George Harrison and Eric Idle Disturbed Norman Lear and His Wife by Playing Music at a Hotel in the British Virgin Islands

If anyone knows that George Harrison wasn’t the “quiet Beatle,” it’s TV producer Norman Lear. While vacationing in the British Virgin Islands in 1976, George and his friend, Monty Python comedian, Eric Idle were a little too loud for their neighbor in their hotel.

George Harrison wearing a jacket and scarf on the beach in Cannes, France, 1976.
George Harrison | Michael Putland/Getty Images

George Harrison and Eric Idle disturbed Norman Lear

In her introduction to the reissue of George’s memoir, I Me Mine, George’s wife, Olivia, wrote about an especially enchanting vacation they took in the British Virgin Islands in 1976.

It was a great time for them. However, it wasn’t for Lear, the producer of shows like All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

“I remember Eric Idle joined us on that holiday,” Olivia wrote. “One afternoon we were playing a song on a small cassette player, when I answered a knock on our door. Television producer Norman Lear introduced himself and told us that that music was too loud and disturbing his wife who was trying to write.

“(The year was 1976, before the days of laptops, so we’d been holidaying with the clacking of the typewriter next door and were hoping she was writing letters and not a book.) This minor conflict briefly put a damper on things, since it wasn’t as much fun knowing the people next door were grumbling about us.”

Lear complained about George and Idle’s noise. However, when he found out who he was complaining about, his attitude quickly changed.

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Lear learned who his neighbors were and swiftly apologized

The TV producer might have caused a damper on George, Olivia, and Idle’s holiday, but he quickly made amends.

“The next day Norman found out it was George Harrison playing the music and again knocked on our door, this time apologising and pleading for George to play as much music as he liked, not that he and Eric needed much encouragement, since they always travelled with acoustic guitars.”

Thankfully Lear gave his blessing for the music to commence because George wrote some great songs on that vacation.

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George wrote ‘Soft Touch’ while in the British Virgin Islands

That year, vacationing in the British Virgin Islands allowed the creative juices to flow for George. While there, Olivia said he wrote “Soft Touch.”

“His short paragraph about the writing of that song describes the mood and what was going on around us, but for me there is so much more on that page, both in sentiment and notation-just tiny notes that speak to me,” Olivia wrote in her introduction. “At the bottom of the second page of the ‘Soft Touch’ lyrics he printed ‘Bridge (noch einmal)’-German for ‘one more time.’

“George used this phase occasionally from the time that they (The Beatles) used to shout it from the stage when they played in Hamburg.” Olivia continued to write, “George loved the tropics and was always happiest there. He was inspired and wrote several songs during those days.”

We’re glad Lear told George to continue playing. If he didn’t, we might have gotten some great music.

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