Paul McCartney Admired George Harrison’s ‘Ballsiness’ for Head-Butting His Friend Immediately After Meeting Him

George Harrison and Paul McCartney grew up together, bonding over a shared love of music long before either was in The Beatles. McCartney, who was a bit older, looked at Harrison as a younger brother. He explained that he introduced Harrison to his friends at school. When the introductions were made, Harrison head-butted one of McCartney’s friends. 

A black and white picture of Paul McCartney and George Harrison sitting together on a bus.
Paul McCartney and George Harrison | Express Newspapers/Getty Images

The youngest Beatle hated school

When Harrison moved into grammar school, he discovered a newfound vitriol for academia. 

“The Institute was a pretty strict grammar, a top school. Very mixed social strata, but they were all bright. Masters and prefects wore gowns, you wore uniforms and caps; the masters would teach up on a raised platform,” his childhood friend Tony Bramwell said, per the book George Harrison: Behind the Locked Door by Graeme Thomson. “The teachers were very slipper-happy: bend over the desk and get hit.”

A black and white picture of a young George Harrison playing guitar in his family home.
George Harrison | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Harrison had been excited to test into the school but lost his enthusiasm once he arrived. 

“The worst thing was leaving the junior school and going to the big grammar school,” he said. “That’s when the darkness began … where my frustrations seemed to start. You would punch people just to get it out of your system.”

Paul McCartney said George Harrison head-butted his friend

Harrison did take out his frustrations on other students, as McCartney quickly learned. He was older, so he introduced Harrison to his group of friends. 

“I remember we’d been standing around [the] playground and I’d tried to introduce George to Ritter, introduce him to my peer group,” he explained. “And we’d been sitting around and George suddenly head-butted this friend of mine. I thought, F***in’ hell.”

McCartney was on Harrison’s side in the altercation, however. He wasn’t sure of the reason behind Harrison’s actions, but he was certain he had one. 

“Now I’m sure he had a very good reason to do it,” he said. “What might have been construed as good old-fashioned rudeness I had to assume was ballsiness.”

Paul McCartney saw George Harrison as a younger brother

McCartney and Harrison spent time together growing up, and McCartney looked at Harrison as a younger sibling. This caused problems when they joined The Beatles. 

“I tended to talk down to him because he was a year younger,” McCartney said. “I know now that that was a failing I had all through The Beatles years. If you’ve known a guy when he’s 13 and you’re 14, it’s hard to think of him as a grown up.”

In the years after the band broke up, McCartney’s view of Harrison remained similar, but it didn’t negatively impact their relationship. McCartney recalled looking to Harrison as a younger brother in the last moments they spent together.

“I sat with him for a few hours when he was in treatment just outside New York,” he told Uncut. “He was about 10 days away from his death, as I recall. We joked about things – just amusing, nutty stuff. It was good. It was like we were dreaming. He was my little baby brother, almost, because I’d known him that long. We held hands. It’s funny, even at the height of our friendship – as guys – you would never hold hands. It just wasn’t a Liverpool thing. But it was lovely.”

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