George Harrison Said The Beatles Kept Each Other’s Egos at Bay

According to George Harrison, The Beatles kept each other’s egos in check. George once said that he felt bad for Elvis because he was the only person who knew what it was like to be The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. However, the Fab Four didn’t have that issue. They had each other’s backs and depended on one another to get through, even if that meant they had to tell each other they were getting too big-headed.

The Beatles at a press conference in Tokyo, 1966.
The Beatles | JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images

The Beatles kept each other’s egos in check

In a 1987 interview with Creem Magazine, George explained how The Beatles helped each other keep their egos in check.

“The thing is, you see, people get fam­ous for a bit and this is why the Beatles were good,” George said. “We had the four of us–­if one of us would start getting snooty or big­ ‘eaded we’d just broadside him. We weren’t having any of that.”

In Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, Joshua M. Greene wrote, “Reporters frequently asked the band whether all this adulation made them think of themselves as gods. ‘Whenever we start thinking like that,’ they quipped, ‘we just look at Ringo and that brings us back down to the ground.’ That ability to turn the mirror on one another and laugh had been bred in Liverpool.”

“We made fun of ourselves since we figured someone was going to do it anyway, and we might as well do it first,” said George’s sister, Louise. “There was no such thing as a bigheaded Liverpudlian. As soon as you presented yourself as a big shot, all of Liverpool would jump on you. ‘Who do you think you are?'”

While on tour, George often wrote to Louise and added “Big Head” at the end of his sentences “just to bring himself down again and let me know that he wasn’t taking it seriously,” Louise said.

The Beatles kept each other’s egos at bay but also made sure to look after one another.

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The Beatles didn’t just keep each other’s egos at bay

Touring for years during the height of Beatlemania was no joke. The four of them were constantly being chased by screaming fans and being questioned by journalists. They needed to make sure each other was OK.

“We always had a sense of hu­mor,” George told Creem. “When we were left alone, the four Beatles, we had fun and we had a good sense of humor. We took the ups and the downs together and, I think because we had each other, we helped each other from going crazy or having nervous breakdowns.

“Unlike poor old Elvis, who, although he had 59 friends with him, was not the same. He was the only one who experienced what it was like being Elvis, whereas four of us experienced what it was like being fab… If one of us was a bit depressed, there’d always be someone there to jolly them and bring them out a bit.”

However, by 1965, no joke from the rest was going to make George feel better about what was happening around them. Greene wrote, “The Beatles had managed to survive the circumstances of their career thanks to a limitless supply of friendship and an ability to laugh at anything, even tragedy—but the humor had gone out of their lives.”

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George wrote a song about ‘the ego problem’

Once The Beatles stopped touring, they didn’t need to look after one another as much. However, their egos became an issue.

After touring stopped, the band’s biggest problem was how they worked together. Paul McCartney and John Lennon rarely let George come forward with his songs. George once said that he needed to help them record tons of their tunes before they even got to one of his.

Eventually, George became sick of The Beatles’ egos and the world’s. In 1969, while The Beatles were recording Let It Be, George wrote “I Me Mine” after watching a fancy European ball.

“‘I Me Mine’ is the ‘ego’ problem,” George wrote in his memoir of the same name. “There are two ‘I’s: the little ‘i’ when people say ‘I am this’; and the big ‘I’, i.e. OM, the complete whole, universal consciousness this is void of duality and ego. There is nothing that isn’t part of the complete whole.

“When the little ‘i’ merges into the big ‘I’ then you are really smiling! So there is the little ego—the little ‘i’—which is like a drop of the ocean. Swami Vivekananda says, ‘Each soul is potentially divine, the goal is to manifest that divinity.’

“We have to realise that we are potentially divine and then manifest that divinity—which is to get rid of the little ‘i’ by the drop becoming merged into the big ‘I'(the ocean).”

The Beatles might’ve kept each other’s egos in check in the beginning, but that seemed to end toward the end of the band. They didn’t think as a cohesive group anymore. All they wanted was to record their own songs.

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