She loves you, even if you're not the real thing
By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writer
"I come whenever people want to have me there," said Harrison, sister of George, her voice decidedly less-than-Liverpudlian, though grandmotherly polite. "Let's face it, usually all of these Beatle tribute bands are people who love the Beatles, love their music and have dedicated their lives to playing the music for people. People can't see live performances of Beatle music anymore, so I think it's a very, very wonderful thing that all of these bands are doing."
The 70-year-old longtime rural Illinois resident (she moved to America before The Beatles got big), fancying herself "a sort-of global mum of the worldwide Beatle family," even allows fans to do a bit more than hold her hand.
"Hugging is one of my favorite things ... connecting with people," said Harrison, giggling. "After the show I sign autographs and hug people. Normally, I just sort of chat with people ... about some of the experiences that I've had being my brother's sister all these years, and some of the wonderful things that have happened in my life simply because George was my brother."
Over a long-distance phone call, Louise Harrison was often given to speaking in flowery terms about love as in using your Harrison hug "to create love all around the world" by hugging others, and love being "one of the few resources ... on this planet where there is absolutely no limit to what you can have in you." Far from sounding creepy, though, out of Harrison's mouth all of this was, well, oddly comforting.
Harrison insisted that "sometimes I get paid and sometimes I don't" for her appearances, "but that's OK because I just love doing it."
The protective older sister declined comment on George's childhood years, preferring to keep memories of her three younger brothers a family secret. Though there was little contact between the two siblings short of letter-writing for many years before George's passing in December, Louise visited with her brother in New York two weeks before he died.
"He was laughing and joking ... he still had his sense of humor," said Harrison. "He was in a lot of pain, but we had a wonderful visit. We were able to connect with each other properly and look at each other with a lot of love."
Did he approve of his sis appearing with the likes of Beatles tribute bands?
"He was a little bit upset, because he didn't really like the idea of somebody walking around pretending to be him," said Harrison.
So in return, Harrison said, she cracks the whip with her Beatle doppelgangers, making sure their patter remains family-friendly and always respectful of her brother's legacy. She recounted a story of one unfortunate Beatles tribute band (not BeatleMania Live!).
"They used a word that was not very nice, and I blasted them," said Harrison. "I said, 'Don't you ever ... ever ... behave like that when you're wearing those outfits.' I'm very upset if (the bands) don't behave themselves in a way that's appropriate."
All you need is love, indeed.