George Harrison

From New World Encyclopedia

George Harrison
George Harrison 1974.jpg
Harrison visiting the Oval Office in 1974
Born 25 February 1943
Flag of England Liverpool, England
Died 29 November, 2001
Genre(s) Rock music
Psychedelic rock
Indian music
Affiliation(s) The Beatles
Traveling Wilburys
Label(s) Parlophone
Capitol Records
Apple Records
Vee-Jay Records
Dark Horse Records
Notable guitars Rickenbacker Twelve string guitar
Gretsch guitars
Psychedelic colored Stratocaster (nicknamed "Rocky")
Years active 1957 in music - 2001 in music
Official site

George Harrison, MBE (February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001) was an English rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, author and film producer, best known as the lead guitarist of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music.

Apart from his career in music, Harrison led an active spiritual life, holding particular interest in such Eastern traditions as Hinduism, yoga, and transcendental meditation. He was often known to say, "Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot wait."


Not the most outspoken or public member of The Beatles, George was often referred to as the "mysterious Beatle" or "the quiet one." His presence was generally low-key in response to the enormous attention he received as a member of the British super-group, a reflection of his introspective nature.

In the shadow of his fellow Beatles, frontmen John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harrison made a substantial contribution in his own right to the group's vast repertoire of songs, having written and/or sung lead on one or two songs for each of the 12 studio albums released. His most notable contributions as a writer were, "Here Comes the Sun," "Something," and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

While still a Beatle, Harrison became attracted to Indian music and Hinduism. Both would subsequently play a prominent role in Harrison's life and music, and his use of the sitar introduced the instrument to millions of Western listeners.

After the band's breakup it was Harrison who achieved the first #1 single ("My Sweet Lord") and #1 album (All Things Must Pass) by any ex-Beatle. Harrison went on to have a very successful solo career, scoring additional hits with "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 triple album, "All Things Must Pass," held the distinction of being the best selling album by a solo Beatle.

In his later years, Harrison remained active through collaborations with old friends in the industry, guest appearances for film and television, and playing his beloved ukulele he was known to carry with him often. [1]

George Harrison died of cancer on November 29, 2001 at the age of 58. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in 2004.

Early years: 1943-1958

George Harrison was born in Liverpool, England into a Catholic family with deep roots in Ireland. His maternal grand-parents hailed from Ireland's County Wexford, and his father's lineage can be traced back to County Sligo.

Harrison was the youngest of four children (his older siblings were 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. Harrison had hopes of being a working musician for a few years, then possibly trying to get into art school.

Harrison's childhood home was located at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool until 1950, when the family moved to 25 Upton Green, Speke. He first attended school at Dovedale Road Infants & Juniors School, just off Penny Lane. There he passed his Eleven-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. During his young adolescence, Harrison would play guitar all night until his fingers bled.

The Institute for Boys was an English grammar school and, despite his qualification, Harrison was regarded as a poor student; contemporaries described him as someone who would "sit alone in the corner." He left school in the summer of 1959 without attaining any academic credentials.

1958-1960: The Quarrymen and the Silver Beatles

Harrison got to know Paul McCartney at school, beginning in 1954, and the two discovered that they had much in common. Both had lived in Speke on an outer council (public housing) estate and they also traveled on the same Corporation bus (sometimes with Harrison's father at the wheel), secretly smoking cigarettes on the top deck on the way to the Liverpool Institute. It was McCartney who introduced Harrison to John Lennon and his group, known then as The Quarrymen. Harrison was the youngest member, initially looked upon as a kid by the others. He was never officially asked to join, but hung out with the band and filled in when he was needed. Over time, his place in the group was solidified.

Harrison'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 Harrison had begun playing regularly as lead guitar in the band which consisted of Lennon, McCartney, and a large turnover of drummers. After leaving school in the summer of 1959, Harrison worked briefly as an apprentice electrician at Blacklers Stores in Liverpool. The training helped him become the member who knew the most about rigging their sound equipment. Later he set up his own multitrack recording gear at his Esher home, making song demos for himself and the group. At some point during this year, the group would change its name to The Silver Beatles before shortening it to the Beatles in 1960.

1960-1970: The Beatles

During this time, the band began to secure many gigs across the UK at cellar clubs and in bars as they began to build their sound and continue their search for a permanent drummer.

