How George Harrison Reacted to the Death of John Lennon’s Mother

At the end of George Harrison‘s life, he knew how he wanted to leave his body. He’d prepared himself for the moment of death for years through Hinduism teachings. When John Lennon was murdered in 1980, George was upset that John didn’t leave his body the right way. Coincidentally, it was through John that George had his first brush with death. Years before John died, his mother, Julia, was killed after being struck by a car, and her death shook George to his core.

George Harrison and John Lennon speaking at a press conference, 1965.
George Harrison and John Lennon | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Months after George Harrison met John Lennon, Julia Lennon died

John asked George to join The Quarrymen in February 1958. However, George had to prove himself to John, who saw him as a kid. George was a kid. At just 15 years old, he’d unknowingly joined what would become one of the most famous rock bands in music history.

George admired John. He was older and, therefore, more experienced in various things like women and performing. But George was a way better musician than the bandleader at the time. He taught John chords and told him his guitar needed more strings.

Goerge, John, and Paul McCartney would go to each other’s houses and practice their music. When they went to John’s aunt Mimi’s house, she eyed George and told John, “You always seem to like the lower-class types, don’t you, John?” John yelled at his aunt. However, John’s mother, who’d given John up to her sister when he was a child, was much nicer. She let the band practice in her bathroom.

However, tragedy struck when Julia was struck and killed in the street by an off-duty policeman that July. Contrary to popular belief, Eric Clague was not drunk, but he was learning to drive. She was the first person George knew to die.

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George was concerned for his own mother after Julia died

According to Joshua Greene’s Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, George was shocked by Julia’s death. It was his first encounter with death, and he was so “shook” that he started to get scared about his own mother.

“George was terrified that I was going to die next,” George’s mother, Louise Harrison, said. “He’d watch me carefully all the time. I told him not to be so silly. I wasn’t going to die.”

George’s reaction to Julia’s death is understandable. He’d never experienced anything like it before. He passed along his condolences to John and his family, but it still felt strange. Greene points out that George is the only Beatle to grow up without divorce or early death.

Paul’s mother Mary died of cancer in 1956, and Ringo’s mother divorced his father when he was three. George came from a stable family and a large one. His mother’s Irish relatives visited often, and he’d perform for them. But just like in The Beatles, George was the baby. His family might have given him more attention as the youngest, but George was going to have to work a little harder being the youngest Beatle.

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George initially had to prove his worth

Paul and John’s friendship was already strong by the time George entered the band. But Julia’s death only brought them together even more. They bonded over having both lost their mothers, something George couldn’t relate. According to John’s sister, Julia, Paul and John grew virtually inseparable during this time and practically “grew into each other’s pockets.”

So being the youngest and the only one who hadn’t had a hard childhood, George was, in many ways, the outsider who had to work especially hard to fit in. However, Greene writes that despite Paul and John’s “unique bond,” there was “no mistaking their cohesiveness.” Even then, John and Paul helped a 15-year-old George get into theaters around Liverpool, which only admitted teenagers over 16.

During these early days in the band, George, John, and Paul really bonded as bandmates, and in a way, Julia’s death helped solidify that bond.