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George Harrison

(February 25, 1943 - November 29, 2001)
George Harrison

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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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Comments:

Actually, he was with John Lennon at their dentist's house when George first had LSD.
- McKenzie, Dahlonega, GA
Katie...John Lennon was the shy one inside.
George was labeled, "the quiet beatle". But George could throw a dart at you if you pissed him off.
- George, Glen Burnie, MD
I just absolutely love George Harrison! Extremely underrated in both his playing and his composition to the extent that in many cases, his work could easily rival John and Paul's. 'Long, Long, Long', for example, is pure genius, as is 'Here Comes the Sun'.

Peace and love. :)
- Wesley, King\'s Lynn, United Kingdom
Best artist EVER! George is my absolute favorite in everything. He was brillant! The absolute best. He was great. The best Beatle during and after the band, though John Lennon does give him a run for his money with some of his solo work. Just an overall great musican. I love George.
- Breanna, Henderson, NV
Eric Clapton may have played the guitar in While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but I think the weeping guitar detracts from the song. If you listen to Harrison's acoustic version of the song, which he recorded as a first cut, it is so much better.
- Jeanne, wellesley, NY
In the early days, George Martin whould show George what he wanted George to play in his guitar solos note-for-note on the piano. Martin admitted, years later, "I was rather ghastly towards George."
- Ken, Louisville, KY
George lived in Los Angeles in much of the 1970's to avoid paying British income tax (which reached as high as 90%). Ringo was also living in LA at the same time (for the same reason), while John was in New York. Paul is the only Beatle not to have an offical U.S. residence, although he does own a house on Long Island and a ranch in Arizona.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
After the Beatles broke up in 1970,George remained close with Ringo but very distant to Paul and John. He started out being on good terms with John - he played on several tracks of John's "Imagine" LP - but had a falling out when John backed out of his promise to be part of "The Concert for Bangla Desh" (John was told he'd be welcome on stage,but not Yoko). John later offered to go on stage with George on the final stop of George's 1974 tour, at Madison Square Garden, but George took it as an insult. They never spoke again. George rarely spoke to Paul in the 1970's, but did ask him to provide backing vocals to "All Those Years Ago" in 1981, which Paul readly agreed to. There was a gradual warming between the two in the 1980's despite Paul being upset that George refused to guest star on Paul's Tug of War LP and George being miffed that Paul didn't attend the Beatles' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. They did seem to patch things up by the time of the "Anthology" project,and at one point George told the press that he asked Paul to play on some tracks of an album he was working on (which was to become "Brainwashed") because he'd "heard he(Paul)had some hits." Sadly, George died before Paul had a chance to work with him on that album.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
Just to make it clear, It was throat cancer and it was Clapton who played the guitar in While my guitar gently weeps, period...
- Chinchu, Guayaquil, South America
When I saw the movie 'Help' in the year 1964, I was just 12 year old kid, I was moved by the music of the Beatles. I could sense a change that is gripping the world of music obsessed with Elvis, Sinatra, Pat Boone. A new concept of 'Pop Group' swept the western music scenario. In Beatles, George Harrison was a guitarist and second vocalist. Anyway, without george, Beatles donot exist. He was master in his lead guitar and although eric played very good lead in Bangla Desh concert for the song 'While My Guitar gently weeps', I would say both of them were complementing in the lead guitar recital in that song and the same scenario prevailed in Elton John's concert duirng the 90s. In fact Elton John in emotion choked voice had expressed : By jove we would not have been there without them (George and Ringo).

Anyway, after, I saw the film - Concert for Bangla desh in 1972, I could see and feel George Harrison's emergence as big and seperate entity with his mind blowing compositions like, 'something', 'my sweet lord', 'Here Comes the Sun', along with power filled rhythms of 'wah wah'. (To speak off the track, I grew up as an IT Professional but out of my passion for music, I qualified as pop vocal performer for the All India Radio, Calcutta's western music. and for that matter, I owe a lot to the numbers of George Harrison)

Recently, while watching the Concert for George, I felt he is an institution in music by his own rights. Many of his compositions carries marks of patronage for Lord Krshna, the Hindu deity. But his devotion has never tampered the flavour of western pop. He had done the fusion in the concepts of the song. There had been controversies on 'My sweet lord', but I view it differently - George has transformed that No 1 sensuous tune (He is so fine) altogether into a devotional number that is rare and I find an extremely challenging task for a musician to make it number one devotional. In 'My Sweet Lord', George once again established the power of good, simple lyrics.

Geroge may be shy, quiet - but he is a great artist. His composition with Ringo 'Photograph' would be there in the heart of young and old, across generations. His reciprocation with other fellow musican is exemplery : he performed with Paul Simon the numbers 'Homeward Bound' and 'Here Comes the Sun'. His compositions are destined to reach far and wide across the places of this world. Finally, he would be loved for ever by everyone because he was a sage of an artist who can serve as a role model as a person and musician to anyone.

