Born In: Liverpool, England
George Harrison was an English musician, singer-songwriter, and producer. A powerful contributor to the field of music, Harrison achieved fame as the lead guitarist of the popular rock band, ‘The Beatles.’ From an early age, he was inspired by the beauty of music. Throughout his life, he worked hard to popularize ‘popular music.’ What is interesting to note is that Harrison used the power of music to raise awareness about spirituality. He was deeply and profoundly inspired by Hinduism and was an ardent admirer of Indian culture and mysticism. The same was reflected in most of his work, which had an undeniable presence of Eastern music and instruments. While Harrison was surrounded by musicians like McCartney and Lennon, who were geniuses in their own right, their presence did not overshadow his talent and skills as he went on to attain much popularity and critical acclaim. While he did excellently well during his association with ‘The Beatles,’ he went on to become a powerful spiritual songwriter with an expansive sense of melody after going solo. To date, he is remembered for making a large number of westerners appreciate Eastern religion and music.
Also Known As: The Quiet Beatle
Died At Age: 58
Spouse/Ex-: Olivia Arias (m. 1978), Pattie Boyd (1966-1977)
father: Harold Hargreaves (or Hargrove) Harrison
mother: Louise (née French; 1911–1970)
siblings: Harold (born 1934), Louise (born 16 August 1931), Peter (20 July 1940 – 1 June 2007)
children: Dhani Harrison
Born Country: England
place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States
Ancestry: Indian American
Cause of Death: Lung Cancer
City: Liverpool, England
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George Harrison was born on 25 February 1943, in Liverpool, England. He was the youngest of four children, born to Harold Hargreaves and Louise Harrison. He had a sister named Louise and two brothers named Harry and Peter.
Young Harrison’s interest in music came from his mother who was an enthusiastic fan of music. She often listened to ‘Radio India’ while pregnant with Harrison, which best explains the latter’s love for music and Eastern philosophy.
Harrison attended ‘Dovedale Primary School’ after which he enrolled in the prestigious ‘Liverpool Institute’ in 1954.
Harrison formed a skiffle band named ‘Rebel’ with his brother Peter and friend Arthur Kelly. However, it was his association with Paul McCartney that shaped Harrison’s music career at large.
McCartney encouraged Harrison to audition for John Lennon’s ‘Quarrymen.’ While the audition went well, Lennon was skeptical of bringing Harrison into the band as he was too young. However, after a second meeting in which Harrison played the guitar part of the instrumental "Raunchy," Lennon finally relented and welcomed him into the band. Barely 15 years old, Harrison was a master at his art and enjoyed his role as a guitarist.
In 1960, the band changed their name to ‘The Beatles.’ In 1960, they gave their first performance as ‘Beatles’ at the Kaiserkeller club in Hamburg.
In 1962, ‘Beatles’ tasted success as their first single ‘Love Me Do’ peaked at number 17 on the ‘Record Retailer’ chart. Two years later, at the time of their debut album’s release, ‘Beatlemania’ had already become a rage.
Harrison’s first solo writing credit was for the song ‘Don't Bother Me’ which he wrote for the group’s second album ‘With the Beatles’ in 1963.
Harrison was solely responsible for bringing the genre of folk rock into the group’s music albums. His interest in Indian classical music was apparent as he used sitar for the song ‘Norwegian Wood’ which was part of the album, ‘Rubber Soul.’ The album was Harrison’s favorite ‘Beatles’ album.
Harrison’s love for eastern music and instruments was reflected in three of the compositions in the album ‘Revolver.’ Not just the sitar, but instruments like the tambura, table, and swarmandal were also used in the songs recorded by ‘The Beatles.’
Harrison’s interest in eastern music grew by leaps and bounds, due to which he started deviating from ‘Beatles.’ ‘Within You, Without You’ was his solo composition for the album ‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ The song not only reflected his urge for experimentation but also indicated his desire to go solo.
Harrison’s love for traditional Indian music, accompanied by several other factors led to the final collapse of the band on 10 April 1970.
By that time, Harrison’s fame was escalating steadily, thanks to his songwriting skills. He had a convincing list of hits to fall back on, such as ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ ‘Something,’ and ‘For you Blue.’ Additionally, he had two solo albums, namely ‘Wonderwall Music’ and ‘Electronic Sound,’ the former being the first solo album by a ‘Beatle’ member.
