from The Daily Mail by James Nye
George Harrison was worth more than $300 million when he died in 2001, but the music legend’s 82-year-old sister Louise Harrison now struggles to get by – living in a pre-fabricated home in small-town near Branson, Missouri.
Louise Harrison says she has been cut off from the family. While George left his widow Olivia and son Dhani the lavish Friar Park, a 120-room Victorian mansion in Henley-On-Thames just outside London, Louise is unable to support herself without working – managing a touring Beatles tribute band.
However, displaying the quiet stoicism her family is famous for, Louise says she ‘doesn’t mind not living in a castle because she would rather be broke than live rich and heartless.’
A long way from Beatlemania: The Branson, Missouri, property that Louise Harrison calls home. She has lived in America for more than 50 years and says she wants nothing from the family of her famous brother
Gifted a $2,000-a-month pension by her brother for tax reasons in 1980 to help her get by, Louise found herself unceremoniously cut off by her brother’s estate almost a year to the day after he died of complications from lung cancer in November 2001.
Louise, who lives alone, found this sum of money to be adequate for her lifestyle.
She was not given a reason why the allowance was stopped by Olivia, 65, or Dhani, 35, but knows she would still be receiving the money if George was alive.
She said: ‘I don’t care about the money, it’s been over ten years and I haven’t made any ripples.’
Louise moved to the US more than 50 years ago, following her first husband, even before The Beatles themselves launched a British ‘invasion’ of America in 1964.
About George’s payments, Louise said: ‘It was my pension from him – it was his intention to make it last my lifetime. He said, “Given my financial situation, there is no reason on Earth why my sister should ever be in need”.
‘But I was never concerned about the termination of the pension, I have found a way to make a living.
‘I don’t have any blame for anyone and I was brought up as a Harrison and to be self-reliant.’
Louise relives the glory days of the Fab-Four’s rise to fame with the Liverpool Legends, the tribute band she manages.
Touring with them regularly, she does make appearances with the band and entertains the crowds after shows with her fond recollections of her brother and, of course, John, Paul and Ringo.
Getting by with a little help from her friends: Louise Harrison, pictured left with George in 1962, and right in 2002, says she manages to be self-reliant and has a circle of friends in Branson, Missouri
Sprawling estate: Friar Park, the 120-room home in Henley-on-Thames where George Harrison lived with his wife Olivia and son, Dhani, before he passed away in 2001
Beatle: George Harrison a year before his death at the Australian Grand Prix in 2000 (left), and during a rare public appearance in Los Angeles in 1992
However, with the end of the touring schedule, business has been slow and money has become tough.
She said: ‘I am struggling for money, like everyone, but I am not on the breadline. I am not “skint”, as they would say in Britain. I feel very fortunate to own outright the land that my two homes sit on – which is better than most.’
While Missouri has a checkered reputation as a den of meth-production and drug addiction, Louise claims that she has seen none of that in her neighborhood of Merriam Woods, adding: ‘My neck of the woods is carefully managed by the local assembly men and a vigilant police force.’
Even so, Merriam Woods is a world away from Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames, a stunning 120-room Victorian mansion that Harrison left to Olivia and Dhani. Conservative estimates value Friar Park at $40million.
Louise has fondly spoken of growing up with her little brother in a small terraced Liverpool home.
When we were Fab: Ed Sullivan with The Beatles Ringo Starr George Harrison (died November 2001) John Lennon (died December 1980) And Paul Mccartney On The Set Of The Ed Sullivan Show. 1964
George was the youngest of four children and was doted on by his elder siblings.
‘George was a smashing kid, always smiling. He was a great brother,’ she said in an interview in 2009.
‘I was very protective of him, he was just my little kid baby brother.’
Louise moved to Illinois with her Scottish mining engineer husband, Gordon Caldwell, and had two children in the late 1950s.
Meanwhile, back in Britain, George met a young man named Paul McCartney and together they joined a band named The Quarrymen.
In October 1962, Love Me Do was released in the UK and the nation became gripped by the four mop-tops and their sensational style.
However, at that moment, the band was unknown in America – a situation that their manager Brian Epstein hoped to change.
Louise, stepped up to the task and she took it upon herself to visit every small-town DJ she could, asking them to play her kid brother’s band’s songs.
Staggering: British rock group the Beatles performing their last live public concert on the rooftop of the Apple Organization building for director Michael Lindsey-Hogg’s film documentary, ‘Let It Be,’ on Savile Row, London, England
Incredibly, she got their hit From Me To You played on a local Illinois radio station in June 1963 – the first known example of The Beatles getting airplay in the United States.
She still has letters from Brian Epstein, expressing gratitude for how she helped them break America.
‘I did all I could to help my kid brother,’ she says. In 1963, George spent two weeks at Louise’s home.
WORLDLY POSSESSIONS: THE WEALTH OF GEORGE HARRISON
- When George Harrison died in 2001 he left the vast majority of his $300 million fortune to his wife Olivia and son Dhani.
- He gave 10 percent to the Hare Krishna faith he famously embraced in the 1960s.
- His assets included a series of properties around the world, including one on Hamilton Island in Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef, and a secluded ocean-front home on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
- He also owned Friar Park – a 120-room mansion in Henley-on-Thames, where he was stabbed by a crazed intruder in 1999.
- His estate also included the rights to his hit songs, including My Sweet Lord – which was part of his mega-hit triple album, All Things Must Pass.
He was able to walk the streets unrecognized, he went camping and played with a local band in front of a small crowd of 150.
Five months later he returned to the US with The Beatles to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show – and the history of popular music changed forever.
Louise traveled to New York to see her now world-famous brother and met John, Ringo and Paul and eventually George’s then girlfriend, Patti Boyd – for whom he would end up writing the ballad Something.
Louise recalls that the moniker of the ‘Quiet Beatle’ was bestowed on her brother – for the wrong reasons.
George was in fact suffering a strep throat at the time and as a result couldn’t speak to the press or address the hordes of screaming girls who had flocked to see him.
The brother and sister spent the 1960s and the 1970s very close, but George reportedly distanced himself from her in the mid-Nineties, however – because he disapproved of the conversion of her old Illinois home into a ‘Beatles bed-and-breakfast’ inn, called A Hard Day’s Night.
Louise does not own the establishment, but did use her name to help promote it because the town had fallen on hard times.
She was says that she was trying to help them economically.
All those years ago: George Harrison with his parents Harold and Louise Harrison at home in Liverpool
When George lay dying in hospital in Staten Island more than 10 years ago they reunited.
Louise was led into a room where she found a familiar, though diminished figure propped up in a reclining chair, clinging to life.
The only other people present were Olivia and her sister Linda, and Dhani.
They left Louise and George to hold hands and reconcile for 90 minutes.
‘George was pretty frail, yet he was also still vibrant,’ she recalled in a 2002 interview.
‘His eyes were still bright. He was still George. He must have been in pain, but he didn’t show it. We reminisced about our childhood, and his sense of humor was the same as ever.
‘People always teased him about his sticky-out ears; now his oxygen tubes were hanging over them. He laughed and said: ‘My ears finally came in useful for something.’
As their time together drew to a close, George humbly apologized to his sister. ‘You know, I could have been a lot more help to you; I’m sorry,’ he told her.
They parted with what she calls a ‘Harrison hug’. George smiled weakly. ‘Remember to pass it on, sis,’ he bade her; she promised she would.
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