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George Harrison

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For Nintendo's Senior VP of Marketing and Corporate Communication, see George Harrison (executive).

George Harrison, MBE (February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001) was a popular English guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer, and film producer, best known as a member of The Beatles.

Harrison was the lead guitarist of The Beatles. During the band’s phenomenally successful career, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were its main songwriters. However, Harrison wrote and/or sang lead on one or two songs each album. His songs earned him growing admiration as a considerable talent in his own right. Although he wrote some of the Beatles' best known songs, he was overshadowed by the Lennon/McCartney duo, and subsequently suffered as an artist.

While still a Beatle, Harrison became attracted to Indian music and Hinduism, sparking unprecedented interest in Eastern beliefs and music in the Western Hemisphere.[citation needed] Both would subsequently play a prominent role in Harrison’s life and music. Around this time he also became a vegetarian, and he remained one until his death.[citation needed] The Beatles' first vegetarian experience came when George led them to India and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.[citation needed]

Harrison also had an uneven but sometimes very successful solo career after the break-up of The Beatles, scoring major hits with "My Sweet Lord" (1970), "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" (1973), "All Those Years Ago" (1981), and "Got My Mind Set on You" (1987). Harrison's landmark album, All Things Must Pass, currently holds the title of the best selling album by a solo Beatle[1]. He also organized the first large-scale benefit concert, The Concert For Bangladesh, which took place on August 1, 1971. Harrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2004.[2]

Harrison was also a film producer and founded Handmade Films in 1979. The company's films include Monty Python’s The Life of Brian (in which he had a very minor cameo), Time Bandits, Withnail and I, and Mona Lisa. Harrison also has a cameo role in The Beatles parody film The Rutles.

Early years

George Harrison was born in Liverpool, England. A good deal of confusion as to his real birthday arose from family birth record which noted him as being born around 12:10 A.M. on February 25, 1943.[citation needed] He later confirmed his birthday was February 24, 1943 at 11:40 P.M. He is sometimes given the middle name of Harold, as in "George Harold Harrison," but this is incorrect.[citation needed] Harrison had no middle name, as one can see on his birth certificate. Harold was his father's, as well as an elder brother's name.[citation needed]

Harrison’s childhood home was located at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool, later at 25 Upton Green, Speke from 1950 on. He first attended school at Dovedale Road Infants & Juniors School, just off Penny Lane. There he passed his 11 Plus examination and was awarded a place at the Liverpool Institute for Boys (in the building now housing the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts) which he attended from 1954 to 1959.

It was an English Grammar School - a "smart school,"[citation needed] after passing the Eleven-plus but was regarded as a poor student, and contemporaries described him as someone who would "sit alone in the corner".[citation needed] He left school in the summer of 1959 without attaining any academic credentials (or even being allowed to sit the O levels).

George got to know Paul McCartney at school but they had other things in common. Both had lived in Speke. Liverpool - an outer Council (public housing) estate; they also travelled on the same Corporation bus (sometimes with George's father at the wheel), surreptiously smoking cigarettes on the top deck (featured in 'A Day in the Life'), on the way to the Liverpool Institute. Paul introduced George to John Lennon and to the group. George's father - as chairman of the social committee of the nearby Garston bus depot, helped them get bookings in social clubs nearby. By early 1958 George had begun playing lead guitar in the band (initially called The Quarrymen (later the Silver Beetles) which in 1960 became The Beatles.

