The spiritual leader of the Beatles
George Harrison, lead guitarist for the Beatles, died on November 29, 2001, at age 58. His death followed a long struggle with cancer.
"He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends," Harrison's family said in a statement. "He often said, 'Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another.'"
Legacy and Influences
The pensive but wry Harrison, who taught fellow Beatle John Lennon how to play the guitar, served as the legendary group's spiritual leader, introducing his band mates to the philosophy of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and transcendental meditation. In the mid-60s, Harrison learned the sitar from Indian master Ravi Shankar, which Harrison then played on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, thus popularizing the instrument's use in rock music.
Harrison, often called the quiet Beatle, illustrated his musical range and diverse interests with his seamless transitions from such rollicking rock classics as "Long Tall Sally" to wistful soft songs like "Something," one of the songs that he penned. His other writing credits include "Here Comes the Sun," "Taxman," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and "Don't Bother Me." He was influenced by guitar masters Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins.
From the Port City of Liverpool
Harrison was born on February 25, 1943, in Liverpool, England, one of four children. He first picked up the guitar at age 13 and was introduced to John Lennon by Liverpool Institute chum Paul McCartney in the late 1950s. He sporadically played with Lennon's Quarrymen. Harrison, McCartney, and Lennon formed The Silver Beatles in 1959, promptly eliminated Silver from the name, and made it a foursome in 1962, with the addition of Ringo Starr. The 1964 song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" sparked "Beatlemania" in the United States and the band was propelled to international stardom.
He was married to Patti Boyd from 1966 to 1977. After they divorced Boyd married Harrison's good friend Eric Clapton. Harrison married Olivia Arias in 1978, shortly after the birth of their son, Dhani. Both were at his side when he died.
Life after the Beatles
After the band broke up in 1970, Harrison opened a movie production company and embarked on a solo career. In November 1970 he released the ambitious and well-received All Things Must Pass, produced by Phil Specter. "My Sweet Lord" went to No. 1 on the pop charts.
The next year he produced two benefit concerts to aid the victims of the war between Pakistan and Bangladesh. Bob Dylan, Clapton, Ringo Starr, and other luminaries performed at the Madison Square Garden event. The three-record album recorded at the concert won the Album of the Year Grammy. The benefit was somewhat marred by accusations of accounting irregularities.
He established Handmade Films in 1974 and produced Monty Python's Life of Brian. His other recordings include "All Those Years Ago," a tribute to John Lennon, and 1987's studio album Cloud Nine. In 1988 he formed the Traveling Wilburys with Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne.
On December 30, 1999, an intruder broke into Harrison's Oxfordshire estate and stabbed him repeatedly. His attacker, Michael Abram, was declared insane and acquitted.
Harrison's death leaves only two remaining members of the Fab Four, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.