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George Harrison wrestled with his ego, but he wouldn’t have wanted anyone to erect a statue of him. However, one of his fellow townsfolk thought he deserved one, at least for his efforts in making Henley-on-Thames a better place for everyone.

Thankfully, George’s wife, Olivia, knew what George would say and agreed.

George Harrison and his wife, Olivia, coming out of the Marylebone Register Office after Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach got married in 1981.
George Harrison and his wife, Olivia | Bryn Colton/Getty Images

A campaign to erect a statue of George Harrison started in 2012

In 2012, Henley-on-Thames resident James Lambert planned to erect a statue of George. The ex-Beatles had lived at Friar Park in the town since 1970. George saved it from demolition and lived there with his wife, Olivia, and their son, Dhani.

According to Rolling Stone, Lambert “wanted to formally recognize Harrison’s links to the town.” The statue would have honored George’s civic contributions, not his legacy as a rock star.

After starting a petition for the statue, Lambert told the BBC, “He really is an icon in Henley. It seems strange that nothing has been created to acknowledge his presence and the work that he did for the town.”

“George really got involved in a lot of community matters,” Lambert continued. “He helped to try and save the local cinema, he worked with a lot of local businesses and communities to try and raise their profiles… he rescued the local garden centre by buying all the plants.”

Lambert envisioned George’s statue to resemble the statues of Roosevelt or Churchill.

The BBC reported that the town councilor Martin Akehurst said he would support the statue. “I think there is a price to be paid for fame and yet still he was able to do a lot for the town,” he said.

However, George’s widow swiftly scrapped the idea.

George’s widow, Olivia, scrapped the idea of the statue

Lambert wrote to George’s widow, Olivia, about the idea of erecting a statue of her husband. However, she met him with an unexpected response. She replied that erecting a statue wouldn’t be the best way of showing appreciation for George.

“After many years of ­thoughtful consideration, and with great appreciation of the sentiment towards George, we have decided that a more appropriate way of honouring his memory in Henley would be to support a community project,” Olivia told the Daily Mirror. “We will announce the details in the summer.”


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Lambert was upset about Olivia’s decision but understood

Despite all the hard work it took getting the 2,000 signatures for the petition, Lambert understood Olivia’s decision.

“It is a shame that there is no ­possibility of having a ­memorial statue but obviously we have to take into ­account Olivia’s ­personal ­feelings,” Lambert told the Daily Mirror. “The statue wasn’t supposed to be a worldwide salute to him, but more of a nod from Henley for the work that he ­specifically did for the town and the fact that he loved ­living here.”

“Something more low-key gives everyone an opportunity to ­recognise George was a really big part of Henley and would let us show that kind of appreciation.”

Plus, Lambert understood that having a statue would bring more people to the quiet town. “And I think the danger was it wouldn’t just become a Henley acknowledgment of George’s work but would encourage more people to visit Henley,” Lambert told the BBC.

“I think what she’s suggesting in terms of a community project would be great and it’ll be very exciting to see exactly how this transpires.”

George got a statue with his fellow Beatles, in Liverpool in 2015. Now, the group’s manager, Brian Epstein, is set to get his statue in Liverpool too. Jane Robbins, Paul McCartney’s cousin, is one of the sculptors on the project. She told the BBC that he seemed “delighted” about it.

Still, it’s good that Olivia scrapped the George statue mostly because he wouldn’t have wanted it. George was a pretty humble person who didn’t like drawing attention to himself. He certainly wasn’t thinking about getting a statue as he was trying to help the town. That would go against all of George’s beliefs.