by Robert Wilkinson
Today Sir George Harrison, "the Quiet Beatle," would have been 70. He died way too young 12 years ago. To this day he remains one of the most beloved musicians and extraordinary Spiritual men to ever grace this Earth.
Sir George Harrison, MBE (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001), was truly a remarkable man for all seasons, as he personally opened the door to the exploration of Eastern Spirituality by millions of western young people AND wrote some of the most beautiful pop songs in history. Besides these not insignificant achievements, he also introduced Ravi Shankar to the Western world, introduced the sitar to pop music (though the Raga form had been introduced earlier by the Kinks in "See My Friends,"), and produced two of the funniest movies ever made, both by Monty Python.
Anyway, this year we have some very good material, and to quote Sir John, "I'd like to turn you on...." So let's get on with this year's musical celebration of one of the most spiritual musicians to ever pluck a string on this Earth.
Eric Clapton and George teamed up in Japan in 1991 on a couple of George's hits from his Beatles years. Here's George's composition from the "Rubber Soul" album, "If I Needed Someone," and from the "Revolver" album, the ascerbic "Taxman." From the same concert, his tune from the amazing triple album "All Things Must Pass," "What Is Life." (For a treat, here are the Beatles in Japan in July 1966 doing "If I Needed Someone."
Here's George and Paul hitting the high harmonies in a Dec 1963 Beatles tv performance. It's definitely not lip synched! Here's a great 9 minute video of the Beatles performing "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "Money," and "Twist and Shout."
Here’s another treat! It’s the very first song in the very first performance by the Beatles on their first tour of the US. It’s Beatlemania at its most frenetic! I include it here because George is the lead singer on the immortal Chuck Berry rock and roll anthem, “Roll Over Beethoven”
Now, from the second annual Prince's Trust concert, here's Sir George, Sir Ringo, Sir Elton, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and others performing George's hit from the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album, "Here Comes The Sun."
We continue with George and some friends live in London in 1992 performing as Hari and the Hijack Band, doing his hit composition also from the Beatles' "Abbey Road" album, the beautiful "Something."
After the Beatles, his social conscience prompted him to create the first major charity concert in history, The Concert for Bangladesh. From 1971 in Madison Square Garden, featuring Sir George, Sir Ringo, Ravi Shankar, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, and a whole lot of other great Beings, here's George and friends performing the title song of this pioneering effort, "Bangladesh." Bone chilling to this day, given what the concert was all about....
From the "Concert for Bangladesh," here are 7 more major performances! First, George's monster hit from the Beatles' "White Album," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and his even bigger hit from "All Things Must Pass," "My Sweet Lord."
Since I posted this, I found the video of the first hour and 8 of the Concert! For your enjoyment, "The Concert for Bangladesh - Pt. 1" (The first 22 minutes is extraordinary footage of Ravi Shankar. Sorry I couldn't find part 2 anywhere, since it includes "Here Comes The Sun," Bob Dylan's set, "My Sweet Lord," and "Bangladesh." Enjoy the link above!)
From "the old days," here’s Nelson “Spike” Wilbury and his brother Lucky “Boo” Wilbury in a live performance of Boo's hit "If Not For You." I found another great version of George and an all-star band celebrating Dylan’s 30th anniversary in a live electric performance of "If Not For You."
The following are set to still photos, except for the original music videos for his various hits.
We begin this section with a truly beautiful spiritual song, "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)"
Here's George's tribute to Sir John after his assassination, the wistful "All Those Years Ago." On a related note, here's the original music video of George's statement looking back on the Beatles, "When We Was Fab."
Here's one of my favorites from later in his career! Enjoy the original music video of George Harrison doing his last hit, the irresistably danceable "Got My mind Set On You." (I found a real treat! Here's the original 1962 version of "Got My Mind Set On You" by James Ray. Testify! (Just hit the play arrow and start dancing to the Choir!!)
Here’s one last live performance! From 1997, here's George on tv doing a live solo performance of the title track of his first post-Beatles triple album, "All Things Must Pass"
Toward the end of his life, he got together with friends Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison to create The Traveling Wilburys. Here's a song composed by George that someone smart decided not to make a "B" side of another song, since it was good enough to be released on its own. For your enjoyment, the original music video by the Traveling Wilburys of their hit, "Handle With Care."
We'll close today with a couple of tunes from his last album, released posthumously. First, the upbeat "Any Road" and the closer of the album, a profoundly spiritual message given to us by a dead man, "Brainwashed."
RIP, Brother George. You made the world a more joyful, playful place, and your genuine humor and devotion to all that is good left a mark on all of us that will live across the lifetimes.
© Copyright 2013 Robert Wilkinson