1 of George Harrison’s Earliest Memories Involves Him Performing for His Family

Music was in George Harrison before he was even born. While pregnant with George, Louise Harrison would tune into the weekly broadcast called Radio India, hoping that Eastern music (which her son would eventually fall in love with) would bring “peace and calm” to her unborn son. Playing George music while in utero must have done something because he developed a deep love of music early on. The Harrison household always had tunes playing, and George started performing for his family at a young age. It’s one of George’s earliest memories.

George Harrison playing guitar at Twickenham Film Studios in 1964.
George Harrison | Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns/Getty Images

George Harrison’s earliest memory involves him performing for his family

According to Joshua Greene’s Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, one of George’s earliest memories was “standing on a leather stool and singing folk singer Josh White’s ‘One Meatball’ to his family’s great delight.”

“He had these animal puppets,” his sister, Louise, said, “and he’d do skits with them for us. He was funny and outgoing and the family doted on him.” Louise said her brother had fun growing up and was “always the center of attention.”

George’s mother, who later became one of his biggest fans, would wash him in an old zinc tub filled with water heated on the stove. When George was all dressed, he’d “entertain a constant traffic of family and friends with songs and skits,” Greene wrote. Louise came from a large Irish family, so little George never had any shortage of audience members. Everyone would crowd around a gramophone at family parties too.

George Harrison and The Beatles performing in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962.
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George Harrison’s mother helped him get his first guitar

When George was 10, Louise allowed him to buy a beginner’s guitar from a boy at school for 3 pounds, 10 shillings, which was a lot of money back then. Initially, George’s father, Harold, also supported his son’s love for music and arranged for George’s first guitar lessons.

“His father had a friend who ran a pub and played guitar, and he showed George how to finger chords to tunes from the twenties and thirties such as ‘Dinah’ and ‘Whispering,'” Greene wrote. When George struggled, his mother would stay up all night reassuring him that if he practiced enough, he’d be great one day. Eventually, all George wanted to do was practice, and he did until his fingers bled and the cheap guitar’s neck bent.

Louise promised to get George a better guitar, but Harold became concerned that George would want to pursue music as a career. Something he didn’t deem practical.

George focused more on music than his school work

Music became so important to George that he started slacking off at school. George would sit at the back of the class at the Liverpool Institute and doodle guitars and chords in his notebook instead of doing his school work. He’d rush to the gramophone and play hits from Jimmie Rodgers, Big Bill Broonzy, and Slim Whitman when he got home.

“It’s hard to realize that there are kids like I was,” George said according to Greene, “where the only thing in their lives is to get home and play their favorite records.”

George Harrison practicing his guitar wearing black in 1964.
George Harrison | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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“He sang silly tunes with names such as “I’m a Pink Toothbrush, You’re a Blue Toothbrush” and yodeled along with Hank Williams on “Blue Yodel 94″ until the musical stew grew so mouthwatering that he couldn’t be without it for long,” Greene wrote.

At school, George felt that teachers had nothing to teach him. They just wanted to turn students into “rows of little toffees.” Soon, his teachers didn’t know what to do with him as he had no work to show for himself, only his little doodles. Eventually, George just dropped out.

Later, George’s school friend, Paul McCartney, asked him to audition for John Lennon’s band, The Quarrymen. He wowed his audience and joined what would become The Beatles. After that, George was no longer singing songs or putting on skits for his family at parties. He was playing to thousands of screaming fans.