George Harrison: the Truth About Life and Death of Beatles Lead Guitarist

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It's been over a decade since cancer caused the death of singer-songwriter and former The Beatles lead guitarist, George Harrison. After the band split, Harrison became a successful commercial star and an emblem of spirituality and awareness among the mainline rock fans of his generation. His death led to a sense of loss from fans, creating widespread revaluation of his music and art, and new publicity to the artistic legacy of the guitar player. He left an estate of nearly £100 million (close to $130 million).

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Even though Harrison was Caucasian, he managed to master a multitude of Indian classical instruments and helped bring them to the fore. He also played a crucial role in representing Asian culture in the western world. George had lung cancer and later had a brain tumor. He died on November 29, 2001.

Who Was George Harrison?

George Harrison's passion for music came from his mother, who was a passionate music fan. She frequently listened to Radio India while she was pregnant with him, which best explains his love for music and Eastern philosophy. The youngest member of the Beatles, Goerge was born in Liverpool in 1943. He joined the group, then referred as the Quarrymen, when he was barely 15. George and McCartney were the first Beatles to meet. They shared a school bus, and often learned and rehearsed new guitar chords together. George became a leading guitarist and often sang, but he gained notoriety as the 'quiet Beatle' and was often eclipsed by the duo of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

The Beatles have been referred to time and time again as the best rock band on the planet, and George's multicultural musical ambitions pulled them in many directions. George, along with the other members of The Beatles, was appointed as 'Members of the Order of the British Empire’ (MBE) on 26 October, 1965.

After the band’s break-up in 1970, George Harrison released the album All Things Must Pass, a commercially successful project that delivered his most successful single, My Sweet Lord, and introduced his distinctive sound as a solo artist, the slide guitar. George's first solo writing credit was for Don't Bother Me, a song he wrote for the band's second album With the Beatles in 1963.

The Truth About Life and Death of Beatles Lead Guitarist

George Harrison lived in Friar Park, a Victorian mansion in Henley-on-Thames, England, and had a home in Hana, Hawaii. He stayed out of the public eye, choosing to keep his affairs private. He was always critical of the show life and felt it made one to lose their talent. This thinking was what made him convince The Beatles to return solely to studio albums instead of live.

George Harrison was very interested in sports cars and motor racing; he was one of only 100 people to purchase the McLaren F1 road car. He also organized the Concert for Bangladesh, a charity event now recognized as the first celebrity benefit concert. The concert drew over 40,000 people to Madison Square Garden and the resulting live album won the Grammy for Album of the Year.

He was the executive producer of Handmade Films, an independent production company that had several hits between the late 1970s and the early 1990s. He prepared several collections of memoirs and lyrics for Genesis Publications, a British publisher of expensive limited-edition books, and provided copious commentary for the books the company published.

During his last years, he formed the group, Traveling Wilburys, a folk-rock band. It was also during this time The Beatles Anthology began. It was a collaborative effort to revive a few Beatles songs and let the world know about the Beatles’ career through interviews and chats.

George Harrison had surgery for throat cancer in 1998 and was treated for lung cancer and a brain tumor. After several procedures, including radiotherapy for lung cancer that spread to his brain, he died on November 29, 2001, at Paul McCartney’s Beverly Hills home. His wife, Olivia, and son, Dhani, 24, were with him when he passed away. His final album, Brainwashed, was released posthumously in 2002.

His Posthumous Recognition

In 2002, on the first anniversary of his death, the ‘Concert for George’ was held at the Royal Albert Hall. Two years later, he was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was posthumously inducted into the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame. The year 2009 witnessed the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce honoring Harrison with a star on the Walk of Fame. A documentary film entitled George Harrison: Living in the Material World, directed by Martin Scorsese, was released in October 2011. The film features interviews with Olivia and Dhani Harrison, Terry Gilliam, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Jim Keltner, Astrid Kirchherr, and Klaus Voormann. 

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