Later that year, the Beatles secured Pete Best as their drummer and started playing in Hamburg at the Indra and Kaiserkeller bars. They were required to play six or seven hours a night, seven nights a week. Shortly after they began performing at a new venue, the "Top Ten Club," Harrison was deported for having lied to the German authorities about his age. The band soon regrouped and continued to play gigs, even returning to Hamburg in the spring of 1961 where they landed a record deal and gained some success. This led to their meeting with Brian Epstein who worked to secure them the record deals that would lead to their eventual worldwide takeover by 1963. Also around this time, Best was replaced by Ringo Starr, who had worked with the group previously as a fill-in. By 1964 the phenomenon known as Beatlemania was well underway and Harrison found himself humbly on board what was to be one of the biggest pop explosions of all time.

While McCartney was the "cute Beatle" and Lennon the leader, Harrison was still a favorite of the female fans. At some concerts, the band was occasionally showered with candies called Jelly Babies, which Harrison had said to be his favorite sweet (unfortunately American fans could not get hold of this soft British confection, replacing them instead with hard jelly beans, much to the band's discomfort).

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 later that year, on Meet the Beatles! in the United States 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 not regarded as a virtuoso guitarist, especially in the early days of the Beatles' recording career. Several of Harrison's Beatles guitar solos were recorded under specific directions from McCartney, who on occasion demanded that Harrison play what he envisioned virtually note-for-note. Other Harrison solos were directed or modified by producer George Martin, who also vetoed several of Harrison's song and instrumental offerings. Martin admitted years later, "I was always rather beastly to George."

Toward the end of the 1960s, however, Harrison became known as a fluent, inventive, and highly accomplished lead and rhythm guitarist. In the 1970s and thereafter, his skilled slide work became his signature sound.

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. Harrison quickly became fascinated with the instrument, immersed himself in Indian music and was pivotal in popularising the sitar in particular and Indian music in general in the West.

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 would go on to become friends, and Harrison began his first formal musical studies with Shankar.

Harrison married model Pattie Boyd on January 21, 1966 at Leatherhead and Esher registry office, with Paul McCartney as best man. 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 Harrison, and she and Clapton subsequently married. Despite this, the two men remained close friends, calling themselves "husbands-in-law."

Harrison's songwriting improved greatly through the years, but his material did not earn respect from his fellow Beatles until near the group's breakup (Lennon told McCartney during 1969: "George's songs this year are at least as good as ours"). Harrison later said that he always had difficulty getting the band to record his songs.

Notable 1965-1970 Harrison compositions include: "If I Needed Someone," "You Like Me Too Much," "I Want to Tell You," "Think for Yourself," the Indian-influenced "Love You Too," "Taxman," "Within You Without You," "Blue Jay Way," "Only a Northern Song," "Old Brown Shoe," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (featuring lead guitar by Eric Clapton), "Piggies" (later featured inadvertently in the notorious Charles Manson murder case), "Sour Milk Sea," "Long, Long, Long," "Savoy Truffle," "Something," "Here Comes the Sun," "I Me Mine" (the second-to-last Beatles' Harrison song which he published a book a decade later). "For You Blue" was the final Beatles' Harrison song about his ex-wife Patti Boyd, featuring steel guitar by John Lennon).

Friction among Harrison, Lennon, and McCartney increased markedly during the recording of The Beatles, as Harrison threatened to leave the group on several occasions. Between 1967 and 1969, McCartney frequently expressed dissatisfaction with Harrison's guitar playing. 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, including one in which Harrison retorts to McCartney, "OK, well, I don't mind. I'll play whatever you want me to play or I won't play at all if you don't want me to play. Whatever it is that'll please you, I'll do it." Frustrated by 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 the tenth of January. He returned on January 22 after negotiations with the other Beatles at two business meetings.

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 recorded by both Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, who famously deemed it "the greatest love song of the last 50 years." 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.

When Harrison was 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's assessment is confirmed by the fact that many of the songs on their early solo albums premiered at various times during the Beatles' recording sessions, but were not actually recorded by the group.

Harrison was only 26 years old at the time of the Beatles' last recording session on January 4, 1970.

Spiritual Life

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 responded to the material with great intrigue and so his interest in Indian culture soon expanded to his embracing Hinduism. A pilgrimage with his 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 sessions.

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. While they parted company with the Maharishi some months afterwards, Harrison continued his pursuit of Eastern spirituality.

