A black & white photo has circulated around the internet for years. It shows former Beatle George Harrison wearing a Roto-Rooter T-shirt. The event was the July 16, 1975 U.S. movie premiere of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. George is flanked by his then girlfriend (later his wife), Olivia Arias, and English comedian, Eric Idle, one of the stars of Monty Python. Fellow Python alumnus, Terry Gilliam is pictured on the far right.
In 1975, George Harrison was one of the biggest music stars in the world. It was only five years after the breakup of The Beatles. George had already put out five solo albums and was about to release a sixth. His stock, as they say, was very high at the time. So, the obvious question is why was he wearing a T-shirt promoting Roto-Rooter, an American sewer & drain cleaning company?
In fact, George had a reputation for enjoying offbeat T-shirts. With that knowledge, the Roto-Rooter shirt was given to him three days before the Monty Python U.S. premiere by a group of female fans, including Patti Claire and Susan Janes. The girls had been waiting for him outside the A&M Record studio in Santa Monica, California.
According to a Beatles insider blog, and its post called The Dark Horse and Roto-Rooter, one of the girl fans named Debbie, obtained the Roto-Rooter shirt with the intention of giving it to George Harrison. But, what the blog doesn’t explain is why “Debbie” chose a Roto-Rooter shirt. It also doesn’t explain whether she had any connection to the Roto-Rooter brand. I’ve made inquiries to the blogger and I’ll update this blog post if I get additional information on this topic.
Fan reaction to George wearing the Roto-Rooter T-shirt is always fun to read. One fan joked that “Crackerbox Palace must’ve had clean drains,” referring to George’s solo 1977 hit song, Crackerbox Palace.
Did George Harrison ever use Roto-Rooter’s services? It’s possible, but we don’t know for sure. George had two homes, one in Henley-on-Thames, England and another in Hana, Hawaii. Roto-Rooter had franchises serving the UK and Hawaii by the early 1980s, but there are no records indicating Roto-Rooter ever got George out of a plumbing jam. Fan chats on the web indicate George was frequently seen wearing his Roto-Rooter T-shirt, and for that we’re eternally grateful and honored.