George Harrison Used to Cower Away From a High and Ranting John Lennon
While The Beatles went to Germany, George Harrison spent multiple nights trying to avoid John Lennon’s attention. The band prepared for their performances by drinking beer and taking stimulants. The combination made Lennon aggressive, and he often started looking for a fight. Some nights, Harrison would pretend he was asleep to avoid Lennon’s attention.
George Harrison said John Lennon got aggressive when he took stimulants
In Hamburg, The Beatles played long nights of shows. In order to stay awake and energetic in their performances, they began taking Preludin, a stimulant.
“This was the point of our lives when we found pills, uppers,” Ringo Starr said in The Beatles Anthology. “That’s the only way we could continue playing for so long. They were called Preludin, and you could buy them over the counter. We never thought we were doing anything wrong, but we’d get really wired and go on for days. So with beer and Preludin, that’s how we survived.”
Lennon took them more than his bandmates did. They made him aggressive; he got into fights onstage and once ripped up a woman’s clothes when he found her sleeping with Paul McCartney. Harrison shared that when Lennon got into this sort of state, he tried to avoid his attention.
“He got pretty wired,” Harrison said. “The down, adverse effects of drink and Preludins, where you’d be up for days, were that you’d start hallucinating and getting a bit weird. John would sometimes get on the edge. He’d come in in the early hours of the morning and be ranting, and I’d be lying there pretending to be asleep, hoping he wouldn’t notice me.”
Lennon said the pills made the band act up on stage
Lennon said that taking the pills also made the band aggressive onstage. They sometimes got into fights with each other, but, more often than not, they smashed up the stage they were playing on.
“The things we used to do!” Lennon said. “We used to break the stage down — that was long before The Who came out and broke things; we used to leave guitars playing onstage with no people there.”
He said they were frustrated with their situation and let this out onstage.
“We’d be so drunk, we used to smash the machinery,” he said. “And this was all through frustration, not as an intellectual thought: ‘We will break the stage, we will wear a toilet seat round our neck, we will go on naked.’ We just did it, through being drunk.”
George Harrison later frightened John Lennon with his aggression
Years later, Harrison got similarly worked up at Lennon. They met at the Plaza Hotel in New York. After some tense conversation, Harrison blew up at his former bandmate.
“Then George’s anger really burst forth,” Lennon’s girlfriend May Pang wrote in the book Loving John. “‘Where were you when I needed you!’ he snapped. It was the first of a series of explosions, each of them followed by moments of tense silence.”
Harrison continued to shout at Lennon, getting so worked up that he eventually ripped Lennon’s glasses off his face.
“Suddenly, he reached over, yanked John’s glasses from his face, and dashed them to the floor,” Pang wrote. “His face was a mask of fury and contempt; I had never seen an angrier man. George’s anger even paralyzed John.”