On Tour. A Scary Situation in Tehran

I arrived to play a concert in Tehran in the mid ‘sixties.

The Shah of Persia (Iran) and his new wife Farah Diba were going to be present at the concert.  I had read in the newspapers that, unfortunately, the Shah and his former wife, Queen Soraya, had been asked to divorce because she could not produce an heir to the throne so, after suitable medical examination Farah was selected.

Let me set the scene.  Tehran was in a state of turmoil at the time. There were many strikes and the Shah, being a friend of the British (British Petroleum) and the Americans, according to the newspapers, was being harassed by the proletariat who, rightly or wrongly had decided that they wanted a share of the oil revenues.  Dr. Mossadeq, the prime minister, who had been democratically elected was, in 1953 thrown into prison by the British, and, according to the newspapers had gone mad in prison and died.
So, I arrived at the concert hall, took my bass out of its case and attempted to walk inside.  I was stopped by a black bearded guard holding a machine gun who pointed at my bass and, by signs made me take off the cover. He was later joined by another guard who pointed his gun about six inches away from my head, and his finger was on the trigger!

I had learned by experience in WW ll that machine guns have a hair trigger (or so was the case with the German S.S.) and so I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and did not make any sudden moves.  There were sounds of the orchestra tuning up and the guards looked at each other and decided to let me go, so I proceeded  to the stage, sweating profusely, played the concert, had an uneasy night’s sleep and looked forward to catching the plane back home.

Published in: on April 16, 2007 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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