After leaving school in the summer of 1959, Harrison worked briefly as an apprentice electrician at Blacklers Stores in Liverpool.[citation needed] The training helped Harrison become the member who knew the most about rigging their sound equipment.[citation needed] Later he set up his own multitrack recording gear at his Esher home, Kinfauns, making song demos for himself and The Beatles.[citation needed]

Role in The Beatles

Harrison was not a virtuoso guitarist, especially in the early days of the Beatles' recording career.[citation needed] His earliest recorded electric guitar solos tended to be clunky and unimaginative, especially when compared to legendary rock 'n' roll guitarists like Scotty Moore, Cliff Gallup or even his idol, Carl Perkins.[citation needed] Several of Harrison's famous Beatles guitar solos were recorded under specific directions from Paul McCartney, who on occasion demanded that Harrison play what he envisioned virtually note-for-note.[citation needed] Other Harrison solos were directed or modified by producer George Martin, who also vetoed several of Harrison's song and instrument offerings; Martin admitted years later, "I was always rather beastly to George."[citation needed]

Toward the end of the 60s, however, Harrison became a fluent, inventive and highly accomplished lead and rhythm guitarist. In the 70's and thereafter, his slide work became his signature sound.[citation needed]

Harrison was the first of The Beatles to arrive on American soil, when he visited his sister Louise in rural Illinois in September 1963, some five months before the group appeared on the "Ed Sullivan Show."[citation needed] During this visit, George browsed a record store and inquired about his group's music.[citation needed] The store owner had not even heard of them, and British pop music was conspicuously absent in the States; even top performer Cliff Richard's recent movie Summer Holiday was relegated to second billing when it played. George returned to Great Britain reporting to his bandmates that it might be difficult for them to succeed in America.[citation needed]

During the era of Beatlemania, Harrison was characterized as the "Quiet Beatle", noted for his introspective manner and his tendency not to speak in press conferences.[citation needed] He studied situations and people closely, though, and was the most interested of any Beatle in the band's finances, often quizzing Brian Epstein about them.[citation needed] He could also wisecrack as well as anyone in the band; when a reporter asked what they did in their hotel suite between shows, Harrison told him "We ice-skate."[citation needed]

Harrison wrote his first song, "Don't Bother Me", during a sick day in 1963, as an exercise "to see if I 'could' write a song", as he remembered. "Don't Bother Me" appeared on the second Beatles album (With the Beatles) late that year, on Meet the Beatles! in the US in early 1964, and also briefly in the film A Hard Day's Night. After that, The Beatles did not record another Harrison song until 1965, when he contributed "I Need You" and "You Like Me Too Much" to the album Help!

Harrison was the lead vocal on all The Beatles' songs he wrote by himself.[citation needed] However, he also sang lead vocal on other songs, including "Chains" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret" on Please Please Me, "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Devil in Her Heart" on With the Beatles, "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You" on A Hard Day's Night, and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" on Beatles for Sale.

A turning point in Harrison's career came during an American tour in 1965, when his friend David Crosby of The Byrds introduced him to Indian classical music and the work of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.[citation needed] Harrison quickly became fascinated with the instrument, immersed himself in Indian music and was pivotal in popularizing the sitar in particular and Indian music in general in the West.[citation needed]

Buying a sitar himself as The Beatles came back from a Far East tour, he became the first Western popular musician to play one on a pop record, on the Rubber Soul track "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)". He championed Shankar with Western audiences, and was largely responsible for having him included on the bill at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. Shankar did not admire Harrison's first Indian-influenced efforts, but the two became friends, and Harrison began his first formal musical studies with Shankar.[citation needed]

A personal turning point for Harrison came during the filming of the movie Help!, on location in the Bahamas, when a Hindu devotee presented each Beatle with a book about reincarnation. Harrison’s interest in Indian culture expanded to his embracing Hinduism. A pilgrimage with wife Pattie to India, where Harrison studied sitar, met several gurus and visited various holy places, filled the months between the end of the final Beatles tour in 1966 and the commencement of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sessions.

Ironically though, it was through his wife (and when back in England) that Harrison met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who introduced The Beatles, their wives and girlfriends to Transcendental Meditation.[citation needed] While they parted company with the Maharishi months afterwards, Harrison continued his pursuit of Eastern spirituality.

In the summer of 1969, he produced the single "Hare Krishna Mantra", performed by Harrison with the devotees of the London Radha Krishna Temple, that topped the 10 best-selling record charts throughout the UK, Europe, and Asia.[citation needed] That same year, he and fellow Beatle John Lennon met A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Soon after, Harrison embraced the Hare Krishna tradition (particularly japa-yoga chanting with beads; a meditation technique similar to the Roman Catholic rosary), and remained associated with it until his death.