In the summer of 1969, he produced the single "Hare Krishna Mantra," performed by the devotees of the London Radha Krishna Temple. That same year, he and fellow Beatle John Lennon met [[A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder 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.

Solo career


After years of being limited in his contributions to the Beatles, Harrison quickly released a large number of the songs that had been stockpiling in his first major solo work released after the breakup, All Things Must Pass, which came out in November of 1970. It was the first ever triple album released by a solo artist.

All Things Must Pass was a triumphant entry into the solo market by Harrison and marked by four full sides of excellent Beatle-worthy material, followed by an additional two sides of extended rock jams by Harrison and other musician friends.

In the summer of the following year, Harrison became the first rock star to organise 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 such other popular musicians as Bob Dylan (who rarely appeared live in the early 1970s), Eric Clapton, who made his first public appearance in months, Leon Russell, Badfinger, Billy Preston and fellow Beatle Ringo Starr. Unfortunately, tax troubles and questionable expenses tied up many of the concert's proceeds. 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.

In addition to his own works, during this time Harrison co-wrote and/or produced several hits for Starr ("It Don't Come Easy" and "Photograph") and appeared on tracks by 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").

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. Despite its criticism for being too overtly religious, the album was able to reach #1 in the U.S. charts.

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 mid-concert 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. 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. It was in those offices that he met 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 the label. The relationship with Olivia progressed during the rehearsals, and she joined Harrison on his 1974 tour, during which their relationship blossomed into a more serious romance, resulting in her permanent relocation to Friar Park in Henley-on-Thames, England, George's home.

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.

Amid 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 Lennon and Starr again, he could not see himself being involved in a band with 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.

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

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 experiment. The Best of George Harrison (1976) combined his best Beatles songs with a slim selection of his best work as a solo artist for Apple. Harrison made plain his annoyance with the track listing and the fact that he was not consulted. It did not chart in the UK.

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. Thirty Three & 1/3 would be his most successful album of the late-1970s.

After his marriage to Olivia Trinidad Arias and the birth of son Dhani Harrison, Harrison released the album George Harrison in 1979, which included the singles "Blow Away," "Love Comes To Everyone," and "Faster."


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 as a high-priced limited edition by Genesis Publications. The book said little about the Beatles, focusing instead on Harrison's hobbies, such as gardening and Formula One automobile racing. It also included the lyrics to his songs and many rare photographs.

Harrison was deeply shocked by the December 1980 murder of John Lennon. The crime reinforced his long-going worries concerning safety from stalkers. It was also a deep personal loss for him, because unlike former bandmates McCartney and Starr, Harrison had little contact with Lennon in the years preceding the murder. Harrison modified the lyrics of a song he had written for Starr to make it a tribute song to Lennon. All Those Years Ago received substantial radio airplay, reaching #2 on the US popular music charts. All three remaining Beatles performed on it, although it was expressly a Harrison single.

Both singles were taken 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.

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, when 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, a retrospective of the Beatles' days complete with musical flavors for each bandmate, was also a minor hit. MTV regularly played the two videos, and elevated Harrison's public profile with another generation of music listeners. The album reached #8 on the US popular charts.

In 1985, Harrison made a rare public appearance on the HBO special Carl Perkins and Friends along with Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton, among others. He only agreed to appear because he was a close admirer of Perkins.

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 realized the track Handle With Care was too good for its original purpose as a B-side and asked for a full, separate album. The album was 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. The Beatles had been fans of the anarchic humor of the Goons, and Harrison became a dedicated fan of their stylistic successors, Monty Python. 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 1990s, much like the Beatles' Apple Corps, and the demands of the company severely depleted Harrison's finances.

Early in 1989, Harrison, Lynne and Starr, all appeared on Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down, where Harrison played electric guitar. The same year also saw the release of Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989, a compilation drawn from his solo work. This album also included two new songs Poor Little Girl and Cockamamie Business (which saw him once again looking wryly upon his Beatle past), as well as Cheer Down which had first been released earlier in the year on the soundtrack to the Mel Gibson movie, Lethal Weapon 2. Unlike his previous greatest hits package, Harrison made sure to oversee this compilation.


The first year of the new decade saw a new Traveling Wilburys album, despite the death of Roy Orbison in late 1988. The second album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 was recorded as a four-piece. It was not nearly as successful as the previous album, but still managed to spawn the singles She's My Baby, Inside Out, and Wilbury Twist,

He had a singing role as himself in Homer's Barbershop Quartet, an episode of the televised cartoon series: The Simpsons which opened the show's season.

