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George Harrison Biography (MrShowbiz)

    George Harrison was "the quiet Beatle". But it was Harrison who first made his mark after the Beatles disbanded by scoring a No. 1 hit single with "My Sweet Lord," in 1970 (the success of the single was somewhat marred by a 1976 court ruling that found Harrison guilty of "subconscious plagiarism" of The Chiffons' charming ditty "He's So Fine"). Even if his self-deprecating and retiring personality made it hard for him to be heard above his charismatic bandmates, few will deny that Harrison - as a guitarist and as a songwriter - was an important voice for the Beatles.

Harrison was the one Beatle whose upbringing was cushioned by a traditional nuclear family - while his bandmates suffered broken homes and deaths in the family (both John Lennon and Paul McCartney lost their mums early on), Harrison was raised by a large, close-knit clan of modest means in the Wavertree section of Liverpool, not far from John and Paul's homes. Childhood conferred upon George a sweet-natured disposition that only partially gave way to ire and indifference in his preteen years. Harrison first expressed his hostility to his "chundering" schoolmasters by dressing in outlandish outfits and sleeping in class, but by the age of thirteen, he had discovered a far better way to channel his anger: playing guitar. George took a liking to skiffle music (a genre of folk-derived music played on acoustic guitars, string basses, and washboards), an appreciation he shared with a cherub-faced chum from the Liverpool Institute named Paul McCartney. The two also found they shared an interest in American rock-and-roll music. Paul McCartney had the good fortune to join up with a local band named the Quarrymen that included another schoolmate, John Lennon, and Harrison joined the group under McCartney's auspices the following year, in 1958. George was sufficiently inspired by the group's success to drop out of the Liverpool Institute to pursue his rock-and-roll dream more earnestly, working as an electrician's apprentice to pay his living expenses (he soon quit because he kept blowing things up). Considerably younger than the rest of the boys, George nevertheless overcame his insecurity and proved himself to be an adept and inventive guitarist. He continued to polish and inform his playing by listening to Duane Eddy, Chet Atkins, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, and eventually classical guitarist AndrTs Segovia, and in 1962, when the Quarrymen were re-baptized the Beatles, Harrison was mature enough in his style to act as lead guitarist.

On the set of the Beatles' 1965 movie, Help!, Harrison picked up a peculiar-looking stringed instrument called the sitar for the first time - an "instrumental" introduction that heralded his eventual immersion in and conversion to Hindu philosophy and religion. Both his musical and metaphysical interest sufficiently piqued, Harrison accepted instruction on the sitar from famed Indian musician Ravi Shankar, and subsequently travelled to India to steep himself in Eastern philosophy. The trip and his association with Shankar and religious leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ignited a spiritual awakening in Harrison, and his ideas about life and his sense of his own humility would change forever. This period of enlightenment was also marked by the Beatles' first experiments with acid; L.S.D. became yet another inspirational tool in their collective exploration of mysticism that erupted in their culturally catalytic album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

By the time Paul McCartney announced that he was leaving the band, in 1970, Harrison had been pursuing other adulterous artistic relationships for nigh on two years, the most notable achievement being his composition and arrangement of the Indian instrumentals for the unreleased film Wonderwall (the resulting soundtrack, Wonderwall Music, provided inspiration for the British band Oasis's hit, "Wonderwall"). George had always been frustrated in the songwriting department by the prolific Lennon and McCartney (though Harrison did contribute such hits as "Something," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and "Here Comes the Sun," among others), and the end of the Beatles sparked in him something of a musical rebirth. He moved into record production (he formed Dark Horse Records in 1974) and collaborated with other artists (notably Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton). Harrison teamed with Phil Spector to produce his first post-Beatles solo effort, the appropriately titled All Things Must Pass (1970). The album confirmed Harrison's vast and theretofore unrealized talents as a lyricist, musician, composer, and producer.

Harrison's subsequent solo albums, though popularly successful by virtue of his millions of fans, were not always as well-received critically. Undaunted by critical doubt, Harrison dabbled boldly in other projects, both behind the scenes and on center stage: he formed a film production company, HandMade Films, in 1978, producing such memorable films as Monty Python's Life of Brian and Time Bandits; he appeared in a number of films, most notably in a cameo in Monty Python's witty ribbing of Beatles mythology, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978); he produced and guest-starred as a guitarist on a slew of other artists' albums; he penned his autobiography, I Me Mine; he teamed with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and the late Roy Orbison to create the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. For all his hard work, Harrison was honored as the first recipient of Billboard's Century Award, in 1992, the publication's highest distinction for extraordinary creative achievement (he also boasts a total of six Grammy awards and an Oscar that he shares with the other Beatles). In 1996, Harrison collaborated with McCartney and Starr to create the sweeping retrospective (in the forms of a television documentary and three volumes of previously unavailable recordings), The Beatles Anthology.

