Ever since the Bootleg Beatles began, many years ago it seems, there have been questions ... Would we last longer than six months? Would we ever play at The London Palladium? Would we ever be taken seriously by the NME? What if ... Hold on a minute, we've been going for so long now (according to one biography, I wasn't even born when we started - only joking!), we've played The Palladium three times, not to mention The Albert Hall (I said NOT to mention the Albert Hall!) and the NME article wasn't that bad was it? One question, however, still remained unanswered - the BIG one. What if we ever meet a real Beatle? And if we did, what would we say? What would HE say? And so it came to pass that on Wednesday 6th February we were booked to play at the 50th birthday party of Pink Floyd vocalist and lead guitarist, Dave Gilmour. We'd known about the gig for a couple of months (ask Raj about his brilliant faux-pas when he took the booking) and on long car journeys we would speculate about the rock royalty that may or may not be on hand to help Mr Gilmour celebrate his bash. Maybe Mick Jagger would be there? Probably Kate Bush. Definitely Sir Bob Geldof - he's always at everything, isn't he? What about Eric? No, not Cantona! Clapton? Nah .... As we travelled along, throwing in names, the office phoned ... "Would we mind sharing our dressing room with some of the members of Pink Floyd 'cos they're doing a set after yours... Oh and Eric's going to be there too." "Er .. Clapton?" "Yes!" And if Eric's going to be there ... The Fulham Town Hall had been converted into a Moroccan palace fit for a king and possibly even fit for a Beatle. The guest list was outrageously famous and George Harrison, Scouse of Distinction, was on it. Personally, I really didn't think that he would show up, and so it was in a relaxed frame of mind I prepared to perform. I can't honestly remember who came in and said, "George is out there" but from that second on, people were turning to me, shaking my hand and wishing me luck as if I had been singled out to take my driving test, sit in the Mastermind Chair and give birth all at the same time! Well, that's how I felt anyway! After consulting Paul, I chose to sing "Do You Want To Know A Secret?" which we figured was better for 'that' impersonation than "Beethoven". The gig went by in a flash and the band was magnificent. To be honest with you, the reaction at first was tame. Imagine, if you will, playing to a mid-seventies edition of TOTP; Bryan Ferry, members of Queen, bits of Status Quo and, inevitably, Sir Bob - all sober, all cool. As we played on they slowly warmed up and by "Hey Jude", they were all singing along just like any other audience. Well done, pop stars! But ... I couldn't see Mr Harrison (George, not Neil!) anywhere. A Victorian illusionist was on after us but I was more interested to see if George was really out there amongst the revellers. I left the others, with Rick Rock being amazed by a floating hand (I know he wanted to buy one) and made my way to the back of the hall ... and there was George. Quickly, I went back to Paul and said to him, "Look, I've got an anorak on, you've got an anorak on, would you like to stare at a Beatle?" "Yes please!" came the reply. We sat on a nearby seat and were, quite frankly, star-struck, He looked well, had shorter hair than the "Threelets" pictures, he was somewhere in between my height and Paul's and we could hear that Fab voice cutting through the celebrations. Of course George's wife, Olivia, was there but blow me down - Patti was there too! It was all too much. I hardly even noticed Kate Bush walking past. I mean, you don't see a real Beatle every day do you? Not in the Bootlegs you don't. But the evening was only beginning ...
Never one not to 'try it on', Paul decided that looking just wasn't enough and so, using his South Liverpool connection, he cornered George and within the shake of a Liverpool Leg, Neil was there too. Now I couldn't miss out, could I? So there we were ... Bootlegs three, Beatles one. "So you're supposed to be me are you?" George asked, "looks like you've got a touch of the Romany in you, how did you manage that?" George then studied Neil and said, "I think John would have longer hair now ... and he'd have had a bit more dental work done toot" (see current Beatle teeth on recent publicity eg. "Free As A Bird"). Now a lot of people have asked me what George thought of The Bootlegs. Well, you see the thing is, he didn't make any direct comments about the band - good or bad - but in a way what happened was even better, because (I think) he accepted us as people and we just go on very well. Anyhow, out of the blue, George looked at the three of us (poor old Rick had decided to go home early!) and said that someone had played a wrong chord in "Free As A Bird". "I think that was me", said Paul (we knew it was you Paul) and then George proceeded to go through the song's chord sequence, "A major, F4 minor, F major 7th, E suspended" and so on. It was a great moment - George's love of John Lennon's master chord sequence and the way he told us was just like something from the "Let It Be" film. "E suspended" ... straight from the Dark Horse's mouth. Marvellous. Thank you, Paul. George charmingly then said, "Cheerio" and went over to the bar. Now it's not only real Beatles that like a bit of a drink at a party and a moment or two later, there we were at the bar too, with George introducing us to Terry Doran (look him up in yer Beatles books), "Here's Bootleg John, here's Bootleg Paul, here's Bootleg George ... where's the drummer?" "He's left", I said. "Must be the Bootleg Pete Best then!" said George. "Where's the Bootleg Brian Epstein7" he also enquired. "How's the music going, George?" enquired a fellow guest. "You'd better ask the Bootleg George, the latest singing sensation, covering all my finest tunes from "Don't Bother Me" to the present day." We carried on talking to the Quiet One, who wasn't really that quiet at all, and then he asked us a question, "With all the chords you know now, why don't you make up your own tunes? You see I've forgotten half the ones I knew, 'cos I only learned them once!" It was a very sweet way of telling us to make up our own music, and all three of us took it on the chin. Tim Rice then showed up and used his photo opportunity with George and we left them to it. Half an hour later, it was about time to go and I thought I must find George and thank him for being such a very pal - he didn't have to be did he? So I went up to him to give my fond farewells and George just invited me into his circle. "Here's Bootleg Patti, this is Bootleg Andre - we're all living in a Bootleg World", joked George (doesn't really make sense but that's what he said!). And so we talked for another hour or so. Paul came over and joined us and there we were with this very friendly, extremely nice man. I can't tell you enough what a thrill it was for all of us. So often in life people that you meet let you down, but here was someone that was all he's cracked up to be and more. When I got home at five in the morning, I had to phone every one I knew in the States (they were the only people awake!). I told my sister (who lives in L.A.) the story just like I have done here and then one thing came back to me that George had said and I'll share it with you now ... "We're all just molecules and water, here for a visit." Remember that.