Louise Harrison was already 11 years old when her youngest brother George was born to their parents in Liverpool. So by the time the future Beatle became interested in music as a young teen, she was already out of the house. In fact, she was married and living far away in Canada.

“I was aware of his first guitar and, in fact, when he first started to learn to play, it was about the time my son Gordon was born in Canada in 1957, and George wrote telling me how pleased he was to have a nephew and that he would teach him to play guitar when he met him,” recalled the 81-year-old Harrison in an e-mail exchange last week with The Jerusalem Post .

Harrison will be making her first visit to Israel as a special guest at the sixth annual Beatles Festival taking place May 1-4 at the Steinberg Music Center in Holon. Curated once again by Beatles aficionado and local radio legend Yoav Kutner, the festival will feature a wide-ranging lineup of artists, including the Liverpool Legends – the tribute band Harrison manages; The Beatles Groove Concert with different interpretations of classic Beatles songs by Gali Atari, Shlomo Gronich, Red Band, Yirmy Kaplan and others; a street festival with Israel’s top Beatles tribute band Magical Mystery Tour; and the Italian duo Musica Nuda.

“Fifty years ago in 1963 was a wild time in the story of The Beatles and music in general,” says Kutner. “At the beginning of the year, the first Beatles album, Please Please Me , was released, and eight months later so was their second album, With The Beatles . Between those two albums, the group transformed from an anonymous band from Liverpool to amazing success in England and other parts of Europe, just before they conquered the US,” he says. “For the sixth Beatles Festival, we decided to change things a little, with an emphasis on guest artists from abroad and on a different, more updated approach to their music.”

Harrison, who has resided in the US since leaving Canada, will provide the authentic link to the grand days of Beatlemania. Recalling George’s early years, she said that their upbringing in Liverpool was loving and close- knit.

“George, just like the rest of our family, was energetic, full of vitality and fun,” she said. “Our parents raised all of us to be confident and make the best use of our natural abilities. We were all encouraged and supported wholeheartedly to strive to be as good as possible at whatever we chose to set our sights on.”

After George became proficient enough on guitar to join John Lennon and Paul McCartney and eventually take an early version of The Beatles to Germany when he was still a minor, the family supported the move wholeheartedly, recalled Harrison.

“Having been taught correct behavior, our parents were not too concerned that any of us would be corrupted by outside influences. So, no, they were not concerned about his trip to Germany,” she said.

Once The Beatles became the biggest band in the world, Harrison journeyed from her Illinois home to see them in New York in 1964. During the next few years of superstardom, George would visit his older sister to momentarily “escape” the frenzy of Beatlemania. Harrison became somewhat of a celebrity herself, hosting a radio show. She continued to have a close relationship with her brother, until in the 1990s, when back in Illinois, she opened the Hard Day’s Night bed and breakfast, which included Beatles and Harrison family memorabilia. George disapproved, and the two siblings didn’t speak for six years, until they reconciled shortly before his death from cancer in 2001.

They ended the visit in what Harrison called “the Harrison hug,” an act of affections she’s willing to share, along with her colorful stories of being part of The Beatles family, with any fans who attend her talk at the opening night of the festival, along with the performance by the Liverpool Legends.

For a full Beatles Festival schedule, go to www.holon.muni.il/Lists/



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