My best wishes to Dhani** who represents the great personality of George Harrison helping people to come out of 'Maya'(illusion) of bad music so that they can enjoy good and healthy music that George has left as his greatest wealth to this world.

**(Dhani is combination of two indian notes Dha and Ni (6th and 7th note of the octave). Indian sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar, a good friend of George named him.


Dr Mr Supriya Biswas (Calcutta, India)
- Dr Supriya Biswas, Calcutta, India
I forgot to mention that The Beatles Recording Sessions is by Mark Lewisohn.
- LucyintheSky, Philadelphia, PA
Thank you Bryan for recognizing George Harrison as the very good guitarist he really was! Some ignorant people underrate him! Just recently a musician on an extensive music review site called Digital Dreamdoor.com said,that George Harrison was an incredible guitar player and that he's really underrated in the guitar world! He's listed on this site at # 54 out of over 200 Greatest Rock Guitarists. Just listen to his great solos on Day Dripper,PaperBack Writer,And You're Bird Can Sing! And Geoff Emerick one of The Beatles recording engineers explains in the great thorough music diary book of The Beatles amazing 7 year recording career called,The Beatles Recording Sessions, that when The Beatles were recording John's song I'm Only Sleeping in early 1966 George Harrison played backwards guitar the most difficult way possible even though he could have taken the easy way out! Geoff explains that it took George 6 hours just for the guitar overdubs and then he made it doubly difficult by adding even more distorted guitars! Geoff says this was all George's idea and he did all of the playing. Also when Eric Clapton and George were interviwed on what they admired about each other,during their 1992 Japan tour,Eric Clapton said George was a fantastic slide guitar player! And George played lead guitar on the cream song Badge! And in the great only authorized biography of all four Beatles,called The Beatles by Hunter Davies that came out in 1968,George's mother says that George would stay up until 2 in the morning at age 14 playing his guitar until he got all of the chords right,and his fingers were bleeding!
- LucyintheSky, Philadelphia, PA
I thought Claptain and Patty Boyd were having an affair before the divorce. That's what I've read anyway.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
George as one of the finest gutarists to ever play. You can make the argument that he was the best ever. Better than Hendrix, better than Page. He played so...PERFECTLY ! All of his parts a just so perfect. There is so much style to his playing. AND he did it hundreds of times, on hundreds of songs. Think about it. Try playing his little parts. His slide work is in a class by itself - so smooth, so perfect. Blows Allman away. Try playing his stuff, you'll see. It's prety hard to play too, but it's so beautiful.
- Bryan, Beverly Hills, CA
Eric Clapton definately did play guitar on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." At the time, The Beatles were having hard times together, so to easy the spirts durring recording, he brought in Clapton to play guitar. Also, he felt that Clapton could better capture the sound of a guitar weeping on the track.
- Justin, New York , NY
in my opinion...George was not very quiet if you watch the Beatles 1st trip to America he was not quiet at all.
- Maggie, Bath, GA
just so you know George died of throat cancer that spread to the brain...and i think Clapton did play the guitar for while my guitar gently weeps....i know it was not george
- Amanda, Ohio, OH
Anyone here who likes George Harrison should definitly see "Concert for George"
- alice, santa cruz, CA
No, Eric Clapton did not play guitar on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" because that was an ALL Beatles Song from the White Album. Clapton wasn't involved at that point. Patti cheated on George with Clapton for a long time before the Divorce.
- lexie, st. louis, MO
George did not play the weepy guitar on While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Eric Clapton did!
- Deb, Boston, MA
He died of lung cancer that spread to his brain
- Joe, Lake Bluff, IL
Dhani is the Sanskrit word for "wealthy".
- Kayla, Buford, GA
I love George Harrison songs especially "what is life" or when he was in the beatles "while my guitar gently weeps" shows his full meaning.
- Jude, Los Angeles, CA
George Harrison is my favorite Beatle and has changed my life forever. Thank you, George.
- Loretta, Liverpool, England
no he wasn't the shy beatle -- he was the quiet beatle! have you seen "a hard days night" or "help!"? did you think he was shy then??
- Jude, Los Angeles, CA
George is the greatest Beatle. I love him.
- ashley, roseville, MI
"All things must Pass" the best solo album by any of the Beatles. Besides, George got all the "honies". Just ask Eric Clapton.
- Don, Pittsburgh, PA
I think it was lung cancer of some sort.
I read somwhere that when George came back to england from the states, he told the boys something along the lines of 'we can make it there'
- jessa, Brampton, ON, Canada
I love George Harrison. He is my favourite Beatle. Was he really the shy one?
- Katie, Australia
Actually, Patti and Eric dated for many years before she and George finally divorced.
- Crystal, Springfield, MO
he was the "Shy Beatle"
- Danny, Grass Valley, CA
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