Explore the BBC
3 Oct 2014
Click for a Text Only version of this page
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
TodayBBC Radio 4
Listen Again
Latest Reports
Interview of the Week
About Today
Britain at 6am
Have your Say
Contact Today

A tribute to George Harrison
By Razia Iqbal, Arts Correspondent.

George Harrison was the youngest Beatle, and also the most shy; footage from the mid-1960s, when Beatlemania was at its height, shows an introverted young man, least comfortable in the limelight. But he was serious about the music, and about songwriting, although he did feel overshadowed by the success of Lennon and McCartney. He joined the precursor to the Beatles, the Quarrymen, when he was only fifteen. And the story is that he was only allowed to join because he knew more guitar chords than John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

The role he played in the most famous band in the world, was the one he adopted in life generally: the reluctant star who liked the music more than the fame. And despite his own acknowledgement that he felt overshadowed by the success of the Lennon/McCartney writing team, his legacy as a musician has not been forgotten, as the tributes which are pouring in from within the pop world and beyond, testify.

When the Beatles disbanded, he was the first of the fab four to make a success of his solo career. And he did write some outstanding songs, including "Something" for his first wife, Patti, and his greatest hit, "My Sweet Lord". His interest in Indian music made an impact on the Beatles, taking them all to the sub-continent, and also influenced the wider world of popular culture in the 1960s. He retained his interest in eastern philosophy and music,long after it was fashionable. In that, he was a pioneer, as fusion music is so much a fabric of pop music today.

His two star-studded concerts for Bangladesh in the 1970s, were also the forerunners of rock music being used for philanthropic purposes, long before Bob Geldolf and Live Aid. And he was also a serious film producer, most notably producing the Monty Python film, The Life of Brian.

George Harrison always had an ambivalent relationship with fame. After John Lennon was shot in 1980, George Harrison reacted by surrounding his house with razor wire. But that didn't stop an intruder from entering in December 1999 and stabbing him in the chest.

In the last few weeks of his life, as he underwent controversial cancer treatment, George Harrison was even more protective of his privacy than he had ever been, since he was catapulted into the limelight in the 1960s; news of his death was kept quiet for nearly twelve hours, and while the world thought he was still in a hospital in New York, he was 3,000 miles away with family and friends; it's obvious that even towards the end of his life, his desire to be left in peace was stronger than ever.

BBC 5Live's breaking news -
BBC Music's biography of the Beatles -
Radio 2 review of "All things must pass" -
Radio 1's Newsbeat report with comments from bands -
News Online story page -

George Harrison
Listen - Bob Geldof talks about George Harrison
Listen - Michael Palin discusses George Harrison's role in "The Life of Brian"
The Beatles
George Harrison with Ravi Shankar
George Harrison with his wife Olivia
Other Arts Stories

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy