The first time Louise Harrison saw Marty Scott playing her brother, George Harrison, in a Beatles tribute band, she broke down and cried.
"When this young fellow playing George on stage came out toward the end of the show in denim and long hair, like George had at the end of the Beatles career, singing 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps,' tears just ran down my face," she said. "I didn't know I was going to cry."
That led to a meeting after the concert and, eventually, the formation of a new Beatles tribute group called Liverpool Legends, who perform at 8 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Chavez Theatre.
"He had a lot of the very kind, compassionate nature George had. He also had his sense of humor, he's as funny as George," she said. "We hit it off. He became my new brother. Ever since then he's been looking after me."
And not just because the so-called Quiet Beatle's big sister will turn 81 on Aug. 16.
"The reason we started this band is my pension had been canceled that my brother had given me," Louise said in a recent telephone interview.
Liverpool Legends was formed in 2006, five years after the guitarist's death, to perform in Branson, Mo., where the late Beatles' sibling lived.
The group started out performing there, then branched out into touring, covering a wide range of group and solo material, wearing period costumes and recreating the different phases of the band, as other tribute groups do.
But Harrison, who was 12 years older than George, said she often instructs the band — Kevin Mantagna as John Lennon, Bob Beahon as Paul McCartney, Greg George as Ringo Starr — to do what the Fab Four used to do before it quit touring at the height of Beatlemania in 1966, four years before it broke up.
"The main thing ... is to have fun when they're the Beatles, especially in their early years before the pressure got to them too much," she said. "While they were still doing stuff on stage they were having fun, and when they are having fun the audience is having fun as well."
Even though the Beatles are from Liverpool, Harrison's sister had moved to the United States with her first husband in 1963. She said she suggested to their manager, the late Brian Epstein, that they book an appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," then the equivalent of YouTube in terms of exposure, which the band did for the first time, famously, in 1964.
Harrison hosted George at her home in Benton, Ill., in 1963, noting that he sat in with a band at the local VFW Hall in Eldorado, "which now has the distinction of being the place, 50 years later, where the first Beatle ever performed live in the U.S."
She plans to tell that and other stories in a book she's calling "Harrison Hug," which should be out in September, the 50th anniversary of that historic but little-known visit. The book, she said, will be published by the South Illinois University Press, and takes its name from a family penchant for embracing, something her late brother did shortly before his death from lung cancer in 2001.
George had a falling out with his sister a few years before his death over her intentions to open a bed-and-breakfast named for the Beatles' song and movie, "A Hard Day's Night," but forgave her before he left the material world.
"One of the last times I was with George is when he hugged me ... looked me in the eyes and said, 'Pass it on,'" she recalled. "And after he died I started passing his hug on. That's from George, pass it on."
George, she said, was ready for death. He died at age 58 on Nov. 29, 2001.
"I know ... he'd gotten to the point where the way things were on this planet were not very, very wonderful to him," she said. "He was being taken advantage of, people were after his money and all that kind of stuff. He was really ready to see what the next part of the experience was all about."
She sees the Liverpool Legends, who tour with a keyboardist, as "a continuation of the fun and enjoying the music again" of her "kid brother's band."
"It is a wonderful continuation of what was a worldwide phenomenon," she said. "I'm just a little part of it, of keeping it going."
Tickets for the Chavez show are $27.50, $37.50, $47.50 and $57.50, on sale at the Plaza Theatre box office, Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com and 800.745.3000. The Chavez box office opens three hours before show time.