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 Bob Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden.

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

In 1996, Harrison recorded, produced and played on Distance Makes No Difference With Love with Carl Perkins for his Go-Cat-Go record. During these sessions Perkins also played lead guitar on Harrison's song P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night) for his later released Brainwashed album.

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, then of VH1, 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 attended the funeral of his boyhood idol, Carl Perkins, 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.

On the evening of December 30, 1999, Michael Abram broke into the Harrisons' 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.[2] Abram, 35 years old at the time, stated he 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 traumatized by the invasion and attack and afterward severely limited his public appearances.

In 2001, Harrison appeared as a guest musician on the Electric Light Orchestra album, Zoom. That year he also played slide guitar on the song Love Letters for Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, remastered and restored unreleased tracks from the Traveling Wilburys, and wrote a new song, Horse To The Water. The latter song ended up as Harrison's final recording session, on October 2, just 58 days before his death. It appeared on Jools Holland's album, Small World, Big Band.


Harrison's cancer recurred in 2001 and was found (as a consequence of his previous knife wound) 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.

Harrison died on November 29, 2001. He was 58 years old. 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. The actual disposition of the ashes has not been publicly disclosed.

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's My Sweet Lord was re-released posthumously on January 14, 2002 and reached number one on January 20, 2002.

Harrison's final album, Brainwashed, was completed by Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne and released on November 18, 2002. His love of the ukulele comes across on his final album. Almost every track has a bit of ukulele in the background.[3] A media-only single, Stuck Inside a Cloud, was heavily played on UK radio to promote the album, while the official single Any Road, released in May 2003, reached #37 on the British popular music chart.

On November 29, 2002, on the first anniversary of Harrison's death, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jeff Lynne, Billy Preston, Joe Brown, Jools Holland, Sam Brown, Olivia Harrison, and Dhani Harrison were among many others that attended the "Concert For George" at the Royal Albert Hall in London. McCartney performed Something, and started the song by playing a ukulele unaccompanied. He explained this by saying that when he and Harrison got together, they would often play Beatles songs (and their own) on a ukulele. McCartney, Clapton, and Starr reunited as Beatles 2.0 on While My Guitar Gently Weeps for the first time since the song was recorded. The profits from the concert went to Harrison's charity, the Material World Charitable Foundation.

Personal Life and Family

The family that Harrison had grown up with 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 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.

Harrison's mother died of cancer in 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 also died of cancer, eight years later.


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 he wrote Faster as a tribute to Stewart (who also appeared in the accompanying promotional video) and Niki Lauda. Proceeds from its release went to the Gunnar Nilsson cancer charity, set up following the Swedish driver's death from the disease in 1978.

Harrison was a huge fan of the small British racing car, the Mini Cooper. Throughout the 1960s he drove his Minis to shows and clubs around London, and there is a good deal of footage of Harrison driving his Coopers around race tracks at high speeds.

Harrison also owned a $1 million McLaren F1 road car. The 3-seater McLaren can be seen carrying Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr in a segment of The Beatles Anthology, prior to the video for the single, Free As A Bird and also in that of Any Road.


On June 12, 1965 Harrison and the three other Beatles were appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), and received their insignia from the Queen at an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 26 October.

The minor planet 4149, discovered on March 9, 1984 by B. A. Skiff at the Anderson Mesa Station of the Lowell Observatory, was named after Harrison.

In 2003, Harrison was ranked number 21 in Rolling Stone's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Harrison was inducted into the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame on August 1, 2006.


  1. David Kidney, Langley Ukulele Ensemble Retrieved May 25, 2007.
  2. Daily Summary, Hari Scruffs Henley Heroics.
  3. David Kidney, Langley Ukulele Ensemble Retrieved May 25, 2007.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Giuliano, Geoffrey. Dark Horse: The Life and Art of George Harrison, New York: Da Capo Press, 1997. ISBN 0306807475
  • Greene, Joshua. Here comes the sun: the spiritual and musical journey of George Harrison, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2006. ISBN 047169021X
  • Harrison, George. I, Me, Mine, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980. ISBN 0671427873
  • Shapiro, Marc. Behind sad eyes: the life of George Harrison, NY: St. Martin's Press, 2002. ISBN 0312301095

External links

All links retrieved May 20, 2024.


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