George Harrison

Born on February 25, 1943, Liverpool, England, died on November 30, 2001, Los Angeles, USA. As the youngest member of the Beatles, Harrison was constantly overshadowed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Although "Don't Bother Me" (With The Beatles), "I Need You" (Help!) and "If I Needed Someone" (Rubber Soul) revealed a considerable compositional talent, such contributions were swamped by his colleagues' prodigious output. Instead, Harrison honed a distinctive guitar style, modeled on rockabilly mentor Carl Perkins, and was responsible for adding the sitar into the pop lexicon through its complementary use on "Norwegian Wood". Harrison's infatuation with India was the first outward sign of his growing independence, while his three contributions to Revolver, noticeably "Taxman" and "I Want To Tell You", showed a newfound musical maturity. The Indian influence continued on the reflective "Within You, Without You". He flexed solo ambitions with the would-be film soundtrack, Wonderwall and the trite Electronic Sounds, but enhanced his stature as a skilled songwriter with the majestic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (The Beatles) and "Something" (Abbey Road). Sales of the latter composition exceeded one million when issued as a single in 1969. Harrison also produced releases for Billy Preston, Jackie Lomax and the Radha Krishna Temple and performed on the concurrent Delaney And Bonnie tour before commencing work on All Things Must Pass . This triple-record set consisted of material stockpiled over the years and featured several high quality compositions including "Awaiting On You All", "I'd Have You Anytime" (co-written with Bob Dylan) and "Beware Of Darkness".

George HarrisonThese selections were, however, eclipsed by "My Sweet Lord", which deftly combined melody with mantra and deservedly soared to the top of the US and UK charts. Its luster was sadly removed in later years when the publishers of the Chiffons' 1964 hit, "She's So Fine", successfully sued for plagiarism. Harrison's next project was "Bangla-Desh", a single inspired by a plea from master musician Ravi Shankar to aid famine relief in the Indian subcontinent. Charity concerts, featuring Harrison, Dylan, Preston, Eric Clapton and Leon Russell , were held at New York's Madison Square Gardens in August 1971, which in turn generated a film and boxed-set. Legal wrangles blighted Harrison's altruism and it was 1973 before he resumed recording. Whereas All Things Must Pass boasted support from Derek And The Dominos, Badfinger and producer Phil Spector, Living In The Material World was more modest and consequently lacked verve. The album nonetheless reached number 1 in the US, as did an attendant single, "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)", but critical reaction was noticeably muted. A disastrous US tour was the unfortunate prelude to Dark Horse , the title of which was inspired by Harrison's new record label. His marriage to Patti Boyd now over, the set reflected its creator's depression and remains his artistic nadir. Although poorly received, Extra Texture partially redressed the balance, but the fact that its strongest track, "You", dated from 1971, did not escape attention. Thirty Three & 1/3 and George Harrison continued this regeneration; the latter was a particularly buoyant collection, but the quality still fell short of his initial recordings.

George HarrisonDuring this period Harrison became involved with his personal heroes, the Monty Python comedy team, in the production of Life Of Brian . His financing of the film ensured its success and cemented a long-lasting relationship with the troupe. In 1980 the artist's parent label, Warner Brothers Records, rejected the first version of Somewhere In England, deeming its content below standard. The reshaped collection included "All Those Years Ago", Harrison's homage to the murdered John Lennon, which featured contributions from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The song reached US number 2 when issued as a single, a position reflecting the subject matter rather than faith in the artist. Gone Troppo was issued to minimal fanfare from both outlet and creator, and rumors flourished that it marked the end of Harrison's recording career. He pursued other interests, notably with his company Handmade Films which included such productions as The Long Good Friday (1980), Time Bandits (1981), Water (1985), Mona Lisa (1986) and Shanghai Surprise (1986), occasionally contributing to the soundtracks. During this time Harrison cultivated two hobbies which took up a great deal of his life: motor racing and gardening. He was tempted back into the studio to answer several low-key requests, including Mike Batt's adaptation of The Hunting Of The Snark and the Greenpeace benefit album.

George HarrisonHe joined the all-star cast saluting Carl Perkins on the television tribute Blue Suede Shoes, and in 1986 commenced work on a projected new album. Production chores were shared with Jeff Lynne , and the care lavished on the sessions was rewarded the following year when Harrison's version of the James Ray hit "Got My Mind Set On You" reached number 2 in the UK and number 1 in the US. The intentionally Beatles-influenced "When We Was Fab" was another major success, while Cloud Nine itself proved equally popular, with Lynne's grasp of commerciality enhancing Harrison's newfound optimism. Its release completed outstanding contracts and left this unpredictable artist free of obligations, although several impromptu live appearances suggest his interest in music was now rekindled. This revitalization also saw Harrison play a pivotal role within the Traveling Wilburys, an ad hoc "supergroup" initially comprising himself, Lynne, Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison . Harrison made his first tour for many years in Japan during January 1992 with his longtime friend Eric Clapton giving him support. He reappeared on-stage in England at a one-off benefit concert in April. In 1995, the UK press seemed to delight in the fact that Harrison had hit hard times caused by various business ventures and ill advice from people he used as advisors. The Beatles reunion in 1995 for the Anthology series banished any thoughts of bankruptcy. A further bonus came in January 1996 when he was awarded $11.6 million following litigation against Denis O'Brien and his mishandling of Harrison's finances.

George HarrisonHarrison's tact and the way he has dealt with his inner self should not be underestimated; the "quiet" Beatle does seem to have this part of his life totally sorted out. On December 30 1999, Harrison was stabbed when he attempted to accost a burglar in his home. The man was later charged with attempted murder, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He supervised the magnificent reissue of All Things Must Pass in 2000, and rumors of a new album began to circulate. This was hampered in 2001 when it was confirmed that Harrison was being treated for cancer.



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