CLOSE-UP ON A BEATLE - George Harrison

The following article appeared in New Musical Express on August 16, 1963, page 2

George Harrison leaned against a table in Liverpool's Blue Angel club, idly tapping the green baize as he looked through a swirl of cigarette smoke. It was I am...and George was in a reflective mood as we talked about his role in the success store of the Beatles.
He sipped a Pepsi-cola. "You know, the Beatles have always been my career. I had only one other job; lasted two months.
"I left Liverpool Institute when I was 17, then I worked for an electrician. Rewiring and that kind of thing. But I couldn't stick it. I liked music too much.
"Besides, I'd met Paul while I was at school and we both had this interest in guitars. Paul actually had a trumpet at first: I remember we always used to be playing 'When The Saints Come Marching In.' On and on, always 'The Saints'!
'Who knows, the Beatles might have had a 'Liverpool trumpet sound' now, if Paul could have sung and played at the same time! He got himself a guitar in the end, and then we met John. I didn't realise it until recently, but John and I both went to the same primary school, Dovedale Road. We never met until we were 16 or 17.
"At one time-laugh!-I tried to have a group of my own called the Rebels, or some such name.
"Later on I appeared at British Legion halls and working men's clubs with the Quarrymen. They were John, Paul and myself. But it wasn't steady. I did a bit of free-lancing for a while. In fact, at one stage I think I was in about three groups all at the same time!
"I remember when Paul and I used to play guitars, and John would just sing without any instrument. We were on a Buddy Holly kick in those days, with numbers like 'Think It Over' and 'It's So Easy.'
"We certainly had some laughs. We did a Carroll Lewis Discoveries show in Manchester once, and Billy Fury was at the first audition. He was Ronald Wycherly then, and he did 'Margot' for his number.
"I think we were Johnny and the Moondogs at that particular time. You were judged by the audience applause, you know, but we had to catch a train home before the end. We never did find out if we'd won! But Billy passed his audition, I remember that.
"It's funny, the Cavern is a home-from-home for us in Liverpool today, but they didn't used to be too keen on us a few years ago. That was when the place was mostly jazz and skiffle.
"We used to go on and play wild rockers like 'Whole Lotta Shakin',' and they'd pass notes up to the stage telling us to cool down!
"I think 'No Other Baby' was the only country-and-western or skiffle number we knew, so we used to play it over and over again. It got so bad, they wouldn't book us!
"Nothing seemed to happed for a while. I think we broke up, then we got together with a lad named Stuart Sutcliffe. Stu left the group after one of our trips to Hamburg, because he wanted to stay in Germany, where I regret to say, he had since died.
He lit a cigarette. "I remember we had an audience for Larry Parnes once and he sent us to do a date in Scotland. We must have had about eight drum kits by then, because every time we had a new drummer he seemed to leave us with his gear! Paul even did a bit of drumming himself.
"After that we went to Germany. That must have been in August, 1960. I remember it well because the German police discovered I was under age to be working in the clubs, and they had me sent back to Liverpool.
"A few days later the rest of the lads came home, but we didn't get together right aways. In fact, it was a little while before we got some work-and we owe it to Bob Wooler.
"I think Bob must know more about the Liverpool scene than anybody. He's now compere at the Cavern.
"Bob got us this job at a dance hall just after Christmas, 1960. It was funny: we'd spent so much of our time in Germany, nobody knew us. We were billed as 'Direct from Hamburg,' and everybody thought we were German! One girl came up to me and said: 'Aye, don't you speak good English.'"
Someone bought George another Pepsi-cola and he paused to welcome Bob Wooler, who'd just come into the room.
Said Bob: "I'll tell you this about George-he's completely unaffected by his stardom.
"I've written the lyrics to a number Billy J. Kramer has recorded for future release on an LP." I didn't think I'd hear the finished version for some time, but George got hold of a copy and drove four miles to let me hear it.
"That may not seem much, but what struck me was the way he went right out of his way to be helpful."
George looked modest. "Well, you'd do the same for anybody, wouldn't you? I know what it's like when you want to hear how a disc has come out. After we recorded for Polydor in Germany, I didn't stop playing the disc for days.
"Actually, I've an idea we weren't called the Beatles when that German record was released. It was untranslateable, so on the label they called us the Beat Brothers.
"Do I have any hobbies? Well, I'm lucky in that I actually like music. I'm always playing around with my guitar off-stage. Or putting on records.
"Just lately we're all been having a bit of fun with a tape-recorder. John writes down the words-you can't really call it poetry or verse-and then I read it out on the tape. It's weird stuff. I'm not sure that anybody else would know what it's all about!
"We had a great time with the recorder a few weeks ago, when we were with Gerry and the Pacemakers at Weston-super-Mare. We were in a car and Gerry was wearing a big hat and dark glasses, asking people the way to the local golf course. We got some dead funny replies. Just like 'Candid Camera' it was, only in sound!
"Then there's this idea we've got for a go-carting track.
"I was talking to Adam Faith a few weeks ago, and I think he's as keen on it as we are. We might be able to get a few more people interested."
George discounts theories that the Beatles might split up in years to come.
"We've known each other for six or seven years. If we couldn't get along, we'd know it by now all right. I know I'm very happy. Ringo says I'm an irritable so-and-so, but I think he's just having me on.
"I think the future holds a lot. I'd like to invest money and perhaps branch out in different show business ventures.
"I suppose I've been a bit lucky when it comes to songwriting. I haven't bothered in the same way as John and Paul, though I'd like to have a stab at it sooner or later.
"I did actually write one number, if you could call it 'writing.' It was in Hamburg just about the time the Shadows' 'Apache' came out. Somebody asked John and myself how the tune went, and we tried to demonstrate.
"The result wasn't a bit like 'Apache,' but we liked it and we used it in the act for a while. We called it 'Cry For A Shadow'! Now it's on our Polydor EP."
George Harrison doesn't claim to be much of a get-up-and-go Beatle. "I like parties and a bit of fun like anyone else," he says, "but there's nothing better, for me, then a bit of peace and quiet. Sitting round a big fire with your slippers on and watching the telly. That's the life!"

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