George Harrison Said John Lennon Was a ‘Saintly Looney’ Who Would ‘Deflate’ Any Negative Feeling You Had About Him

George Harrison and John Lennon were not always best friends and bandmates. However, following The Beatles’ split, they repaired their relationship. Along with Ringo Starr, John was the only other Beatle George wanted to be in a band with again. Paul McCartney didn’t get that honor.

George looked up to John and knew who he really was. John could “deflate” any negative feeling a person had about him.

George Harrison and John Lennon at the train station in 1967.
George Harrison and John Lennon | Stephen Shakeshaft/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

George Harrison looked up to John Lennon

Over the years, George and John said and did some brutal things to each other.

During the Let It Be sessions, when George abruptly quit The Beatles after butting heads with Paul McCartney, John immediately suggested the band replace him with Eric Clapton. John and George came to blows when George said some rude words about Yoko Ono too.

John was often critical of George’s work. He was hurt that George barely mentioned him in his 1980 memoir, I Me Mine. He thought he had more of an effect on the younger Beatle’s life.

However, George knew how to deal with John’s often biting remarks. He’d been dealing with them since he joined The Beatles.

In Martin Scorsese’s documentaryGeorge Harrison: Living in the Material World, George explained that he thought John was initially embarrassed having him in The Beatles (then the Quarrymen) because he was so young.

John was three years older than George, who was 15. However, George wowed John with his guitar playing skills.

In Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison, Joshua M. Greene wrote that George initially admired John’s “worldliness, his apparent sexual prowess and aggressive self-assurance, but he never let John’s sarcasm get the better of him. George would simply talk back and ‘give him a taste of his own.'”

George looked up to John. When George organized the Concert for Bangladesh, he was confident enough to do it because John had instilled boldness in him.

“I think that was one of the things that I developed, just by being in the Beatles, was being bold,” George told John Fugelsang at VH1 (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters).

“And I think John had a lot to do with that, you know, cause John Lennon, you know, if he felt something strongly, he just did it. And you know, I picked up a lot of that by being a friend of John’s. Just that attitude of, ‘Well, we’ll just go for it, just do it.'”

George said John knew how to ‘deflate’ any negative feeling you had about him

Despite having bad times, George and John bonded over many things, including spirituality.

John said it was interesting watching George become spiritual. They were the only Beatles who took meditation and chanting seriously at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s retreat in 1968.

John might have wanted to replace George with Clapton, but he later sympathized with George. When The Beatles split, George played on John’s song “How Do You Sleep?”

For years, George and John kept in touch, sending each other postcards. During a 1989 interview with Mark Rowland (per George Harrison on George Harrison), George explained how he stayed friends with John over the years. He said he didn’t take any of John’s negativity to heart because he always apologized for his behavior.

“But John, you know, he was a good lad, he was—there was a part of him that was saintly, that aspired to the truth and great things,” George said. “And there was a part of him that was just, you know… a looney! [Lauaghter.]

“Just like the rest of us! And he had his mood swings and that, but he was basically very honest. If he was a bastard one day, he’d say, ‘Ah well, f*** that, you know, I’m sorry, I was wrong.’ And he’d just deflate any feeling you had against him, any negative feeling. Not like some other people I know who sit on walls … and don’t come clean.”

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After The Beatles split, George often worked with Ringo and once with John.

During a press conference in 1974 (per George Harrison on George Harrison), George said he’d be in a band with John again in a heartbeat. Paul didn’t get the honor.

“John’s gone through all of his scene, but he’s like me, he’s come back around,” George said. “To tell the truth, I’d join a band with John Lennon any day, but I couldn’t join a band with Paul McCartney, but it’s nothing personal. It’s just from a musical point of view.”

George and John last saw each other a couple of years before John’s death in 1980. The older Beatle surprised the younger by playing Indian music (George’s favorite). In the night, George got the horrible call that John died. Initially, George was upset that John’s murderer had cheated him out of a peaceful death, but he soon came to terms with it. He realized John was still with him.