George Harrison, Guitarist and singer, Died at 58


George Harrison died on the 29th of November 2001 at the age of 58; he was an English guitarist, singer, songwriter, and music and film producer who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Born in Liverpool, England, on 25 February 1943, Harrison was the youngest of four children of Harold Hargreaves Harrison and his wife Louise (née French).

He had one sister, Louise, and two brothers, Harry and Peter. His mother was a shop assistant from a Catholic family with Irish roots, and his father was a bus conductor who had worked as a ship’s steward on the White Star Line.

His future wife, the model Pattie Boyd, described Harrison’s parents as “quite short and very Liverpudlian”. According to Boyd, Harrison’s mother was particularly supportive: “All she wanted for her children is that they should be happy, and she recognized that nothing made George quite as happy as making music.”

Harrison was born and lived the first six years of his life at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool; a terraced house in a dead end street. The home had an outdoor toilet and its only heat came from a single coal fire.

In 1949 the family were offered a council house and moved to 25 Upton Green, Speke. In 1948, at the age of five, Harrison enrolled at Dovedale Primary School.

He passed the eleven plus exam and attended Liverpool Institute High School for Boys from 1954 to 1959. McCartney told Lennon about his friend George Harrison, who could play “Raunchy” on his guitar.

In March 1958, Harrison auditioned for the Quarrymen at Rory Storm’s Morgue Skiffle Club, playing Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith’s “Guitar Boogie Shuffle”, but Lennon felt that Harrison, having just turned 15, was too young to join the band.

During a second meeting, arranged by McCartney, he performed the lead guitar part for the instrumental “Raunchy” on the upper deck of a Liverpool bus. He began socialising with the group, filling in on guitar as needed, and became accepted as a member.

Although his father wanted him to continue his education, Harrison left school at 16 and worked for several months as an apprentice electrician at Blacklers, a local department store.

By late 1966 Harrison’s interests had moved away from the Beatles, as reflected in his choice of Eastern gurus and religious leaders for inclusion on the album cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967.

His sole composition on the album was the Indian-inspired “Within You Without You”, to which no other Beatle contributed. He played sitar and tambura on the track, backed by musicians from the London Asian Music Circle on dilruba, swarmandal and tabla.

He later commented on the Sgt. Pepper album: “It was a millstone and a milestone in the music industry … There’s about half the songs I like and the other half I can’t stand.”

In January 1970, the group recorded George Harrison’s “I Me Mine.” It was the last song the legendary group would ever record together. Three months later, Paul McCartney publicly announced that he was leaving the band, and the Beatles were officially done.