George Harrison post-Beatles: “It’s very selfish if the Beatles don’t record together”


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.
May 7, 1970, Vol. XV, No. 19

by Howard Smith

WHEN I INTERVIEWED George Harrison last week for ABC-FM radio, we of course got to talking about the big Beatles blow-up. Here are some key excerpts that give Harrison’s view of what is going down.

HS: Will the Beatles get together again?

GH: For the rest of the world the Beatle music is such a big sort of scene; I think, the least we could do is to sacrifice three months of a year, at least, to do an album or two. I think it’s very selfish if the Beatles don’t record together.

HS: But everything looks so gloomy right now.

GH: It’s not really; it’s no more gloomy than it’s been for the last 10 years. It’s just that now — over the last year, what with John and stuff and lately with Paul, everything that they’ve thought or said has come out…it’s been made public…

HS: Things have been there all along.

GH: No, I wouldn’t say…in different ways. We are just like anybody else. You know, familiarity breeds contempt. They do say!

HS: It sounds like Paul’s saying it’s all over.

GH: It’s more of a personal thing that’s down to the management situation. You know, with Apple, because Paul really, it was his idea to do Apple. And once it started going, Paul was really active. And then it got really chaotic and we had to do something about it and when we started to do something about it, obviously Paul didn’t have as much to say in the matter. And then he decided because he wanted the Eastmans, his in-laws, to run it and we didn’t, then that’s the only reason. That’s the whole basis, but that’s only a personal problem that he’ll have to get over because that’s the reality. He’s out-voted because we’re a partnership. We’ve got these companies where we all own 25 per cent of each and if there’s a decision to be made, like in any other business or group, you have a vote, and if he’s out-voted three to one, and if he doesn’t like it, then it’s really a pity. Because we’re trying to do what’s best for the Beatles as a group, or best for Apple as a company. We’re not trying to do what is best for Paul and his in-laws, you know.

HS: You think that is what the key fight is over?

GH: Yeah, because it’s on such a personal level that it is a big problem. You imagine that situation, if you were married and you wanted your in-laws to handle certain things. It’s like, it’s a difficult one to overcome. Like you can think of the subtleties; you know, he’s really living with it. I mean, like when I go home, I’m not living there with Allen Klein, whereas in a way Paul’s living with the Eastmans. So it’s not really between Paul and us. It’s really between Paul’s advisors, who are the Eastmans, and our business adviser, who is Allen Klein. But it’s all right…all things pass away…I mean we all do love each other. We’ve been so close and through so much together that to talk about it like this we never get any nearer to it. The main thing is, like in anybody’s life, they have slight problems, but our problems are always blown up and shown to everybody. But it’s not really a problem, it’s only a problem if you think about it.

HS: So you don’t think there is any great anger between Paul and John?

GH: No, I think there may be what you term a little bitchiness. But you know that’s all it is. It’s just being bitchy to each other. Childish, childish…but I get on well with Ringo and John and I I try my best to get on with Paul…but it’s just a matter of time…

HS: Do you think the Beatles can ever get together in a studio after all the hassles?

GH: Well, it’s easy…it’s really quite easy…We’ve done it for years. We all know that we are all separate individuals and if all we have to do is accept that we are all individuals and that we all have as much potential as the other and having accepted that, then you know…it says, “Scan not a friend with a microscope glass. You know his faults, now let his foibles pass.” That’s written on my house. You now what I mean, it’s like, if we’re all perfect beings, we wouldn’t be here in the physical world. The fact that we’re all here in these bodies means that we are not perfected beings, so having accepted that we’re not perfected, we can allow for each other’s inadequacies or failings with little, you know, with a little compassion. I’m certainly ready to be able to, you know, to try and work things out with whoever I’m with, you know, but if whomever I’m with is full of hassles, then I’m not going to be with him, am I? I’m going to go with somebody else. I mean, that’s really how things happened with me. I got tired of being with the Beatles, because musically it was like being in a bag, and they wouldn’t let me out of the bag. Which was mainly Paul at the time. The conflict musically for me was Paul. And yet, I could play with any other band or musician and have a reasonably good time.

HS: What was the conflict with Paul?

GH: It’s just a thing, like he’d written all these songs for years and stuff. Paul and I went to school together, you know, I got the feeling that, you know, everybody changes and sometimes people don’t want other people to change or then even if you do change they won’t accept that you’ve changed, and they keep in their mind some other image of you. Gandhi said, “Create and preserve the image of your choice,” and so different people have different images of their friends or people they are.

HS: So what was his image of you?

GH: Well, I got the impression it was like he still acted as if he was still the groovy Lennon-McCartney. There was a point in my life where I realize anybody could be Lennon-McCartney…I would appreciate them, how good they actually are…But if Lennon-McCartney is special, then Harrison and Starkey are special, too. I can be Lennon-McCartney, but I’d rather be Harrison, you know?

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]