“Best times with George? We hitchhiked to a place in Wales called Harlech, and we were kids before The Beatles. We had heard a song “Men Of Harlech”, saw it at a sign post, yeah, there was a big castle. And we just went there. We had our guitars everywhere and we ended up in this cafe. You know, we’d try to go to a place, a central meeting place, and in Harlech, there was this little cafe that had a jukebox. So this was home. So we sat around there. So we met a guy, he started talking, he was into rock and roll, you know, we went and stayed at his house. So it was great, me and George top and tailing it in a bed.” – Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney and George Harrison at the time only lived one stop apart from each other at what they called ‘The Trading Estates’ in Speke. On these bus rides George had found out that Paul played the trumpet and was getting a guitar and Paul found out that George played guitar, the two would get together at night and played from what Paul remembers songs like “Besame Mucho” and “Don’t Rock me Daddy O”.
Paul and George became friends fast even taking a hitchhiking trip to Wales in August 1959, before they were even famous or in The Beatles.
“One year, Paul and I decided to go hitchhiking. It’s something nobody would dream about these days. Firstly you’d probably be mugged before you got through the Mersey Tunnel, and secondly everybody’s got cars and is already stuck in a traffic jam. I’d often gone down with my family down South to Devon, to Exmouth, so Paul and I decided to go there first.
“We didn’t have much money. We found bed-and-breakfast places to stay. We got to one town, and we were walking down a street and it was getting dark. We saw a woman and said, ‘Excuse me, do you know if there’s somewhere we could stay?’ She felt sorry for us and said, ‘My boy’s away, come and stay at my house.’ So she took us to hers – where we beat her, tied her up and robbed her of all her money! Only joking; she let us stay in her boy’s room and the next morning cooked us breakfast. She was really nice. I don’t know who she was – the Lone Ranger?
“We continued along the South coast, towards Exmouth. Along the way we talked to a drunk in a pub who told us his name was Oxo Whitney. (He later appears in ‘A Spaniard in the Works.’ After we’d told John that story, he used the name. So much of John’s books is from funny things people told him.) Then we went on to Paignton. We still had hardly any money. We had a little stove, virtually just a tin with a lid. You poured a little meths into the bottom of it and it just about burned, not with any velocity. We had that, and little backpacks, and we’d stop at grocery shops. We’d buy Smedley’s spaghetti bolognese or spaghetti milanese. They were in striped tins: milanese was red stripes, bolognese was dark blue stripes. And Ambrosia creamed rice. We’d open a can, bend back the lid and hold the can over the stove to warm it up. That was what we lived on.
“We got to Paignton with no money to spare so we slept on the beach for the night. Somewhere we’d met two Salvation Army girls and they stayed with us and kept us warm for a while. But later it became cold and damp, and I remember being thankful when we decided that was enough and got up in the morning and started walking again. We went up through North Devon and got a ferry boat across to South Wales, because Paul had a relative who was a redcoat at Butlins at Pwllheli, so we thought we’d go there.
“At Chepstow, we went to the police station and asked to stay in a cell. They said, ‘No, bugger off. You can go in the football grandstand, and tell the cocky watchman that we said it was OK.’ So we went and slept on a hard board bench. Bloody cold. We left there and hitchhiked on. Going north through Wales we got a ride on a truck. The trucks didn’t have a passenger seat in those days so I sat on the engine cover. Paul was sitting on the battery. He had on jeans with zippers on the back pockets and after a while he suddenly leapt up screaming. His zipper had connected the positive and negative end in the battery, got red hot and burnt a zipper mark across his arse.
“When we eventually got to Butlins, we couldn’t get in. It was like a German prisoner-of-war camp – Stalag 17 or something. They had barbed-wire fences to keep the holiday-makers in, and us out. So we had to break in.” – George Harrison , The Beatles Anthology.
|George while hitchhiking, August 1959. (Photo taken by Paul)|
|George Harrison outside Hare & Hounds in Gloucestershire while hitchhiking with Paul McCartney in August 1959. (Photo taken by Paul McCartney)|
|George Harrison during the hitchhiking trip, August 1959. (Photo taken by Paul McCartney)|
|George Harrison and Paul McCartney hitchhiking, August 1959.|
|Here’s another photograph of a young George Harrison taken by Paul McCartney, ca. late 1950s.|