Wednesday, February 25, 2015

George Harrison - Happy Birthday!

Today is George Harrison's birthday. The "quiet Beatle" was one of the most unusual musician/singer/songwriters to come out of the 1960's. After having propelled Indian Music, along with Transcendental Meditation to the forefront of the era, he went on to invent the rock and roll benefit concert when he did the Concert for Bangla Desh in 1971.

He had a spotty solo career post Beatles, until the late 1980's when he fronted the Traveling Wilburys. They went on to become one of the most beloved bands since the Beatles. With different names to identify them all as brothers, they all wrote, sang and played guitars. In a way that was funny, because the Beatles had first been turned down for a record contract themselves in 1962 because "groups of guitars were on the way out."

The group began almost as an accident, with Harrison doing some recording and inviting a friend, who invited a friend etc. And when one of them talked Roy Orbison into coming along, well, that was the moment they became the Traveling Wilburys. Along with fictitious names as a band of brothers, they also listed all the songs as having been co-written by the entire group.

Their first album relaunched Roy Orbison's career and gave him his first #1 record in years, just before he passed away. He was slated to make the second Wilburys album, but fate had other plans. And the group was a gift to Harrison as well; he would now not be remembered solely as a member of the Beatles; but as a wonderful singer, songwriter with some very cool friends and a band of his own.

Married for decades to his second wife Olivia; whom he met on his first solo tour of the US in 1974 when she worked at Capitol Records; she went on to save his life when an emotionally disturbed man broke into Friar Park and stabbed Harrison. Olivia knocked him cold with a table lamp. A devotee of Krishna and no-violence she has said that it was a conflicting moment for her; as her husband chanted to Krishna for deliverance, she was engaged in an act of aggression. She has no regrets.

It should be noted that Olivia Harrison; along with the other Beatle wives; organized the Romanian Angels Appeal; formed to combat the neglect of the thousands of orphanages created by the abuses of Nicolae Ceaucescu, and were rampant in the country after the fall of the Communists. They are still doing good work there today. The Traveling Wilburys gave them the recording "Nobody'd Child" as a gift to help them get started.

Still remembered with affection today, almost 14 years after his death from cancer in 2001, we wish him a Happy Birthday and Hare Krishna!

This is the new biography of George Harrison by Graeme Thomson. In my opinion, this is the best and most accurate biography of George Harrison and particularly his life post-Beatles.

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