Why do you think the relationship between George and Paul is the most interesting of all The Beatles? I feel like it is the relationship that’s talked about the least.
Yes, I agree – it is one of the very least talked about relationships, especially when you think of how much is said and written about John and Paul’s relationship. Maybe because people think it’s quite straightforward what went on with George and Paul – they were friends, then they weren’t, then they were again, though a little strained at times – but actually I think there’s a lot more going on there when you look at it.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think George and Paul became friends first, out of all the Beatles. They met on the bus to school and their friendship grew out of a mutual love for guitars and music. They were in different years at school, but that didn’t matter, and when Paul got into the Quarrymen, it was George he suggested that John recruit next. John wasn’t keen on letting him in, but I think Paul’s coaxing played a large part in John giving in and letting him join (and the fact that George was amazing on guitar, of course).
I think – at least from George’s point of view – his friendship with John was “unequal”. John was the older lad and he was always the leader and although George himself might disagree, I think George did look up to John and idolised him a bit, especially when they were younger (pre-fame). But I think George saw Paul as an equal, and Paul didn’t see George as his equal – which was a source of conflict for them.
I could write and write about the end of the 60s and the break up of the band, but I’ll try and keep it short (!) There’s a lot made about George and Paul’s infamous row during the Let It Be film, but I think so much emphasis is placed on that because it was filmed and documented. I don’t think it was all that unusual for George and Paul to have an argument. It wasn’t the first and it wasn’t the last. It was a fight with John that actually made George walk out and quit.
I think it was the ultimate break up of the band that George was angry with Paul over for so long – when Paul announced to the press that he’d quit the band by means of his solo album promo. I think over all the musical differences and whatever else, that’s what George was angry about the most, then came the court battles, which didn’t help matters. I’ve posted this before, but look at this photo –
George and Paul meeting for the first time socially after the break up of the band at Paul’s launch party for Venus and Mars in 1975. Doesn’t Paul’s face tell a story? I think he looks surprised but wary (maybe because George is trying to steal his drink?! Or conversely, he’s giving him a drink..?) I’m guessing Paul didn’t invite George. I think he crashed the party (a very George thing to do).
If you’re lucky enough to have a close friend who you might not see for months and months, but then when you do meet up with them again, it feels like only minutes have passed since you last saw them – then I think you’ll understand this, because I think that’s what Paul and George were like. I’ve said I think it was John dying that made them come closer again – probably made them realise they weren’t immortal and that life is short (and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend). I’m really glad that they did the Anthology project together before George died. I think that was cathartic and reminded all of them that The Beatles were amazing, and I really cannot believe the “he only did it for the money” rubbish. That’s not George.
[EDIT: I want to clarify the point above. A lot of people say George only participated in the Beatles Anthology project because he needed the money. Whereas, it’s true that could be George’s main reason for agreeing to it in the first place (because, c’mon, it’s George) I don’t believe it was his only reason, and I think during the project, George fell in love with the Beatles again. It was therapeutic for all of them, but I think especially George. People also talk about the “awkward footage”. I don’t see it like that at all, not for the reasons people make out.]
George had a lot of very close friends in his life. He was greatly loved and almost everyone he met wanted to be his best friend and wanted to be close to him – but I don’t think he had very many friends who were as close to him as Paul was. You read sometimes (often) how Paul and George hated each other. At times I’m sure they did, but they loved each other more, and nothing will dissuade me from that opinion. If you look at Paul and George and all you can see is them in conflict with each other (like I think a lot do), you have missed the point entirely.
I truly do think George and Paul’s relationship is fascinating. I could write on this forever!
A little McHarrison love…
I remember going to auditions at Decca and each of us did pretty well, y’know. We were in a pub afterwards having a drink and kind of debriefing and coming down off the excitement, but we were still pretty high off it all. And I remember sitting at the bar with George and it became kind of a fun thing for us for years later. I would say, [adopts awed voice] When you sang [Goffin & King’s] “Take Good Care Of My Baby,” it was amazin’ man!’ I’m not sure we said ‘man’ or even ‘amazing’ in those days, but… That was a special little moment and it just became a thing between me and him: [awed voice again] ‘When you sang ‘Take Good Care Of My Baby’…’