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Quiet Beatle silenced at 58

George Harrison succumbs to cancer after 4 year struggle


George Harold Harrison  1943 - 2001


by Timothy Tilghman

    After surviving a knife wielding intruder inside his Henley-On-Thames home on December 30, 1999, quondam Beatle George Harrison passed away from terminal cancer on Thursday, November 29, 2001. Harrison died peacefully in the company of his wife Olivia and son Dhani at his side in Los Angeles. His hard fought battle against cancer began in 1997.

    Harrison passed at 1:20 p.m. in California, longtime family friend Gavin De Becker stated to the media. "He left this world as he lived it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends", as quoted from a statement issued by the Harrison family. Harrison's parting words were, "Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot wait", and "Love one another".

    Details of a private ceremony held in memory of George Harrison remain unreleased. No arrangements have been announced regarding any public funeral. However, the Harrison family requested mourners around the globe to recognize a moment of silence at 1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.) on Monday, December 3. He was cremated within hours of his passing prior to the notification of his death to the media. His ashes were anticipated to be spread along the holy Ganges River in India, but his last home in Switzerland has been considered for his last rites.

    Paul McCartney faced reporters outside his London home and commented, "I am very, very sad. He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother. He was obviously very unwell but he was cracking jokes like he always was, and he'll be sorely missed. He was a beautiful man".

    Ringo Starr released a statement, "George was a best friend of mine. I loved him very much, and I will miss him greatly. Both Barbara and I send our love and light to Olivia and Dhani. We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music, and his sense of laughter".

    Yoko Ono, widow of John Lennon who was assassinated 21 years ago, commented that Harrison had brought magic to all who knew him. "George has given so much in his lifetime and continues to do so even after his passing, with his music, his wit, and his wisdom", she said. "My deep love and concern goes to Olivia and Dhani. The three of them were the closest, most loving family you can imagine".

    Following his death, official flags were lowered at half mast in Liverpool, birthplace of The Beatles. Harrison songs were the only music played at the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. Both President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered words of condolences to the Harrison family. Beatles fans gathered together outside Abbey Road Studios in London and the Cavern Club in Liverpool to pay their respects to the lost lead guitarist. During the changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the Coldstream Guards band struck up a medley of Beatles songs in tribute.

    ABC's November 30 edition of "Nightline", Remembering George Harrison, was devoted to the life, music, and career of the late George Harrison. His musicianship and spirituality were the major points mentioned by his peers, speaking about Harrison. He is noted for exposing Indian music to western culture much like the late Brian Jones labored to introduce African music rhythms. Harrison and Jones both shared late February birthdays and similar positions in their respective rock bands.


Art Of Dying

    George Harrison was born at 12 Arnold Grove in Liverpool, England. Harrison announced in 1992, that his birthdate was actually February 24, 1943. Until learning otherwise, he had always thought he was born on February 25. Mrs. Louise Harrison bought George his first guitar at the tender age of 13. Harrison's lifelong quest for spiritual strength became an outgrowth of his disenchantment in the aftermath of Beatlemania.

    Harrison's August 1971 Concert for Bangla Desh was the first major rock charity event ever staged. Musician sponsored fundraising concerts are considered commonplace today, but his aid of Bangla Desh was a major act of humanitarianism for its day. In 1990, Olivia Harrison asked Barbara Bach, Linda McCartney, and Yoko Ono to join her in launching the Romanian Angel Appeal to aid the orphaned children of Romania, following the fall of communism. Harrison collected tracks from major artist to release a compilation album to raise funds for the charity.

    George Harrison had just recorded and released a new song he co-wrote with his son Dhani Harrison in Switzerland. The track, "Horse To The Water", appears on the new disc Small World Big Band by Jools Holland released in the United Kingdom on November 19, a scant 10 days before his untimely passing. George's singing is in fantastic form, and the sound of the song is vintage Harrison, a classic song infused with George's droll sense of humor.

