58 (passed away Nov. 29th, 2001)
Feb. 24th, 1943
Liverpool, Merseyside, England, UK
5' 10 1/2
George Harrison's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
The youngest of Harold and Louise French Harrison's four children, George Harrison played lead guitar and sometimes sang lead vocals for the Beatles. Like his future band mates, Harrison was not born into wealth. Louise was largely a stay-at-home mom while her husband Harold drove a school bus for the Liverpool Institute, an acclaimed grammar school where George Harrison attended and first met Paul McCartney. By his own admission, Harrison was not much of a student and what little interest he did have for his studies washed away with his discovery of the electric guitar and American rock 'n roll. As Harrison would later describe it, he had an "epiphany" of sorts at the age 12 or 13 while riding a bike around his neighborhood and getting his first whiff of Elvis Presley's Heartbreak Hotel that was playing from a nearby house. By the age of 14, Harrison, whose early rock heroes included Carl Perkins, Little Richard,and Buddy Holly, had purchased his first guitar and taught himselfa few chords.Impressed with his younger friend's talents, Paul McCartney, who had recently joined up with another Liverpool teenager, John Lennon, in a skiffle group known as the Quarrymen, invited Harrison to see the band perform. Harrison and Lennon actually shared some common history. Both had attended Dovedale Primary School, but oddly had never met. Their paths finally crossed in early 1958. McCartney had been pushing the 17-year-old Lennon to let the 14-year-old Harrison join the band. But Lennon was reluctant to let the young Harrison team up with them. As legend has it, after seeing McCartney and Lennon perform, George was granted an audition on the upper deck of a bus, where he wowed Lennon with his rendition of popular American rock riffs.By 1960 Harrison's music career was in full swing. Lennon had renamed the band the Beatles and the young group began cutting their rock teeth in the small clubs and bars around Liverpool and Hamburg, Germany. Largely referred to as the "quiet Beatle" Harrison took a back-seat to McCartney, Lennon, and to a certain extent, Starr. Still, he could be quick-witted, even edgy. During the middle of one American tour, the group members were asked how they slept at night with long hair. Harrison fired back. "How do you sleep with your arms and legs still attached?"From the start, the Beatles were a Lennon-McCartney driven band and brand. But while the two took up much of the group's song writing responsibilities, Harrison had shown an early interest in creating his own work. In the summer of 1963 he spearheaded his first song, Don't Bother Me, which made its way on to the group's second album. From there on out, Harrison's songs were a staple of all Beatle records. In fact some of the group's more memorable songs such as While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Something, the latter of which was only the song ever recorded by Frank Sinatra, were penned by Harrison.But his influence on the group and pop music in general extended beyond just singles. In 1965, while on the set of Beatles' second film, Help! Harrison took an interest in some of the eastern instruments and their musical arrangements that were being used in the movie. Harrison soon developed a deep interest in Indian music. He taught himself the sitar, introducing the instrument to many western ears on John Lennon's song, "Norwegian Wood." He soon cultivated a close relationship with renowned sitar player, Ravi Shankar. Other groups, including the Rolling Stones began incorporating the sitar into some of their work. It could be argued that Harrison's experimentation with different kinds of instrumentation help pave the way for such groundbreaking Beatle albums as Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.Harrison's interest in Indian music soon extended into a yearning to learn more about eastern spiritual practices. In 1968, he led the Beatles on a journey to northern India to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (The trip was cut short after it was discovered that the Maharishi, an avowed celibate, had engaged in sexual improprieties.)Having grown spiritually and musically since the group first started, Harrison, who was feeling the pangs to include more of his material on Beatle records, was clearly uneasy by the group's McCartney-Lennon dominance. During the Let It Be recording sessions in 1969, Harrison walked out, leaving the band for several weeks before he was coaxed to come back with the promise that the band would use more of his songs on its records.But tensions in the group were clearly high. Lennon and McCartney had ceased writing together years before, and they too were feeling the yearning to go in a different direction. In January 1970, the group recorded George Harrison's I Me Mine. It was the last song the four of them would ever record together. Three months later, Paul McCartney announced he was leaving the band and the Beatles were officially done.
- (Jan. 2002) Re-release of "My Sweet Lord" reaches #1 in the UK, replacing 'Aaliyah (I)' (qv)'s "More Than A Woman". It is the first time there have been two consecutive posthumous #1 hits in the UK.
- After eight years being idle, he decided to tour in 1974 despite a bad voice due to some throat problems. The tour was a critical and commercial disaster, with unfair severe criticism for the opening act of "'Ravi Shankar' (qv) and Friends", Harrison's voice (which was called "Dark Hoarse") and his preaching. He was so disillusioned and angry with the incident that he never toured in America again, only going to Japan in 1992 for a very large sum and 'Eric Clapton' (qv)'s back-up band.
- Got a job as an apprentice electrician at age 16 but didn't have the interest to continue it. With one son a mechanic and another a groundskeeper, father Harry hoped his sons would go into business together once George finished his apprenticeship. Harry let George quit to become a working musician, though, when 'The Beatles' (qv) began to get weekly bookings, figuring he was young and could still "start over" if music didn't work out.
- Although rightly considered the shyest Beatle, Harrison loved comedy and often associated with Monty Python through the 1970s.
- A New York Federal Court ruled in 1976 that his famous song "My Sweet Lord" was a copyright infringement on the song 1963 Laurie Records hit "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons. "My Sweet Lord" contained a similar repetition of two musical phrases ("sol-mi-re" and "sol-la-do-la-do") found in "He's So Fine," along with identical harmonies. Although the Court found that Harrison did not intended to plagiarize "He's So Fine," it ruled that, having been familar with the song, he had "subconsciously" copied its melody. Bright Tunes Music Corp. v. Harrisongs Music, Ltd., 420 F.Supp. 177 (S.D.N.Y. Aug 31, 1976). Appeals dragged the case on into the 1990s, with Harrison's former manager 'Allen Klein' (qv) becoming the plaintiff when he bought Bright Tunes. Harrison eventually ended up owning both songs, while Klein's reputation suffered from his "changing sides" in the suit.
- Liked jelly babies (a softer version of jelly beans).
- He was the youngest of four children (Louise, Harold Jr. and Peter were his older siblings), and came from the most "normal" home of any of the Beatles. Father Harry drove a Liverpool city bus, while mother Louise gave dance lessons at their home. The Harrisons were common-sense people, but allowed their children to pursue their dreams, and encouraged George to take up music. Mrs. Harrison invited 'The Beatles' (qv) over to practice early in their career, and sometimes came to see them perform. The family remained close, even after daughter Louise married and moved to America, and George became famous; Louise frequently made herself available for media interviews about her younger brother, and hosted his early American visits. He provided for their parents to retire comfortably, while his home at Friar Park was a family affair indeed, tended by he and his older brothers. His mother died of cancer in 1970, and he wrote "Deep Blue" in reaction to her death. His father died (also of cancer) in 1978, having adopted some of his son's spiritual beliefs; George and wife Olivia later related that they'd awoken that same night, to a strange blue light in the room, and a vision of Harry smiling at them.
- Disillusioned with working for a major label, he quickly and hastily recorded "Gone Troppo" in 1982 to fulfill his contract. When asked to renew, he refused. He also refused to do any publicity for the album, which he thought of as second-rate. Due to the shoddy publicity campaign by Warner Brothers for the album, it was a flop and its highest chart position was #108. Harrison decided not to make another album for five years. When he did, the album, "Cloud Nine", was a smash, landing in the #1 spot.