George Harrison was an English musician, composer, benefactor and film producer of the mid-20th century. He became widely known as Beatles' lead guitarist, who continues to be one of the most commercially successful bands in the history of music, with more than a billion records sold to date. Harrison, however, was more than just the Beatles guitarist. Although the "silent Beatle" in the shadow of John Lennon and Paul McCartney lived a very spiritual and converted Hindu, his character is also called extreme. This biography below describes the remarkable life of the "third Beatle".
George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943 in a suburb of the English port of Liverpool, the youngest of four children of the bus driver Harold Harrison and his wife Louise French Harrison. Like his future bandmates, he grew up in simple circumstances. At the age of 12-13 years, the future Beatle, as he himself later described, had a "rock 'n' roll enlightenment" when he heard Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" playing from a neighboring house while riding a bicycle. Shortly thereafter, George received his first guitar and learned to play it.
After admission to the prestigious "Liverpool Institute", Harrison got to know Paul McCartney on the school bus. Through the agency of his friend Paul, the future guitarist joined the band "Quarrymen", founded by John Lennon, although initially John Lennon spoke out against the recording because of Harrison's age.
At the age of 16, George Harrison had to pay tribute to his musical commitment and leave the "Liverpool Institute" to focus on the music.
Shortly thereafter, in 1960, the band played - now they called themselves "The Beatles" regular concerts in a Hamburg nightclub on the Reeperbahn. Although this commitment ended earlier than planned due to underage George Harrison, it left a lasting mark on him.
A year later, the band's career finally took off and the Beatles returned to Hamburg as a backing band for Tony Sheridan. During this time, Harrison's musical understanding was also consolidated through a mix of self-procured skills, playing music with his band, and guitar lessons with Tony Sheridan. Through her new manager Brian Epstein, the band could finally conclude a record deal with the label EMI.
At the latest with the release of the debut album "Please Please Me" the whole of the UK fell victim to Beatlemania. On the other hand, George Harrison, who was reticent in his age and personality, took on the role of the "silent Beatle" in the shadow of Lennon and McCartney, who acted as the Beatles' figureheads.
The second album of the Beatles contained the single "Do not Bother Me", which was composed by Harrison. Until this release, his contribution was limited to guitar riffs and vocals; the composing previously took over McCartney and Lennon. From the second album, however, the "silent Beatle" was also able to bring in his compositions. In the end, one of the most important Beatles songs like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun" went to the inconspicuous band member.
Perhaps the most important contribution of George Harrison, however, was his interest in non-Western music, especially Indian and Asian sounds. The "silent Beatle" introduced the sitar as an instrument as early as 1965 in the song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)", after Ravi Shankar, a sitar virtuoso, instructed him in its use. The enthusiasm for these musical genres culminated in a spiritual trip by the Beatles and their partners to India to study Indian philosophies and meditation techniques with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Also his wife Pattie Boyd, whom he met during the filming of "A Hard Day's Night", accompanied him. Ultimately, he adopted for himself the teachings of Hare Krishna and converted to Hinduism. Along with this spiritual development, Harrison also became increasingly secure as a composer and contributed more and more of his own compositions.
After more and more disagreements between the band members prevailed, the Beatles finally dissolved in 1970. George Harrison's drive for more influence on the Beatles' published songs is cited as one of the reasons for the breakup.
Before the dissolution of the Beatles Harrison already published the two solo albums "Wonderwall Music" and "Electric Sound", which mainly instrumental compositions included.
After the separation of the Beatles and the years of limited publishing his songs on the Beatles LPs, his pent-up creativity in "All Things Must Pass" discharged. This triple album reached the top of the charts and contained number one single "My Sweet Lord". Although Harrison later lost a plagiarism litigation in the song "My Sweet Lord", "All Things Must Pass" is Harrison's most successful solo album.
His first major charity concert, which later became known as the "Concert for Bangladesh", was to draw attention to the tragic situation in Bangladesh in 1971 and collect donations. Performers such as Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr performed at the legendary "Madison Square Garden" in New York City, paving the way for later world-famous charity concerts such as "Live Aid".
Living in the Material World, "the former Beatle released in 1973 and was again chart successes. The following "Dark Horse" tour, however, received negative criticism and the released in December related album "Dark Horse" had to plug in the worst reviews in Harrison's career. In the private life failed at the same marriage to Pattie Boyd, who left him for Eric Clapton. The album released in 1975 "Extra Texture (Read All About It)" could not build on earlier successes.
