Celebrating George Harrison on his Birthday

Monday, February 25: 3:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
George Harrison would've turned 70 on February 25, 2013

Born in Liverpool on February 25, 1943, George Harrison was the more subdued, pensive – "quiet" – Beatle, and he carried this persona with him into his solo career. With 11 studio albums, including his sprawling masterwork 1970's All Things Must Pass and a late-career gem, 1987's Cloud Nine, Harrison's rock and roll legacy is enduring. Deft at seamlessly bridging his immersion in Hindu religion, Krishna consciousness and Vedic philosophy, with pure pop sensibility, Harrison's solo oeuvre resulted in such hits as “My Sweet Lord” (from All Things Must Pass), ”Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" (from 1973's Living in the Material World), "All Those Years Ago" (from 1981's Somewhere in England) and the infectious soul remake "Got My Mind Set On You" (from Cloud Nine).

"He often said he wasn't pursuing a solo career at all – he never hired a manager or had an agent," recalled Tom Petty at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, when he and Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra inducted Harrison. "He just loved playing music with his friends. And he loved guitars. And he loved rock and roll. And he loved Carl Perkins. And he loved Little Richard. And he loved [his son] Dhani and [wife] Olivia. He loved to stay up all night long and play the ukulele 'til dawn, 'til the kids were all in bed and tucked away."

George Harrison biography All Things Must PassHeld on August 1, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Concert for Bangladesh was Harrison's brainchild. The star-studded bill included performances by Bob Dylan, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton and Harrison's Indian-music mentor Ravi Shankar. The proceeds from the concert and subsequent album and film releases went to the United Nations Children's Fund for Relief to Refugee Children of Bangladesh – a cause to which Harrison would donate more than $13 million. "Years before Live Aid, George invented the idea of rock and roll giving back to the people," said Petty.

Harrison penned some of the Fab Four's most beloved tracks, such as the tenderly emoting "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and the celestial bounce of "Here Comes the Sun." During his Beatles’ tenure, he also introduced Western ears to Indian music. Harrison first played the sitar on “Norwegian Wood” (1965) and then unleashed a full-blown sitar showcase, “Within You Without You,” on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. When Delaney Bramlett (of Delaney & Bonnie) introduced Harrison to slide guitar in 1968, he became a leading exponent of that style.

Outside the Beatles, Harrison's other most notable band project was as a member of the Traveling Wilburys, the supergroup also featuring Bob Dylan, Lynne, Roy Orbison and Petty. Their low-key albums – Volume One (1988) and Vol. 3 (1990) – were as pleasurable as they were unexpected. "He achieved much more than being a successful artist – he was a truly great man," said Petty. 

Harrison worked on his final solo album, Brainwashed, up until his death on November 29, 2001. Brainwashed, co-produced by son Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne, was released posthumously in 2002. "There was a quote by the Indian poet [Rabindranath] Tagore that George read to me one day: He said, "blessed is he whose fame does not outshine his truth – and here we are in the Hall of Fame," said Olivia Harrison accepting her husband's Hall of Fame induction on his behalf in 2004. "But the inductees are not chosen because of their fame, but because they express their truth through their music. George said that he tried to write songs that would still mean something years from now, and I think it's safe to say that in spite of his immense fame, his truth will never be outshined or forgotten."

Harrison is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Beatles exhibit

WATCH: Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Prince, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison and more perform "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"

WATCH: George Harrison's Rickenbacker 420



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