It was late November, 1970. I was in my early weeks working
for one of the New jersey branches of a big East Coast records
chain, where the record department manager was a tall, skinny
guy with a walrus mustache named Mark Lapidos.
It being late November, all the major releases for the holiday season were coming out and one of the most eagerly-awaited was George Harrison's mainstream solo debut album, "All Things Must Pass". Fans knew that he had been working on the album since late spring and that it included some very big names of the day as sidemen.
As the new kid on the block and with the busiest season of the year at hand, I had to work a goodly number of evenings at the store and, when Lapidos posted the work schedule for the week that the album was scheduled to be released, I was horrified to find that he had scheduled me for an afternoon starting time the day of release. Remember, there was a great deal of buzz about "ATMP" and, in my overly imaginative mind, I could easily see people lined up at the door, first thing in the morning, and the album selling out before I could get in and grab a copy. I asked Mark if he could hold a copy for me but Lapidos, no doubt bemused by my panic (this is a man whose first order to me, on my first day, was "Never run out of Beatles records.") wouldn't give me an assurance that, indeed, "ATMP" wouldn't be sold out by late morning.
When I reported for work early that afternoon, there were, of course, plenty of copies of "All Things Must Pass" in stock, though it was selling very briskly (the future Beatlefest promoter had ordered a LOT of copies), but I grabbed one right away for purchase that night. (By the way, if memory serves correctly, the three-LP set cost around $13.00.)
Now, in those days, record stores were run by middle-aged men whose musical hearts belonged to the big-band era and didn't want customers disturbed by hideous rock 'n' roll, even if it meant potential sales when the customers could hear new releases, a la today's stores. So I had to waituntil I got home that night to hear more than the selected tracks that radio stations were playing, including the single, "My Sweet Lord", which was already headed toward a four -week run at No. 1.
When I got home, I immediately opened up the package, saw the reddish Apple logo on each label (rather than the usual green) and put it on my "stereo", a portable job with detachable speakers and tinny sound. Even so, the album sounded marvelous and was a musical delight, although the "Apple Jam" disc was fairly boring. I loved the poignant title song, "Apple Scruffs", "Awaiting on You All", etc. It was almost as good as having a new Beatles album and was a much more pleasant listen than John Lennon's mainstream solo debut would be, when that was released two weeks later.
Flash ahead three decades. With the 30th anniversary of "All Things Must Pass" and "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band" coming up, Bill King asked me to do a retrospective on the two releases for Beatlefan, but this was some months before the CD reissues of either, so I got out my original CDs of each to refamiliarize myself with the albums in context. To my delight, I was surprised at how well "All Things Must Pass" had aged, even using the lousy original U.S. CD version. It still sounded great, the musicianship still shone brightly and lyrics that one might have found preachy in one's younger days now carried a great deal of wisdom (though, unfortunately, we were soon to realize just how profound they were).
A true musical treasure and, arguably, George Harrison's most lasting musical legacy. But I'll always fondly remember that first listen to "All Things Must Pass", all those years ago.