    The eccentric Sir Frank Crisp was the founder of Friar Park, built in the 1870s. The Oxfordshire estate appealed to Harrison who purchased it in February 1969, saving it from demolition. He custom built a recording studio he named FPSHOT (Friar Park Studios Henley-On-Thames) in the mansion. His 1977 single "Crackerbox Palace" was inspired by this 40 acre estate.

    Harrison married the beautiful model/actress Patti Boyd on January 21, 1966. Their marriage would end childless after Patti sought comfort and affection in the arms of guitarist Eric Clapton. Divorced on June 9, 1977, Patti would enter into matrimony with Clapton two years later.

    After establishing a transatlantic telephone relationship with business liaison Olivia Trinidad Arias, Harrison decided he wanted to meet this intriguing woman. The couple were blessed with their only child, Dhani, on August 2, 1978. Dhani is the Sanskirt word for "wealthy". Following the birth of their child, the couple invited Olivia's parents to their private wedding on September 2, 1978. They honeymooned in Tunisia and had been inseparable since their union.

    Harrison was the youngest member of the Mersey Sound quartet from the seaport town of Liverpool. In 1969, he worried about having his tonsils removed, but no complications ever impacted his singing voice. Harrison has the lone distinction of being received by President Gerald Ford at the White House in 1976.


Don't Bother Me

    The Beatles story is an incredible journey of busking in obscurity to unequaled international adulation once manager Brian Epstein discovered them at the Cavern Club in November 1961. Four lads from Liverpool with a common love of rock'n'roll music would emerge from the 1950s to revolutionize music, fashion, hairstyles, artwork, and popular consciousness in the 1960s and beyond. The influence of The Beatles has bridged into the new millennium with another generations of fans discovering their timeless musical recordings.

    John Lennon was performing on stage with his band The Quarrymen, when Paul McCartney was introduced to Lennon by Ivan Vaughan in July 1957. McCartney auditioned "Twenty Flight Rock" and was invited to join the group. George Harrison was introduced to Lennon by McCartney. Harrison auditioned "Raunchy" and was asked to join the duo in February 1958. Ringo Starr became good mates with Harrison during their tours of duty in Germany. Just as The Beatles were securing a recording contract with Parlophone Records in August 1962, Starr was offered membership in the band on Harrison's recommendation.

    During their initial meeting with record producer George Martin, Harrison fired off a classic Beatles ad lib when Martin reportedly asked the young musicians to tell him if they didn't like anything. Harrison's response: "Well, first of all, I don't like your tie". The humor, wit, and intelligence exhibited by the lads established a working rapport with the elder George. The five collaborating together in the studio on original Lennon/McCartney compositions would result in hit singles, hit EPs, and hit albums all over the world for The Beatles from 1962 through 1970.

    The Beatles flew to America on February 7, 1964. The Fab Four landed at La Guardia Airport in anticipation of their historic debut performance on the Ed Sullivan program. What many fans may not know is that Harrison was seriously ill during their maiden trip to the U.S. It is a testament to Harrison's character that he rallied to participate on that CBS television broadcast from Sunday, February 9, 1964.

    Harrison was lead guitarist for The Beatles, composing in the shadow of the John Lennon/Paul McCartney songwriting partnership. However in 1958, he CO-wrote "In Spite Of All The Danger" with McCartney. Another instrumental from 1961, "Cry For A Shadow", was co-written with Lennon. Other group composition credits include the instrumental "Flying", and the holiday fan club greeting "Christmas Time Is Here Again", both from 1967.

    Lennon composed Harrison's first Beatles recording with "Do You Want To Know A Secret?" in 1963. McCartney also gave him "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" for his vocal vehicle in A Hard Days Night from 1964. Harrison's first original Beatles composition was "Don't Bother Me" on With The Beatles from 1963. He also composed two B-sides, "The Inner Light in March 1968, and "Old Brown Shoe" in May 1969. His song "I Me Mine" was formally recorded in January 1970 without Lennon present for inclusion on the Let it Be soundtrack.