When, during his lifetime, Harrison bequeathed to ISKCON his Letchmore Heath mansion (renamed Bhaktivedanta Manor) north of London, he redoubled speculations that he would leave ISKCON a large sum in his will.[citation needed] Whilst some sources indicate he left nothing to the organisation (see [3]), others report he did leave a sum of 20 million pounds (see [4])

Harrison formed a close friendship with Eric Clapton in the late 1960s and they co-wrote the song "Badge", which was released on Cream's farewell album in 1969. This song was the basis for Harrison's composition for The Beatles' Abbey Road album, "Here Comes the Sun", which was written in Clapton's back garden.[citation needed]

Harrison's songwriting improved greatly through the years, and his material gradually earned respect from both his fellow Beatles (with Lennon telling McCartney during 1969 "George's songs this year are at least as good as ours") and the public. Nonetheless, he later said that he always had difficulty getting the band to record his songs.

Harrison in 1969, during the famous rooftop concert
Harrison in 1969, during the famous rooftop concert

Notable Harrison compositions from The Beatles' canon include "If I Needed Someone"; "I Want to Tell You", the Indian-influenced "Love You To", "Taxman" (later referenced in Cheap Trick's "Taxman, Mr. Thief" and The Jam's "Start"), "Within You Without You", "Blue Jay Way", "Only A Northern Song", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", which was strongly influenced by the music of his friend Roy Orbison and featured lead guitar by Eric Clapton, and "Piggies"; which later featured inadvertently in the notorious Charles Manson murder case (as did McCartney's "Helter Skelter").

Friction between Harrison, Lennon and McCartney increased markedly during the recording of The Beatles, with Harrison threatening to leave the group on several occasions.[citation needed] Between 1967 and 1969, McCartney on several occasions expressed dissatisfaction with Harrison's guitar playing. As a result, a number of Beatles songs from that period feature McCartney on lead guitar.[citation needed]

Tensions came to a head during the filming of rehearsal sessions at Twickenham Studios for what eventually became the Let It Be documentary film. Conflicts between Harrison and McCartney appear in several scenes in the film. Frustrated by these ongoing slights, the poor working conditions in the cold and sterile film studio, and Lennon's creative disengagement from the group, Harrison quit the band on 10 January. He returned on 22 January after negotiations with the other Beatles at two business meetings.[citation needed]

The group's internal relations were cordial (though still strained) during recordings for the album Abbey Road. The album included "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun", probably Harrison's two best-known Beatles songs. "Something" is considered to be one of his best works, and was even covered by Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, who famously deemed it "the greatest love song of the last 50 years." Sinatra credited the song to Lennon/McCartney rather than Harrison when making the compiment however. His increasing productivity, coupled with his difficulties in getting The Beatles to record his music, meant that by the end of the group's career he had amassed a considerable stockpile of unreleased material.[citation needed]

When asked years later what kind of music The Beatles might have made if they had stayed together, his answer was to the point: "The solo stuff that we've done would have been on Beatle albums." Harrison, Lennon, and McCartney had often written apart; on one level, breaking up for each was merely a change of collaborators.[citation needed]

Harrison was still only 26 years old at the time of The Beatles last recording session on 4 January 1970 (minus Lennon, who had left the group the previous September).[citation needed]



After The Beatles split in 1970, Harrison released a number of albums that were critically and commercially successful, both as solo projects and as a member of other groups. After years of being limited in his contributions to The Beatles, he released a large number of the songs he had stockpiled in the first major solo work released after the breakup, All Things Must Pass, the first triple album by a single artist in rock history. The album, which topped the charts, included the number one hit single "My Sweet Lord", over which Harrison was later sued for copyright infringement due to the supposed similarities to the 1963 Chiffons single "He's So Fine". Harrison denied deliberately stealing the song, but he lost the resulting court case in 1976. In the ruling, the court accepted the possibility that Harrison had "unconsciously copied" the Chiffons melody as the basis for his own song. Disputes over damages dragged on into the 1990s, with manager Allen Klein changing sides by buying Bright Tunes, which published "He's So Fine", and continuing the suit after parting with Harrison. Harrison ultimately wound up as the owner of both songs (Huntley 2004).[1]

