Paul McCartney’s Stage Fright Landed George Harrison a Spot in The Beatles

<p>During an early performance with The Quarry Men, <a href=””>Paul McCartney</a> realized <a href=””>George Harrison</a> should take over his role in the band. Before the future <a href=””>Beatle</a> was a bassist, he favored the guitar. While his skill at the instrument landed him a position in the band, he struggled to make it through his first performance. His moment of stage fright ultimately secured Harrison’s position with The Beatles.</p>

<figure class=”wp-block-image size-custom-image-1200″><img decoding=”async” width=”1300″ height=”1029″ src=”″ alt=”A black and white picture of Paul McCartney and George Harrison wearing sunglasses and sitting next to each other on a bus.” class=”wp-image-3492172″ srcset=” 1300w, 632w, 768w, 1024w, 1200w, 76w, 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 1300px) 100vw, 1300px”><figcaption class=”wp-element-caption”>Paul McCartney and George Harrison | Express Newspapers/Getty Images</figcaption></figure>

<h2 id=”h-paul-mccartney-couldn-t-play-a-solo-so-the-band-hired-george-harrison”>Paul McCartney couldn’t play a solo, so the band hired George Harrison</h2>

<p>McCartney first met John Lennon after his band, The Quarry Men, <a href=””>performed at a church fest</a>. He introduced himself to the group afterward and played the guitar for them. McCartney impressed Lennon and, shortly thereafter, accepted an invitation to join the band.</p>

<p>McCartney joined the band in rehearsals and proved he was talented enough to play a solo during his first performance with the band. Once he got on stage, though, things didn’t go as planned.</p>

<figure class=”wp-block-image size-custom-image-1200″><img decoding=”async” loading=”lazy” width=”1300″ height=”861″ src=”″ alt=”A black and white picture of Paul McCartney holding a bass guitar.” class=”wp-image-3492167″ srcset=” 1300w, 150w, 640w, 768w, 1024w, 1200w, 91w” sizes=”(max-width: 1300px) 100vw, 1300px”><figcaption class=”wp-element-caption”>Paul McCartney | Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns</figcaption></figure>

<p>“For my first gig, I was given a guitar solo on ‘Guitar Boogie,’” McCartney said, per <em><a href=”″ target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>The Beatles Anthology</a></em>. “I could play it easily in rehearsal so they elected that I should do it as my solo. Things were going fine, but when the moment came in the performance I got sticky fingers; I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’”</p>

<p>He said that the sight of the audience overwhelmed him, and he realized he wasn’t the right person for this job. Luckily, he knew someone who was: his school friend, Harrison.</p>

<p>“I was just too frightened; it was too big a moment with everyone looking at the guitar player,” he explained, adding, “I couldn’t do it. (I never played a solo again until a few years ago). That’s why George was brought in.”</p>

<h2>This ended up being a good thing for the band</h2>

<p>The Quarry Men evolved into The Beatles, which meant McCartney’s stage fright landed Harrison a position as the guitarist in the biggest band in the world. He ended up being the perfect fit for the group.</p>

<p>As a guitarist, Harrison crafted careful melodies and played precisely and smoothly. He introduced new instruments to the band, like the sitar, pushing the limits of their sound. He wasn’t a flashy guitarist, but if he had been, he wouldn’t have fit in so seamlessly with The Beatles’ sound. For this reason, many place him among the greatest guitarists of all time.</p>

<p>By stepping down as the guitarist, McCartney also set himself to become the band’s bassist. When The Beatles’ original bassist, Stu Sutcliffe, left the band, McCartney <a href=””>reluctantly took his place</a>. This set him up for a long and enduring career as a bass guitarist.</p>

<h2>George Harrison took his role as guitarist very seriously after taking over from Paul McCartney</h2>

<p>Harrison also proved that he was the right person for the role because of <a href=””>how seriously he took it</a>. While his bandmates joked around onstage, Harrison rarely even smiled. He understood that it would be blatantly obvious if he made a mistake with his playing, as he was the lead guitarist.</p>

<figure class=”wp-block-image size-custom-image-1200″><img decoding=”async” loading=”lazy” width=”1300″ height=”847″ src=”″ alt=”A black and white picture of George Harrison sitting and holding an acoustic guitar.” class=”wp-image-3492169″ srcset=” 1300w, 640w, 768w, 1024w, 1200w, 92w, 150w” sizes=”(max-width: 1300px) 100vw, 1300px”><figcaption class=”wp-element-caption”>George Harrison | Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns</figcaption></figure>

<p>“I used to ask him why he didn’t,” his mother Louise said in <em><a href=”″ target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener”>The Beatles: The Authorized Biography</a></em> by Hunter Davies. “He always looked so serious. Girls were always asking me why he looked so serious. He used to say, ‘I’m the lead guitar. If the others make mistakes through larking around, no one notices, but I can’t make mistakes.’ He was always very serious about his music, and the money.”</p>

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