    Harrison's moment in The Beatles first feature film, A Hard Day's Night, was his comical scene, discussing the tastes and trends of the emerging young generation of beat group fans. Asked by a reporter at a press conference what he called the Beatles' famous moptop hairstyle, he quipped, "Arthur". He also later joked he was "the economy Beatle", regarding his band status.

    His tour de force on The White Album was "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", featuring the soaring guitar work of Eric Clapton. The radiant "Here Comes The Sun" recorded for Abbey Road was written on his birthday in 1969. "Something" became George's first A-sided Beatles single in October 1969, an international #1 chart topper. Record producer Martin would later remark that he apologized personally to Harrison, wishing that he had coached Harrison's talents along further than he had.

    Harrison's involvement with Eastern Indian music and culture was sparked by the presence of a sitar on the set of Help in 1965. He would subsequently introduce this exotic instrument on the classic Beatles song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" written by Lennon. Harrison later studied the sitar under the tutorial direction of Ravi Shankar. Furthermore, George's first wife would convince The Beatles to meet with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in August 1967. After traveling to India for meditation study under his guidance in March 1968, the Beatles and their entourage became disillusioned and returned home.

    The Beatles touring engagements brought the band into Friendship Airport for an appearance at the Baltimore Civic Center on September 13, 1964. I have family and friends who were old enough to attend that vintage Beatles performance. The Beatles last US stage performance was at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966. Their last live appearance together was atop on the roof of Apple headquarters in Savile Row on January 30, 1969.


Sue Me, See You Blues

    George Harrison exploded onto the international music scene in 1970 with All Things Must Pass, his hugely successful triple record set. His debut as a solo artist was seen by critics and fans alike as the maturing of a musician from under the shadow of the Beatles composing partnership of Lennon/McCartney.

    Harrison commenced the first solo tour of any ex-Beatle in North America during the Fall of 1974, to promote his new album Dark Horse. He would not conduct another full scale tour until the Fall of 1991, when he was supported on stage by Eric Clapton for a tour of Japan. This resulted in the release of Live In Japan in 1992. Appearing on "Saturday Night Live" alongside Paul Simon, the duo sang and performed together on camera during a 1976 episode.

    Harrison made two appearances on American television in 1978. He had a cameo role in the Beatles spoof created by Eric Idle and Neil Innes on the NBC television special "All You Need Is Cash". This hilarious program documented the tale of the fictitious musical career of The Rutles. His second broadcast cameo was on a Ringo Starr special, entitled "Ringo". In October 1992, Harrison taped a voice over as a guest on the animated t.v. series "The Simpsons".

    Harrison's interests broadened beyond musical endeavors. He became a racing formula fan and formed a film production company Hand Made Films in 1978. Several of these movie productions were artistically recognized, including The Life Of Brian - 1979, Time Bandits - 1981, Mona Lisa - 1986, and the comedy Nuns On The Run - 1989. Harrison infrequently made unrecognized cameos in his films and occasionally recorded music for film scores.

    The closest thing to a Beatles Reunion occurred on May 19, 1979, at Eric Clapton's post Wedding reception at his home in Ewehurst, U.K. Late in the celebration, major rock musicians began to take the stage together. Guest musicians on stage were participating in an all-star jam alongside George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr. These same Threetles would regroup again at Ringo's wedding to Barbara Bach on April 27, 1981. However, Harrison, Lennon, and Starr recorded "I'm The Greatest" together, a Lennon composition on 1973's Ringo album.

    Harrison backed Carl Perkins with Ringo Starr on October 21, 1985, for his musical special celebrating the 30th anniversary of the recording of "Blue Suede Shoes". Harrison and Starr performed on stage for the 1987 annual Prince's Trust concert on June 5 and June 6 at Wembley Arena. Harrison actually visited America prior to The Beatles inaugural tour of 1964. He had traveled alone in the Fall of 1963, and bought a 45 RPM of "Got My Mind Set On You", which would become his last #1 single on the US charts in 1987.

    While working with Cloud Nine producer Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra, Harrison invited Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison to join him and Lynne in the studio to help record bonus tracks for his 1989 best of album. This action was instrumental in forming the supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys, comprising the five guitar legends. The Traveling Wilburys released two albums together and recorded a single "Nobody's Child", launching the Romanian Angel Appeal charity in 1990.

    In an unprecedented move, George Harrison delivered his only British concert since touring with The Beatles. The Quiet Beatle appeared at the Royal Albert Hall on April 6, 1992. Later in the same year on October 16, he performed two cover songs at the Bob Dylan musical celebration held at Madison Square Garden.

Not Guilty

    The Beatles Anthology was an extensive reunion project that brought Harrison, McCartney and Starr together for the first time since a final January 1970 studio recording without Lennon. The Beatles Anthology was launched as an ABC television special followed by three volumes of music on compact disc, two C.D. singles with bonus tracks, an expanded videocassette collection, and a comprehensive hardbound edition of their personal recollections and photographs.

    The first major new Beatles musical product was Live At The BBC in 1994. A BBC C.D. single featured the Harrison vocal on "Devil In Her Heart". For the 30th anniversary of Yellow Submarine, the C.D. was remastered and an enhanced DVD was released in 1999. A new compilation disc of 27 hit Beatles singles issued in 2000, "1", heralded a new wave of Beatlemania as the album topped international sales charts all over the globe.

    "Free As A Bird" was a demo recording of John Lennon's the three surviving Beatles embellished in 1995, with producer Jeff Lynne. A second recording, "Real Love", was another Lennon composition released as a 1996 Beatles single. Harrison vetoed the production of a third reunion single planned for inclusion on Anthology 3. Two unreleased Harrison songs, the 1964 demo of "You Know What To Do" and "Not Guilty" left off the White Album, were issued for the first time on the Anthology series.

    During the course of 2001, Harrison had been active recording with Jim Capaldi, Jeff Lynne, and Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings. He contributed guitar passages to Starr's 1998 studio album, Vertical Man. A major project of Harrison's was remastering his entire musical catalogue. was launched in January 2001 to celebrate and promote the remastered release of his seminal album from 1970, All Things Must Pass.

    Harrison's newest recordings comprise "Horse To The Water", given to Jools Holland for inclusion on his new disc. "My Sweet Lord" (2000) features his son Dhani on guitar. The father and son duo also collaborated on "Ride Rajbun", a 1995 contribution to a cartoon series soundtrack. Following his brush with death during the Millennium holiday, Harrison made statements that he wanted to invite McCartney to record with him at FPSHOT. No confirmation has verified this comment.

    Harrison mentioned in an interview that he had completed a new studio album, but no release date was announced. Additionally, he stated he had complied his own Anthology package complete with a humorous cover photo of his bootleg. Sources divulge new material had been recorded at FPSHOT, Harrison's home recording studio at Friar Park.

    Drummer Jim Keltner has revealed his participation in a secret project entitled Portrait of a Leg End. Harrison had been recently working on a new studio album set for an October release, but postponed when his health took a turn for the worse. His wife and son are expected to issue this final George Harrison disc in the near future. He is reported to have premiered tracks from the new project in his hospital room to family and friends shortly before his passing.

Hari's On Tour (Express)

    I consider myself very fortunate to have had an opportunity to see George Harrison live on stage in New York City on October 16, 1992. Harrison appeared on stage at Madison Square Garden to perform at the 30th Anniversary Music Celebration, honoring the milestone career achievement of Bob Dylan in the recording industry. Harrison sang "If Not For You" and "Absolutely Sweet Marie".

