By: Cindy Annis – June, 2018
I hope you enjoyed the Ringo Starr column, last month. Let’s see if we can pique your interest in moving deeper into the Beatles with George Harrison. George was born in Liverpool, England on February 25, 1943.
His father was Harold Harrison. He did some bus conducting and was also a steward for the White Star Line. The “Titanic” was one of the White Star Line’s ships. His mother was Louise. She was Irish Catholic and she was more or less, a stay at home mom. She worked in shops occasionally, and she taught ballroom dancing on many occasions, also. He had one sister named after her mother, and two brothers. Harold, and Peter. George was the youngest of the four kids.
Music was going to be the biggest part of Harrison’s life. It started before he was born when his mother would listen to “Radio India” This might even be where Harrison first learned to love the sounds of tablas, and sitars. Louise thought this music would actually calm down the unborn, George. His mom wanted nothing more for her children than happiness. She learned early that George was into music.
George, like Ringo Starr, wasn’t born into money. The family lived in what was called a terraced house. Not a lot of space and an outhouse, and the only source of heat was a small coal burning stove used to heat the whole place. However, it was on a dead-end street. They moved to a Council House. This was basically low-income housing. When George was five he went to Dovedale Primary school, which was the local elementary school. When he was about 9 years old, he took something called the Eleven-Plus Exam and he was allowed to attend the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys. He went there from 1954 to 1959. He took the music courses they offered, but he found them unfulfilling as they did not have any guitars in the courses.
George loved music and like everyone, he had his favorites. Cab Calloway and Hoagy Carmichael had a lot of influence on the young George Harrison. As the 1950s came in, George added a couple more names to that playlist. Carl Perkins and Lonnie Donegan also helped shape him in music. There is the story of George having an epiphany early in 1956. While riding his bicycle in the neighborhood, he heard someone playing Elvis Presley’s “Heart-Break Hotel,” and this pointed him straight to Rock & Roll! He said that seeing Slim Whitman was the first time he had ever seen someone playing guitar. Even though his father was not so thrilled with George’s pursuit of a music career, he bought George his first guitar. It was a Dutch Egmond acoustic guitar. He had a friend who taught George how to play a few songs. It didn’t take to long before George, his brother Peter, and a friend named Arthur Kelley started their own Skiffle group called The Rebels.
Remember that Liverpool Institute High School for Boys? I failed to mention a couple of things. First, George had to take the bus to get to school. And second, he met Paul McCartney on that bus as Paul was going to the same school. They had no problems getting along right away, as their interests and love of music was similar.
George joined the Beatles, when the Beatles were still called the Quarrymen. George and Paul McCartney were friends from school and Paul told his bandmate, John Lennon, about him. So, in March of 1958, George went to the Rory Storm’s Morgue Club to audition for a spot with The Quarrymen. The audition went well, but John thought that George was a bit too young as he had just turned 15 years old. Wow! Can you imagine trying out for the Beatles at 15 years old!! Anyways, Paul set up another tryout. This time George would play a song called “Raunchy,” on guitar. This audition was on the upper deck of a bus in Liverpool, running through town. The rest is Beatles history.
In writing about the Beatles as individuals you come up against a very unique problem. Just about everything these guys did as The Beatles is in part of everything they did “after the Beatles.” Just the opposite holds true. Just about everything they did “after the Beatles” shows a certain amount of the Beatles in it. Whether it is in the music, the instrumentation, the lyrics, or the attitude. It came from the Beatles. I am going to try to finish George Harrison bypassing “a very short part of my life.”
You can hear George’s music when you listen to Cindy’s Vinyl Vault.
Remember, we play the best music ever recorded on vinyl. We’re at 980 WCAP Radio every Sunday night at 10:00, Monday night at 11:00 and Wednesday night at 10:00, and remember folks, it’s not how old it is, but how great it sounds!