Happy Birthday, George Harrison

Stroudsburg Herald

George Harrison by Harry Pot / Anefo

By Jared Acosta

Today George Harrison from the Beatles would have turned 79 years old. Responsible for hit songs such as While My Guitar Gentle Weeps, Here Comes The Sun, and My Sweet Lord, the legendary guitarist led an incredibly unique life.

At just 15 years old, George Harrison auditioned for The Quarrymen, a band started by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Against his father's wishes, he dropped out of school at age 16, just before beginning their first tour in Scotland as a rock band. The group changed their name to the Beatles in 1960 as they started playing a series of venues in Germany. Their first residency at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg ended shortly thereafter when Harrison was deported for being in a bar while underage. In 1961, Brian Epstein took on the role of manager for the Beatles and secured a recording deal with EMI the following year.

Upon release of their first album, Love Me Do, in 1963, Beatlemania - a phenomenon unlike anything the music world had witnessed up to that point had taken hold of Europe. Expanding to the US market, the Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Having a case of strep, Harrison was instructed not to speak leading up to the band's US debut earning him the nickname The Quiet Beatle.

Taking an interest in eastern religion and culture in 1966, Harrison began incorporating sitar and tambura - adding an incredible new depth to the Beatle's music. In 1968, as tensions within the group began to mount, Harrison started work on his first solo album, Wonderwall Music. Two years later, in 1970, the Beatles separated as a band. Their final recording was I, Me, Mine, which Harrison wrote.

In 1970, Harrison released a triple album entitled All Things Must Pass. In 1974, he began his Dark Horse Tour, the first of any ex-Beatle in the US. It included guest performances by Billy Preston, Tom Scott, and Ravi Shankar.

In 1988, Harrison formed his second supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys. Their debut album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, went triple platinum. The band included legendary musicians Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. Roy Orbison suffered a heart attack and died that same year. Orbison was never replaced for the band's second and third albums.

In 1994, alongside his former Beatles bandmates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and producer Jeff Lynne, they began working on the Beatles Anthology Project. It was the first new Beatles album in almost 25 years and included Free As A Bird and Real Love - both written by John Lennon, who was assassinated in 1980.

Harrison was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1997 and died in December of 2001. He was 58 years old. His final album, entitled Brainwashed was released posthumously in 2002.

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