Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

O’Dell recalls friendships, travels with the Beatles

Credit: Hubanks
Photos by Hubanks

While a Touchstone press release blurb referred to Chris O’Dell’s book, “Miss O’Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and the Women They Loved”, as “the ultimate fly-on-the-wall rock memoir,” O’Dell hopes that readers take it as more than just a history of rock and roll.

“I hope that people will feel they are there with me on the journey and really connect to it,” she said in an interview. “Most of the book is about relationships, addiction, forgiveness . . . it’s about the human experience.”

O’Dell’s co-author Katherine Ketcham also had some ideas.

“I think Chris’s story also shows how drugs can obstruct these relationships,” said Ketcham. “It’s also about her experience during an incredible era and . . . how many challenges and joys a young person can face.”

20091116-02-chrisodell-webO’Dell, an addiction recovery counselor and hynotherapist, shared her story on Monday, Nov. 16, in Maxey Auditorium with Whitman and the Walla Walla community about her experiences the music business, addiction and the intimate relationships she formed with the Beatles and other rock and roll legends.

Initially a personal assistant at the multimedia corporation Apple Corps Ltd, she worked for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. She later worked as a tour manager for Bob Dylan and her good friend George Harrison, among others. Eventually she traveled with groups such as Queen and Santana as the translator and co-owner of a Frankfurt promotion company.

O’Dell hoped that the student audience would be interested in her because they would connect to her story as a young adult, not just for the scoop on rock legends.

“A lot of what this is about is the time of youth . . . trying to decide what you want to do with your life,” said O’Dell.

“I think the fact [is] that life is so open to possibilities when you are 20 years old, but you feel like you’re on a track,” said Ketcham. “What her story says to me is how opportunities are offered if you have an open mind.”

O’Dell’s tumultuous journey was surrounded by drugs and rock and roll but also by passionate people interested in cultural change and the music they made.

“Apple was like Google is now,” she said. “It was full of young people who were in [the music business] out of love for the music and wanting to be around it.”

Chris also highlighted the dramatic change in the music industry from when she first came into the business to after the ’70s.

“Eventually, as I got older, the passion for me just wasn’t there anymore and I just sort of outgrew it,” said O’Dell. “The music industry changed so that I couldn’t return to it now. I was actually invited to a tour in 2004 and by the end of it . . . I was just exhausted and sick.'”

Aside from the business aspects, she discussed many intimate friendships with George Harrison and his former wife, Pattie Boyd: who is still her best friend, Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan.

Her experience with some of the most beloved bands was candid and sweet-hearted rather than simply tabloid gossip.

“These people, particularly George and Pattie [Harrison]  . . . were my friends, people I loved and still love,” said O’Dell. “I never wanted it to be a tell-all . . . because we built a ring of trust and I think I upheld that.”

O’Dell’s joyful memories and insight made the legendary figures of the ’60s and ’70s into real people: comparable even to Whitman’s frat brothers, roommates, classmates and best friends.

“We were kind of like a traveling college,” said O’Dell, laughing. “No matter what happened during this period: the drugs, the drinking, the free love: I can look back on it with happiness that I got to experience it.”

This connection with both the baby-boomers and our generation made for a reflective, entertaining and inspiring night. For more information on O’Dell, go to www.chrisodell.net or www.missodell.com.

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