21 September: On this day in 1964, The Beatles returned to London’s Heathrow Airport after completing their U.S. tour.
'The Beatles' flight BA 510 landed at Heathrow Airport, London, at 9:30 pm by which time thousands of fans had gathered on the roof of the Queen's Building to greet them. Continuous Beatles music had been playing throughout the building and regular flight reports were announced, as their Boeing 707 crossed the Atlantic.' - The Beatles - A Diary"
Paul McCartney and John Lennon, 1964, photographed by George Harrison, as seen in (and screen capped from) Living in the Material World
"I think, probably, eighty per cent of them were overrated but then, the twenty per cent that weren’t, were exceptions. I think The Beatles were fantastic, John and Paul were fantastic. You see, the funny position I was in was that, in many ways, this whole focus of attention was on The Beatles. So, in that respect, I was part of it but from being in them, an attitude came over, which was John and Paul, of, ‘Okay, we’re the grooves, and you two, just watch it.’ They never said that, or did anything, but it was over a period of time… In a way, I felt like an observer of The Beatles, even though I was with them. Whereas, I think, John and Paul were the stars of The Beatles." - George Harrison on whether or not The Beatles’ songs were overrated, 1975
George Harrison - “Wah Wah” (demo) - Beware of ABKCO
“Wah Wah was written during the Let It Be fiasco, which began with the rehearsal of the songs and ended up as the movie Let It Be. We had been away from each other after having had a very difficult time recording the White album. That double album was so long it went on forever, and there were all kinds of other bullshit things happening in the band; pressures and problems and after that we came back from a holiday, and went straight back into the old routine. It is that concept of how everybody sees and treats everybody else, allowing no consideration for the fact that we are changing all the time.
I remember Paul and I were trying to have an argument and the crew carried on filming and recording us. Anyway after one of those first mornings - I couldn’t stand it; I decided this is it! - it’s not fun anymore - it’s very unhappy being in this band - it’s a lot of crap - thank you I’m leaving. Wah Wah was a ‘headache’ as well as a footpedal. It was written during the time in the film where John and Yoko were freaking out screaming - I’d left the band, gone home - and wrote this tune.” - George Harrison, I Me Mine
George Harrison, self-portrait (double exposure), Paris, 1964, as featured in (and screen capped from) Living in the Material World
"Well, George, you know, George had two incredible separate personalities. He had the love, bag of beads personality, and the bag of anger. He was very black and white." - Ringo Starr, Living in the Material World
George Harrison and Bob Dylan, 1968; screen capped from Living in the Material World
"Where the guitarist would always be ‘our kid,’ the younger brother in the Beatles, with the Band he was an equal.
More than that, Bob Dylan regarded him as a potential musical partner. […]
David Bromberg first met Harrison during final sessions for Dylan’s Self Portrait album and was surprised by the star’s knowledge of his music: ‘I met him at Columbia Studios, and he sang me a song I wrote, and told me that Bob taught it to him. It floored me.’ He later discovered that all the Beatles were interested in his music, particularly ‘Sammy’s Song,’ a barrier-breaking tale of a young man’s sexual encounters with a prostitute.
As one of Bob Dylan’s favorite musicians, Bromberg is well placed to comment on why Dylan struck up a partnership with Harrison: ‘Bob is a very sensitive guy, with big ears. He has this strange image, but he’s a good man, a man of great integrity. I’m sure he had a lot of respect for the things George did beautifully - for one thing, he asked him to play on his records! He didn’t tie himself to George because he was famous. He and George met at a certain level of sincerity.’
But Bromberg was also struck by the superstar’s diffidence: ‘My impression of George when I first met him was that he wasn’t really extremely confident, didn’t understand what all the fuss was about and felt like maybe people were mistaking him, or making a mistake, or seeing something that wasn’t there. That was the feeling I got from him.’ It was a picture of a man who felt he couldn’t offer what the mores of the day demanded: ‘Everyone was into hot licks, but he didn’t have any. So I feel he didn’t have a glimpse of how really wonderful a musician he was… He was very conscious that he couldn’t read music and that he couldn’t play searing solos off the top of his head. What he could do was worth more to me. He was a beautiful musician, extremely musical. The ‘Moonlight Sonata’ is a very simple thing to play on the piano, but it’s beautiful. And beauty is not about technique.’” - While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison by Simon Leng
Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, on stage at the Paramount Theater, New York City, 20 September 1964
Photo: Tobi Seftel
On 20 September 1964, The Beatles performed a charity concert (in aid of the United Cerebral Palsy Fund of New York) at the Paramount Theater on Broadway, New York City.
Footage of this performance can be viewed on YouTube, here.