Thursday, August 07, 2008

George Speaking

A special series of four Frederick James interview features in which John, Paul, George and Ringo talk to readers.

"Since this is the last of these BEATLE-SPEAKING features for the time being, I'd like to round off the series with something a bit different. Most of the time--and particularly when we're on tour--we have some sort of press conference on an average of one per day. As you know, we had five weeks of non-stop concert dates in America and Canada followed almost immediately by our present one-nighter tour of Britain. So quite a few questions and answers have been flung to and fro between us four and the world's press reporters in the last couple of months. On my two pages I'd like to hold a small press conference of my own. I'll ask the questions and I'll try to answer them as well (if they're not too tricky!). Some of them will be questions I've wanted the reporters to get around to asking and some of them will be questions which have cropped up most frequently in the letters we get from Beatle People.

Right. Here we go. On the left--George Harrison, guitarist of The Beatles pop group all ready to give exclusive comments. On the right--George Harrison, press interrogator and occasional Daily Express columnist. Who will win this battle of wits? Harrison the shrewd question-master or Harrison the Beatle?

Q.--You've been called 'the most easy-going Beatle'. What do you take that to mean?

A.--I suppose it means a lot of things which are true. I'm slow. I like to take my time whether it is to think out a reply or to tune up my guitar. I hate trying to dart from one subject to another. I get some sort of personal satisfaction out of finishing one thing before I start another.

Q.--Does that mean you don't make friends very easily?

A.--On the contrary. I'm extremely interested in people. I think I make an easy target for folk who like to talk about themselves. It takes a long time for them to bore me because I enjoy listening to new ideas and different opinions. That's what life is for--to find out fresh things and learn new facts.

Q.--Surely your life with The Beatles has put a stop to that?

A.--No. By nature I hate rushing so the pace of things is the one drawback to being a Beatle. But don't forget that I've been with John and Paul for more than six years now and we know each other inside out. Our individual characteristics--and I include Ringo in this, of course--balance against one another remarkably well. It is because our personalities work at different pressures that we get on so well together as a team.

Q.--Are you the most musical of The Beatles?

A.--Depends what you mean. People have said I am just because I admit to liking Segovia's guitar playing and they think that's all very highbrow and musical. I believe I love my own guitar more than the others love theirs. For John and Paul songwriting is pretty important and guitar playing is a means to an end. While they're making up new tunes I can thoroughly enjoy myself just doodling around with a guitar for a whole evening. I'm fascinated by the new sounds I can get from different instruments I try out. I'm not sure that makes me particularly musical. Just call me a guitar fanatic instead and I'll be satisfied!

Q.--You are the youngest Beatle. Do you feel younger than the others?

A.--There again it is important to remember that we've been close friends since school days. A year or two either way doesn't make the slightest difference in our age group. It would if you were talking about a George aged eight and a John aged eleven, but as a group we've all had just about the same amount of experience and, of course, we've shared all the same adventures.

Q.--What do you think about fans?

A.--A lot of rot is talked about kids getting out of hand and suchlike. Even a kid who is quiet on her own takes the opportunity of letting off as much steam as possible when she's with the gang. It doesn't mean she's out of control--just that she's learnt how to have fun. Boys are the same. They let off the same steam in different places. Girls outside stage doors or in the front stalls. Boys inside a football ground or at a boxing match. But whatever way you look at it The Beatles (and every other artist in the Top Twenty) rely entirely on the fans. It would be no good finding a good song and making a terrific recording of it if there were no fans around to decide whether they liked it or not. To any artist fans are vitally important. An artist who did well and then wanted to forget about his fans might as well forget about his fame at the same time.

Q.--Do you spend most of the money you earn?

A.--I am interested in money. When I hadn't very much of it I was just as interested in what a small amount could be made to do. Naturally anybody spends more or less according to his income, so, I suppose I spend plenty by some standards. On the other hand I hate the idea of just getting rid of money because it is in your pocket. I like to keep as small a wallet as possible in case I'm tempted to waste cash on unnecessary things. I haven't got a very good business head, but if my life had been entirely different and I'd only had a little savings in the bank, I reckon I'd have made a success of some small business by taking advice from somebody. I'd have asked what I ought to do with my saved-up money to make it grow.

Q.--Have you grown away from your parents because of the life you lead?

A.--An unfair leading question that! I have not grown away from my parents at all. In fact I think a boy who spends some of his time away from home grows even closer to his relatives. They are not taken for granted so much if they're not around every day. I don't live in Liverpool any more but I can't really say I live in London or anywhere else either. In this game it is a matter of staying overnight in dozens of different places each month, and you have to learn to set down your boots and your luggage wherever it's most convenient.

Q.--What about the other side of the same question. Don't your parents get caught up with your life whether they like it or not?

A.--I can only answer half of that question because my mother and father are caught up in the success of The Beatles but they don't mind it a bit. In fact they're very, very helpful about it all as a lot of Beatle People will know. They deal with a lot of my fan mail when I'm away from home and their back room looks like a G.P.O. sorting office half the time!

Q.--Final question. What type of Press interviews do you think are the most useful?

A.--This sort!!! In the last four months each of us has had a couple of pages to say exactly what he likes to Monthly Book readers. We've all been able to open up and talk about some of the things which get left out of ordinary press conferences because of time shortage--reporters' time shortage just as much as ours. I hope we'll have another session like this one fairly soon."

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