Paul McCartney Said It Was Hard to Think of George Harrison as a Grown Up

Paul McCartney and George Harrison met as teenagers and would go on to perform in one of the biggest bands in the world together. McCartney encouraged John Lennon to accept Harrison into his band, The Quarrymen. Harrison looked up to McCartney, but the latter said it was difficult to view his younger bandmate as an adult, even as they aged. This would later create tension in The Beatles.

A black and white photo of Paul McCartney and George Harrison wearing suits. Harrison holds a cigarette.
Paul McCartney and George Harrison | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The two future Beatles met as young teenagers

McCartney and Harrison met as students at the Liverpool Institute. Though McCartney was in the grade above Harrison, they rode the bus together as they lived near one another. During the lengthy trips to school, they bonded over their mutual love of music.

Per the book George Harrison: Behind the Locked Door by Graeme Thomson, Harrison and McCartney began meeting up to play music together. “Not in any group,” Harrison said, “just listening to each other.”

Even after McCartney’s family moved further away, they continued to meet up to play music together. When McCartney joined The Quarrymen with Lennon, he encouraged the group to let Harrison join.

“I know this guy,” McCartney told Lennon. “He’s a bit young, but he’s good.”

Paul McCartney said he often talked down to George Harrison

Lennon wasn’t as sold on Harrison as McCartney, which was primarily due to his age.

“George was the youngest, and it was obvious,” author Tony Bramwell said. “He looked very young, even younger than his years. John Lennon didn’t particularly like him and didn’t want him in the band. He regarded him as too young, a kid, but Paul was pushing for him.”

Harrison could sense that Lennon was embarrassed to be seen around him, but McCartney also treated him differently because of his age. He said that it was difficult to view his younger bandmate as an adult, even in their years in 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.”

Part of Harrison’s problem with The Beatles was the fact that he felt overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney. McCartney’s attitude toward him likely didn’t help this dynamic.

George Harrison said that he wouldn’t play in a band with Paul McCartney again

McCartney’s behavior made Harrison unwilling to be in a band with him again. While he didn’t want to get The Beatles back together, he especially didn’t want to do it if McCartney was involved.

“The point is, it’s all a fantasy, the idea of putting the Beatles back together again,” Harrison said, per the book George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters. “If we ever do that, the reason will be that we are all broke … I’d rather have Willie Weeks on bass than Paul McCartney. That’s the truth, with all respect to Paul.”

Still, the two men were able to repair their relationship in the years after The Beatles disbanded.

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