George Harrison, who died 21 years ago from cancer, was a huge supporter of the comedy industry. The Beatles star co-founded HandMade Films which produced classics like Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Withnail and I. It’s hardly surprising then, that he struck up a close friendship with comedians like Sir Billy Connolly. The 80-year-old Scot has some amusing and at times revelatory private conversations with the music legend back in the day.
Speaking previously with The Adam Buxton Podcast, Billy said he never had a chance to meet John Lennon, but admitted: “I’m friendly with all the other Beatles. I like George Harrison. He’s not my favourite, none of them is my favourite. I treasure my friendship with them. George was a lovely man. I spent a lot of time with him. A lot more than the other ones. I remember we went for Chinese food in the East End of London and a waiter came out and served us.”
Billy continued: “[The waiter] came back all shuffly footed, and he said, ‘I believe there’s somebody here I should know.’ One of the guys who was with us pointed to George and said, ‘He used to play for Manchester United.’ [The waiter] said, ‘Great can I have your autograph?’
“George signed it. He went away quite happy. And the waiter came back and he asked me something. And I said, ‘That’s okay man.” And I turned to George and I said, ‘I love man, you don’t have to learn anybody’s name. Just call them man.’”
That’s when Harrison made his confession.
Billy added: “George said, ‘It’s good to be a man.’ And I said, ‘I suppose it is, it’s very nice.’ He said, ‘We were the boys for so long.’ It was funny to see his side of it. He wasn’t allowed to be a man.”
So it turns out that The Beatles were forbidden from being real men and had to keep up the appearance of being boyish lads for their young female fans.
Buxton also asked Billy what sort of Beatles questions he would ask Harrison.
Billy replied: “Yeah, just about songs. They didn’t realise he was a writer.”
Lennon and McCartney may be best known as the primary songwriters for The Beatles but Harrison contributed some classics. In fact, his track Here Comes the Sun from 1969 album Abbey Road continues to dominate Spotify as listeners’ favourite track by the Fab Four. The song has been listened to over 900 million times and way down in second place on just over 500 million is Macca’s Let It Be.