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When George Harrison didn’t like something, you knew about it. George loved many things, including spirituality, comedy, race cars, gardening, and, of course, music, but he did not like the press. He disliked the press almost as much as he disliked being a Beatle. George had many reasons to hate the press. However, he hated them the most because they misinterpreted him.

George Harrison and Ravi Shankar speaking to the press in 1971.
George Harrison and Ravi Shankar | Leonard Detrick/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

George Harrison called the press ‘dummies’

The press made George an enigma, not him. He didn’t like the media for two reasons. They tread on his privacy, and they misinterpreted him. When he was in The Beatles, George was often quiet during interviews, so the press labeled him as the “quiet Beatle.” But that was wrong. George’s friends and family can attest to how loud he could be. “He never shut up,” his friend Tom Petty told Rolling Stone. “He was the best hang you could imagine.”

Then, when he left The Beatles, he moved to Friar Park, and the press read that as he wanted to be a hermit. But that was far from the truth as well. George loved spending time in his garden, but he was hardly a recluse. However, he was worried about his nervous system. “He just didn’t want to hear loud noise anymore,” Olivia told Rolling Stone. “He didn’t want to be startled.” George also didn’t want to be stressed out anymore.

According to NBC, George once said, “The press are such dummies, generally speaking… There are some great writers that do a useful job. But the whole thing is to sell a paper with some stupid headline. My image comes across like I’m some weird old mystical ex-Beatle.”

Olivia Harrison sets the record straight about George Harrison

In 2002, a year after George died, NBC News’ Katie Couric interviewed George’s widow, Olivia Harrison, from the couple’s estate. Olivia spoke about what her husband was really like. He liked things simple, but that doesn’t mean he was the “quiet Beatle.”

“George had an incredible joie de vivre that might belie sort of the image that a lot of people have of him,” Couric said. “Yes, I mean, anyone who knew him knew how funny he was and lively and, you know, I think he’d had such a heightened experience early on,” Olivia said.

“There was always so much going on. He met a lot of people in his life. And the people he wanted to be around usually had that same quality which was simplicity. He loved people who would look at that Gingko leaf on the ground and say, ‘Wow look at that.'”


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“But he really wasn’t some weird old mystical ex-Beatle was he?” Couric asked. “In some ways, yes,” Olivia said. “No, you know, he was mystical and he was an ex-Beatle. So if you want to put those together, then you’ve got yourself a headline. But, you know, I don’t think that’s a very intelligent way to write about someone. People would say he’s a recluse. He said, ‘No I just don’t go where all the press is. People would say I don’t go out. I just don’t go where they are.'”

Only those who were closest to George will have a better picture of him and his personality. George hated being famous, so it’s natural that he didn’t always have the best relationship with the press.