My Kid Brothers Band: AKA The Beatles
published: 25 /
In her book column 'Raging Pages' Lisa Torem examines Louise Harrison's book 'My Kid Brother’s Band a.k.a. The Beatles' which reflects her relationship with her brother, George Harrison and his rise to fame and also sheds light on her family
Louise Harrison, the late George Harrison’s older sister, became Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein’s invaluable American correspondent in the early 1960s. As she was living in Illinois and had developed talent in and knowledge of the broadcasting industry that the British businessman would not have had exposure to, as he promoted the band from Liverpool, England, Louise provided tremendous, professional insights.
Lou Harrison was also the hands-on, doting sister who nursed her brother back to health when he became ill before a key appearance on 'The Ed Sullivan Show', where the lads would perform for 73 million viewers. Detailed letters flew back and forth between Harrison and Epstein. She became his U.S. eyes and ears. She understood the over-the-pond politics, but although the book’s title, 'My Kid Brother’s Band a.k.a. The Beatles', leads us to believe that the whole story is about Lou’s relationship with her “kid” brother and the Beatles’ trajectory, this story goes beyond the scope of that unique, sibling bond and clues us in on a great deal more.
Lou Harrison married young. Her husband’s career as an engineer led them to travel overseas to Peru, Canada and the U.S. She describes beautifully in chapter seven how they met and how they intrigued each other intellectually -“An encounter at the bus stop changes my life.” She would have children but had challenges being so far from home and her family and would grow restless with the married life.
But Lou was always a survivor and a woman with strong character, which she attributed to her parents. During Beatlemania, they felt obliged to answer every single fan letter sent to their famous son. They instilled important values about spirituality, not ascribing them to a particular religion, but more to mankind in general.
Lou experienced food rationing and extreme poverty. She was highly intelligent and when she had an opportunity to attend several schools in the UK, her father explained to her that her intellect was a gift, something to be humble about, something that should enable her to give back to others. Her mother, who had lived through the Great Depression, was an important, moral influence. She had told her: “Look after your own family and their needs as a first priority. If you have anything left over, put most into savings. Whenever there is anything extra, you should share with needy friends.” Harrison praises her parents’ value system and claims that to understand George Harrison, you must understand the family dynamic, of Harold and Louise Harrison, from which many of his devout beliefs, materialized.
With fondness, she explains: “His kindness, compassion, and spiritual leanings were taking root long before he became a Beatle.”
We see a lot of her kid brother’s love for humanity in Lou’s family stories. She supported his efforts when planning charity benefits and also started her own foundation in an effort to support and sustain the environment. The spirit of giving is explored through many subsequent stories. Her mum made do with little money and made her children’s’ clothes, but they seemed to lack for nothing. Lou comes across as extremely appreciative of her parents’ efforts and how they always made the children feel special. In a talk she gave in the Chicago area, Lou complained about the wasteful American menu. “That sandwich could have served three people,” she grunted, stretching her hands out across an imaginary plate to illustrate how excessive the meal was.
Lou discusses how she met her “spiritual brother” Marty Scott and became manager of the Liverpool Legends, too. Scott performs the role of Harrison in this Beatles tribute band and many say that Scott could pass as Harrison’s doppelganger. That uncanny resemblance and their immediate rapport has given both parties great comfort and joy. With Lou Harrison’s promotional strategies and support and the band's natural talent, they play to sold out houses internationally.
Lou has a natural way of writing that is contagious. In the final chapters, she touches on what it’s been like to meet other celebrities, but the stories are not boastful or just meant as a way to name-drop, and they’re light-hearted and insightful.
This was a very enjoyable read. It told as much about how a close-knit, working class British family was affected by fame as it did about hard core values and living a fulfilling life despite unsuspected challenges. 'Raging Pages' salutes Lou Harrison for articulating a fascinating life journey and sharing the ups and downs in a genuine and entertaining way.