The minute he heard that Beatle George Harrison was dead, George Metropolis rushed to Hollywood Boulevard Friday to say goodbye – to his look-alike. There, Metropolis, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the “Quiet Beatle” who died on Thursday of cancer, joined teary-eyed fans, many of them middle-aged ex-hippies, who gathered near the Beatles’ star on Hollywood’s “Walk of Fame” to leave flowers, candles, and silently pray for the rock icon who was so much a part of their youth.
“I met him once in 1979. He walked into this bar and saw me and said to his bodyguard, ‘That guy looks like me. I wish I had a video camera,”‘ said the furniture store owner, who once earned cash impersonating the guitarist, who was 58 when he died.
“He sat right next to me and we compared notes on our lives. We had so much in common. We had both been through the ’60s, we had both been to the Maharishi,” Metropolis said.
“We laughed about how we looked alike. But I aged differently because I didn’t smoke,” Metropolis, who is suntanned and youthful looking, added. He declined to state his age.
“I remember he was smoking Camels and I told him, I said, ‘George, you shouldn’t smoke,’ and he said, ‘I know, I know,”‘ Metropolis said. “He indicated he knew smoking was harmful.”
Because of that exchange, Metropolis said, he would pay a special tribute to Harrison by encouraging visitors to his furniture shop to quit smoking.
“I’m going to hang a banner reminding people not to smoke because I believe that is what George would want to tell people – yet he can’t now because he no longer has a physical voice because of cigarettes.”
“I know where he is, and it’s a very good place, and I believe his first message was about love and spirituality…. And I believe his second message would be to tell people to stop smoking,” Metropolis added, smiling at fans who did double takes upon noticing his resemblance to Harrison.
THE OTHER LIVERPOOL HARRISONS
Metropolis wasn’t the only fan who seemed to claim a piece of Harrison on Friday in Hollywood. “We’re Harrisons and we’re from Liverpool!” said British tourists Barbara and Paul Harrison who were in their Hollywood hotel room when they heard their hometown boy was dead.
“We had to come down and see it,” Barbara Harrison said, referring to a growing pile of flowers, candles, apples, peace sign banners, personal notes wishing Harrison Godspeed. “It’s nice to see a tribute to him here in the (United) States. I’m glad he died in a nice place (but) I hope they fly his body back to Liverpool,” she added.
“I remember him from the very beginning. I remember being a screaming 16-year-old fan,” said Barbara Harrison, 52.
“I collected the cigarette cards, all the records, danced to his music in the discos, I was one of those screaming fans. People were taking their trousers off back then. They were taking off their shirts. It was called Beatlemania. They were just tremendous. I’m proud to be a Harrison. Being a Harrison says it all, I think,” she said.
“I saw their them at Shea Stadium in New York City in 1964 and I was fascinated by their haircuts,” said music promoter Hal Stone, 70. “I was struck back then by how well they were able to adapt what was known as the black sound.
“It was amazing. Thousands of people were screaming in their hotel lobby. The manager of the hotel cut up their bedsheets and sold the pieces for $5 apiece. The kids here today, many of them weren’t born at the time. They don’t remember.”
“The young people, they don’t understand,” added fan George Rodriguez, 49. “They don’t realize the Beatles are the roots of rock ‘n roll. The significance of that.”
Some of the most youthful of the group, however, had their own memories of Harrison.
Kellie Starcher, 31, standing with her sobbing mother, Nancy Starcher, 52, was born after the Beatles broke up, but said she still feels connected to the group and to Harrison because “My mother was a major fan. I first heard them in the womb.”