George Harrison, MBE, born February 25th 1943, was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Often referred to as the quiet Beatle.
“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
Today is George Harrison's birthday. George Harrison, MBE (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle..."
Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame with the rock band the Beatles, largely considered the most popular and influential group in the history of pop music.
The Beatles Story and Julien’s Auctions held a memorabilia free valuation day at the Beatles Story museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool, last Thursday which turned up this interesting letter from John.
The letter is John’s famous note to Her Majesty the Queen, from when he decided to return his MBE to the palace. The letter reads:
I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the chart.
With love John Lennon
John Lennon of Bag.
The owner of the piece, who has chosen to remain anonymous, said the letter was discovered tucked away inside the sleeve of a record that was part of a collection of 45s, which was picked up for £10 at a car boot sale 20 years ago.
Julien’s Auctions valued the letter at £60,000. Until then, the owner of the letter had presumed it must have been a copy and was stunned to discover that it could be worth such a huge sum of money.
Darren Julien, Director at Julien’s Auctions, has theorised that the letter may be an early draft, due to the smudged ink.
“If you’re writing to the Queen, you want the letter to look pretty perfect, you don’t want the ink to be smudged. This suggests that he wrote a second version of the letter, which was the one that was actually sent to the Queen. We’ll be doing some further research but this could be the Beatles find of the year. There is no doubt that the handwriting is definitely that of John Lennon.” [Darren Julien, quoted in The Telegraph, 27th Oct 2016]
Photos above of the letter and of the Beatles press conference after they’d been to collect the MBE on 26th October 1965! (Look at the dates! Spooky!) The press conference was held in the downstairs bar of the Savile Theatre.
Q: What did the Queen say to you?
John Lennon: She said to me, ‘Have you been working hard recently?’ And I couldn’t think what we’ve been doing, so I said, 'No, we’ve been having a holiday,’ when actually we’ve been recording.
Paul McCartney: Then she said to me, 'Have you been together long?’ and I said, 'Yes, many years,’ and Ringo said, 'Forty years,’ and she laughed.
George Harrison: She said, 'It’s a pleasure giving it to you,’ but that’s what she said to everybody, and she put John’s on first.
John Lennon: I must have looked shattered.
Ringo Starr: She said, 'Did you start it all?’ and I said, 'No, they did,’ pointing to the other guys. 'I joined last. I’m the little fellow.’
[Beatles press conference, The Beatles Bible]
Pics: John’s letter - PA, MBE pics - Rolls Press/Popperfoto
Did you know Paul sent a telegram to Margaret Thatcher in 1982? He did. It wasn’t friendly. He lost his temper over her treatment of health workers and fired off a long outraged message, comparing her to Ted Heath, the prime minister (tweaked in “Taxman”) felled by the 1974 coal strike. McCartney warned, “What the miners did to Ted Heath, the nurses will do to you.”
This controversy is a curiously obscure footnote to his life—it seldom gets mentioned in even the fattest biographies. He doesn’t discuss it in Many Years from Now. I only know about it because I read it as a Random Note in Rolling Stone, not exactly a hotbed of pro-Paul propaganda at the time. (The item began, “Reports that Paul McCartney is intellectually brain-dead appear to have been premature.”) But the telegram was a major U.K. scandal, with Tory politicians denouncing him. In October 1982, Thatcher was at the height of her power, in the wake of her Falkland Islands blitz. Many rock stars talked shit about Maggie—Elvis Costello, Morrissey, Paul Weller—but Paul was the one more famous than she was. He had something to lose by hitting send on this, and nothing to gain. What, you think he was trying for coolness points? This is Paul McCartney, remember? He was in the middle of making Give My Regards to Broad Street. He could have clawed Thatcher’s still-beating heart out of her rib cage, impaled it on his Hofner on live TV, and everybody would have said, “Yeah, but ‘Silly Love Songs’ though.”
Why did he feel so intensely about the nurses? He didn’t mention his mother in the telegram, but he must have been thinking of Mary McCartney’s life and death. So he snapped, even though it was off-message. (He was busy that week doing interviews for the twentieth anniversary of “Love Me Do”—the moment called for Cozy Lovable Paul, not Angry Paul.) He didn’t boast about it later, though fans today would be impressed that any English rock star of that generation—let alone Paul—had the gumption to send this. You can make a case that it was a braver, riskier, and more politically relevant move than John sending his MBE medal back to the Queen in 1970. Still, John’s gesture went down in history and Paul’s didn’t, though his fans would probably admire the move if they knew about it.
He couldn’t win. He was Paul. All he could do was piss people off.