Louise Harrison, sister of late Beatles guitarist George Harrison, is embarking on a career in artist management at the tender age of seventy-three. Although Harrison hasn’t previously worked in management in a formal capacity, she once actively promoted her brother’s fledgling band before it broke big in America.
“Back in the early Sixties, when the Beatles were first starting out, my mother sent me their first album and some of their singles,” explains Harrison. “And I went dashing around to all the radio stations trying to get them to play the songs they had by my brother. And they would say, ‘This stuff’s not commercial, it’s not going anywhere — just go home and forget all about your kid brother and his band.'”
But when the Beatles’ arrival in the States looked imminent, Harrison redoubled her efforts, offering her assistance to Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.
“I knew that Brian had no prior experience in artist management, so I was buying the Cash Box and Billboard magazines and reading up on show business so that I could write to Brian and tell him,” says Harrison. “I was writing him thirteen-, fourteen-page letters in longhand back in those days. And in every one I would say to him, ‘You’ve got to get them on The Ed Sullivan Show, because that’s the primary thing.’ Brian didn’t know anything much about the United States, and I’d only moved here myself a few months before.”
Although her first attempt at promoting the Beatles was short-lived, her experience pitching the band has given her new company its name.
“After they became famous, I still kept calling them my kid brother’s band,” Harrison continued. “So I decided that’s what I’d call my company, My Kid Brother’s Band. Because if I hadn’t had a kid brother that played guitar, I wouldn’t have gotten into it in the first place.”
Fittingly, Harrison’s first clients are the two-man Beatles’ tribute act known as Passed Masters, featuring a “John Lennon” (Kevin Mantegna) and a “George Harrison” (Marty Scott). Harrison met them after seeing a gig by their former band, American English.
“When the show was over I came onstage and said, ‘Well, I have to say they passed the audition,'” says Harrison. “Because that’s one of the jokes the guys had in the Beatles — ‘I hope we passed the audition.’ And as I got to know Marty, it was like an instant connection, as though we’d always known each other.”
The recently formed Passed Masters play their first show Sunday in Chicago, and Harrison aims for them to not only turn a profit but benefit the communities in which they play.
“John and George were so into the idea of helping humanity,” she says, “and into the whole idea of peace and love and kindness.”
More information on Passed Masters is available at www.passedmasters.com.