Beatle’s sister visits Joplin to promote Branson tribute band

2 Jul

I’ve never been to the Liverpool Legends show in Branson. I will soon.

Louise Harrison — sister of Beatle George Harrison — came through Joplin last week to promote the Liverpool Legends, a tribute band who pay homage to the leaders of the British invasion.

Globe staffer Roger McKinney met with Louise and wrote a story for the Globe and www.joplinglobe.com.

By Roger McKinney
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — To fans of the Beatles everywhere, George Harrison was the group’s lead guitarist and composer of such classics as “Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Taxman.” His solo successes included “My Sweet Lord” and “What Is Life.”

To Louise Harrison, he was all that — and little brother.

Harrison made a stop Wednesday at Joplin’s Schifferdecker Park, traveling with an assistant in a Volkswagen Beetle outfitted to resemble a yellow submarine, like the song.

Louis Harrison in Joplin with her Yellow Submarine

She is promoting the Liverpool Legends, the Beatles tribute band in Branson that she has backed since 2005. She said the Liverpool Legends have moved to a new performance space at The Mansion theater. The tribute band also tours, and in the past year has performed in Santiago, Chile, and Nova Scotia, Canada.

“I’m trying to keep the message alive of love, peace and caring for one another,” she said of the Beatles’ music.

Harrison has begun writing her autobiography. She said it will be her own story, including how her brother and the other Beatles contributed to her life. She said she will seek to dispel the myth that her brother was “the quiet Beatle.”

She said that idea took hold as the Beatles prepared to perform for the first time on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” in February 1964. She said her brother developed a fever and sore throat. A doctor at New York’s Plaza Hotel said he needed to be hospitalized, and that he at least needed to rest his voice.

She said that’s the reason her brother didn’t talk much during the initial interviews and news conferences. She joined her brother and his band mates in New York to help nurse him back to health in time for the show.

She emigrated with her husband to the United States in 1963, and her brother visited her at their home in Benton, Ill., that September, months before the Beatles would erupt in America. She said George joined her, her husband and their dog on a camping trip.

She said that as the Beatles gained fame in England and throughout Europe, she would travel to radio stations in the area, urging program directors to play the band’s most recent single. She was sometimes successful, but not often.

She said she also wrote at least once a week to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, advising him about the American market and music trends as he prepared to introduce the band to America.

At 79, Harrison said she is in good health. She attributes that to good genes and the fact she has never smoked. Her brother died on Nov. 29, 2001, at age 58. She said smoking shortened her brother’s life, and that a stabbing in 1999 had weakened him.

Before his death, she said, her brother told her to spread the word about the dangers of smoking. She said she does so whenever she talks with school groups and at other opportunities.

Asked about George Harrison’s attraction to Eastern religions, especially Hinduism in India, she said she thinks their father, Harold, influenced their beliefs. She said he was gentle and kind, as George was. They were raised Catholic. She said she prayed nightly for God to make her a good girl. One day, it occurred to her to ask her father how she would know she was a good girl.

“He said I was a good girl if I don’t ever harm any other creatures,” she said. “That’s such a simple thing. If people only did that, that’s all we would need.”

She will appear July 15 in Nashville, Tenn., with Edie Hand, co-author of “Women of True Grit.” She is among nearly 40 successful women profiled in the book. Hand is a cousin of Elvis Presley.

On the Net
More information about Louise Harrison and the Liverpool Legends is available at www.liverpoollegends.com

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