So, let’s start with after the Beatles broke up. All of the boys were already on track and had already started their next part of life. George was no different. In December of 1969, this would be before the Beatles break-up, George had already been involved with his solo career. He had already released two albums, “Wonderful Music,” and “Electronic Sound.” In 1968, the movie Wonderwall came out on the big screen and George’s album was the soundtrack for that film. “Electronic Sound” was George putting together a lot of instrumental songs that he played mostly the Moog synthesizer on. This album was the first album that Apple released, usually a single’s label, and this was also the first solo album released by one of the Beatles.
In 1969, George had gone on tour in Europe with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, and Jim Gordon were with George for these concerts, with the leaders of the band being Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett. This was just about the time he began writing “My Sweet Lord” which would end up being George’s first solo single. In 1970 George released a triple album called, “All Things Must Pass” which had on it, his #1 hit, “My Sweet Lord” and also a top 10 hit, “What Is Life”. Many people said, this was George’s best work yet, and the album hit #1 here in the United States, but also in the UK. Some of the artists that performed on this album were Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Gary Wright, Klaus Voorman and the group from Apple Records called Badfinger.
“My Sweet Lord” was the subject of a plagiarism lawsuit in which Bright Tunes Records said this song was too much like the 1963 Chiffon’s song “He’s So Fine.” George said he didn’t do this deliberately, and the judge agreed, but George lost the case, anyways. A thirtieth anniversary edition of this album came out of Apple Records in 2000, and George was a big part of the promotions for it.
Let’s talk a little bit about Indian music and even religion. Around 1965, George got the Beatles to start using, and getting them very interested in, Indian instruments and Indian religion. They, mostly George, were using sitars, tamburas, and tablas. It didn’t stop there, though. In 1969 he was encouraged to learn the sitar, which he did. Although the non-western instrumentation was added to quite a bit in the music of the Beatles, they also got into the religion. Hinduism, gurus, and meditations were there, and used by the whole band. George had a liking for it even during his time with the Beatles in the early 1960s. His early solo work shows this. His album “Wonderwall used Indian and western instrumentation, but “Electronic Sound” was more of the Indian music mostly played by George.
In 1971, George was a huge part of what most people say was the beginning of the age of “charity” concerts. The “Concert At Bangladesh” was a request from Ravi Shanker who asked George to put on a benefit to help raise money for, and awaken awareness of, the starving refugees situation during the Bangladesh Liberation War. There were two shows in New York’s Madison Square Garden. There was a total of more than 40,000 people in the audiences. Even with the tax problems and the apparent extra money going somewhere, there was still plenty of money to help the refugees, and the concerts actually helped end the war.
The information about George Harrison just seems to go on and on, and I am almost out of space. So, let’s fast forward to John Lennon’s murder. George and John didn’t really keep in touch much after the Beatles break, but when John was shot, George had this to say. “After all we went through together, I had and still have great love and respect for John Lennon.” George had written a song for Ringo, “All Those Years Ago,” but the loss of John made him change the words and turn it into a song for John. Paul and Linda McCartney also sang on this song, and it reached #2 here in the states.
In 1997, George had throat cancer and was treated with the best that was known back then. The radiotherapy seemed to do the trick and George blamed it on his years of continuous smoking. In 1999, George and his wife were brutally attacked in their own home. George was down and Olivia got the poker from the fireplace and beat Michael Abram with it until he stopped moving. George ended up with over 40 stab wounds including some to the lung. In 2001 he had a bit of cancer removed from his lung. The lung cancer had traveled to his brain and he died at a friend’s house on November 29, 2001. His body was cremated and his ashes spread as is the tradition of his Hindu Religion.
His accolades are numerous. We have just enough space to name a few. In June of 1965, all the Beatles became members of the Order of the British Empire. The Beatles got an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for “Let It Be,” in 1971. In 1992, he was the first ever to receive the Billboard Century Award. In 2004, George got into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The boss says I have to stop there. Look up George Harrison. There is so much more to say. Hey! I think I might write a book about him. What do you think? Thanks for reading folks!
You can hear George’s music when you listen to Cindy’s Vinyl Vault. Remember, we play the best music ever recorded on vinyl. We’re at 980 WCAP Radio every Sunday night at 10:00, Monday night at 11:00 and Wednesday night at 10:00, and remember folks, it’s not how old it is, but how great it sounds!