Remembering George Harrison

Tribute in loving memory of the quiet Beatle (1943-2001)
February 25, 2008
This is another special tribute article I felt like doing. It is February 24, 2008. Today is the birthday of former Beatle, George Harrison, who would have turned 65 today. Since George Harrison is one of my many idols, I thought it would be nice to do a little article as a tribute to him.

George Harrison's career began in 1960 when Paul McCartney asked him to join The Quarrymen. He introduced him to leader, John Lennon, and he was the youngest member of the band. George was the lead guitarist for the band, but most of his solos were directed by Paul McCartney.

When The Beatles had their officially set line-up in 1962, the band started making records. The songs that they did in their early days were either written by John, written by Paul, or cover songs. In 1963, Harrison wrote his first song, "Don't Bother Me", to see if he could write a song. The song appeared on the Beatles' second studio album, "With the Beatles" (not "Meet the Beatles", as a lot of people call it). The song did not become a huge hit, but with the Beatles, you can't go wrong.

In 1965, George wrote two more songs for the band's fifth album, "Help!" The songs were "I Need You" and "You Like Me Too Much". Later that year, the Beatles went on a tour in the Far East. After this tour, George bought himself a sitar and experimented with it on songs for the band's next album, "Rubber Soul". The sitar is most notably heard on Lennon's "Norwegian Wood". Harrison wrote two songs for that album: "Think for Yourself" and "If I Needed Someone".

In 1966, Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana. This lead to the band members experimenting with different kinds of drugs, and the songs on their next album, "Revolver" definately showed. George wrote three songs on this album. The rocking opener, "Taxman", was one of his pieces, "Love You To" definately defined his true personality with it's Arabic style, and "I Want to Tell You" was just typical work for Harrison.

The Summer of Love was a big year for the Beatles. They released numerous hit singles and two commercially successful albums. George Harrison only wrote two songs this year (one on each album). On "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", he wrote "Within You Without You", which sounds very similar to "Love You To", only it's a little softer and two minutes longer. "Magical Mystery Tour" had Harrison's first oregon-oriented song and also one of his most underrated songs ever, the haunting "Blue Jay Way".

1968 was a big year for George Harrison, for he wrote a ton of songs this year. The first of which was "The Inner Light", which appeared on the B-side of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna" single. This was a big deal as it was the first time a Harrison song had ever been featured on a Beatles single. The Beatles' "White Album" was released later that year, which included four Harrison songs. These songs include the silly "Piggies", the haunting "Long, Long, Long", and the obscure "Savoy Truffle", but the biggest hit of these is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". John Lennon was supposed to play the lead guitar on this song, but he refused; instead, the guitar lead was played by a close friend of George's, Eric Clapton. Speaking of Clapton, Harrison co-wrote the song, "Badge", which was featured on Cream's final album, "Goodbye". Not to mention Harrison's "Only a Northern Song" and "It's All Too Much" were featured in the film, "Yellow Submarine". Ever since this year, Harrison had become more well-recognized than he had in the past.

In 1969, George wrote 3 songs for the Beatles (and 2 more, which weren't released until the next year). One of these songs was "Old Brown Shoe", which appeared on the B-side of the "Ballad of John and Yoko" single, and is not a well-recognized Beatles song. The other two songs he wrote appeared on the "Abbey Road" album, and both of which happen to be two of his biggest and most recognized hits ever: The lovely ballad, "Something", and the beautiful "Here Comes the Sun".

In 1970, the Beatles officially broke up. Their last album released, "Let it Be" included two Harrison songs that don't really stand out as some of the band's biggest hits: "I Me Mine" and "For You Blue".

Now let's move on to his solo career. Shortly after the Beatles broke up, Harrison released his first solo album, "All Things Must Pass", which is debatedly his best solo album ever, and was the first triple LP released by a rock artist. There are countless hits on this album. Most notably, "My Sweet Lord" was the albums main highlight, but there was also "Isn't It a Pity", "What is Life", "Let It Down", "Run of the Mill", "Beware of Darkness", "Awaiting on the Wall", "All Things Must Pass", "Hear Me Lord", and more! The third LP I felt was unnecessary, as it just contained a bunch of jams. A tragedy about this album is that about six years later, Harrison had been sued because "My Sweet Lord" was found to be plagarising the Chiffon's 1963 hit, "He's So Fine"; Harrison claimed that he wasn't intentionally copying the melody, but he was still found guilty until the court accepted the possibility that he had "subconsciously copied" the Chiffons' melody as the basis for his own song.

The very next year, Harrison became the first rock star to organize a charity concert. In the summer of 1971, he held a concert in Maddison Square Garden for the hungry people of Bangladesh. The concert was simply known as "The Concert for Bangladesh". Other rockers involved in this concert were Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston and Leon Russel.

