1950 teddy boy

Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison at the wedding reception held for George’s brother Harry and his bride, Irene, Liverpool, 20 December 1959. Photo © The Harrison Family.

“Our original intention was to be in a band as opposed to having a job. The goals were quite small, really.” - George Harrison, 1987

George Harrison, late 1950′s.

“He was cocky, a cocky little guy. He had a good sense of himself, you know, he wasn’t cowed by anything. He had a great haircut. He had this long hair that he quiffed back. We had a, a friend, Arthur. And he used to describe it as, ‘a fuckin’ turban. Like a fuckin’ turban.’ And it did. It looked like a great, big marvelous thing.” - Paul McCartney, Living in the Material World

“[John Lennon said] ‘He had a real kind of wild style on the guitar. It’s as though… you know, that he and the guitar were joined together. He also looked like a Teddy boy, but as you know, Larry, he was hardly that.’
Hardly. Sensitivity to others was George’s great talent as a human being. On the aircraft and in the hotel suites, it was George who was always asking, 'Everything all right, Larry?’” - When They Were Boys by Larry Kane [x]

George Harrison with pen pal Jennifer Brewer at the Sandy Bay holiday camp, Exmouth, Devon, August 1956; screen capped from Living in the Material World, and also included in The Beatles Anthology book.

Photo © Harrison Family

“[W]hen the Harrisons caught up with their friends the Brewers in again, back at the Sandy Lane holiday camp in Exmouth, George had a new obsession to share with his friend Jenny. ‘He was now mad on music. He asked if I’d heard the real one. It was Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley. I said, ‘Who?’ 'Elvis! Elvis Presley!’ He didn’t have his guitar with him, but he loved the music with a passion.’” - The Beatles - All These Years: Tune In by Mark Lewisohn

“In June 1968, George was filmed with Ravi Shankar in California for the movie Raga. 'It was the last time I really played sitar. I thought I am never going to be a sitar player, because I’ve seen a thousand sitar players in India who are better than I’ll ever be and, out of them, Ravi only thought one was good. Ravi was more worried for me than I was. He was trying to find my background or some roots and he was saying, 'What about Liverpool?’ and I said, 'No, I feel more at home in Benares, India than I do in Liverpool.’ Then I thought, 'What’s my root?’ The first thing that I could call a root, musically speaking, was riding down the road on my bike and hearing 'Heartbreak Hotel’ by Elvis Presley coming out of somebody’s house. On my way home (from California) I went to New York. When I checked into the hotel, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton happened to be staying there, which is another little cosmic point. From then on I thought, 'Well, maybe I am better off to get back into being a pop singer, guitar player, song writer; whatever I am supposed to be’. So it was Ravi really, who helped me get back into being a pop singer and guitar player again.” - George Harrison, quoted in The Apple Years 1968-1975

In far-off Liverpool, George Harrison was sitting at his mother’s sewing machine, methodically narrowing the legs of his school trousers. He still sometimes went with his parents to the ballroom dances they ran every week and still had a good laugh at the men’s baggy trousers, with their unnecessary acres of ball-room. With the cocky vigour of a teenager (to which status he’d advanced on 25 February 1956), George assured his dad he’d never be so old-fashioned, and meant it.

George wore his narrowed trousers when he and Paul McCartney went out looking for girls - for birds and judies. Paul and George’s friendship was strengthening by 1956. Mother Mary had taught Paul how to waltz, and he and George dressed themselves as trendily as possible and trotted along to dances held in a Speke school hall. As Paul would remember, for a pair of confident lads they found it strangely difficult to perform.

