George Harrison's sister pens memoir of her kid brother's band
BY JOHN WIRT
Aug. 23, 2015
Photo provided by Webster Public Relations -- Louise Harrison has written a memoir, 'My Kid Brother's Band: aka The Beatles.'
In her memoir, “My Kid Brother’s Band: aka The Beatles,” George Harrison’s older sister, Louise, presents an insider’s take on The Beatles.
The book includes Harrison’s memories of her family’s pre-Beatles life in Liverpool, England, and her 1963 publicity work for The Beatles in the United States, where the group still was unknown.
When Harrison, then an Illinois resident, pitched the early Beatles recordings to U.S. radio stations, “I was invariably told, ‘Oh, this stuff’s no good. Nobody’s ever going to want to listen to that.’ But, as my dad taught me, if you believe in something, you keep at it,” she said from her home in southern California.
Photo provided by Webster Public Relations -- Louise Harrison
The Beatle sister’s book also recounts her chaotic WTIX-sponsored visit to New Orleans in March 1965. The local radio station was one of about 20 stations in the U.S. that broadcast her “Daily Beatles Reports.”
Harrison’s eventually syndicated radio show began after her visit with her brother during The Beatles’ first trip to the U.S. That visit happened in February 1964, when the group debuted on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and played its first two U.S. concerts.
In New Orleans in 1965, WTIX brought Harrison to downtown department store Godchaux’s. It was one of the many radio station-sponsored appearances she made during the “Daily Beatles Report’s” 18-month run.
Response to her New Orleans visit echoed the hysteria The Beatles inspired in September 1964 when they performed at City Park. At Godchaux’s, the crush of Beatles fans forced Harrison’s planned appearance in the bridal department into a much less elegant storage room.
“Too many fans would get into the elevator at the same time and it wouldn’t move,” Harrison recalled with a laugh. “They had to bring me up in the maintenance elevator. It was absolute bedlam, that whole day.”
During the visit, Harrison and her husband met New Orleans music star Al Hirt.
“He wanted to meet me because all his kids were big Beatles fans,” she said.
Hirt invited the Harrisons to watch a Mardi Gras parade from his hotel room balcony.
“It was quite interesting,” she recalled. “Some really strange looking things going by.”
Harrison’s book also details the under-the-radar visit her brothers, George and Pete, made to her home in Benton, Illinois, in September 1963.
Harrison’s mother in England mailed The Beatles’ early recordings to her, first to Canada and then, after Harrison’s mining engineer husband got a new job in Illinois, the U.S.
“The thing about my mother is this: She wasn’t one of those mothers who thought everything her kids did was perfect,” Harrison said. “If she had a son who was in a band, and they were playing music in the evening at a couple of pubs, mum would have just said, ‘George is in a little band and they’re having fun.’
“But when mum talked to me about The Beatles, she said, ‘They have put a band together that is absolutely incredible.’ She believed that.” Nonetheless, Harrison wasn’t so impressed with 1962’s “Love Me Do,” the first record her mother sent.
“But when I got ‘Please Please Me,’ the second one, I thought, ‘Wow. That does make quite an impact.’ ”
Harrison was 11 when George, her youngest brother, was born.
“His interest in music didn’t really come along, specifically for the guitar, until I left the house,” she said. “But I was always impressed with him.”
George contracted the kidney disorder nephritis when he was about 12, she said. During a Sunday afternoon visit to his hospital room by the Harrison family, George’s friends and others, his older sister Louise noticed how considerate he was with the many well wishers.
“There were four or five different groups of people, all there around his bed,” she said. “But at no time did he leave anybody out. He chatted a little bit with this one, that one, having the appropriate conversation with each of these different groups.
“Everybody was made to feel welcome, to feel that their presence was very much appreciated. I remember thinking, ‘For a 12-year-old kid, he is very much the diplomat.’ Most politicians would be thrilled to have those skills.”
**FILE** The British rock and roll group The Beatles are seen during their first U.S. tour in this 1964 file photo. The band members, from left to right, are George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. The Beatles' Apple Corps company has settled a royalties dispute with record label EMI, the two companies said Thursday, April 12, 2007, raising hopes that Beatles recordings may soon be legally available online. (AP Photo, file)