I was told George Harrison was reluctant to be included in Rolling Stone’ s 25th anniversary portfolio in 1992—something about a mixed review of his 1974 album Dark Horse. He eventually agreed to a quick, simple portrait, but I wanted so badly to win him over. I knew he was an avid gardener and I had a deep appreciation of Paul Caponigro’s photographs of sunflowers, so I planned to bring some. A few days before our session, I did a shoot with Tom Petty for the same issue. When I told him George was on the fence, he said that the way to win George over was to bring ukuleles.
I brought 5. George was quiet but a willing participant. And after the shoot was over, as a gift, he picked up the Martin ukulele and played 20 minutes of Hawaiian love songs for us. The entire team sat down and listened to him. When we were finished, he turned to me and said “we’ll meet someday on the avenue,” and headed to his car with the ukulele—which happened to be the most expensive one. When I told him it was a rental, he said with a wink, “You can bill Jann Wenner,” Rolling Stone’ s editor-in-chief.