George Harrison

February 25, 1943 - December 1, 2001

George was born the youngest of the four children of Harold Harrison and Louise French, who married in 1930. His father drove the bus that brought both Harrison and Paul McCartney to the Liverpool Institute. Harrison was generally disenchanted by school until he took up the guitar, his main outlet for rebelling was dressing in the flamboyant Teddy Boy style - tight trousers, elaborate coats, long greased-back-hair, that parents found menacing, or at least irritating. Unlike Lennon and McCartney, who approached the guitar as something to accompany their singing, Harrison was drawn to the solos on early rock records. He did have some band experience before the Quarry Men: he and his older brother, Peter, had a band called the Rebels. He also made it a practice to bring his guitar to dances in the hope that one of the bands would let him sit in or even join. Even after he joined the Quarry Men - whose performing dates were few - he continued playing with other groups. When George was six, the Harrisons, after eighteen years on a waiting list, moved to a larger, government-subsidized house in nearby Speke. "We got by well enough," his father, Harold, said. "But life was never easy." Material inadequacies were compensated for by emotional warmth and togetherness. The children "always knew the comfort and security of a very close-knit home life," said George's Brother Harry. Young George was the only Harrison child to make it as far as grammar school, enrolling at the prestigious Liverpool Institute, but he found he had only disdain for his teachers - "Useless, the lot of them," he later huffed - and he rarely paid attention or applied himself. He duly failed all his classes except art and eventually accepted a job as an electrician's apprentice at a Liverpool department store.

By early 1958 the Quarry Men's personnel had stabilized, with Lennon, McCartney and Eric Griffiths on guitars, Colin Hanton on drums, Len Garry on bass, and John 'Duff' Lowe as an occasional pianist. As the skiffle boom faded, Lennon and McCartney were pushing the band's repertory toward Elvis and Little Richard, a taste their band mates did not all share. Within months, Griffiths and Garry left, and MrCartney brought in a guitarist he knew from the Liverpool Institute, George Harrison. Harrison was a year younger than McCartney but was obsessed with the guitar and was making quick headway. When he turned up at a performance on February 6, 1958, a few weeks short of his fifteenth birthday, he struck Lennon as a child, and a sullen one at that. But Harrison found his way into the band the same way McCartney did: by showing that he could play things that Lennon could not. With McCartney's encouragement, he tagged along with the band to a few engagements, and by mid-year, he was a member. In 1960, when the group went to Hamburg, on one occasion George was deported back to England, when the local authorities discovered that he was only seventeen, and performing in a club where minors were not allowed.

George became a better song writer than John and Paul had thought he was capable of over the years. Some of George's early compositions were 'Don't Bother Me', 'I Need You', 'You Like Me Too Much', 'Think For Yourself', 'If I Needed Someone', 'Taxman', 'Love You To', and 'I Want To Tell You'. George met model Pattie Boyd on the set of 'A Hard Day's Night', George and Pattie were married January 21, 1966. George later met Ravi Shankar, an accomplished sitar player. From Ravi Shankar, George learned to love Indian music and became interested in the Indian instrument, the sitar. Soon after being introduced to Indian culture, George and the other Beatles became involved with the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In February, 1968 the Beatles made a much publicized journey to Maharishi's Meditation center in India. Even though the they came away doubting that he was as holy as they first thought, George contented to practice the meditation that they had learned while in India. George learned spiritual inner peace and meditation from the Maharishi. George's later works include 'Within You Without You', 'Blue Jay Way', 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', 'Piggies', 'Long Long Long', 'Savoy Truffle', 'The Inner Light', 'Only A Northern Song', 'Here Comes The Sun', and 'Something'. For George Harrison, the breakup of the Beatles was a golden opportunity. He had come of age as a songwriter, and his contributions to Abbey Road were among that album's highlights. He had also become quite prolific, and now he could record his songs without competition or criticism from Lennon and McCartney. George's first collection, All Things Must Pass, was a triple album - two discs of new songs plus a collection of session jams.

In 1971 Harrison helped arrange an all-star benefit concert at Madison Square Garden, in New York, to raise relief money for Bangla Desh. Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston and dozens more musicians played in this precursor of Live Aid and other rock charity concerts, and the performance yielded an album and a film, The Concert for Bangla Desh. Disputes over everything from distribution rights to taxes kept the proceeds from being put immediately toward the relief efforts. Harrison took a three-year break from the music world after 'Thirty Three and a Third'. He had been estranged from his wife Pattie for some time: she had, in fact, become romantically involved with Eric Clapton, whom she later married. The Harrison's divorce was finalized on June 9, 1977.On September 2, 1978 Harrison married Olivia Arias. He also began to dabble in the film world, bailing out Monty Python's troubled 'Life of Brian'. Because this first experience as a film producer proved both pleasing and lucrative, he formed his own company, HandMade Films, which made twenty-seven films before Harrison sold his interest in 1994. By 1982 it seemed as though Harrison was finding his battles in the music business utterly dispiriting. When he released 'Gone Troppo' that year, he did nothing whatsoever to promote it, and it barely registered in the charts - a pity, really, since it was full of bright, humorous, energetic songs, rich in melodic charm. Once again, he stepped away from music, not returning until 1987, when 'Cloud Nine' brought him his biggest success since 'All Things Must Pass'. Recorded at his home studio, with contributions from Starr and Clapton, and co-produced by Jeff Lynne of the Beatles-influenced Electric Light Orchestra, the album was refreshingly spirited, and included a nostalgic skewering of the Beatles myth, 'When We Was Fab'.

Now back in the limelight, he teamed up with Dylan, Lynne, Roy Orbison (the 1950's legend) and a younger rock star, Tom Petty, to record 'The Traveling Wilburys' in 1988. The album, collaboratively composed and recorded in short order, was brimming with spontaneity and humor. Orbison died soon after the record was released, but others kept the Wilburys alive, recording a second album, quirkily named 'Volume 3', in 1990.

The Traveling Wilbury's

Nelson Wilbury
George Harrison
Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr.
Tom Petty
Lefty Wilbury
Roy Orbison
Lucky Wilbury
Bob Dylan
Otis Wilbury
Jeff Lynne


A Chronology

George Harrison

John | Paul | Linda | Ringo | George



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