Why It Was Complicated for George Harrison to Go See Paul McCartney Perform in 1989

George Harrison said it was complicated to see his former bandmate, Paul McCartney perform in 1989. The ex-Beatles didn’t have the best relationship before and after they went their separate ways following the band’s split in 1970.

Paul McCartney and George Harrison at a press conference in 1964.
Paul McCartney and George Harrison | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

George Harrison said he and Paul McCartney didn’t have a relationship

In 1988 George had some conflicting thoughts on Paul. He said they were tentatively rebuilding their relationship during an interview on Aspel & Co.

“I didn’t really know Paul and never really saw much of him through the last 10 or 12 years,” George explained. “But more recently, we’ve been hanging out and getting to know each other, going for dinner and meeting and having a laugh.”

Meanwhile, George was displeased with Paul’s refusal to attend The Beatles’ Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction.

He told Ray Martin (per George Harrison on George Harrison), “Paul is a hypocrite sometimes because right before we had that Hall of Fame thing, you know, we’d not been friends for a number of years and we spent a long time really getting to know each other again, and it was so sad really that Paul should use an old business kind of thing and superimpose it on that situation with the Hall of Fame.”

In 1989, it didn’t seem like George and Paul’s efforts to be friends again succeeded. George told Mark Rowland that he didn’t have a relationship with Paul. It was nothing personal, though.

“I think of him as a good friend, really, but a friend who I don’t really have that much in common with anymore,” George said. “You know, sort of like you meet people in your life who mean a certain thing; it’s just like you’re married, and then you’re divorced, and you wish the other person well, but life has taken you to other places, to friendlier … whatever the expression is … confines.”

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It was complicated for George to see Paul perform

Regardless of how George felt about Paul, he couldn’t go and see his former bandmate perform in 1989.

Rowland asked George, “You’re not planning to go to his show or anything?”

George replied, “No. You mean, just because I happen to be in LA while he’s here? No, I don’t want to go to his show because I’ve heard all them tunes anyway. And secondly, I was not in town when Ringo did his show and I would have loved to have really seen that, and I don’t want Ringo to think that I’m not supporting him and I’m supporting Paul.

“And at the same time, I’m here anyway; I’ve come to town to do what I’ve got to do. But I wish him well, and there’s always a place in my heart for Paul and Linda… and Hamish [McCartney guitarist Hamish Stuart].”

Another time, George and Paul were in the same vicinity and didn’t meet up. However, that’s because they didn’t know they were in the same place.

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The former bandmates didn’t know they were in the same place at the same time, and the press made a rumor

George explained on Aspel & Co. that he and Paul were simultaneously in the same place. Since they didn’t meet up, the press made a rumor that they were feuding.

“It’s absolutely not true what they said in the News of the World, last Sunday,” George said. “Somebody… actually, I was in San Remo the day before Paul arrived, and I got a phone call from somebody, the Daily Mail phoned up and they said, ‘George.’ I said, ‘No, sorry, George just left,’ and I pretended I was somebody else.

“They said, ‘There’s some people down here who are trying to get this rumor started about you and Paul….’ So, I told him that we weren’t … the reason why we weren’t there together was because we didn’t even know each other was going to be there anyway, and we all were there on different days.

“But it’s definitely just one of those things that these people sit around and think, ‘Let’s have a fight between George and Paul, now,’ you know. But actually, I love Paul, he’s my mate, and it doesn’t matter what they say in the papers, they’re not going to get much mileage out of that one.”

George and Paul eventually got over whatever drama between them (if there were any). They reunited with Ringo Starr and recorded two new Beatles songs, “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” in the 1990s. Thankfully, by the time George died in 2001, the former bandmates had no bad blood.

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