The Concert for Bangladesh
The Concert for Bangladesh

Harrison was probably the first modern musician to organize a major charity concert. His Concert for Bangladesh on August 1, 1971, drew over 40,000 people to two shows in New York's Madison Square Garden with the intention of aiding the starving refugees from the war in Bangladesh. Ravi Shankar opened the proceedings, which included other popular musicians such as Bob Dylan (who rarely appeared live in the early 1970s), Eric Clapton who made his first public appearance in months (due to a heroin addiction, begun as Derek and the Dominos broke up), Leon Russell, Badfinger, Billy Preston and fellow Beatle Ringo Starr. Unfortunately, tax troubles and questionable expenses tied up many of the concert's proceeds (see [5]) Apple Corps released a newly arranged concert DVD and CD in October 2005 (with all artists' sales royalties continuing to go to UNICEF), which contained additional material such as previously unreleased rehearsal footage of "If Not For You", featuring Harrison and Dylan.[citation needed]

In addition to his own works, during this time Harrison co-wrote and/or produced several hits for Ringo Starr ("It Don't Come Easy", "Photograph") and also appeared on tracks by John Lennon ("How Do You Sleep?"), Harry Nilsson ("You're Breakin' My Heart"), Badfinger ("Day After Day"), Billy Preston ("That's The Way God Planned It") and Cheech & Chong ("Basketball Jones").[citation needed]

Harrison's next album was Living in the Material World in 1973. "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" was a big hit, and "Sue Me Sue You Blues" was a window into the former Beatles' miserable legal travails, but overall the record was seen as too overtly religious, though it did reach number one.[citation needed]

In 1974, Harrison released Dark Horse and at the same time launched a major tour of the United States which was subsequently criticised for its long opening act of Ravi Shankar & Friends, Harrison's hoarse voice, and his frequent preaching to the audience. The album made the Top 20 in the US album chart, but was a failure in the UK, due to a combination of declining interest and negative reviews. The single "Ding Dong, Ding Dong", a Top 40 UK hit, was widely panned for its unadventurous lyric, though it has since become a favourite record with radio programmers in the closing moments of each year, and at New Year's Eve parties.[citation needed]

It was during this period while in Los Angeles, preparing for the 1974 tour, that he also opened offices for his new Dark Horse Records on the A&M Records lot, on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. It was in those offices that he met a beautiful young woman by the name of Olivia Trinidad Arias, who was assigned to work at his label with Terry Doran from Apple, and Jack Oliver who came over from London to run Dark Horse Records. The relationship progressed during the rehearsals, and Olivia joined George on his 1974 tour, during which their relationship blossomed into something more, resulting in her permanent relocation to Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames, England, George's home.[citation needed]

Subsequent to the 1974 tour he returned to his home in the UK, and commuted between there and Los Angeles for the next few years, while Dark Horse issued a small number of records by performers such as Splinter, Attitudes and Ravi Shankar. He also planned to issue his own records through Dark Horse, after his contract with EMI expired.[citation needed]

Amidst a music media rife with Beatle-reunion speculation, Harrison was probably the least accommodating of these theories, telling the press in 1974 that while he would not mind working with John Lennon and Ringo Starr again, he could not see himself being involved in a band with Paul McCartney, who had limited his contributions while in The Beatles. He told the press that if someone wanted to hear Beatles-style music, they could "go listen to Wings," McCartney's new band.[citation needed]

His final album for EMI (and Apple Records) was Extra Texture (Read All About It), featuring a textured cover. The album spawned two singles, "You", and "This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)", which became Apple's final single release in 1975.[citation needed]

