .
GEORGE: No, no.
DICK CAVETT: It would just help.
GEORGE: Because it's not really sort of music, you know. It's like, I mean, there's a difference between people who write music and classical things and big arrangements to the sort of thing I do. It's just really, very simple.
DICK CAVETT: And the other guys, most of the melodies were John's or Paul's that were done on the albums.
GEORGE: Yeah. That was funny when John was on. Every time you had a commercial break, and then came back part twenty and they keep playing Paul's songs.
DICK CAVETT: Just put our guests at ease, I guess that's what we do. But they always talk about you as the real musician of the group, and if you haven't studied music, what do they mean by that? That you're more serious about music? You've seen that though, haven't you?
GEORGE: I don't know what they mean. It's probably because I didn't smile so much.
DICK CAVETT: To be a real musician you have to be sour, I suppose.
DICK CAVETT: There was also the theory that you attracted more girls by being the quiet one, in the same sense that a guy at a party who sits in the corner will have the girl come over and say, "Aw, what's the matter?" This was not a calculated philosophy on your part.
GEORGE: It's just a dirty rumour.
DICK CAVETT: Was it?
GEORGE: Just a rumour, yeah.
DICK CAVETT: Yeah.
GEORGE: I think Paul used to get them all with his, you know.
DICK CAVETT: Do nerves hit you badly?
GEORGE: Oh yeah, terrible. Sometimes I sit down, like before this show, and try and figure out where it is inside that starts all this tension.
DICK CAVETT: Where's it coming from?
GEORGE: I don't know, no idea, otherwise I could control it.
DICK CAVETT: They used to say that's a way to get rid of tension, is if you can try to sit down and think exactly where it is, is it in your stomach, or what gives you that. . .?
GEORGE: It comes from everywhere all at the same time. That's the problem. It's sort of abstract somehow, nerves. Well, the way nerves act upon you.
DICK CAVETT: Does any kind of meditation help before a concert?
GEORGE: Yes, but that's a sort of different thing, you know, to this. I mean, you can't, you can meditate and get peaceful, but then the moment they say "The Dick Cavett Show!" and then there you are. . .
DICK CAVETT: Does this happen when you're watching the show or just when you're. . .?
GEORGE: Yeah. Yes, it does. Just thinking about it, you know.
DICK CAVETT: I didn't know. I've probably given you the beginnings of an ulcer.
DICK CAVETT: So, you wouldn't use meditation as a tool to calm you down as a most important thing, I think that's why some people go into it, they say, "I've tried everything, I take tablets, I. . ."
GEORGE: Yeah, maybe I'm more calm now than I would have been a few years ago, I don't know. But it's still, there's still something about the idea of this, you know, Big Brother and them people tuned in, "Okay, what's he going to say?" And so you know, you don't, aw, we have to take a station break!
DICK CAVETT: We only have a few minutes here. Let me ask you one other thing George, because . . . do you have any thoughts on why hard drugs and rock stars have become synonymous. I mean, you could see why, if you had a life like Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday, what they went through, if I were them, I suppose I would take anything that was available. But I mean, most of the people in rock haven't had that dismal, grinding, horrible kind of life that . . . is it in any way a way of emulating those other people who were like those old time blues people?
GEORGE: Well, there's a lot of pop people who go through a hell of a lot, you know. Just say in one year, they see so much and they go through so many different things that they either just want to get high. I mean, basically it starts with people who just want to get high, you know, like people drink. I mean, that's a big problem, people get . . . have a drink, like I suppose after this show, maybe you'll have a drink, just to get a little high. So, musicians either drink a little bit or maybe they smoke a bit, and then they want to get a bit high, you know, and they're sort of really looking for something. And it's the same with all those Bessie Smiths and all those people, because the world is such a hard place to try and make it in. So, I mean, they're all just like buffers all those drugs and things, and I suppose they get on top of you. They get next to you.
DICK CAVETT: Why, the ones who have killed themselves, your colleagues, why heroin?
GEORGE: That seems to be the big one. I'm really unqualified to talk about heroin because I've never taken it, and I really don't intend to. There's, you know, I'm sure it's just, it's probably just the best high, you know, that's what it's down to, it's the one that gets them the highest, the quickest. But it just happens to kill you faster as well. I mean, they all sort of kill you in one way or another, and there's very few people who seem to be able to experience something like heroin and then get away from it. Because it just gets in the system and you become dependent on it. I don't know, it's sad, you know, it's really sad because they're all looking for some deep love or something like that, and they miss it, you know? It's much better to try and not take any drugs, you know? If you can get straight, really straight, then in a way, it's much higher. I mean, I'm not really qualified to talk about that either. I mean, I'm sort of in the middle, you know.
DICK CAVETT: Another one of those little messages, we'll be back, right after this one.
DICK CAVETT: I wish we had more time, good night.