THE NEW NUMBER TWO
In the aftermath of the ex-Beatle George Harrison’s passing, a number of odd credits for “thenewno2” appeared on various releases, such as the posthumous "Brainwashed" album, principally in respect of art direction and photography. Over the years there have been tantalising mentions of the possibility of The Beatles getting together with McGoohan to collaborate on a project.
Evidently they were big fans of "The Prisoner". George Harrison, when waxing lyrical about India (during an interview filmed in Portmeirion for "Anthology"), stated “It was the first feeling I’d ever had of being liberated from being a Beatle or a number. It comes back to "The Prisoner" with Patrick McGoohan: ‘I am not a number.’ In our society we tend, in a subtle way, to number ourselves and each other and the government does so, too…” Also, when talking about looking for a suitable and more meaningful script in the wake of "A Hard Day’s Night" and "Help!" he said: “I remember we had Patrick McGoohan around, and he’d written a couple of episodes of a series called The Prisoner, which we liked very much. We thought, ‘Well, maybe he could write something for us.’”
It never happened of course. Instead, they went on to produce "Magical Mystery Tour". So, what’s new? Well, it transpires that "thenewno2" is, in fact, George’s son Dhani Harrison. Or to be more exact ‘thenewno2’ is a duo with someone called Oli Hecks! A release is imminent according to their website. Not only does Dhani now look spookily like his father during the Beatles’ heyday, he also sounds very much like him. Quite why he chose the name is not revealed as yet but it would be nice the think that at some point George took his son to one side and said: “Look, there is this great 1960s series, starring Patrick McGoohan, that you must watch…”
AFTER READING THIS ITEM, FAN MARK B WROTE THE FOLLOWING TWO LETTERS TO TUW:
I just read your page on Dhani Harrison's band and thought
I'd just drop you a line to let you know that Dhani has reportedly said that
he named his band thenewnumber2 in reference to The Prisoner because it was
his father's favourite TV program. This surprises me slightly as I assumed
that George Harrison's favourite show was Monty Python, but Dhani would obviously
know better. The Beatles clearly did have a very high regard for McGoohan
and The Prisoner, and it appears the appreciation was mutual, McGoohan mentioned
them in an interview in '67 and expressed admiration for them. I wasn't aware
of the Harrison quote though until I read it on your page, but then The Prisoner
probably is exactly the sort of thing that would appeal to Harrison. In any
case, just though I'd let you know.
I should add a slight correction, having just checked online it seems Dhani Harrison has said The Prisoner was a favourite program of his fathers rather than the favourite program, which of course is slightly different. As I say, I was fairly convinced Monty Python was George Harrison's all-time favourite program and I'm sure that is probably the case, but clearly George must have been a major fan of The Prisoner for his son to name his band after the show because of his father's appreciation for it. Thenewno2 have a Wikipedia biography and a Myspace page but it's actually quite difficult to find out much else about them. The reason I say The Prisoner strikes me as the sort of thing George Harrison would have liked is that, aside from him liking anything quirky, unusual or slightly weird (like Python for instance), the show's themes would probably have appealed to him. He seemed to regard a lot of humanity as following a herd mentality and not being especially free-thinking, and a lot of this comes through in his lyrics I think, particularly on his solo albums, and he seemed to value individuality very highly. Judging by that quote on your page, it seems that he 'got' The Prisoner immediately and understood the allegory very well, which dosen't surprise me. As for MacGoohan's statements about The Beatles, having looked online I found the quote I was thinking of, McGoohan gave an interview to TV World in '67 and mentioned the Beatles: "I think The Beatles are marvellous. They are venturing into astonishing fields of music and are really searching in their embryonic 'retirement' to find new sounds. I am always listening to their latest work and get something new out of it each time I hear it. They epitomise the age. They parody all the things we grown-ups pay lip service to, but don't practise. In one of their latest numbers they sing "All you Need Is Love" - just that, over and over again. Afterwards you realize that love is the thing that we have least of. They parody such ambiguities''. Interesting that he mentions 'All You Need Is Love' when he of course went on to include this song in 'Fall Out' a few months later. I remember reading someone's interperatation of this episode - Paul Cornell's I think - claiming that the inclusion of 'All You Need is Love' was probably intended by McGoohan to be an ironic dig at hippy ideology but that seems unlikely to me given that McGoohan seems to have approved of the song's message. I still cannot figure out what McGoohan meant by putting that song over footage of him gunning the Village authorities down (which I take to symbolise violent revolution - I suppose there are any number of interperatations but judging by that quote I don't think he's having dig at hippies like Paul Cornell seems to believe. It's the one aspect of the program that I've never really been able to interperet one way or the other). With regard to the Beatles asking McGoohan to direct their film, it seems that this was actually after Magical Mystery Tour. Supposedly the Beatles actually sat down together to watch 'Fall Out' (possibly because they knew their song was to be included) and I assume it was around this time they approached McGoohan. It seems MacGoohan was interested but rejected the offer because, aside from the fact he was leaving the country, he felt that the film would end up with "five directors", meaning that he suspected that the Beatles would ultimately have tried to take over and MacGoohan probably wanted total control. They didn't end up making the film at all as such, they just fulfilled their film contract with United Artists by making 'Let it Be', which is just a documentary with footage of them making an album.
to Carol Brady, the following news item is also online: http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/10/dhani-harrison-thenewno2/
With thanks to Dave Healey for this news item. Image: "The Beatles: 365 days" by Simon Wells, available from Amazon.
News Announced 3/5/2006, Archived 21/8/2006