Rock Musician. The youngest of four children born in the port city of Liverpool, in northwest England, he met Paul McCartney on the school bus that George's father drove. Paul introduced George to John Lennon. After an audition on the top of a bus, John let George join his group, The Quarry Men (later renamed The Silver Beetles before John finally settled on The Beatles), even though John was reluctant to let George join because of his age. As a struggling band, The Beatles were initially considered the laughingstock of the Liverpool music scene. They were sent to Hamburg, Germany's seedy red-light Reperbaun district because no other band would go there. The group's baptism of fire came in the Reperbaun. They played grueling eight-hour sets to mostly drunken and rowdy crowds, but the band tightened their sound and Lennon and McCartney tightened their songwriting during this time. They were eventually deported when it was discovered George was underage. Back in Liverpool, The Beatles were now suddenly in demand due to their new sound. They were so good, in fact, promoters billed them as Germans with very good English accents, according to George in the 1995 Beatles biopic “Anthology.” The Beatles eventually became popular at the Cavern Club, originally a blues club, with lines of hysterical teenage girls forming days before their shows. It was during one of these shows that record store manager Brian Epstein saw a performance (based on repeated requests for their records in his family's record stores) and convinced the boys he could make them household names. The first thing he did was change their image: Out went the leather outfits and in were tailored suits and, eventually, drummer Pete Best was replaced before the recording of their first album by fellow Liverpudlian Ringo Starr, who was the drummer for Rory Storm and The Hurricanes. Epstein shopped around The Beatles' New Year's Day 1962 Decca audition tape to every music producer in London before the group was accepted by classically trained producer George Martin at EMI. They would go on to become the most influential and successful group in music history. They achieved a feat that no other performer before or since has matched: The Beatles held the top 5 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart for the week ending April 4th, 1964. It has been discussed countless times that Harrison played a distant second fiddle to the songwriting powerhouse of Lennon-McCartney, but George managed to slip in his contributions to Beatles' LPs, starting with “Don't Bother Me” on “With The Beatles” (1963). His musical influence was felt as he introduced the sitar to popular music, having gotten friendly with Indian musicians on the set of The Beatles' second film, “Help!” in 1965. He stated in an interview in “Anthology” that he felt at home with the instrument. John's composition, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” on 1965's “Rubber Soul,” was the first Beatles song to showcase the instrument. George's growing interest in Indian instruments was displayed on his own songs, most notably “Love You To” on 1966's “Revolver,” “Within You Without You” on 1967's “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and the 1968 single, “The Inner Light,” George's first composition to appear as a Beatles single (the B-side to “Lady Madonna”). “Something,” The Beatles' first double-A side and George's first number one single, was observed by Frank Sinatra in 1969 as one of the greatest love songs ever written – although he erroneously attributed authorship to Lennon-McCartney. It is The Beatles' second most covered song, after McCartney's “Yesterday.” “For You Blue” was the second Beatles double A-side to Paul's “The Long and Winding Road,” both appearing on The Beatles' final LP, “Let It Be” in 1970. His most successful solo album was the triple-disc “All Things Must Pass” (1970). It spawned his most commercially successful single, “My Sweet Lord.” He would become embroiled in a multi-year lawsuit over alleged plagiarism of The Chiffons' 1962 hit “He's So Fine,” culminating with Harrison being accused of “unconscious plagiarism.” George would wind up owning the rights to both songs when he eventually bought his antagonist's company. “This Song,” which appeared on 1975's “Extra Texture,” was a satirical take on the lawsuit. On the 2000 reissue of “All Things Must Pass,” he included a new version of the song titled “My Sweet Lord (2000),” which avoided the cited melodic similarities with “He's So Fine.” “All Things Must Pass” is the best-selling solo album by a Beatle. 1973's “Living in the Material World,” sold over a million copies. It was followed by 1974's “Dark Horse,” 1975's “Extra Texture,” and 1976's “33 1/3.” “Somewhere in England” was originally scheduled for release in 1980, but Harrison was told by record execs that he had to rework it. During the rerecording, John Lennon was murdered and he reworked “All Those Years Ago” in tribute to him, with Paul and Ringo playing on the track. The album was released in 1981. His next album was 1987's “Cloud Nine,” which featured another Beatles-related tribute song, “When We Was Fab,” along with the number-one hit, “Got My Mind Set On You” (a cover of James Ray). In 1988, Harrison helped form the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne (of Electric Light Orchestra), and Roy Orbison, who died later that year. George organized what is recognized as the first large-scale benefit concert. “George Harrison and Friends Concert for Bangladesh” raised millions of dollars for child refugees in the newly formed country of Bangladesh in 1971. It was the inspiration for other large-scale events such as 1985's “Live Aid,” “Farm Aid,” and 2001's “Concert for New York,” among others. The Concert for Bangladesh won the 1972 Grammy for Album of the Year. Harrison was also involved in film production. HandMade Films produced Monty Python's “Life of Brian” in 1979 and 1981's “Time Bandits,” directed by Monty Python troupe member, Terry Gilliam, as well as “Shanghai Surprise” (1986), which starred Madonna and her then-husband, Sean Penn. George sold his stake in HandMade Films in 1994. George was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as a member of The Beatles by Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones and posthumously in 2004 as a solo artist by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. He won nine Grammys as a member of The Beatles and four as a solo artist, two of which were posthumous – including the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award. Posthumously, he was inducted into the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame for the Concert for Bangladesh (2006) and he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2009 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Friar Park, a sprawling estate in rural Henley-on-Thames, was his refuge from the music business. It was the site of a 1999 attack by a mental patient who managed to get past guards and stab George multiple times, puncturing one of his lungs, before being knocked out by George's wife, Olivia, with a lamp. He was a smoker and had managed to quit for many years. He took it up again and quit for good in 1997. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998, which he attributed “purely from smoking.” He was married twice: First to model Patti Boyd, whom he met on the set of The Beatles' first film, “A Hard Day's Night,” in 1964. They were married from 1966 to 1977. His second marriage was to Olivia Arias, whom he first met in 1974 when she was a secretary at A & M Records. They were married in September 1978, one month after she gave birth to the couple's only child, son Dhani. Director Martin Scorcese's 2011 documentary, “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” focused on George's life. The Cirque du Soleil show “The Beatles Love” was the brainchild of Harrison and Cirque founder Guy Laliberte. The show spawned a best-selling CD, also called “Love,” which was a blending of two to three Beatles songs per track. His autobiography, “I, Me, Mine,” was published in 1980. He dedicated it to “gardeners everywhere."
Bio by: Donna Di Giacomo