Twenty Sixty Six And Then existed from 1970 to 1972, a very short period only in the long musical career of singer Geff Harrison. The history and fortunes of 2066AT are highlighted in the eclipsed issue 05/2017. But this is about Geff Harrison, who started with music in the early 60s, moved to Germany and still lives in Hamburg today. His German has a British accent, but is otherwise perfect. It is significant that there is a German Wikipedia entry about him, but no English Wikipedia entry.
Again and again Harrison apologizes in conversation that he may be telling too much. But not a trace of it - highly entertaining, what he gives for the best, and highly sympathetic, how he gives for the best. The result is a portrait of a man who lives music and cannot let it go.
eclipsed: Your Wikipedia entry specifies two possible birth cohorts. 1947 or 1948. You now have the opportunity to tell the truth.
Geff Harrison: Oh, I used to be very vain. And to impress the girls, I made myself younger. I was actually born in 1946. I was holding this with Johnny Logan singing "What's another year?"
eclipsed: You met the Beatles when you were very young.
Harrison: My very first appearance was in Manchester on 1 August 1963. One year later, in 1964, I performed with the band The Chasers in the Beatles' prelude. That was at the Oasis Club in Manchester. This is the club that is said to have inspired the Gallagher brothers to name their band Oasis. We were very proud then, we were very young, had no experience at all. There was only one wardrobe. Before it stood two gorillas. We had 90 seconds to change and there we met the Beatles. John was totally friendly, Paul wasn't like that. Maybe he had a bad day. But the day also had some bitter moments. We were allowed to play for 15 minutes. Four buses full of girls from Liverpool were driven to Manchester. And they screamed so loud, they didn't hear any sound from us. That was a shame. But I don't want to overestimate this experience. It was just one day in my life. But I won't forget him, of course.
eclipsed: How did you get to Germany? And why did you stay in Germany?
Harrison: When I was part of the band Some Other Guys in Manchester, our agency sent us to Germany. Mainly to play in front of soldiers on US Army and US Air Force bases. And then I fell in love and stayed in Germany.
eclipsed: Then it worked out with the girls. Other topic: What happened after the dissolution of Twenty Sixty Six And Then in 1972?
Harrison: With Twenty Sixty Six And Then we still had recordings in Munich, among others with Donna Summer and Curt Cress. But then nothing came of it. Our guitarist Gagey Mrozeck joined Kin Ping Meh and took me with him. Three years later, I got out again. The Scorpions once performed in our prelude. In 1974 alone we had 300 concerts with Kin Ping Meh. It's madness, if you imagine it today. We still didn't get rich.
eclipsed: After that, you started a solo career.
Harrison: Yes, only under my own name, from the 80s also as Richie West. My first solo album "Salford" had the song "Death Of A Clown" on it. I recorded this song for the Teldec together with Achim Reichel. The then chairman of the FDJ in the GDR liked it so much that I was invited to concerts in the GDR. I've become a little superstar in the GDR. I played in front of 15,000 people in stadiums. Once in Rostock in a hall with 12,000 people. I'm very proud of that. That was just rock music, not politics. In the end the invitation turned into eight big tours in the 70s and 80s. The audience there was fantastic, grateful and not as saturated as in the West. But I also met people who accused me of being part of capitalist exploitation
eclipsed: Please tell us about your experiences with Dieter Bohlen.
Harrison: Those weren't such nice experiences. I am not only a singer, but also a composer, lyricist and producer. I landed in court with Dieter Bohlen. It was about 17 songs from Modern Talking. He says I only corrected the English lyrics to these songs. I say I wrote these 17 lyrics. The whole thing seemed hopeless to me. Dieter had the great Ariola behind him, I had to take out a loan. In the end we settled out of court and he paid me a good chunk of money.
eclipsed: What's your connection to Herman's Hermits like?
Harrison: I went to school in Manchester with the guitarist of the time. Later he also took over the lead vocals. We stayed in touch and at some point we also wrote some songs for the Hermits together, which were then released on three or four singles.
eclipsed: What's up now?
Harrison: I just can't keep my hands off the music. I still have a lot of gigs with my current band The Glowballs. We do pop rock. No hard rock. There were also new recordings with many own pieces. In May 2017 an old album will also be re-released by me. It's just Geff Harrison Band.
If you happen to be on holiday in early June and late July on Borkum, the largest and westernmost of the East Frisian islands, you are in luck. There, The Glowballs with Geff Harrison at the microphone will give a one-week guest performance. You can see the thoroughbred musician who hasn't changed his haircut for 50 years (Harrison: "But my hair has become a bit thinner.") live.
*Interview: Bernd Sievers