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Tribute Biography (Assoc. Press Bio)

b. 25 February 1943, Liverpool, England. 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, modelled 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". These 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 lustre 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. 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.

During 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 rumours 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.

He 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 long-time friend Eric Clapton giving him support.

He reappeared onstage 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.

Harrison'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 rumours of a new album began to circulate. This was hampered in 2001 when it was confirmed that Harrison was being treated for cancer...

[ Liverpool Press' Reactions & Bio ]

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George Harrison Discography - 45s

    Date of Release || Recording/Label || Peak Billboard Chart Postion]
10/18/1969 | Something (The Beatles)   [Apple] #1
11/23/1970 | My Sweet Lord/Isn't It A Pity (version one)   [Apple] #1
02/15/1971 | What Is Life/Apple Scruffs   [Apple] #10
07/28/1971 | Bangla Desh/Deep Blue   [Apple] #23
05/07/1973 | Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)/Miss O'Dell   #1 [Apple]
11/18/1974 | Dark Horse/I Don't Care Anymore   [Apple] #15
12/23/1974 | Ding Dong; Ding Dong/Hari's On Tour (Express)   [Apple] #36
09/15/1975 | You/World Of Stone   [Apple] #20
12/08/1975 | This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)/Maya Love   [Apple]
11/15/1976 | This Song/Learning How To Love You   [Dark Horse]
01/24/1977 | Crackerbox Palace/Learning How To Love You   [Dark Horse] #19
04/04/1977 | Dark Horse/You Capitol   [Starline] #15
02/19/1979 | Blow Away/Soft-Hearted Hana   [Dark Horse] #16
05/14/1979 | Love Comes To Everyone/Soft Touch   [Dark Horse] #38
05/04/1981 | All Those Years Ago/Writing's On The Wall   [Dark Horse] #2
07/20/1981 | Teardrops/Save The World   [Dark Horse] #102
11/09/1981 | All Those Years Ago/Teardrops   [Dark Horse]
11/01/1982 | Wake Up My Love/Greece   [Dark Horse] #53
02/07/1983 | I Really Love You/Circles   [Dark Horse]
04/23/1985 | I Don't Want To Do It/Queen Of The Hop   [Columbia]
10/03/1987 | Got My Mind Set On You/Lay His Head   [Dark Horse] #1
01/30/1988 | When We Was Fab/Zig Zag   Dark Horse] #23
05/12/1988 | This Is Love/Breath Away From Heaven   [Dark Horse] #20
10/17/1988 | Handle With Care/Margarita (Traveling Wilburys)   [Wilbury] #45
01/23/1989 | End Of The Line/Congratulations (Traveling Wilburys)   [Wilbury] #63
06/01/1989 | Got My Mind Set On You/When We Was Fab   [Warner Bros.]
08/28/1989 | Cheer Down/That's What It Takes   [Warner Bros.]
04/12/1990 | Handle With Care/End Of The Line (Traveling Wilburys)   [Warner Bros.]
03/25/1991 | Wilbury Twist/New Blue Moon (instrumental)   [Wilbury/Warner Bros.]
03/11/1997 | My Sweet Lord/Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)  [Capitol]


1968 | Wonderwall Music
1969 | Electronic Sound
1970 | All Things Must Pass
1972 | The Concert for Bangla Desh
1973 | Living in the Material World
1974 | Dark Horse
1975 | EXTRA TEXTURE: Read All About It
1977 | The Best of George Harrison
1976 | Thirty Three and 1/3
1979 | George Harrison
1981 | Somewhere in England
1982 | Gone Troppo
1987 | Cloud Nine
1989 | Best of Dark Horse 1976-1989
1992 | Live In Japan
2002 | Brainwashed (peaked at #18 U.S.)
Traveling Wilburys -- Vol. 1
Traveling Wilburys -- Vol. 3

George Harrison Filmography

* A Hard Day's Night | 1964
* Help! | 1965
* Yellow Submarine | 1968
* Fandango | 1985
* Porky's Revenge | 1985
* Water | 1986
* Mona Lisa | 1986
* Shanghai Surprise | 1986
* The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne | 1987
* Five Corners | 1988
* Bellman & True | 1988
* Track 29 | 1988
* Imagine: John Lennon | 1988
* Powwow Highway | 1989
* Checking Out | 1989
* How to Get Ahead in Advertising | 1989
* Lethal Weapon 2 | 1989
* Nuns on the Run | 1990
* The Raggedy Rawney | 1990
* Point of No Return | 1993
* Everest | 1998
* The Parent Trap | 1998
* Without Limits | 1998
* Patch Adams | 1998
* Hideous Kinky | 1999
* Big Daddy | 1999

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