George Harrison Explains Why Everyone Should Play the Ukulele, With Words and Music

in Music | August 5th, 2014

HarrisonUkeNote

George Harrison loved the ukulele, and really, what’s not to love? For its dainty size, the uke can make a powerfully cheerful sound, and it’s an instrument both beginners and expert players can learn and easily carry around. As Harrison’s old friend Joe Brown remarked, “You can pick up a ukulele and anybody can learn to play a couple of tunes in a day or even a few hours. And if you want to get good at it, there’s no end to what you can do.” Brown, once a star in his own right, met Harrison and the Beatles in 1962 and remembers being impressed with the fellow uke-lover Harrison’s range of musical tastes: “He loved music, not just rock and roll…. He’d go crackers, he’d phone me up and say ‘I’ve got this great record!’ and it would be Hoagy Charmichael and all this Hawaiian stuff he used to like. George was not a musical snob.”



“Crackers” may be the perfect word for Harrison’s uke-philia; he uses it himself in the adorable note above from 1999. “Everyone I know who is into the ukulele is ‘crackers,’” writes George, “you can’t play it and not laugh!” Harrison remained upbeat, even during his first cancer scare in 1997, the knife attack at his home in 1999, and the cancer relapse that eventually took his life in 2001. The ukulele seemed a sweetly genuine expression of his hopeful attitude. And after Harrison’s death, it seemed to his friends the perfect way to memorialize him. Joe Brown closed the Harrison tribute concert at Royal Albert Hall with a uke version of “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” and Paul McCartney remembered his friend in 2009 by strumming “Something” on a ukulele at New York’s Citi Field.

In his remarks, McCartney fondly reminisced: “Whenever you went round George’s house, after dinner the ukuleles would come out and you’d inevitably find yourself singing all these old numbers.” Just above, see Harrison and an old-time acoustic jazz ensemble (including Jools Holland on piano) play one of those “old numbers”—“Between The Devil and Deep Blue Sea”—in 1988. The song eventually wound up on his last album, the posthumously released Brainwashed. Just below, see Harrison, McCartney, and Ringo Starr sing a casually harmonious rendition of the 1927 tune “Ain’t She Sweet” while lounging picnic-style in a park.

In Hawaii, where Harrison owned a 150-acre retreat, and where he was known as Keoki, it’s said he bought ukuleles in batches and gave them away. The story may be legend, but it certainly sounds in character. He was a generous soul to the end. Just below, see Harrison strumming and whistling away in a home video made shortly before his death. You can hear the hoarseness in his voice from his throat cancer, but you won’t hear much sadness there, I think.

Related Content:

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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Comments (66)

  1. Angel Sanchez Borges says . . .
    August 6, 2014 / 10:03 am

    Peanuts frame (In Spanish):

    http://otrasmusicas.org/banjo.jpg

    salúd !

  2. Garett Barr says . . .
    November 2, 2014 / 4:41 pm

    Does anyone have a hi res version of this picture? I would love to print it and put it on the wall of my studio.

  3. Elaine rose says . . .
    December 27, 2014 / 5:07 pm

    Have just found your face book page. It looks really interesting and I’ll be visiting ng frequently.

  4. Cynthia Campbell says . . .
    February 25, 2015 / 6:30 pm

    The “park” the trio (Paul, George, Ringo) are relaxing in is George’s house. He was manic about getting the grounds just right.

  5. maion Ravenscroftr says . . .
    February 26, 2015 / 5:28 pm

    Tiny Tim needs to be mentioned here He had a Martin Ukelele He remembered every song that had been published since 1910 !
    Or earlier. He helped look after my daughter when she was little and played her delightful ditties all day long. He is sadly missed !

  6. Jennifer says . . .
    August 13, 2015 / 8:42 am

    George used to carry ukes around in his car to give to friends. My left-handed best friend is taking lessons – I’ll have to ask her if she’s pulling a Jimi Hendrix or is playing left handed.

  7. martina eich says . . .
    October 10, 2015 / 11:56 am

    Have l makme a video? Can l p
    laly ukulele? – Mr. j. and br.

  8. martina eich says . . .
    October 22, 2015 / 4:10 am

    was soll die scheisse?? ich bin halb tot mr. j. and br. – M.E. – lebst du ueberhaupt noch? your newcommertree palentyty😈

  9. tina eich says . . .
    November 6, 2015 / 10:30 pm

    To Helloween: Hollydays on Saturn!!! 😨😀😦😑!!!
    After Helloween: 😃

    Your plentychild 😊

  10. tina eich says . . .
    November 12, 2015 / 1:20 am

    Wath? I am from pighome, do you remember? I can speak, have the allove (rosa) and i am so sweet and lovely!🐽

  11. tina eich says . . .
    November 12, 2015 / 1:39 am

    Yes, I have it!!! Thankens yyou for all too!!! 🐜

  12. tina eich says . . .
    November 12, 2015 / 2:06 am

    15.120 days I wars whaiting for a gardencnome … thank you!!! 😃

  13. tina eich says . . .
    November 12, 2015 / 10:31 am

    Sometimes we see a nose in the univers… your? We all in germany know now you whatching us, we need Good not, but you and we all belive in you master of the univers Hansemann!!! your child in thaughts! And please safe the 🐘!!! – You have humor?!!!!!!!!!!.