‘We paid our money to go in and searched the whole place all evening for any likely looking girls. We’d have our eye on one each but never had the nerve. The only dance we ever used to do was the last waltz, because we thought that if we go there and don’t have any dances that’s really pathetic. We used to nudge each other, “Last waltz - you grab 'er, I’ll grab 'er”, and, with red faces, extremely embarrassed, we’d get the last waltz and then go home. We never had time to talk to the girls - we didn’t have an awful lot of success.’ [BBC Radio 1 interview, May 1982]

—  The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Volume 1: Tune In by Mark Lewisohn

Paul McCartney (center) and George Harrison (far right) with an unknown acquaintance, and just George and Paul, 1956/1957, screen capped from The Beatles Anthology

This image might possibly have been taken during one of George and Paul’s hitchhiking trips during the summer of 1956 and 1957…

“Paul and George became firm friends right away [upon meeting on the bus to Liverpool Institute]. They enjoyed life in a very carefree way in those days. They remember going hitch-hiking together when once they went 36 hours without being able to find anything to eat. ‘We’d often cook tins of spaghetti by the side of the road on a primus,’ said Paul.” - The Beatles Book, September 1963

“Me and George. Oh man, I had the best times with George. We hitch-hiked to a place in Wales called Harlech when we were kids, before The Beatles, and we just hitch-hiked our way there. We’d heard a song, ‘Men of Harlech’, and saw a signpost - ‘Yeah!’ There was a big castle, and we just went. We had our guitars, took them everywhere, and ended up in this café. We tried to go to a central meeting place in Harlech, and it was this little café. It had a jukebox, so it was home, and we sat around there. We met a guy and started talking. He was into rock ‘n’ roll and so we went and stayed at his house. It was great. Me and George top-and-tailing in a bed. And he had a mother! It was kind of a bed and breakfast, but we didn’t realise. Years later we realized we hadn’t paid anyone, and now we were rich and famous. She wrote to us and we said ‘Oh, sorry! Herewith payment!’ But it was great, we just had so many laughs. Just with these guys, these Welsh guys. One was called John and the other was Aniron - a big Welsh guy who played bass. We sat in with their band one drunken night in a Welsh pub.” - Paul McCartney, Living in the Material World

George Harrison: “Remember that house we stayed at in Harlech?”
Paul McCartney: “No, which one?”
George Harrison: “Yes, you do, there was a woman who had a dog with no legs. She used to take it out in the morning for a slide.”


Greased Quiffs and Switchblades: Growing Up Teddy Boy in 1970s England

Edwardian suits and switchblades; greased quiff hairdos and murder on the dance floor. The original Teddy Boys not only represented a threat to the establishment in bleak postwar Britain, they also stake a serious claim as Britain’s first codified youth tribe, emerging at the same time the “teenager” became a fully fledged Thing.

The subculture is often thought of as a spin-off of the rock ‘n’ roll revolution that hit the UK in the mid-1950s—but that isn’t the case; Teddy Boy style predates all that by a good five years. As idiosyncratic and British a subculture as one is likely to find, it has changed over time—but it’s never gone away.


George was in the year above me. I remember George as a good-looking lad with a strong square jaw and a great smile - though his sticking out ears were more prominent with his teddy-boy quiff. George and Paul would lean against the bike sheds, out of sight of the teachers, smoking their Woodbines and talking about music. George was a friend of my older brother, and so I was used to him coming to the house and talking about music - something he would still do if we met years after we had left school.
I remember one day - probably in 1958 - when Paul and George brought their guitars into school with an amplifier and played in their classroom for an hour. I remember George singing ‘Earth Angel’ amongst others, and I was impressed by their harmonies. as well as their presentation and professionalism - that Beatle harmony sound with George doing John’s part. George had been intrigued by how great guitarist like Scotty Moore could play so accurately and so quickly, a skill he tried to emulate all his life.
—  Mal Jefferson on George Harrison and Paul McCartney at the Liverpool Institute, Liddypool: Birthplace of The Beatles by David Bedford [x]
Arthur Kelly remembers a schoolmaster once hailing George [Harrison] in a Liverpool Institute corridor, ‘You boy, you with the tall hair.’ And somebody else said he looked 'like a refugee from a Tarzan film’.
—  The Beatles - All These Years - Extended Special Edition: Volume One: Tune In by Mark Lewisohn