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John, Paul, George, and Ringo is the answer you would get if you’ve asked anyone on the street to name the band members of the Beatles. If you’ve asked that same person about each member, you’ll find that many people-whether they’re Beatles fans or not-know more about John Lennon and Paul McCartney. But what about George Harrison and Ringo Starr? In this two part article, fans will learn ten things each about George and Ringo. For this article, the “Quiet Beatle” George Harrison is the focus.
1. At around the ages of 12 or 13, George lost interest in school.
Fans can thank Elvis for that. It was around this time that Harrison was riding his bike in his neighborhood when he heard Elvis’s “Heartbreak Hotel” playing out from a neighbor’s home. Harrison later said that he had an ‘epiphany’ of sorts and was hooked.
2. By the age of 14, Harrison was into guitars.
He would sit at his desk in the back of his class and draw guitars. Harrison said, “I was totally into guitars. I heard about this kid at school who had a guitar at £3 10s, it was just a little acoustic round hole. I got the £3 10s from my mother: that was a lot of money for us then.” Eventually he purchased his first guitar-a Dutch Egmond flat top acoustic guitar- and taught himself a few chords. His early rock heroes included Carl Perkins, Little Richard, and Buddy Holly.
3. Before the Beatles ever had a number one hit, George was an apprentice electrician at the age of 16.
His father wanted George and his two brothers-one was a mechanic the other was a groundskeeper-to go into business with him, but it was not to be.
4. Whenever something angered Harrison he usually used music to express his anger.
An example is Harrison’s song entitled ‘Only A Northern Song’. It was a dig at the band’s publishing company and the concept of the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The song was supposed to be on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band but it was cut. The song was then featured on the album Yellow Submarine.
5. He knew how to play a lot of instruments.
Twenty-six in all: the guitar, sitar, 4-string guitar, bass guitar, arp bass, violin, tamboura, dobro, sword mandel, tabla, organ, piano, moog synthesizer, harmonica, autoharp, glockenspiel, vibraphone, xylophone, claves, African drum, conga drum, tympani, ukulele, mandolin, marimba, and the Jal-Tarang.
6. Harrison developed a huge interest in Indian music.
He was the first musician to introduce the sitar to the pop world when he played it on John Lennon’s ‘Norwegian Wood’ beating The Rolling Stones and their sitar-hit ‘Paint It Black’ by about 12 months.
7. His interest in Indian music extended into a desire to learn more about eastern spiritual practices.
In 1968, he led the Beatles on a journey to northern India to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
8. In 1969, during the recording sessions for the album Let It Be, Harrison walked out.
He didn’t return for several weeks. It was only after it was promised that the band would use more of his songs on their records that he returned.
9. During the last months of Lennon’s life, George and John were not on good terms.
It was due to Lennon’s disappointment with George’s autobiography, I Me Mine. John felt insulted and hurt that George mentioned him only in passing, even though Lennon was mentioned eleven times.
10. In 1981, six months after Lennon’s murder, George paid tribute to Lennon with his song ‘All Those Years Ago’.
It contains the lyrics “I always look up to you”, suggesting that George was in agreement with Lennon’s view of their relationship in which John Lennon had stated that his relationship with George was “one of young follower and older guy”, and admitted that “[George] was like a disciple of mine when we started.”
Image Courtesy of George Harrison