  14. tinapy says . . .
    November 14, 2015 / 4:22 am

    😗for you from you forever!!! be young and brity for and mr. stick!1!

  15. tina eich says . . .
    November 14, 2015 / 4:24 am

    my friends, my guru…

  16. tinapy says . . .
    November 14, 2015 / 4:49 am

    this word you after for.

  17. tina says . . .
    November 17, 2015 / 9:55 am

    Ooooooooohhhhhhhh!!!👊

  18. tina says . . .
    November 22, 2015 / 5:07 am

    How do you feel??? I understand the world not! 😭 – that’s me!!!

  19. tina says . . .
    November 25, 2015 / 5:10 am

    Remember me?: Noyes? But the nose in the univers…nightmares…YOU, Mr. relasedady simpson…three points…the death witch-thank YOU…jungo 30…sticks on my haed (aua)…and so on…yes I am…yes I remember me at YOU!!! – 🐽 and I have alllove too, not only YOU!!! – mhm…

  20. tina says . . .
    November 25, 2015 / 5:27 am

    …and we never without us…and where is my dady mornigstar pomfgod…yes yes, remembers without…and I read again and have YOU not see…and a devil as a…-not my one 😬…. Take care of you!!! Have you read the newspaper?😭😔

  21. tina says . . .
    November 25, 2015 / 7:57 am

    Carwash: Danke dass Du mich daran erinnert hast, wie ich ein Auto wusch😑! pictures in energie: I sit in a energie from a dirty jung wife,she read my thougts!!! Death and devil from her for us to God, ok!? Ahhh… 3 crosses means you can write-and 6?
    Love from me too for YOU😌 Don’t be bad, my life is near me! Tschau

  22. tina says . . .
    November 25, 2015 / 8:04 am

    Sorry 3 crosses means you can not write!!! (near me)

  23. tina says . . .
    December 20, 2015 / 10:52 pm

    Goodby… God is hate, bad and the death througt other ones and the turnt ashole (killer of alllove and lovely humans)! sorry relasedady that l live.

  24. tina says . . .
    December 25, 2015 / 4:15 am

    know you now all rlasedady? I hope it is all ok with you. My energy is away ..! – Have a nice time andd sweef universly dreams!!!💥

  25. tina says . . .
    December 28, 2015 / 10:31 pm

    “Something” in my life is wrong but the love above me was listenig that better times must coming now and we hope here a wonderfull summer!!!🙇 – 💩God is in everything!!! (he must laught!!!) 🐽

  26. tina says . . .
    December 28, 2015 / 11:49 pm

    Believe me and read my text again!
    😌👆💚🐡👀

  27. tina says . . .
    December 30, 2015 / 11:16 pm

    😌in a other world…

  28. tina says . . .
    January 2, 2016 / 10:46 am

    Happy new year dady j.and b !💚

  29. tina says . . .
    January 3, 2016 / 7:31 am

    Nobodys child with an angl
    e obove me! Thank YOU angle G.H!!! 😣

  30. tina says . . .
    January 4, 2016 / 8:02 am

    red: dito … but (above)!!!💖💐 (🚀above)!

  31. tina says . . .
    January 6, 2016 / 3:30 pm

    28 Devils for them self and the other 12 too. Amen

  32. tina says . . .
    January 14, 2016 / 4:03 am


    🌊🐋🌊!!! For YOU 🐁

  33. tina says . . .
    January 18, 2016 / 11:44 am

    My thougths: Oh, she is healing too in yellow and wors happy. I am half death, it’s only me…

  34. tina says . . .
    January 18, 2016 / 12:03 pm

    💜 where are the wings??? 😡 … That”s not YOU?!

  35. tina says . . .
    January 18, 2016 / 11:55 pm

    Is it from you for me – … hahaha? From me for you is 3 years nothing from you hahaha!!!😇

  36. tina says . . .
    January 19, 2016 / 3:00 pm

    A tree without water is daying!!!
    👼
    💖😎?

  37. tina says . . .
    January 24, 2016 / 5:53 am

    Thankyou 10MB-shocker!!! YOU are so sweet and lovely and arived! I think I paint now a flower I not want and make a other questionemark behind. Have a nice sunday, your plantychild and you little lovely assy!!! 💚👆👊👩😜-Thankyou for this wonderfull pictures too!!! Bey sweet p.-🐁

  38. tina says . . .
    January 24, 2016 / 6:05 am

    Without you or with you is your turn! But I like you so deep that I weep!!! Don’t be bad if I give you back, in the other way I am not too, you peacefull 🐡!