Following the former Beatles' departure from Capitol, the record company was in a position to license releases featuring Beatles and post-Beatles work on the same album, and used Harrison for this unfortunate experiment. The Best of George Harrison (1976) combined his best Beatle songs with a slim selection of his best solo Apple work, doing neither era a favor. Harrison made plain his annoyance with the track listing, and the fact that he was not consulted. It did not chart in the UK.[citation needed]

Business and personal troubles took their toll on Harrison during 1976. When his first Dark Horse album (Thirty Three & 1/3, his age at the time) was due, Harrison was suffering from hepatitis and could not complete the production. After A&M threatened to take him to court, Warner Bros. Records stepped in, buying out Harrison's Dark Horse contract with A&M, and allowing him time to regain his health.[citation needed]

Thirty Three & 1/3 was his most successful late-1970s album, and featured the hits "This Song" (a satire of the "My Sweet Lord" ruling) and "Crackerbox Palace" (a humorous and surrealistic number, looking back on his life to date; the title was the name of comedian Lord Buckley's former home in Hollywood, California, which Harrison visited, while "Mr. Greif" was George Greif, Buckley's former manager).[citation needed]

After his second marriage and the birth of son Dhani Harrison, Harrison's next album was self-titled: 1979s George Harrison included the hits "Blow Away", "Love Comes To Everyone" and "Faster". "Blow Away" featured a memorable electric-slide guitar introduction, and became a much-loved single at the end of the Seventies.[citation needed]



In 1980, Harrison became the only ex-Beatle to write an autobiography, I Me Mine. Former Beatles publicist Derek Taylor helped with the book, which was initially released in a high-priced limited edition. The book said little about The Beatles, focusing instead on Harrison's hobbies, such as gardening and Formula One auto racing. It also included the lyrics to his songs and many rare photographs.[citation needed]

Immediately following the December 1980 murder of his friend and former bandmate John Lennon, Harrison modified the lyrics of a song he had written for Ringo Starr to make it a tribute song to Lennon, "All Those Years Ago", which found substantial radio airplay and continues to be a staple of "classic rock" radio. All the three remaining Beatles performed on it, although it was expressly a Harrison single. "Teardrops" was issued as a follow-up single, but was not nearly as successful.[citation needed]

Both singles were pulled from the album Somewhere in England, released in 1981. The album was originally slated for release in late 1980, but Warner Bros. rejected it, ordering Harrison to replace several tracks, and to change the album cover as well. This was another professional humiliation for an artist who had already been sued successfully for his most famous post-Beatles song, "My Sweet Lord".[citation needed]

Aside from a song on the Porky's Revenge soundtrack in 1984, his version of a little-known Bob Dylan song "I Don't Want To Do It", Harrison released no new records for five years after 1982's Gone Troppo was met with apparent indifference. He returned in 1987 with the highly successful album Cloud Nine, co-produced with Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, and enjoyed a hit (#1 in the U.S.; #2 in the U.K) when his cover version of James Ray's early 1960s number "Got My Mind Set on You" was released as a single; another single, "When We Was Fab", was also a minor hit. MTV regularly played the two videos, and elevated George's public profile as a relevant 80's artist. The album got to #8.[citation needed]

During the late 1980s, he was instrumental in forming the Traveling Wilburys with Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty when they gathered in Dylan's garage to quickly record an additional track for a projected Harrison European single release. The record company realised the track ("Handle With Care") was too good for its original purpose as a single B-side and asked for a separate album. This had to be completed within two weeks, as Dylan was scheduled to start a tour. Released in October 1988, and recorded under pseudonyms as half-brothers (supposed sons of Charles Truscott Wilbury, Sr.), Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1..

