It Was 70 Years Ago Today…In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of George Harrison’s birth, here are photos from Henry Grossman’s amazing collection of George, Pattie, the Beatles and friends taken on the day of George’s 24th birthday party in 1967. (Note: Grossman didn’t say the photos were taken on exactly February 25th, though they probably were, just that they were taken on the day of his birthday party. The 25th was on a Saturday in 1967 and was also a day off from recording sessions for the Beatles.)Excerpts by Henry Grossman from his book:
February of 1967 found me back in England for another series of jobs… When the editor of LIFE found out I was going to London, he asked if I could take some new photos of The Beatles to accompany the article they were working on. I placed my regular phone call to George from the Westbury Hotel. Pattie was throwing him a birthday party at his house and he asked me to come. I said I’d be happy to and mentioned the fact that LIFE wanted some new pictures of him and his bandmates. I believe it was his suggestion that I come out early on the day of the party for a group photo shoot. George, Ringo, and John all lived fairly close to one another, so it wouldn’t be a problem for them to get together. Only Paul would have to make the trip out from the city.On the afternoon of the shoot, George drove out to the movie studio where I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘isname was filming (Shepperton Studios). It wasn’t far from his home and he offered to pick me up. The photo shoot was going to take place at Ringo’s later in the afternoon, but we had some time to kill and went back to Kinfauns. George was eager to show me what the band had been working on recently. He had a movie projection room set up at his house, and he gave me a private screening of the promo film they had made for “Strawberry Fields Forever” earlier in the month. It was pretty far out stuff.We had another afternoon together at Esher. I took some photos of George and Pattie in the kitchen and dining area (Photo #2 - George on the phone beside Pattie), one of which eventually ran in the LIFE article (Photo #1). A friend of George’s named Amiya Dasgupta also came to visit. He was an accomplished sitar player and a student of Ravi Shankar. We watched and listened as George practiced the sitar in his drawing room.(At Sunny Heights: Photo #3) We were the first to arrive. Ringo took us into his “fun room” … He was eager to show us his newest acquisition, a color organ. It wasn’t an insturment, but rather a box - somewhat like a television in appearance - with a screen that displayed shifting patterns of color which danced and moved in response to music, very psychedelic.(Photo #4 - Ringo and George posing in the garden in front of Sunny Heights.) While we waited for the others to arrive, the four of us (including George’s friend Amiya Dasgupta) went for a walk around the grounds. The massive backyard was terraced and sloped down away from the house.(Photo #5 - Henry Grossman took several shots of the Beatles plus pets Tiger, Ringo & Maureen’s poodle, and Martha, whom had accompanied Paul to Sunny Heights. They posed beside the cement fish pond.) One thing that became very clear to me over the years was how fond all four Beatles were of animals. They displayed a tenderness toward their pets that was touching. I’ve sometimes wondered if this might have been due partly to the fact that dogs and cats had no concept of celebrity. Their pets loved them unconditionally for who they were, and factors such as fame and money and status weren’t part of that equation. A dog never asks for an autograph or a loan; it loves you simply and loyally. I suspect that such an uncomplicated relationship was welcome in the life of a Beatle.(Photo #6 - George and his bandmates in the garden at Sunny Heights.)(Photo #7 - After returning to Kinfauns following the Sunny Heights shoot) George changed into a kurta, a form of traditional Indian garb, that would soon become part of late 1960s hippie culture. I was momentarily shocked when Pattie emerged from the bedroom with short hair. I had photographed her long blonde locks only hours earlier. As it turned out, she was only wearing a wig. George liked long hair and did not want her to cut hers, so she occasionally donned the wig for a change of pace. Eventually, the party guests began arriving, each of them removing their shoes at the door. They were all friends of George and Pattie, and they brought with them dishes of food which were spread out on the table in the kitchen. I photographed most of the guests, simply because I found them fascinating. I was intrigued by who they were and how they came to be there that night. David Crosby was one of them.(Photo #8 - George with Pattie’s friend, Belinda, serving themselves at the buffet style dinner. Henry Grossman was very intrigued by the lovely Belinda and took many shots of her.)(Photo #9) The highlight of the evening was a live performance of music by Ali Akbar Khan, one of the world’s most accomplished and respected sarod player. He was accompanied by Amiya on sitar and another man on tabla. George recorded the performance via a professional microphone suspended on a large boom stand in front of the musicians and his expensive Brenell recorder.(Photo #10 - George and David Crosby, of the Byrds, socializing at the party.)All photos by Henry Grossman from his book, Places I Remember: My Time With the Beatles. Most of the scans from the Something About Pattie Boyd group at Yahoo!Henry Grossman’s book contains 40 pages of photographs taken on the day of George’s birthday party in 1967.* * * *GEORGE HARRISON’S BIRTHDATE CONFUSION (Why does this persist?):There still seems to be lots of discussion and questions about the true date of George’s birth. George’s birth certificate states he was born at 12:10 a.m. on February 25, 1943 at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool. His mother always said it was 12:10 a.m. on the 25th. Their annual family tradition was for George’s mother and sister Louise to telephone him at that precise minute to celebrate his birthday.In 1990 (long after the deaths of George’s parents who could no longer comment) according to some other unspecified family record which stated he was born at 11:42 p.m. on the 24th, George mentioned in interviews he’d found out he was actually born on the 24th. The misconception of him being born on the 24th though was proven wrong. George’s sister Louise said that it was after midnight, and a couple of years ago Olivia Harrison also confirmed it’s on the 25th, rather than the 24th, when she appeared on Chris Carter’s Sunday morning Beatle’s show talking about it in 2011.
Louise Harrison was often asked about the birthdate in the early 90’s during her Beatlefest appearances. Louise refuted the story of the 24th birthdate. She was was present at the time of the birth and specifically remembered that George was born after midnight on the 25th. Case closed…Happy Birthday George ~ Wish you were here!