After the band's disbandment, Harrison released ‘All Things Must Pass.’ By far, it has been regarded as his best work. The album topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 1971, Harrison contributed to the ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ along with Ravi Shankar at the ‘New York Madison Square.’ The event was a precursor for future large-scale charity shows. It was followed up with an album and concert film.
Harrison’s future albums included ‘Living in the Material World,’ ‘Thirty Three & 1/3,’ ‘Somewhere in England,’ and ‘Cloud Nine.’
During his last years, he formed the group ‘Traveling Wilburys.’ They released several albums. It was also during this time that the ‘Beatles Anthology’ began. It was basically an effort to revive a few ‘Beatles’ songs and let the world know about the Beatles through interviews and chats.
‘All Things Must Pass’ achieved critical acclaim and was awarded a ‘Gold disc’ by the ‘Recording Industry Association of America.’ Since then, it has been certified platinum six times.
‘Living in the Material World’ was a follow-up to ‘All Things Must Pass.’ It entered ‘Billboard’ at number 23, and reached the number one spot in its second week. The album is said to have sold three million copies.
Harrison, along with other members of ‘The Beatles,’ was appointed ‘Members of the Order of the British Empire’ (MBE) on October 26, 1965.
‘Beatles’ received an ‘Academy Award’ for the ‘Best Original Song Score’ for the film ‘Let It Be’ in 1971.
Harrison has a minor planet ‘4149’ named after him. He was also a proud recipient of the ‘Billboard Century Award.’
He has been ranked number 11 in the list of ‘100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’ by ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine.
Harrison was married twice in his lifetime. His first marriage was with Pattie Boyd in 1966. The marriage ended in 1977 after which he tied the knot with Olivia Trinidad Arias in 1978. He was blessed with a son, whom he named Dhani Harrison, on August 1, 1978.
On December 30, 1999, Harrison was attacked with a kitchen knife at his home. He was hospitalized with more than 40 stab wounds.
In May 2001, he underwent surgery for lung cancer. That same year in July, he was also being treated for a brain tumor. However, in November 2021, he breathed his last in a property belonging to McCartney in Los Angeles, California. His funeral was held at Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine and he was cremated at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Harrison’s family scattered his ashes in Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India.
In 2002, on the first anniversary of his death, the ‘Concert for George’ was held at the ‘Royal Albert Hall.’ Two years later, he was posthumously inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.’ In 2006, he was posthumously inducted into the ‘Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame.’ The year 2009 witnessed the ‘Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’ honoring Harrison with a star on the ‘Walk of Fame.’
In 2015, ‘The Recording Academy’ honored Harrison with a posthumous ‘Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the ‘Grammy Awards.’
Just like his fondness for music, he shared an equal amount of love for sports, cars, and motor racing, so much so that he became one of the 100 people who purchased the ‘McLaren F1’ road car.
He was awarded the ‘Child Is the Father of Man’ award, along with Ravi Shankar, at an annual ceremony, held by ‘UNICEF’ to recognize the fundraising efforts for Bangladesh.
During his lifetime, he not only became an admirer of Indian culture and mysticism but also became a devotee of Maharishi Paramahansa Yogananda. He also embraced the ‘Hare Krishna’ tradition, particularly the ‘japa-yoga’ chanting with beads.
Despite being a westerner, he mastered a number of Indian classical instruments and brought them to the limelight. He also played a major role in representing Asian culture in the western world.
|1971||Best Music, Original Song Score||Let It Be (1969)|
|2015||Lifetime Achievement Award||Winner|
|2004||Best Pop Instrumental Performance||Winner|
|1997||Best Music Video - Long Form||The Beatles Anthology (1995)|
|1997||Best Music Video, Short Form||The Beatles: Free as a Bird (1995)|
|1997||Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal||Winner|
|1990||Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal||Winner|
|1973||Album of the Year||Winner|
|1971||Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special||Let It Be (1969)|
|1968||Best Contemporary Album||Winner|
|1968||Album of the Year||Winner|
|1965||Best New Artist||Winner|
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