Sunday, February 09, 2014

In honor of my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, kind words from an old friend

The Beatles perform on the 'The Ed Sullivan Show' in New York on Feb. 9, 1964. | AP

Tonight marks fifty years since the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan and music changed forever. I can think of no better way to mark the occasion than by sharing a tender insight into the wonderful George Harrison that was sent to me when I was an editor at Architectural Digest

It was June of 2007 and we were hard at work on the August issue and a special feature written by Paul Theroux on the Hamilton Island home of George and Olivia Harrison. (You can read the article here.) Because of the hefty time difference between California and Australia, I was in touch with the Harrison's landscape designer Malcolm Hunt by email. We had several delightful exchanges, which I've kept filed away all these years because of their poignant charm. Whenever I'd stumble across the now slightly tattered pages tucked away in my closet, I'd read through them and think about how incredible it is when we connect with one another—how magical and transformative friendships can be—and that coincidences are really just answers, answers for which we should be immensely grateful.

Below are Malcolm's messages, exactly has he wrote them:

"I thought I should give you a brief history - the garden was done in two stages, 1st stage mid eighties when the house was being built then it languished with nothing being added - because of a disagreement between the lessee of the island and George - when the lessee was forced out George contacted me again and we finished the job in the mid nineties. I lived in the house at that time. I have a great affection for that job as I was involved from the very beginning and was able to complete the job for a man who I truly loved.

George was a passionate gardener and we could converse in the latin names of the genus and species of plants - in the book George wrote 'I Me Mine' the dedication of the book was to 'gardeners everywhere.'

As you can imagine, the garden involved some serious man hours and heavy earthmoving machinery with dams to dig and planting of many mature trees - some over 60 feet in height. George had a great sense of fun so I was able to incorporate fun things like my signature in the garden - if you stand at a certain spot on the pool deck and look upsidedown at the coconut palm trees around the pool you can see that they form a gigantic M for Malcolm.

One of the greatest compliments I have ever had in my life came from Olivia - George rang me at home one day from the house on Hamilton Island and after our chat he said Olivia would like to talk to you. She said to me 'Malcolm, when you were building the garden I always thought you were mad but being here now we just want to dig it up and take it home with us.'

So all the hours of hard work had all been worth it because at that moment they had loved something that I had co-created with the help of God. Our journey continued with us both being diagnosed with cancer and even though he had been attacked and stabbed in the lung he still rang me up and took me to a clinic in Boston - to me he will always be the greatest."

After sending Malcolm a copy of the issue late the following month, he sweetly replied with:

"Hi Maile, I received the Digest - thank you very much - but I just had to relate to you this little story. So the very second that I sat down to read the 'Harrison Haven' article and I mean the very second, over the radio came the very familiar strains of George's guitar and him singing 'all I got to do is to love you, all I got to be is happy, all it's got to take is some warmth to make it.' His words still bring me guidance and comfort. Especially when the communication is so synchronous. Thank you, Malcolm"

Blow Away by George Harrison, 1979

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