One of Harrison's most artistically successful ventures during this period was his involvement in film production through his company Handmade Films. Since childhood The Beatles had been fans of the anarchic humour of The Goons, and Harrison became a dedicated fan of their successors, the Monty Python team. He provided financial backing for the Python film The Life of Brian after the original backers (EMI Films) withdrew, fearing the subject matter of the film was too controversial. Other films produced by Handmade included Mona Lisa, Time Bandits, Shanghai Surprise and Withnail and I. He made several cameo appearances in these movies, including appearing as a nightclub singer in Shanghai Surprise, and as Mr. Papadopolous in Life of Brian. One of his most memorable cameos was as a reporter in the cult Beatles parody The Rutles, created by ex-Python Eric Idle. Despite this string of successes, Handmade Films fell into mismanagement in the 1990's, much like the Beatles' Apple Corps, and the demands severely depleted Harrison's finances.[citation needed]

1989 saw the release of Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989, a compilation drawn from his later solo work. This album also included three new songs: "Poor Little Girl", "Cheer Down", and "Cockamamie Business", the last of which saw him once again looking wryly upon his Beatley past. Unlike his previous greatest hits package, Harrison made sure to oversee this one.[citation needed]



The first year of the new decade saw a new Traveling Wilburys album, despite the untimely death of Roy Orbison. The band had allegedly approached Del Shannon about replacing Roy, but he also met an untimely death. The album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 was recorded as a four-piece.[citation needed]

It was not as successful as the previous album, but still managed to stay on the charts for quite a time, spawning the singles "She's My Baby", "Inside Out", and "Wilbury Twist".

In 1991, Harrison staged a tour of Japan along with Eric Clapton. It was his first tour since the ill-fated 1974 U.S. tour, and, although he seemed to enjoy it, there were to be no others. The Live in Japan recording came from these shows. In October 1992, Harrison played three songs ("If Not For You", "Absolutely Sweet Marie", and "My Back Pages") at a huge Bob Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

In 1994-1996, Harrison reunited with the surviving former Beatles for The Beatles Anthology project, which included the recording of two new Beatles songs built around solo vocal tapes recorded by Lennon in the 1970's, as well as the lengthy interviews on The Beatles history. The project was in part spurred on by Harrison's financial difficulties at the time, stemming from problems with his Handmade Films venture.[citation needed]

In 1995, at the height of the britpop movement—which was heavily influenced by Harrison's music—he became embroiled in a feud with Oasis' Gallagher brothers. Devoted fans of The Beatles, the brothers were offended when Harrison referred to them as "silly" and "a passing fad". Noel Gallagher responded by saying "George was always the quiet Beatle—maybe he should keep that up" whilst Liam Gallagher described him as a "nipple" and threatened to play golf off of Harrison's head should they ever meet. Apparently, the feud was short lived, and when Noel Gallagher and Harrison actually met, they got on well.[citation needed]

Harrison later in his career
Harrison later in his career

Harrison's final television appearance was not intended as such; in fact, he was not the featured artist, and the appearance was to promote Chants of India, another collaboration with Ravi Shankar released in 1997, at the height of interest in chant music. John Fugelsang conducted the interview, and at one point an acoustic guitar was produced, and handed to Harrison. When an audience member asked to hear "a Beatles song!" Harrison pulled a sheepish look and answered "I don't think I know any!" He did finish the show with a loose rendition of "All Things Must Pass".

In January, 1998 Harrison made a rare trip outside England to attend the funeral of his boyhood idol, Carl Perkins, held in Jackson, Tennessee. Harrison played an impromptu version of Perkins' song "Your True Love" during the service.

A former heavy smoker, Harrison endured an ongoing battle with cancer throughout the late 1990s, having growths removed first from his throat, then his lung.[citation needed]

In late 1999 Harrison survived a knife attack by an intruder in his home, which mirrored John Lennon's murder. On the evening of 30 December 1999 Michael Abram broke into the Harrison's Friar Park home in Henley-on-Thames, and stabbed George multiple times, ultimately puncturing his lung. Harrison and his wife, Olivia, fought the intruder and detained him for the police. 35-year-old Abram, who believed he was possessed by Harrison and was on a "mission from God" to kill him, was later acquitted on grounds of insanity. Harrison was traumatised by the invasion and attack, and afterward severely limited his public appearances.[citation needed]

