The song that got George Harrison into the Beatles

George Harrison

For any musician, a few songs appear to be the go-to “show-off” tunes. Even if they aren’t the most well-known hits in an artist’s discography, having them under one’s belt earns respect from other artists who have been around the block a few times. While rock and roll was still in its infancy in the early 1960s, this early rock and roll track was critical. It played a key role in securing the place of George Harrison in musical history.

When considering how each of The Beatles came together, it almost appeared that fate was pointing them in the right direction. Although the band’s origins can be traced back to John Lennon fronting his band The Quarrymen for the first few years of his adolescence, things began to change. A young musician named Paul McCartney attended a local festival to see him perform.

Paul McCartney was eager to show off his skills. Therefore, he approached Lennon during a break in their set and began playing a few of their instruments. Lennon was impressed that McCartney knew all the lyrics to Eddie Cochran’s ‘Twenty Flight Rock’. He thought it would be interesting to include him in the group.

As individual frontmen, the duo would spend their time honing their craft as songwriters. Following in the footsteps of artists such as The Everly Brothers, Gerry Goffin, and Carole King, the duo would eventually write songs for each other to finish, assembling the foundation of a track and even gaining a small fan base in their hometown Liverpool venues such as The Cavern.

As McCartney began working with Lennon, Harrison was still honing his guitar skills. After hearing ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ on the radio, Harrison became obsessed with the instrument. He spent his time honing his soloing skills. He was also aspiring to play songs by his idols Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins flawlessly.

McCartney, who knew George Harrison from school, suggested that he audition for the group. While none of the band’s guitarists could perform solos, McCartney invited Harrison to hang out with the group after one of their shows. There he was able to pick up one of their instruments.

McCartney recalled Harrison playing Bill Justus’ song ‘Rauchy’ at the time. He said in The Beatles Anthology, “I said, ‘Well he can play ‘Rauchy’ perfectly, and we all loved that song. So we are all sitting on the top deck of a double-decker bus, just us. I said, “Go on, George, get your guitar out and show ’em.” And he played it, and we said, ‘You’re in.'”

Lennon was initially embarrassed to accept Harrison as a member due to his youth. However, his friendship with the young guitarist would become one of The Beatles’ defining characteristics. Harrison looked up to Lennon as a big brother figure. He frequently asked for help finishing songs like ‘Taxman’ while also playing on solo hits like ‘Gimme Some Truth’. Lennon and McCartney may have been able to combine a few chords to create musical magic. However, Harrison provided the final piece of the melodic puzzle that set them on the path to rock and roll stardom.

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