  39. tina says . . .
    January 26, 2016 / 11:15 am

    I hope Hari and Krishna have a nice live Mr. G. Georgien … all normal …! I wich you a big see with much friends and rain after sunshine!!! 😐

  40. tina says . . .
    January 26, 2016 / 11:18 pm

    The next picture from you (out of your hand) a flowerocean…please, please, please and a tree rightside!!! 😊👍 YOUr r.- childy

  41. tina says . . .
    January 30, 2016 / 2:23 am

    💖💖💖 .. thankenseyou very muchy for so muchy, yessie!!! Good wiches for the rest of the family!!! 😲 this smilie is in and I don’t way!

  42. tina says . . .
    January 30, 2016 / 8:06 am

    Not true? … so I wash yout hair.26 for me to the Lord, 12 for you!💖

  43. tina says . . .
    January 30, 2016 / 10:36 am

    I wich you were here, a human not a animal like all here!!! I paint your flower alone. 😶

  44. tina says . . .
    February 1, 2016 / 12:36 am

    Your bones can’t be broken .. your vour points from me!!! 1000 times the same story to🚀but …? Thankyou for all 📀 and … and give me back this morning! Have a nice day! 💖💖💖

  45. tina says . . .
    February 5, 2016 / 6:54 am

    Transylvanien dirthousy, why?💖💖💖

  46. tina says . . .
    February 8, 2016 / 9:53 am

    As youfeel good was from me … I live for you too! 💖 I like you r.- dady G.

  47. tina says . . .
    February 10, 2016 / 10:34 am

    Good night! Ithink at you and I hope you dream not, so you can have no nightmare!!! Your little 🐴 … but I have nothing to laught … and you?

  48. tina says . . .
    February 10, 2016 / 10:47 am

    …to KILL a fly? 26 for me to your sweet L… and G.. and J….!!! Habe Dich lieb 💖 (Iike you much … more than I can write)!!! Tschau

  49. tina says . . .
    February 16, 2016 / 10:53 am

    Sir … this colourfull guitar … like for a child with the same face and name like me? Sir … YOU and this guitar … like a fish with a bike …it past not, but all things musssssssssst past …😤

  50. tina says . . .
    February 16, 2016 / 12:41 pm

    Replacedady you have talk sometimes with this 26 ….! My brian is a hotel! For YOU 12! YOUr points plrease! I be not bad!!!💖💖💖

  51. tina says . . .
    February 24, 2016 / 1:11 pm

    All good wishes for your birthday not, but for YOU!!! I hope YOU have a nice day with family and friends!!! YOU must not sing, write and videos make for me, only if YOU want!!!!!!!!!! ☺☝🐝 (Dschies 🍸) 👀

  52. tina says . . .
    March 7, 2016 / 11:54 am

    How you can write such texts for me, what do you mean? I am a ashole for you?

  53. tina says . . .
    March 7, 2016 / 11:30 pm

    My father in my head in God your name in the dirt! I have the nose full!!!

  54. tina says . . .
    March 8, 2016 / 5:55 am

    Gone troppo: (no thank) – I can give to the Lord a new planet for you, with all what you need, whish and hope, so poor I am! YOUr songs are very nice!!! ThankYOU 💖

  55. Tina says . . .
    March 8, 2016 / 6:00 am

    … I am watching above you – yes … cement (shoes for all “!lovely” people!!!). 😆 Tschaui

  56. Tina says . . .
    March 10, 2016 / 11:02 am

    A man how work in a church will that the world is daying, he stop not to hurt us with ..my craying Wertheim!

  57. Tina says . . .
    March 11, 2016 / 2:11 am

    Thankyou for your photo .. I kill God !!! At the Ciosk Aschaffenburg wars it you? Near you at a chair, this one wars me!!!💖

  58. Tina says . . .
    March 12, 2016 / 12:46 am

    Good morning!!! Better? 💖

  59. Tina says . . .
    March 12, 2016 / 1:55 am

    💧💧💧 God love devils! End

  60. Tina says . . .
    March 27, 2016 / 4:19 am

    Thankyou, now I looks like this wife at the poster with you and me (pick)! But………!💖”👌”!

  61. Tina says . . .
    March 27, 2016 / 8:08 am

    Thankyou for easterneggs and good westernsouleggs from me this heavy time!!!! Your childsyliny.🐽

  62. Tina says . . .
    March 27, 2016 / 8:19 am

    Words comming later, like “for”…. the wether is shidy …. all thinks are passt away …. wars it for the Lord???🐽

  63. Tina says . . .
    March 28, 2016 / 1:48 am

    Aaaaahhh … this eggs from a grameĺing!!! 🐽

  64. Tina says . . .
    March 28, 2016 / 1:59 am

    What I realy mean are cremlineggs!!!! 💖🐽

  65. Tina says . . .
    March 28, 2016 / 2:09 am

    For fun, games, background, helloween, christmess and more!!! Three hardys 💖💖💖 and me the alllove🐽

  66. Tina says . . .
    April 1, 2016 / 7:41 am

    Are you alive? I am in sorrow!!!!💖

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