Already in 1974 the "silent Beatle" founded his own label "Dark Horse Records". There he met Olivia Trinidad Arias, whom he later married in 1978 and gave birth to his son Dhani a year later. Under his own label in 1976, the album "Thirty Three & 1/3", which received the best reviews since "All Things Must Pass". However, this album also fell short of the sales expectations.
The assassination of John Lennon on 8 December 1980 hit the former Beatle hard. He then wrote the John Lennon tribute song "All Those Years Ago", in which Paul and Linda McCartney and Ringo Starr collaborated. While the Tribute song scored successes, the albums "George Harrison", "Somewhere in England" and "Gone Troppo" again fell short of expectations. The lack of commercial success led to a withdrawal Harrison from the music business.
The former Beatle then devoted himself to the production of films with his company "Handmade Films", which he founded in 1979 together with Dennis O'Brien. His first success was with Monty Python's The Life of Brian, which he both produced and financed through a mortgage on his estate. Other films followed, including Time Bandits, Mona Lisa, Shanghai Surprise, and Withnail and I. The company produced until 1991.
George Harrison remained musically not completely idle in the years 1982 to 1987, since he performed several guest appearances at charity events. In 1987, he released his platinum comeback album "Cloud Nine", with which he was finally able to build on previous successes through various hits.
The Traveling Wilburys was founded in 1988 by Harrison along with Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. This was followed in the years 1988 to 1990 two albums, which achieved some commercial success. In 1991, the former Beatle went on a tour of Japan with his longtime companion Eric Clapton for the last time.
In 1994, Harrison, McCartney, and Starr met again for The Beatles Anthology to produce two new Beatles songs from John Lennon recordings. "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" came out of this collaboration.
In 1997, George Harrison was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and treated with radiotherapy. The therapy was successfully completed at that time.
This was followed by the next stroke of fate in 1999, when Michael Abram broke into the Harrisons Friar Park house and stabbed at the former Beatle with a kitchen knife. Through the courageous intervention of his wife, he survived this assassination attempt with a punctured lung and head injuries that needed to be treated in the hospital.
In May 2001, it became known that a carcinoma had to be removed from one of his lungs. As early as July of the same year, Harrison underwent a brain tumor treatment. His condition continued to deteriorate as he began another radiotherapy for his metastatic lung cancer in New York City in November 2001. On November 12, the three surviving former Beatles met for the last time for lunch at Harrison's Hotel. Seventeen days later, on November 29, 2001, George Harrison lost his fight against cancer at the age of 58 and died.
In 2002 Harrison released his last album "Brainwashed", which was completed by his son Dhani and Jeff Lynne. It reached some chart placements and a Grammy for the single "Marwa Blues". He was admitted to the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" in 2004. On April 14, 2009, George Harrison received a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. In October 2011, the filmed biography "George Harrison: Living in the Material World" was published, directed by Martin Scorcese.
George Harrison was a complex person. Although he took on the role of the "third" or "silent" Beatles through the early dominance of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, he made crucial contributions to the success of the Beatles. His interest in Hinduism and Indian teachings significantly changed his personality. So he saw the dissolution of the Beatles ultimately as a kind of liberation for his creative work, which he could develop and publish only conditionally under the direction of Lennon and McCartney.
But Harrison also had other qualities that do not fit the image of the follower and the "silent Beatles". So he was known for his black humor, which he could live out, for example, by working with Monty Python. But even in legendary interviews he sometimes gave sarcastic answers to the best.
The introverted Harrison would probably not have believed his passion for racing or a hot-blooded vein, as Paul McCartney is quoted.
It is difficult to summarize the various facets of George Harrison: On the one hand, there is the restrained, "quiet," spiritually rooted man who lived in seclusion and made his friendship with Eric Clapton over his first marriage. On the other side is the member of the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame", a "hot-blooded man" who according to his wife "loved the women" and one of his friends an "extreme character" certified. A man who, after a failed attempt on his life, issued a statement: "The attacker was not a burglar and he certainly had not auditioned for the" Traveling Willburys ".
Harrison is best described in the words of Ringo Starr: "George Harrison was always black and white."