Rainbow George: Hampstead 'dreamer' dies at 81

George Weiss outside the old Café Rouge, one of his favourite Hampstead spots

George Weiss outside the old Café Rouge, one of his favourite Hampstead spots - Credit: Polly Hancock

Rainbow George, the “godfather of Hampstead eccentrics”, has died aged 81.

“A dreamer and schemer”, George Weiss was renowned for his unorthodox political ambitions based on grand visions of utopia and world peace.

The ardent Newcastle fan died peacefully in his sleep at a Highgate residential home on Wednesday (December 1).

His loss has been described as the “end of an era” for Hampstead’s hippie culture of the '70s and '80s.

“It was almost a rite of passage getting to know George,” former Culture Club drummer Jon Moss told the Ham&High. 

“It separated the type of people in Hampstead – those who knew George and thought he was great, and then the others who just thought he was a weirdo.  

“He was a very kind man. He was a dreamer... but maybe we need more people like George in the world.”

George with his collection of recordings. Cassettes, videos and press cuttings took up an entire wall in his flat

George with his collection of recordings. Cassettes, videos and press cuttings took up an entire wall in his flat - Credit: Polly Hancock

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In 1969 Rainbow George, the son of a diamond merchant, rented a flat in Perrin’s Walk.  

After a dispute over a hole in the roof he stopped paying rent, his landlord “disappeared”, and in 2004 he won squatters’ rights on the property – before he sold it for £710,000. 

Within years, the maverick managed to squander the money on outlandish attempts to win political power.  

On one occasion the Coffee Cup regular chartered a plane on which he planned to host a month-long party around the world, before being forced to cancel.

Rainbow George and singer-songwriter John Otway

Rainbow George and singer-songwriter John Otway - Credit: Polly Hancock

In 1991 he founded his own party, the Vote for Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket.  

The outsider stood in European and general elections including in 2005 when he appeared in 13 constituencies but only polled 1,289 votes in total.  

His final shot for Parliament, following a “Rainbow Alliance” with Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony Party, came in 2017.  

“He was trying to change politics,” said Chris Townsend, the owner of Map Studio Cafe in Kentish Town. 

“We would sit and talk for hours, it was always about his idea of bringing down the walls of countries and joining together as one.  

“He had a political philosophy that there should be no governments and that we should look after ourselves. It's difficult for people to comprehend... he had that hippie mentality.” 

George (left) pictured in 2017 in Camden Town during his political campaigning

George (left) pictured in 2017 in Camden Town during his political campaigning - Credit: Polly Hancock

Bill Drury, the son of Ian Drury from The Blockheads, said: “Dad loved him to bits. George was just a beautiful character that shared a lot of stories, but a lot of beautiful stories as well.   

“He had a great heart... he wanted to connect with people through his dreams.” 

Another big part of George’s life was phoning into radio stations under various pseudonyms such as Sterling Silver. He became a regular feature on LBC with Clive Bull alongside comedian Peter Cook, his friend and neighbour, who would sometimes pose as a Norwegian fisherman called Sven.

George recorded many of his conversations over the years from his flat. These included his ramblings with Cook, and Bronco – a homeless man who was part of the free-spirited trio.

The famous associates of “gentle George” included businessman Charles Saatchi, comedian Russell Brand, former snooker player Alex Higgins and the late Newcastle legend Jackie Milburn, who George nearly convinced to stand for election for his Rainbow party.

Rainbow George with one of his tapes

Rainbow George with one of his tapes - Credit: Polly Hancock

Sebastian Wocker, editor of the Hampstead Village Voice, said: “George would quote John Lennon a lot. He was into the ‘Imagine’ philosophy.  

“He was a Hampstead classic. His death is a defining, end-of-era moment in that he was a true bohemian and a true dreamer... the antithesis of the new Hampstead set.

“It wasn't about money, it was about love ultimately. He is the godfather of Hampstead eccentrics.”

Jon Moss recalled one of his favourite memories: “George was the only man in the country to ever be pronounced ‘not very guilty’ at Hampstead magistrates court, which is quite an achievement.  

“He went down there and had a massive joint, about a foot-long as he sat on the stairs of Hampstead police station.  

“This was in the 1970s when things like that were taken quite seriously, but they told him to p*** off because he was just trying to get publicity. He would do anything for publicity.”   

On May 27, the final post of Rainbow George Weiss on Facebook said: "I used to be Agile, but now I'm Fragile, ever closer to the End, Going round the RainbowBend, my life sentence will soon be Over, looking forward to being back in Clover, with my Spirit's guide, my Soulmate on the Other Side." 

Send tributes and photos of George to michael.boniface@archant.co.uk / 07805 403 545

"Farewell George. He was one of a kind" 

"Farewell George. He was one of a kind" - Credit: Polly Hancock

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