George Harrison Said The Beatles Were Shell-Shocked From the 1960s

George Harrison said The Beatles were shell-shocked from the 1960s. The Fab Four had been through a lot in the peace and love decade. However, they dealt with it in their own way.

The Beatles in London Airport in 1966.
The Beatles | Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

George Harrison said The Beatles kept each other from having nervous breakdowns throughout the 1960s

In The Beatles’ early days, all the group wanted was to make music and make it to the top. When they arrived at the top, they realized it all came with a price. They had no idea how to handle becoming one of the world’s most famous rock ‘n’ roll bands.

Beatlemania blew them away. It was dangerous everywhere they went, and everyone wanted a piece of them. In Martin Scorsese’s documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, George said he and the band were always a bit nervous during each step they went up the ladder, but that was the good thing about being a four-piece; they had each other, especially if things got bad or overwhelming.

In a 1987 interview with Creem Magazine, George explained, “We always had a sense of hu­mor. 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… If one of us was a bit depressed, there’d always be someone there to jolly them and bring them out a bit.”

It also helped that each of The Beatles kept their image and didn’t change because of fame. From the start, they stayed the same and knew how to keep each other’s egos at bay.

In Scorsese’s documentary, Ringo Starr said, “The general atmosphere, we all loved it, we all dug it. We were all in our early 20s, so we were just going with it… You know, The Beatles only ever had one car and two rooms in any hotel between them.

“We got closer together. The bigger it got, the closer we became because from the minute you sort of left the security of your apartment, the heat was on. People wanted a piece, wanted to talk, wanted a photo, wanted to do… And so we sort of kept each other company.”

The band used to have to hole themselves in the bathroom of their hotels to get a break from the “incredible pressure.”

George said The Beatles were ‘shell-shocked’ from the 1960s

In his interview with Creem, George said the years that followed The Beatles were challenging because they were all “shell-shocked” from the 1960s.

Later, in 1979, George talked about the aftermath of being in the band to Rolling Stone. “The Beatles fortunately did that hit-and-run,” he said. “But every year we were Beatling was like twenty years; so although it might only have been five or six years it seemed like eternity. That was enough for me, I don’t have any desire to do all that.

“It might have been fun for everybody else, but we never saw the Beatles. We’re the only four people who never got to see us. [Laughing] Everybody got on a trip, you see, that was the thing. We were just four relatively sane people in the middle of madness. People used us as an excuse to trip out, and we were the victims of that.

“I mean, a lot of the time it was fantastic, but when it really got into the mania it was a question of either stop or end up dead. We almost got killed in a number of situations – planes catching on fire, people trying to shoot the plane down and riots everywhere we went. It was aging me.

“But we had a great time. I think fondly of it all, especially as we’ve been through all the aftermath of Apple. Everybody’s sued each other to their hearts’ content, and now we’re all good friends.”

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George thought it was ‘quite remarkable’ that they all came out of the decade OK

By the 1980s, George’s life had settled down. In 1988, Film Comment asked him, “Establishing a post-Beatles existence can’t have been easy. How are things going for you these days?” The Beatles had gone through a lot in the 1960s. However, they came out of all of it OK.

“On behalf of all the remaining ex-Beatles, I can say that the fact that we do have some brain cells left and a sense of humor is quite remarkable,” George said. “I’ve had my ups and downs over the years, and now I’ve sort of leveled out. I’m feeling good. I don’t get too carried away or too down about anything.”

He continued, “I spend plenty of time planting trees, things like that. I have a lot of good friends, good relationships, plenty of laughs. A lot of funny little diversions that keep things interesting.

“In the late Seventies, I just sort of phased myself out of the limelight. And then all the new generations come up. You get older and change your appearance, and they forget what you look like.”

Coming out of the 1960s meant The Beatles were over. They split in 1970. Once that happened, they didn’t have a safety net in each other. Suddenly, they were alone. So, that could’ve contributed to their hardships of coming out of a hectic decade. Regardless, each of The Beatles got through it and gave fans four great solo careers.