Louise Harrison Talks Beatles, Her Kid Brother George

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More than five decades after The Beatles irreversibly changed the course of popular music with their debut single “Love Me Do,” the group remains one of the most popular bands of all time.

With album sales estimated at more than a half-billion worldwide, the public’s thirst for all things Beatles is quenchless and virtually unrivalled. When The Beatles made their catalogue available to music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music in late 2015, New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik chalked up the group’s continued popularity on the streaming services to a simple premise:

“What they did, how they did it, and who among them did it best – all this is still familiar to millions of people…It’s a heritage whose basics require only minimal introduction, even to the not-entirely-obsessed,” Gopnik wrote.

Tonight, Beatles tribute act the Liverpool Legends will be looking to remind people of the brilliance of the group’s catalogue with a performance at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre. The foursome will be performing songs from all eras of The Beatles career, in addition to select post-Beatles output.

The group is an internationally-renowned act, having performed for more than 17,000 fans in Mexico City, in addition to a decade-long (and still running) tenure headlining their own show in Branson, Missouri.

What helps set the Liverpool Legends apart from other Beatles tribute acts, however, is its unique endorsement by Louise Harrison, the older sister of the late George Harrison.

Author of the 2014 book My Kid Brother’s Band aka The Beatles, Louise has called the U.S. home since approximately 1963 following stints in Northern Quebec and Peru. She tells us that while she was an ocean away while Beatlemania first began sweeping the U.K., her mother ensured that she remained current with respect to what her kid brother George was up to.

“My mother started sending me Beatles singles, which I began dropping off to local radio stations, only to have them tell me they thought they were terrible and that no one was going to be interested in listening to them,” Louise says, with a laugh.

Once the group finally did take off in the U.S., however, Louise was given the opportunity to accompany the band to historic performances on the Ed Sullivan Show, among countless others, providing her a unique, first-hand look at the group’s incredible rise to fame.

“In a way if being greeted with screaming fans is all you knew, that becomes your ‘normal,’” Louise says, referring to the endless throngs of fans that consistently greeted the group. “While George’s life was certainly different from others in our family, life went on for the rest of us. At the time, we never could have known The Beatles were changing history before our eyes. My mother was still cooking dinner every day, entertaining family and cousins that would stop by for tea.”

Even during the height of Beatlemania, Louise says George faithfully checked in by phone at least once a week, and acknowledges that while it may pain some fans to hear, George confided in her a palpable sense of relief when The Beatles officially disbanded in 1970.

“Success had become very unpleasant for George and the rest of the band,” Louise offers. “In some ways, they felt like circus animals on display for everyone else’s enjoyment. When you become wealthy, you start questioning who really is your friend versus who is just hanging on for his or her own selfish motivations. Throughout The Beatles career, George remained close with family because he knew there was no ulterior motive on anyone’s part.”

Asked what she most fondly recalls about George, Louise says his undeniable talent and place in history aside, it was her brother’s quiet, reserved demeanour that stands out the most, qualities she feels were the by product of their parents and their upbringing.

“George was an incredibly kind and compassionate individual. One of my primary motivations behind writing my book was to share the kind of person George was with others. Our parents were just wonderful people. There are times that I feel that ‘Keep calm and carry on’ catch phrase could have been derived from the Harrison family house. Whatever came our way, my father always took a disciplined, controlled approach to dealing with things. George was exactly the same; he never got excited or flew off the handle. He always took the good and the bad in stride.”

Not surprisingly, of all the members that make up the Liverpool Legends, Louise has arguably grown closest to Marty Scott, who portrays George in the group. Not only does Scott more than capably honour the memory of George’s career within The Beatles, she shares that the similarities do not stop on stage.

“Marty and I first met just a few weeks after George’s passing in November 2001. Personality-wise, Marty is so much like George that it’s uncanny. In some ways, I often wonder if it is George’s spirit that helped bring about the friendship between Marty and I so that I could continue to have his presence in my life.”

What: Liverpool Legends
When: Thursday Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets start at $39.50. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca