George Harrison was inspired to be a musician by watching Cliff Richard: “I remember thinking, f**k it – I could do better than that”

Steven Gaines and Peter Brown’s new book, All You Need Is Love: The End of the Beatles will allow an ‘unvarnished’ peek into Beatlemania.

The Beatles George Harrison

George Harrison playing a nylon string acoustic guitar. Image: Max Scheler K.K./Redferns via Getty Images

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Have you ever wondered what it was like being the most coveted rock group of the 60s? Well, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. While many many authors have praised the heights of Beatlemania, All You Need Is Love: The End of the Beatles goes a step further. It’s an intimate look at the rise and eventual fall of a rock ‘n’ roll empire.

Back in 1980, the former COO of Apple Corp Peter Brown and author Steven Gaines conducted interviews with The Beatles’ inner circle for the bestseller The Love You Make – but many interviews would remain on the shelf – until now.

All You Need Is Love dips into the same 1980s interview archives yet again, exploring the final days of Beatlemania – but it also sheds light on the lesser-known dawn of The Beatles. Namely, the initial spark that ignited George Harrison’s interest in becoming a musician.

“I remember being a kid of about twelve, dreaming of big motorboats and tropical islands and things which had nothing to do with Liverpool, which was dark and cold,” Harrison explains to Brown and Gaines back in 1980 [via The Times]. “I remember going to see Cliff Richard and thinking fuck it – I could do better than that”

The cheeky rivalry Harrison felt would encourage him to perfect his guitar playing. Not that Sir Cliff Richard knew that – he would go on to envy Fab Four’s fame. When The Beatles charmed crowds of The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, Richards responded to the performance with “it’s ridiculous! Has everyone forgotten me? What’s going on?”

All You Need Is Love also digs into the darkest days of The Beatles’ fame. “We kept realising we were getting bigger and bigger until we all realised we couldn’t go anywhere – you couldn’t pick up a paper or turn on a radio or TV without seeing yourself,” Harrison reflects. “It became too much.”

“We became trapped and that’s why it had to end, is what I think… We were like monkeys in a cage,” he continues.

The main refuge was the fact that the four of them were in it together. “Elvis had an entourage… but there was only one man having that experience of what it was like to be Elvis Presley,” he says. “I think that [would have been] far lonelier than being one of the Fab Four because at least we could keep each other laughing or crying or whatever we did to each other. It was definitely an asset being in a group.”

All You Need Is Love: The End of the Beatles, is out this Thursday 11th April. It is currently available for £25 from The Times, with a special discount for Times+ members.


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