When Paul McCartney had George Harrison play guitar for John Lennon in 1958, George was 14 and looked even younger. Thinking back on those days before The Beatles existed, George noted how he small he was — and how he probably seemed to the 17-year-old John and his art school friends.
“I think he did feel a bit embarrassed about that because I was so tiny,” George told Crawdaddy Magazine in 1977. “I only looked about 10 years old.” But George could play guitar parts from the great Sun Records releases of the day. That was enough to get him into John and Paul’s band.
Two decades later, after the Beatles’ unparalleled success — both as a group and solo artists — John still thought of George as someone he’d helped make. “I think George still bears resentment toward me for being a daddy who left home,” John said in the 1980 Playboy interviews collected in All We Are Saying.
And since he thought their relationship began as “one of young follower and older guy,” John thought he should have had a much more significant place in George’s 1980 book, I Me Mine. John felt disappointed that didn’t happen.
John Lennon felt his influence on George Harrison warranted a much bigger mention in ‘I Me Mine’
I Me Mine, first released in ’80 in a limited edition of 2,000 copies, featured George’s song lyrics along with some autobiographical material and commentary. Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ longtime press officer, helped in the book’s creation with a foreword and narration.
After getting hold of a copy, John didn’t appreciate the lack of Lennon-related content. “By glaring omission in the book, my influence on his life is absolutely zilch and nil,” he said in All We Are Saying. “I was just left out, as if I didn’t exist.”
John noted that George had mentioned other musicians in I Me Mine. However, he didn’t see his own name among them. “He remembers every two-bit sax player or guitarist he met in subsequent years. I’m not in the book.”
Yoko Ono came to George’s defense for the treatment of John in ‘I Me Mine’
While George didn’t include much of anything about John in I Me Mine, he did the same with regards to most things Fab Four. “George more of less omits to tell … what happened in the years of The Beatles,” Blake Morrison wrote in a 2002 Guardian review.
All told, of the 400 pages in I Me Mine, Morrison noted that only 60 count as autobiographical. Clearly, George could have written all about The Beatles but decided against it. So though John felt slighted by the lack of mentions George likely didn’t intend that.
In All We Are Saying, John’s wife Yoko Ono came to George’s defense on this point. “I don’t think he really meant it,” Yoko said. (John had just spoken at length of how George followed him around like a fan in the early years.) “The book was probably edited by people around him.”
When John disagreed, Yoko held her ground. “I think he was strongly not advised to mention–” she continued before John cut her off. “Not mentioned once!” he said. Before the interview ended for the day John asked to add a note.
“I am slightly resentful of George’s book but don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I still love those guys. The Beatles are over but John, Paul, George, and Ringo go on.”