In her memoir, “My Kid Brother’s Band: a.k.a. The Beatles,” George Harrison’s older sister, Louise, presents an insider’s take on The Beatles.
The book includes Harrison’s memories of her family’s pre-Beatles life in Liverpool, England, as well as her publicity work for The Beatles in the early ’60s in the United States, where the group still was unknown.
When Harrison, then an Illinois resident, pitched the early Beatles recordings to U.S. radio stations, they told her the songs were no good.
“I was invariably told, ‘Nobody’s ever going to want to listen to that,’” she said from her home in southern California. “But, as my dad taught me, if you believe in something, you keep at it.”
Harrison began promoting The Beatles in 1963, after her mother in England mailed early recordings to her, first to Canada and then, after Harrison’s mining engineer husband got a new job in Illinois, the U.S.
Harrison wasn’t so impressed with the band’s debut single “Love Me Do,” the first record her mother sent.
“But when I got ‘Please Please Me,’ the second one, I thought, ‘Wow. That does make quite an impact.’ ”
In the book, she also recounts her chaotic WTIX-sponsored visit to New Orleans in March 1965. The local radio station was one of about 20 stations in the U.S. that broadcast her “Daily Beatles Reports.”
Harrison’s eventually syndicated radio show began after her visit with her brother during The Beatles’ first trip to the U.S. That visit happened in February 1964, when the group debuted on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and played its first two U.S. concerts.
WTIX brought Harrison to the downtown department store Godchaux’s. It was one of the many radio station-sponsored appearances she made during the “Daily Beatles Report’s” 18-month run.
Response to her New Orleans visit echoed the hysteria The Beatles inspired in September 1964 when they performed at City Park. At Godchaux’s, the crush of Beatles fans forced Harrison’s planned appearance in the bridal department store into a much less elegant storage room.
“Too many fans would get into the elevator at the same time and it wouldn’t move,” Harrison said, laughing. “They had to bring me up in the maintenance elevator. It was absolute bedlam, that whole day.”
Harrison was 11 when George, her youngest brother, was born.
“His interest in music didn’t really come along, specifically for the guitar, until I left the house,” she said. “But I was always impressed with him.”
George developed the kidney disorder nephritis when he was about 12, she said. During a Sunday afternoon visit to his hospital room by the Harrison family, George’s friends and others, his older sister Louise noticed how considerate he was with the many well wishers.
“There were four or five different groups of people, all there around his bed,” she said. “But at no time did he leave anybody out. He chatted a little bit with this one, that one, having the appropriate conversation with each of these different groups.
“Everybody was made to feel welcome, to feel that their presence was very much appreciated. I remember thinking, ‘For a 12-year-old kid, he is very much the diplomat.’ Most politicians would be thrilled to have those skills.”