Harrison didn't release a follow-up to "All Things Must Pass" until 1973 (three years later). "Living in the Material World" is not as much of a masterpiece, but it offered some lovely melodies like "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)". George really knew how to express both his musical and spiritual interests.

George's next album, "Dark Horse", turned out to be a commercial disappointment as this album failed to score a hit single (with the exception of maybe the album's title track). This album had a tour which opened the Dark Horse record label.

His next album, "Extra Texture", was a considerable improvement. The song, "You", hit the Billboard Top 20. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the first Beatles solo album to not chart in the U.S.

In 1976, George Harrison moved on to the Dark Horse record label to work on his first album for the label, "Thirty-Three & 1/3". The album's release was delayed until late that year due to the fact that he was suffering from hepatitus and that he was in court for the sake of plagarising "He's So Fine".

After "Thirty-Three & 1/3"'s release, Harrison had a second marriage, and in 1978, his son, Dhani Harrison was born. George Harrison's next album, released in 1979, was self-titled. The big hits on this album were "Blow Away", "Faster" and "Love Comes to Everyone". An interesting fact about the track, "Not Guilty", was that this song was originally written for "The White Album", but it was denied. If you want to hear the original recording of the song that was intended for "The White Album", it can be found on "The Beatles Anthology #3".

In 1980, George wrote an autobiography called "I Me Mine", which talked about his fun life with the Beatles.

Harrison's next album turned out to be a complicated project for him. "Somewhere in England" suffered some major changes. The album's big hit, "All Those Years Ago", was originally going to be dedicated to his friend, Ringo Starr, talking about all the fun they had together, but after the shocking death of John Lennon, he modified the song so that it would be a tribute to John. The record company also refused four of the songs he wrote for the album, and he was forced to write four more to replace them with. He was also forced to change the album cover. The original album cover was restored for the remastered version of the album. It was released in 1981.

In 1982, George's eighth studio album, "Gone Troppo", turned out to be his biggest flop. It failed to go anywhere near the Billboard charts in the UK, and was his worst selling album ever. While songs like "That's the Way it Goes" were minor hits, the quality of the album is still just overall apalling. However, this album also includes another song that was intended for "The White Album", the closing song, "Circles". Unfortunately, the original recording of "Circles" can not be found on "The Beatles Anthology".

George made a huge comeback, however, in 1987, with his ninth studio album, "Cloud Nine". This album included hits like the title track, "When We Was Fab" and "Devil's Radio". The album's biggest hit was Harrison's cover of James Ray's "Got My Mind Set On You".

In 1988, George Harrison got together with his buddies, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, and they formed a supergroup known as the Traveling Wilbury's. They made an album known as "Traveling Wilbury's, Vol. 1", which was a big success with the big hit, "Handle with Care". Just two months after the album's release, Roy Orbison died from a heart attack. The four remaining members continued without him.

In 1990, the four remaining Traveling Wilbury's released an unsuccessful album called "Traveling Wilbury's, Vol. 3". Even with the minor hit, "Wilbury Twist", it didn't sell as well as it's predecessor. Afterwards, the band broke up and continued going their own ways.

In the early 90's, George Harrison did some touring in Japan with Eric Clapton and released a live album from that tour. In the mid 90's, he reunited with the surviving Beatles and Wilbury's to do the "Beatles Anthology" documentary.

In 1997, George started working on his next album, "Brainwashed", but he has been putting it off several times.

In late 1999, Harrison survived a knife attack by Michael Abram, who broke into his home and stabbed him multiple times, puncturing his lung. Abram believed he was on a "mission from God" to kill him, but he was later acquitted on grounds of insanity. Harrison was traumatized by the invasion and attack and was rarely seen in public afterward.

Harrison continued to work on his final album, "Brainwashed", but sadly, he died before it was finnished. In 2001, George's health was failing due to a battle he'd been having with lung cancer. He officially died on November 29, 2001.

"Brainwashed" was completed by his son, Dhani, and his good friend, Jeff Lynne, and it was released nearly a year after George's death. It was a fitting way to say "goodbye" to George Harrison, and it turned out to be one of his finest albums. Dhani Harrison claimed that "Stuck Inside a Cloud" was his favorite song on the album, and that turned out to be one of the album's biggest hits. The other big hit on the album was the opener, "Any Road".

George Harrison may have been the quiet Beatle, and sure, he may not have gotten as much spotlight as John Lennon or Paul McCartney, but all of us Beatles fans will truly remember him. He had been an inspiration to many of us. He may be gone now, but his spirit will live on.

R.I.P. George Harrison (1943-2001)
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