In 2001, Harrison appeared as a guest musician on the Electric Light Orchestra album, Zoom, played slide guitar on the song "Love Letters" for Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, remastered and restored unreleased tracks from "The Traveling Wilbury's I," and wrote a new song, "Horse To The Water", and recorded it (on what was his final recording, on October 2nd, just 58 days before his death) with Jools Holland on the latter's album, Small World, Big Band.[citation needed]


Harrison's cancer recurred in 2001 and was found to have metastasized. Despite aggressive treatment, it was soon found to be terminal. He set about getting his affairs in order and spent his final months with his family and close friends. He also worked on songs for an album with his son Dhani, which was released after his death. During this time he was also reported to have made peace with Paul McCartney during a final emotional meeting, healing decades of hurt feelings.[citation needed]

It has been said that McCartney, in circumstances that mirrored the great lengths taken for family privacy during the final days of his cancer-stricken wife Linda McCartney, provided Harrison with a secret place to die, in a Hollywood Hills home leased by McCartney. A veil of secrecy surrounded the location for fear that memorabilia fans would swoop down on it. A fictitious address had been listed on his death certificate, said several news sources, yet when reports appeared that McCartney had provided sanctuary, Sir Paul's representatives denied the reports, calling them "utter fiction" and insisting that McCartney did not own a home in California. (Reuters reported that the home had been leased in the name of Gavin de Becker, a security consultant working for Harrison.)[citation needed]

Harrison died on November 29, 2001. He was 58 years old.[2] Harrison's death was ascribed to lung cancer that had metastasised to the brain. He was cremated and although it was widely reported that his ashes were scattered in the Ganges River, the ceremony was not conducted at the expected time (see [6]). The actual disposition of the ashes has not been publicly disclosed.[citation needed]

After his death, the Harrison family released the following statement: "He left this world as he lived in it: conscious of God, fearless of death and at peace, surrounded by family and friends. Harrison had often said, "Everything else can wait, but the search of God cannot wait; and love one another."[citation needed]

Harrison and Aaliyah made UK chart history when they scored the first (and so far the only) pair of back-to-back posthumous number one hits as Aaliyah's "More than a Woman" (released on 7 January 2002 and topped the chart on January 13, 2002) was followed by Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" (re-released on January 14, 2002 and topped the chart on January 20, 2002).[citation needed]

Harrison's final album, Brainwashed, was completed by Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne and released on November 18, 2002. A media-only single, "Stuck Inside a Cloud", was heavily played on UK radio to promote the album, and the official single "Any Road", released in May 2003, was a Top 40 hit.[citation needed]

On 29 November 2002 – the first anniversary of George Harrison's death – the Concert for George saw the two remaining Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr join many of Harrison's other friends for a special memorial concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London that benefitted the Material World Charitable Foundation.[citation needed]

In 2003, Harrison was included in Rolling Stone Magazines list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[7].

Harrison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist on 15 March 2004.[8]

Harrison with Pattie Boyd in A Hard Day's Night
Harrison with Pattie Boyd in A Hard Day's Night

Personal and family life

Harrison was the youngest of four children (his older siblings being sister Louise, and brothers Peter and Harry). His father Harry had been a sailor until the children came along; he then changed careers, becoming a city bus driver to stay close to home. His mother Louise taught ballroom dancing at home. The family always encouraged George; his mother lent him the money for his first guitars, and kept him company (sometimes until late hours) as he taught himself to play. Harrison paid his mother back by making deliveries for the local butcher; John Lennon's family were among his route. His next job (after leaving school) was his apprenticeship at Blacklers, while playing nights with the early Beatles; to meet their first tour commitments, Harrison had to take his summer holiday early.[citation needed]

George's father, Harry, was disappointed that George had to quit at Blacklers to make the first Beatles trip to Hamburg in 1960, wanting him to have a trade, but reasoned that if things didn't work out, George was young and had time to start over. Harrison himself had hopes of being a working musician for a few years, then possibly trying to get into Art school.[citation needed]

Harrison's family remained close, even as the children grew up and the youngest became famous. Harrison bought his parents a new house with his Beatles earnings, and looked after their needs. His sister Louise became an unofficial Beatles spokesperson, contributing memorabilia to display collections and answering fan questions, while brothers Peter (who had briefly formed a band called the Rebels with George) and Harry were among Harrison's co-gardeners at his eventual home, Friar Park. Sadly, tensions with his siblings in his later years strained the earlier family closeness, although Harrison made a point of reconciling with them just before his death.[citation needed]

Harrison married model Pattie Boyd on January 21, 1966 at Leatherhead and Esher registry office, with Paul McCartney as best man, and is reputed to have written the song "Something" for her in 1969, although he himself denied this, saying he was actually thinking about a song for Ray Charles. In the late 1960s, Eric Clapton fell in love with Boyd, and famously poured out his unrequited passion on the landmark Derek and the Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). Some time after its release Boyd left her husband, and she and Clapton subsequently married. Despite this, the two men remained close friends, calling themselves "husbands in law."[citation needed]

Harrison's mother Louise died of cancer during 1970; his song "Deep Blue" (which appeared as a 1971 single B-side) came from his hospital visits to her, and his awareness of the pain and suffering all around. His father Harry also died of cancer, eight years later.[citation needed]

Harrison married for a second time to Olivia Trinidad Arias (born 18 May 1948) in 1978. The ceremony took place on September 2 at their home, with guitarist and singer Joe Brown acting as best man. They had one son, Dhani Harrison, born the previous month. Dhani looks so remarkably like his father, that McCartney quipped on stage at Concert for George: "Olivia told me that it looks like George stayed young and we all got old." After the 1999 stabbing incident where Arias accosted Harrison's assailant nearly single-handedly, Harrison was sent a fax by close friend Tom Petty that simply read "Aren't you glad you married a Mexican girl?" [9]


Harrison was a fan of sports cars and motor racing; even before becoming a musician, he collected photos of racing drivers and their cars. He was often seen in the paddock areas of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone as well as other motor racing venues. He credited Jackie Stewart with encouraging him to return to recording in the late 1970s, and wrote "Faster" as a tribute to Stewart, Niki Lauda and Ronnie Peterson.

In The Beatles Anthology, Harrison, McCartney, and Starr are shown sitting around a table at Friar Park with a colour poster of the late Brazilian Formula 1 World Champion, Ayrton Senna, behind them. Harrison also owned a $1 million McLaren F1 road car. The 3-seater McLaren can be seen carrying Harrison, McCartney, and Starr in The "Beatles Anthology" segment prior to the "Free As a Bird" video.

Other Honours

The minor planet 4149, discovered Mar. 9 1984 by B. A. Skiff at the Anderson Mesa Station of the Lowell Observatory, was named after George Harrison. [3]

See also

  • List of Beatles songs written by George Harrison


For a detailed discography, see: George Harrison discography

Notes and references

  1. ^ Huntley, Elliot J.(2004). Mystical One: George Harrison: After the Breakup of the Beatles.Guernica Editions Inc. ISBN 1550711970
  2. ^ "Beatle George Harrison dies" article, 1 December 2001
  3. ^

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
George Harrison
  • — Official Site
  • George Harrison at the Internet Movie Database
  • Sound clip on the life of George Harrison
  • [10]
  • Beatles Central - George Harrison bio

George Harrison dies — BBC News article dated 30 November 2001

  • [11] George Harrison: Life in pictures — Life story of George in pictures, BBC News dated 30 November 2001
  • "George Harrison: The quiet Beatle" — Profile by BBC News dated 30 November 2001 (more pictures can be found here)
  • UK version with different pictures
  • George Harrison lyrics — A complete collection of lyrics organized by album from
  • [12] The Beatles Studio: George Harrison, A Hong Kong based fansite with lyrics, discography and much George Harrison information.
  • BeatleLinks
  • [13] George Harrison Songs
  • [14] George Harrison Lyrics
  • [15] Guitarist George Harrison
  • [16]
  • Geroge Harrison full discography, lyrics and catalog number info



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