WILKES-BARRE — Louise Harrison said she always knew her brother had something special.
It was about 1955 and Louise’s brother, George, was in the hospital. She said she went to visit him, and as she approached his room she could see a lot of people. George was 12 at the time, and Louise was 24.
“My mum and dad were there,” Louise said in her distinctive British accent. “And there were some of George’s friends from school. Everyone was gathered around George’s bed.”
That’s when Louise noticed something about George.
“He was so gracious to everybody,” she said. “He managed to make everybody feel welcome and he kept them all in the conversation. I remember thinking he would make a great diplomat someday.”
George Harrison did go on to become somewhat of a diplomat — he was a vocalist and the lead guitarist for, as Louise calls them, “my kid brother’s band.”
The band was The Beatles, perhaps the most influential musical group in history — a group that took America and the world by storm in the early to mid-1960s and a group whose music still resonates with people of all ages.
Louise Harrison, sister of the late George Harrison of The Beatles, will bring her hand-picked band — “Liverpool Legends” — to Wilkes-Barre on May 26 at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.
Louise said she is the only Beatles family member to have put together a Beatles tribute band and she said the members of her fab four not only look like John, Paul, George and Ringo, they sound remarkably like them.
Louise has been a guest on The Beatledd Fab Four Hour on WRKC-FM, Radio King’s College, no less than four times. Edd Raineri, host of the weekly Beatles’ program, is the man responsible for bringing “Liverpool Legends” to the F.M. Kirby Center. Raineri said this is Liverpool Legends’ first visit to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“Louise Harrison hand-picked the members of the band,” Raineri said, noting that the band has performed world-wide, including Carnegie Hall in New York City, The Cavern Club in Liverpool, The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Busch Stadium in St. Louis and recently before a sold-out crowd of more than 16,000 in Mexico City. They’ve also headlined at International Beatles Week in Liverpool.
“Each member of the group is so close to the original that I often feel like I’m transported back in time with the lads, Louise said. “These are exactly the kind of fun loving quality musicians that my brother George would have loved to hang out with.”
Louise, who will be 86 in June, now lives in Rockaway Beach, N.J. After growing up in Liverpool, England — where Beatlemania all began — Louise married a Scottish engineer and moved to Canada, then South America and then Missouri, where she was when The Beatles started the British Invasion. George Harrison died in 2001 at the age of 58.
Louise said after she left England, she was kept informed about the family by her mom, who would send her recordings of the band’s songs.
“The first one she sent was ‘Love Me Do,’ but I really didn’t think much of that,” Louise said. “Then she sent ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ and I really liked that one. And I knew they were good because my mum, who wouldn’t say much, told me that ‘The Beatles are really, really good.’ I knew then that they would be very big.”
As did the rest of the world and the rest, as they say, is history.
Louise said she was involved with helping get radio air time for The Beatles, and she kept in touch with George all her life.
Louise said The Beatles were all “very jolly,” and always had fun. She said her Liverpool Legends band reminds her of those days.
“Being George’s sister, I would never put together anything that would bring disgrace to The Beatles,” Louise said. “The Beatles were polite and courteous — I wanted to be sure this band would be the same.”
Louise said she is unable to come to Wilkes-Barre for the May 26 performance, but she wanted to offer a message to the people here.
“Please give my love to all The Beatles fans out there,” she said. “I’m the global Beatles mum. Please come out and enjoy the concert — I promise you it will be very, very good.”
Louise said there will be a lot of audience participation at the concert and singing along with the band.
“The Beatles were about peace and love,” Louise said. “I keep thinking love and peace is what we need, instead of what is going on in the world today.”
Raineri said he was instantly hooked on The Beatles on February 9, 1964, the date they debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. He said the Beatledd Fab Four Hour on WRKC-FM, 88.5, Radio King’s College, celebrated its 7th year anniversary on May 7.
“There are a lot of Beatles tribute bands around the world, but only a few can be considered elite,” Raineri said. “Liverpool Legends is one of them.”
Raineri said he’s been to Liverpool, England, about a dozen times over the years. He said the city has changed a lot but the roots remain.
“In fact, I just bought a new pair of black suede Beatle boots about a month ago from a shop in Merseyside,” he said. “Only true Beatles’ fans can appreciate that.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.
About the show
• Liverpool Legends — the Complete Beatles’ Experience, will perform at The F.M. Kirby Center on Friday, May 26 at 8 p.m.
• As an added bonus, nationally known stand-up comedian and impressionist, Jeff DeHart, will take the stage as Ed Sullivan.
• Tickets are on sale at the Kirby Box Office, kirbycenter.org and charge by phone at 570-826-1100. Ticket prices are: $29.50; $39.50; $42.50 & $49.50, plus facility fees.