George Harrison, (24 February 1943 – 29 November 2001) was a popular British guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer, and film producer, best known as a member of The Beatles.
The Early Harrison
George Harrison was born in Liverpool; he was born at midnight, around 11:50 pm. on February 24th, 1943. He had believed his birthday was February 25th for his entire life. He is sometimes given the middle name of Harold, "George Harold Harrison," but this is incorrect. Harrison had no middle name; Harold was his father's name.
Harrison’s childhood home is located at 12 Arnold Grove. He first attended school at Dovedale Infants, near Penny Lane. Later on, he studied at the Liverpool Institute for Boys, a "smart school," but was regarded as a poor student, and schoolmates described him as someone who would sit alone in a corner. In the mid-1950s, he knew Paul McCartney (also a Liverpool Institute student) and beginning in February 1958 played lead guitar in the band The Quarry Men, that soon became The Beatles.
In 1959, Harrison worked as an apprentice electrician at Blacklers Stores in Liverpool. The training helped, and Harrison became the member who knew the most about preparing their sound equipment. Later he set up his own multitrack recording gear (is a method of sound recording that allows separate recording of several sound sources to create a continuous whole) at his home, Kinfauns, in Esher, making song demos for himself and The Beatles.
Life as a Beatle
Although George was the creative soloist, he was specific ordered to do many of his greatest, and most famous solos by Paul and John. During the “Beatlemania” George was characterized as “the quiet Beatle” because of his tendency to not speak in press-conferences. He studied situations and people, though, and was the most interested in the band’s economy.
Harrison wrote his first song, "Don't Bother Me", during a sick day in 1963, as an exercise "to see if I could write a song", as he remembered. "Don't Bother Me" appeared on the second Beatles album (With the Beatles) late that year, on Meet the Beatles! in the US in early 1964, and also in A Hard Day's Night. After that, The Beatles did not record another Harrison song until 1965, when he contributed with "I Need You" and "You Like Me Too Much" to the album “Help!”
Harrison was the lead vocal on all the songs he wrote by himself. However, he also was the lead vocal on other songs, namely "Chains" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret" on “Please Please Me”, "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Devil in Her Heart" on “With the Beatles”, "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You" on “A Hard Day's Night”, and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" on “Beatles for Sale”.
A turning point in Harrison's career came during an American tour in 1965, when his friend David Crosby of The Byrds introduced him to Indian classical music and the work of sitar “master” Ravi Shankar. Harrison quickly became fascinated with the instrument, immersed himself in Indian music and was important in popularizing the sitar in particular and Indian music in the West. Buying a sitar himself as The Beatles came back from a Far East tour; he became the first Western popular musician to play one on a pop record, on the “Rubber Soul” track "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)".
A personal turning point for Harrison came during the filming of the movie “Help!”, on location in the Bahamas, when a Hindu enthusiast presented each Beatle with a book about reincarnation. Harrison’s interest in Indian culture expanded to his embracing Hinduism. A tour with wife Pattie to India, where Harrison studied sitar, met several gurus and visited different holy places, filled the months between the end of the final Beatles tour in 1966 and the beginning of the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions.
Harrison formed a close friendship with Eric Clapton in the late 1960’s and they, together, wrote the song "Badge", which was released on Cream's final album in 1969. This song were the basis for Harrison's composition for The Beatles' “Abbey Road” album, "Here Comes the Sun", which was written in Clapton's back garden.
Conflicts between Harrison and McCartney got worse during the recording of the “White Album”, with Harrison threatening to leave the group on several occasions. Between 1967 and 1969, McCartney on several occasions expressed dissatisfaction with Harrison's guitar playing. They ended up with that a number of Beatles songs from that period either McCartney or Lennon plays lead guitar. The conflicts between Harrison and McCartney can be clearly seen in several scenes in the “Let It Be” documentary film.
After the “fab four”
After The Beatles split in 1970, Harrison released a number of albums that were very successful, both as solo projects and as a member of other groups. After years of being put behind John and Paul in The Beatles, he released a large number of the songs he had gathered in the first larger solo work released after the breakup, “All Things Must Pass”, the first triple album by a single artist in rock history. The album included the number one hit single "My Sweet Lord", over which Harrison was later sued for ccopyright-breakings, because of the supposed similarities to the Chiffons single, from 1963, "He's So Fine". Harrison denied deliberately stealing the song, but he lost the court case in 1976. In the court, the court accepted the possibility that Harrison had "unconsciously copied" the Chiffons melody as the basis for his own song.
George Harrison died at the home of a friend, security specialist Gavin de Becker, in Los Angeles, 29 November 2001, at the age of 58. His death was caused by lung cancer that had spread to the brain.