Paul McCartney Saw George Harrison as His Younger Brother, and It Damaged Their Friendship

Paul McCartney always viewed George Harrison as his younger brother, While in The Beatles, Harrison grew frustrated with this treatment.

Paul McCartney and George Harrison were the two youngest Beatles, and they formed a friendship before they were in a band together. By the time The Beatles broke up, their relationship had disintegrated. Harrison was tired of the way both McCartney and John Lennon treated him, but he reserved most of his ire for McCartney. This was because McCartney viewed Harrison as his younger brother.

Paul McCartney viewed George Harrison as a younger brother

McCartney and Harrison met on the bus to school. They were a year apart, but they bonded over their love of music.

“I knew George from the bus,” McCartney said, per The Beatles Anthology. “Before I went to live in Allerton, I lived in Speke. We lived on an estate which they used to call the Trading Estate. (I understand now that they were trying to move industry there to provide jobs, but then we didn’t ever consider why it was called a trading estate.) George was a bus stop away. I would get on the bus for school and he would get on the stop after.”

McCartney said that the fact that Harrison was a year younger made him talk down to him. He seemed much younger, and it grew hard to shake this image as they aged.

“So, being close to each other in age, we talked — although I tended to talk down to him, because he was a year younger,” McCartney said. “I know now that that was a failing I had all the way through the Beatle years. If you’ve known a guy when he’s thirteen and you’re fourteen, it’s hard to think of him as grown-up. I still think of George as a young kid.”

Why did George Harrison and Paul McCartney have a falling out?

McCartney recruited Harrison for the Quarrymen, which ultimately became The Beatles, and he watched as his younger bandmate grew as a musician. Despite his notable growth as a songwriter, McCartney seemed to undervalue his strengths. He overlooked Harrison’s contributions and spoke condescendingly when Harrison made mistakes. Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, said he resented being treated like a younger brother.

“George was terribly unhappy,” she said, per The Daily Mail. “The Beatles made him unhappy, with the constant arguments. They were vicious to each other. That was really upsetting, and even more so for him because he had this new spiritual avenue. Like a little brother, he was pushed into the background. He would come home from recording and be full of anger. It was a very bad state that he was in.”

Lennon treated Harrison similarly, but Harrison would have worked with him again. He admitted that he did not want to collaborate with McCartney after The Beatles broke up. He had been friends with McCartney before they were bandmates. Because of this, his behavior would have felt more like a betrayal than Lennon’s did.

McCartney’s view of Harrison as a younger brother likely also meant he brought a level of condescension to their conversations even when they weren’t talking about music. This led to a very chilly relationship between the two of them after The Beatles broke up.

Paul McCartney still talks to George Harrison after his death

Luckily, Harrison and McCartney’s relationship improved in the years after The Beatles broke up. They were even able to work together again on Harrison’s album Somewhere in England. They were on solid terms toward the end of Harrison’s life, and McCartney was able to see him shortly before his death. McCartney said he still feels connected to him, even years after his death.

“George was very into horticulture, a really good gardener,” McCartney told NPR. “So he gave me a tree as a present: It’s a big fir tree, and it’s by my gate. As I was leaving my house this morning, I get out of the car, close the gate and look up at the tree and say, ‘Hi, George.’ There he is, growing strongly. And you know, that takes me back to the time when I hitchhiked with him! They’re an ever-present presence, if that’s a way to say.”

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