Remembering George Harrison
Today (February 25th) would have been George Harrison’s 70th birthday. Harrison, the first of the Beatles to embrace Eastern philosophies and culture, will also be remembered for his humanitarian efforts, such as his 1971 Concert For Bangladesh for famine relief. Harrison died of cancer in 2001 at the age of 58.
Last September, the Martin Scorsese HBO documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World snagged two awards at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremony held at L.A.’s Nokia Theatre. The doc won the prizes for Outstanding Nonfiction Special and Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming. Living In The Material World, which is out now on DVD, was originally aired on HBO over two nights in October 2011. The three-and-a-half hour life-spanning documentary includes interviews with Harrison’s widow and son Olivia and Dhani Harrison, his brothers Harry and the late Pete Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Martin, Eric Clapton, first wife Pattie Boyd, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector, Jeff Lynne, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Tom Petty, and Jackie Stewart, among others.
Also available in the Living In The Material World DVD package — and sold separately — is Early Takes, Volume 1 – George Harrison. The majority of songs on 10-track CD are either demos or early alternate takes of tracks from his 1970 album, All Things Must Pass. Highlights also include a demo version of Bob Dylan’s “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind” and the Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me” — as well as early versions of such post-Beatles classics as “All Things Must Past,” “My Sweet Lord,” “Awaiting On You All,” along with the Dylan co-write, “I’d Have You Anytime. Early Takes peaked at Number 20 on the Billboard 200 charts.
Over the course of the group’s recording years — 1962 to 1970 — Harrison wrote such Beatles classics as “Don’t Bother Me,” “I Need You,” “Think For Yourself,” “If I Needed Someone,” “Taxman,” “I Want To Tell You,” “Within You, Without You,” “Blue Jay Way,” “It’s Only A Northern Song,” “It’s All Too Much,” “The Inner Light,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Piggies” “I Me Mine,” “For You Blue,” “Old Brown Shoe,” “Something,” and “Here Comes The Sun,” among others.
Other solo hits included “What Is Life,” “Bangla Desh,” “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” “Dark Horse,” “You,” “This Song,” “Crackerbox Palace,” “Blow Away,” “All Those Years Ago,” and his 1987 comeback single “Got My Mind Set On You,” which is the last solo Number One single by any former Beatle to date.
In 1971, Harrison produced Ringo Starr’s initial solo singles “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Back Off Boogaloo,” as well also co-writing Starr’s first Number One hit “Photograph” with him in 1973. In 1974, Harrison became the first solo Beatle to tour North America.
Shortly after his return to the spotlight in 1987, Harrison co-founded the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty. In 1991 he undertook a brief tour of Japan with Eric Clapton and his band.
His widow Olivia Harrison has lead a successful reissue campaign of the Harrison solo catalog, including a recent box set of the Traveling Wilburys material. A future collection featuring highlights of Harrison’s sole North American solo tour from 1974 is said to be in the works for the near future.