Beatlemania in 1964: ‘This has gotten entirely out of control’ - By Al Aronowitz
”[…] George Harrison is the youngest of the Beatles. ‘He doesn’t have the maturity of the others, so he tends to play it a little safe,’ says a member of the troupe. ‘It’s as if he is the baby of the family.’ Being the baby of the family is a role to which George is accustomed. The son of a bus driver, he is the youngest of four children. ‘George was always the one who tried to please,’ says his sister, Mrs. Louise Caldwell, the pretty platinum-blond wife of an engineer who lives in the Midwest. ‘When the fire needed more coal, he would always say, “Mummy, I’ll do it. Let me get the shovel.” Or, when we’d be going to church, George would polish everyone’s boots.’
George plays lead guitar for the Beatles, often with a look of unconcern that seems to reflect a desire to be strumming elsewhere. ‘Well,’ he says, ‘the songs that Paul and John write, they’re all right, but they’re not the greatest.’
His boyhood idols were guitarists Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy, although he recently discovered Andres Segovia. He listens on the radio to other pop artists from the start of his day, which often begins when road manager Aspinall drags the boys out of bed at 10:30 to keep some 10 A.M. date. He keeps a transistor radio in his hand, even during conversations. He adjusts the volume according to his interest in what is being said.
'You have to be very careful of what you say to George,' says disc jockey Murray (the K) Kaufman of New York's WINS, who glad-handed the Beatles when they stepped off the plane in New York and who was George's roommate when the Beatles travelled to Miami Beach. 'You have to be sure that every word means what you want it to mean. He takes what you say very literally.'
'George, as a matter of fact,' says manager Brian Epstein, 'is the only one who asks questions. He's the only one who takes an active interest in the business aspect of the Beatles. He wants to know how I book them, how the discs are distributed, and everything that has to do with the financial working.'
George’s ambition, he says, is to retire with ‘a whacking great pile of money.’ He recalls that in the early days of the group in Liverpool, ‘we got what would work out to two dollars a night apiece – and all the soda we could drink. We drank until that stuff came out of our ears, to make sure we got our money’s worth.’
Although by no means the quietest of the Beatles, because none of them really is quiet, George remains the least prominent. At a press conference for fan magazines in New York’s Plaza Hotel, a young woman asked, ‘Mr. Starr is known for his rings, Mr. McCartney obviously for his looks, and Mr. Lennon for his wife. What about you, Mr. Harrison? ‘George swallowed a bite of chicken sandwich, fluttered his long eyelashes in the same manner that Paul often does, and answered, ‘As long as I get an equal share of the money, I’m willing to stay anonymous.’” - Rock’s Back Pages, via The Guardian [x]