(photo credit: Courtesy)
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.
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
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,
“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.
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
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
For a full Beatles Festival schedule, go to