George Harrison was born in Liverpool in 1942. As the son of a bus driver, George grew up in an austere setting of cramped terraced houses with outside toilets. But at 12 years of age he was awarded a place at the Liverpool Institute, one of the city's leading grammar schools. He met Paul McCartney on the bus to school and the pair became close friends. When Paul linked up with John Lennon in the Quarrymen skiffle group, he persuaded the group to invite George to join.
Harrison soon became preoccupied with his music and he left the Liverpool Institute with very little to show in the way of qualifications. However, the following year his musical career started to gain momentum when the Quarrymen, now called The Beatles, were booked for a four month engagement in Hamburg's notorious Reeperbahn. It was during this time in 1962 that the five man band (including drummer Pete Best and guitarist Stuart Sutcliffe) became the four man line up of John, Paul, George with Ringo Starr on the drums.
The band then found themselves a manager, Brian Epstein, a Producer, George Martin and a record label, EMI’s Parlophone. The next eight years saw the Beatles become the most famous entertainers in the world.
John and Paul established themselves as the key songwriting duo, but George was also to make an invaluable contribution. He sang at least one song on each album, beginning with Do You Want To Know A Secret? on their first album. Eventually, too, the Beatles agreed to record his own compositions, of which Within You Without You (from Sgt Pepper) While My Guitar Gently Weeps (from the White Album) and Here Comes The Sun (Abbey Road) are the best known. Something (from Abbey Road) was perhaps the most treasured Harrison composition dedicated to his then wife Pattie Boyd. Frank Sinatra regarded it as "the greatest love song ever written" and when released as a single, it sold more than a million copies.
One of his most important influences on the group was the introduction of new sounds, most notably the sitar, first heard on the Lennon song Norwegian Wood in 1965., and Harrison’s own Here Comes The Sun popularized the synthesizer
George was only 26 when The Beatles finally split. His reaction was to retreat to the grounds of his home in Friar's Park in Henley on Thames and dedicate his life to meditation and gardening. He made relatively few public appearances, however the devastation caused by floods in Bangladesh in 1971 inspired Harrison to organize a benefit concert in New York that later inspired LiveAid.
The 1980s Harrison was back in the charts with former ELO front-man Jeff Lynne, first on his own album Cloud Nine and then, with the addition of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison, as The Traveling Wilburys.
George Harrison once famously joked "I guess if you're going to be in a rock group it might as well be The Beatles".
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