George Harrison (February 25, 1943 - November 29, 2001)
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Harrison started playing guitar at age 13, but only with the help of Paul McCartney did he get good enough to play in a band. Harrison idolized Lennon and McCartney and was happy to get in the band with them. He was not a fast or slick guitarist, but meaty and tasteful, known for making every note count on his guitar parts. (thanks, Richard - Richmond, VA)
Harrison was the youngest member of The Beatles. He was 17 when they went to Hamburg to tour in 1960, and got deported as a result.
In 1999, a man broke into his house in England and stabbed him in the chest. The attacker was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a mental hospital. This led to tougher anti-stalking laws in England.
He was the first Beatle to go on a solo tour. It was his 1974 Dark Horse tour, which didn't go well because fans did not respond well to his opening act, Ravi Shankar, and ironically, he was hoarse.
His first solo album, All Things Must Pass, was made up mostly of songs he had written for The Beatles that did not make the cut. He had so much material he was able to make it a triple album. The second and third disks are now included on the same CD because there's more space. (thanks, Marvin - East Brady, PA)
He divorced his first wife, Pattie, in 1974. She soon started dating Eric Clapton, who she married 5 years later. Clapton and Harrison remained good friends.
Harrison loved gardening. "He'd garden at nighttime, he'd garden at midnight... he'd be out there squinting because he could see at midnight, you could see the moonlight and the shadows. And that was his way of not seeing any of the weeds and imperfections that plagued him during the day. So he was able to imagine what it would look like when it was done." - Dhani Harrison, quoted from the George Harrison documentary The Material World.
He organized the first major benefit concert for another country in 1971 when he put on the Concert For Bangladesh, which took place August 1st in Madison Square Garden. Guest stars included Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.
He had a love of Eastern music and unusual instruments. He learned the Sitar from Indian musician Ravi Shankar.
In 1985, he produced the movie Shanghai Surprise, starring Madonna and her then-husband, Sean Penn.
He was the first Beatle to come to America. His aunt Louise lived in Illinois, and went to visit her in 1963. In February 1964, he returned with the other Beatles and began a very successful stay in the US.
George died of lung cancer at age 58. Three years earlier, he was treated for throat cancer.
George took up the ukulele and carried several around with him everywhere he went. He handed Tom Petty
a ukulele and left about four ukes at Tom's house, saying they might need them later. Tom went on to write and record songs on the uke.
For a short time, he was the brother-in-law of Mick Fleetwood. His first wife Patti Boyd had a younger sister named Helen Mary who was for a time the wife of Mick Fleetwood. Helen Mary, who was nicknamed "Jenny" after one of Patti's childhood dolls, was the muse for Donovan's hit "Jennifer Juniper." After divorcing Fleetwood (and remarrying and redivorcing him), Jenny eventually married Ian Wallace (formerly a drummer in the prog rock band KingCrimson), earned a Ph.D. in psychology, and became a clinical consultant and author. (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England)
George met his second wife, Olivia Arias, on the phone. She worked as a assistant for his Dark Horse Records. He thought she was interesting and he looked her up with a friend of his and decided to go to L.A. to meet her. They they had a son named Dhani and got married. (thanks, Jude - Los Angeles, CA)
George revealed in a 2000 press conference to promote the Beatles Anthology book that he had asked Paul McCartney to play on his new album. He joked, "I heard he's had some hits." But later that year, George signed a new deal with EMI which allowed him to re-mix all of his old albums and he spent the rest of the year re-mixing and adding newer versions of songs on All Things Must Pass for the 2001 re-release. He pushed back working on the new album until 2001, but by then he had a cancer relapse and couldn't complete it. The album was finished after George's death by Jeff Lynne and George's son Dhani and was called Brainwashed. George's working title had been "Portrait of a Leg End." (thanks, Ken - Louisville, KY)
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: as a solo artist in 2004, and as a member of The Beatles in 1988.
At the time of his death, his family released a statement that read: "He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends. He often said, 'Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another.'" (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
Sir George Martin told the Beatles when he first began working with them that they should feel free to speak up and tell him if they didn't like any of his contributions. George rose to the challenge and told Sir George Martin that he didn't like his tie.
"By having the money we found that money wasn't the answer. Because we had lots of material things that people sort of spend their whole life to try and get. We managed to get them at quite an early age. And it was good, really, because we learned that that wasn't it. We still lacked something. And that thing is what religion tries to give to people."--George Harrison on the Beatles' commercial success. Quoted from the documentary The Material World.
George first tried LSD while eating dinner with Paul McCartney and their dentist. Paul and George were unaware that the drug was in their coffee.
While tripping, George was inspired by an odd thought that wouldn't leave him alone--the phrase "Yogis in the Himalayas."
George called Ravi Shankar the only person who impressed him--and the only person who'd never tried to impress him.
He visited the legendary San Francisco hippie haven, the Haight-Ashbury district, during the 1960's. He was expecting counterculture gypsies and spiritual awakenings, but described the scene as being really much more related to addiction. At that point he turned inward and focused on meditation instead of hallucinogens.
On the dissolution of the Beatles in 1970, George remarks that the band had become creatively stifling for them, and he had no ill will toward anyone for leaving - he too wanted out.
Phil Spector remembers George Harrison as a very obviously spiritual person, but in an authentic earthy way. "Without the salesmanship."
When EMI pulled the plug on funding for The Life of Brian, George mortgaged his house and put up four million dollars so the Monty Python boys could make the film.
Toward the end of his life, George became much less willing to attend award banquets and such. He preferred to meditate and work in his garden.
During his final weeks of life, George offered to go to Boston with Ringo during because Ringo's daughter was being treated for a brain tumor.
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