Paul McCartney reacts to George Harrison’s death in 2001
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George Harrison was a founding member of The Beatles, though the band was not known as such when he joined. Instead, he joined a small skiffle band started by a teenager, John Lennon. It was not through John that George joined the band, however, but through a meeting with Sir Paul McCartney.
How did George Harrison join The Beatles?
George joined the band after meeting Sir Paul, though at the time the pair were just children and music fans.
These two were very young when they met, and the idea of being in a band together did not come until some time later after John had created a band which was starting to become known around the Liverpool area.
The Quarrymen started in March 1957 when John, then a 16-year-old, started the group with friends from his school, formerly known as the Quarry Bank High School.
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He invited Paul to join the band, having met him at a church fete, after which Paul met and brought George on board.
Colin Hanton, who was The Quarrymen’s drummer, told the BBC of Paul and George’s meeting: “The story was he met Paul on the top deck of a bus.
“We played at George’s house and met his mum. I never met his dad at the time.
“We mostly played at Paul’s. It’s one thing going round with guitars, but if you take a drum round you’re not always going to be popular.”
George confirmed this was the way they met, saying in at interview: “It was on that bus journey that I met Paul McCartney, because he, being at the same school, had the same uniform and was going the same way as I was so I started hanging out with him.”
Their first rehearsal with the three Beatles members in the group was at George’s house in Speke, and Colin joked how, despite being the youngest, George was a huge asset to the band.
He said: “George was probably two years younger than me. He was the baby of the group.
“He was this little lad with a big guitar. Actually, it was an excellent guitar – that’s why he was invited. It improved the Quarrymen no end.”
In fact, it has also been reported John was concerned about letting George in the band because of his youth but relented after being impressed by his playing.
The Beatles then formed after John’s Quarrymen members left the group, and the band brought in were Pete Best on drums and Stuart Sutcliffe on bass.
Stuart has been credited for coming up with the band’s name, though his version was spelt The Beatals, before it was changed to the name fans know.
George remained friends with Paul long after the band split, and Paul spoke of their final meeting before George’s death in 2001.
He told The New York Times in 2020: “We were sitting there, and I was holding his hand, and it occurred to me — I’ve never told this — I don’t want to hold George’s hand. You don’t hold your mate’s hands.
“He’d gone to Geneva to see what they could do. Then he came to a special clinic in New York to see what they could do.
“Then the thought was to go to L.A. and see what they could do.
“He was sort of getting a bit, ‘Can’t we just stay in one place?’
“And I said: ‘Yes, Speke Hall. Let’s go to Speke Hall.'”
George died from cancer, aged 58, in November 2001, with Paul reminding him of their Liverpool home shortly before his death.
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