    Two hours into the gala event, I finally scored a $50 face value ticket for double the price of $100. My traveling companion FOUND an $80 ticket laying face down on a bar counter next to the Garden, but refused to go inside to the show. She coerced me into bribing her with $60 so I could see George Harrison perform live in concert.

    During a trip to England this past March to catch a Ray Davies concert that was postponed, I ended up spending the night in Liverpool, which was an unexpected pleasure. While visiting the Liverpool Beatles tourist traps, I found a Corgi Classics model of George Harrison's Psychedelic Mini. The Harrison Mini Cooper is already a much sought after item. I also picked up a model of the Corgi Classics Mr. Bean's Mini at the airport duty free shop. I flew out of Liverpool Airport prior to it being renamed John Lennon Airport.


Harrison Beatles Songs: Don't Bother Me * I Need You * You Like Me Too Much * Think For Yourself * If I Needed Someone * Taxman * Love You Too * I Want To Tell You * Within You Without You * Blue Jay Way * The Inner Light * While My Guitar Gently Weeps * Piggies * Long, Long, Long * Savoy Truffle * Only A Northern Song * It's All Too Much * Old Brown Shoe * Something * Here Comes The Sun * I Me Mine * For You Blue * You Know What To Do * Not Guilty * Flying * 12-Bar Original * Christmas Time Is Here Again * In Spite Of All The Danger * Cry For A Shadow

Harrison Solo Albums: Wonderwall Music - 1968 * Electronic Sound - 1969 * All Things Must Pass - 1970 * Concert for Bangla Desh - 1971 * Living In The Material World - 1973 * Dark Horse - 1974 * Extra Texture - 1975 * Best of George Harrison - 1976 * Thirty-Three & 1/3 - 1976 * George Harrison - 1979 * Somewhere In England - 1981 * Gone Troppo - 1982 * Cloud Nine - 1987 * The Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 - 1988 * Best of Dark Horse - 1989 * The Traveling Wilburys Volume 3 - 1990 * Romanian Angel Appeal - 1990 * Live in Japan - 1992

Harrison Compositions: Sour Milk Sea - Jackie Lomax 1968 * Badge - Cream 1969 * Try Some Buy Some b/w Tandoori Chicken - Ronnie Spector 1971 * Photograph, Sunshine Life For Me (Sail Away Raymond) & You And Me, Babe - Ringo Starr 1973 * Far East Man - Ron Wood 1974 * I'll Still Love You - Ringo Starr 1976 * Wrack My Brain - Ringo Starr 1981 * Run So Far - Eric Clapton 1989 * That Kind Of Woman - Gary Moore 1990 * That Kind Of Woman - Eric Clapton 1990

Harrison Recordings: In The First Place - 1967 (1997) * I Live For You - 1970 (2001) * Bangla Desh b/w Deep Blue - 1971 * Miss O'Dell - 1973 * I Don't Care Anymore - 1974 * The Pirate Song - 1975 * Homeward Bound - live 1976 (1990) * Dream Away - 1981 * I Don't Want To Do It & Celebration - 1985 * Lay His Head & Zig Zag - 1987 * While My Guitar Gently Weeps & Here Comes The Sun - live 1987 * For You Blue live, Flying Hour & Sat Singing - 1988 * Poor Little Girl, Cockamamie Business & Cheer Down - 1989 * Nobody's Child & Runaway - Traveling Wilburys 1990 * Tears Of The World, Life Itself, Hottest Gong In Town & Hari's On Tour (Express) live - 1992 * Absolutely Sweet Marie - live 1993 * Ride Rajbun - 1995 * Distance Makes No Difference With Love - Carl Perkins 1996 * If You Don't Know Where You're Going - 1997 * My Sweet Lord - 2001 * Horse To The Water - 2001


RockonTour   Issue #3
Mitt Namlitt - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2001 RoT