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Music / George Harrison

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"I'm a dark horse
Running on a dark race course
I'm a blue moon
Since I stepped from out of the womb
I've been a cool jerk
Cooking at the source
I'm a dark horse."
— "Dark Horse"

George Harrison MBE (25 February 1943 - 29 November 2001) was the lead guitarist for The Beatles, and a musical legend in his own right.

For instance, not only was Harrison great with the guitar, but he also introduced the band to new instruments like the sitar that gave the band whole new sounds to use. He endeavoured to write his own songs, but he found that his efforts weren't being taken seriously by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, or their producer George Martin either, and he was usually relegated to one or two tracks on each album (although he got three on Revolver, including the opening track, and four on The White Album). However, he persisted and by the time of the band's final produced album, Abbey Road, he firmly proved that he was their equal with the classic songs, "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun."


Still, he finally got to fully stretch his wings post-breakup with his solo album, All Things Must Pass, the biggest selling ex-Beatle solo album to datenote  . In addition to his artistic rise, he also used music to do direct social good, most famously for creating the first rock benefit concert, The Concert for Bangladesh, in 1971 to help that country—which besides being poverty-stricken was not only still fighting for its independence from Pakistan but also had to deal with the effects of a massive cyclone. He also was a member of the late-1980s supergroup The Traveling Wilburys.

In addition, he became a film producer by founding Hand Made Films to produce Monty Python's Life of Brian when it suddenly lost its backer. The company continued on after he left it in the late 1980s.


A documentary directed by Martin Scorsese, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, was released in October 2011.

He ended at #62 in 100 Greatest Britons, and Rolling Stone recognizes him as the eleventh greatest guitarist of all time on their list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Studio and Live Discography:

  • 1968 - Wonderwall Music
  • 1969 - Electronic Sound
  • 1970 - All Things Must Pass
  • 1971 - The Concert for Bangladesh
  • 1973 - Living In The Material World
  • 1974 - Dark Horse
  • 1975 - Extra Texture (Read All About It)
  • 1976 - Thirty Three & 1/3
  • 1979 - George Harrison
  • 1981 - Somewhere In England
  • 1982 - Gone Troppo
  • 1987 - Cloud Nine
  • 1992 - Live In Japan
  • 2002 - Brainwashed

George Harrison provides examples of:

  • Age-Progression Song: "Crackerbox Palace" is an elliptical example.
  • Aloof Dark Haired Guy: Definetely played this persona in Beatlemania.
  • Ascended Fanboy: In his diaries, Michael Palin explicitly refers to Harrison (at the time of the making of Monty Python's Life of Brian) as "the Seventh Python". Palin notes this is a view shared by John Cleese.
  • Badass Beard: A short one around the time of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; another between 1969-72.
  • Badass Moustache
  • Badass Pacifist: How many other vegetarian hippie musicians are memorialised in a Liberation War Museum, as Harrison is in Bangladesh?
  • Berserk Button: He really, really, really, really seemed to hate "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," but wasn't the only one. John and Ringo hated it too, especially since Paul forced them to do so many takes.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: His most distinguishing feature from the other Beatles during the moptop era.
  • Bishōnen/Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He was somewhat above the average height (5'10", had dark hair with a mysterious look, was ridiculously attractive, and like the other Beatles, had a pretty delicate appearance (although he became manlier looking later on).
  • Breakout Character: His diminished role in the early years with the Fab Four grew in the later years.
  • Call-Back:
    • "This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying)" and "Here Comes The Moon" were obviously tips-of-the-hat to a couple beloved songs he did with The Beatles.
      • The fade out of "Isn't It A Pity" sounds intentionally very similar to "Hey Jude".
    • A non-Beatles example: The Eric Idle-directed promo film for "Crackerbox Palace" has a brief cameo by the Pantomime Princess Margaret from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
    • The music video for "When We Was Fab" shows scenes of George in his Sgt. Pepper uniform playing guitar, while another scene shows him and two other figures as the Beatles (minus John) with their "I Am The Walrus" outfits/instrumentation.
  • Cover Version: Although his version of "Got My Mind Set on You" is considered the definitive version, it was originally written by Rudy Clark as a James Ray song. Additionally, George covered Bob Dylan's "If Not for You" on All Things Must Pass.
  • Chick Magnet: Everybody was trying to be his baby.
    • In the words of ex-wife Pattie Boyd: "He was famous, good-looking, had tonnes of money and flash cars – what a combo. Girls were offering themselves everywhere and he loved it. To come home to old wifey must have been a bit dull."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Granted, this was more or less a requirement to be a Beatle. George was perhaps the most deadpan of them, however.
    • During their one of The Beatles first meetings with producer George Martin, Martin sat them down and came with a long list of constructive criticisms he had for the band. This, understandably made the atmosphere at the meeting very tense, so Martin eventually noted "I've laid into you for quite a long time. You haven't responded. Is there anything you don't like?" Harrison replied with a dry "Well, for a start, I don't like your tie." Martin found the comment to be Actually Pretty Funny, and the meeting became notably more relaxed afterwards.
    • He once said that being a Beatle had "certainly been no hindrance on [his] career".
  • Distinct Double Album: All Things Must Pass was a distinct triple album. The first two records were filled with songs (including the title track) that George had originally offered to the Beatles but didn't get recorded because Lennon and McCartney were unwilling to let him have more than his two-songs-per-record quota. The third record is mostly jam-session recordings.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: His interest in India, although it was a good deal deeper than the usual level of this; he studied the sitar (a ferociously difficult instrument to play well), he managed to incorporate Indian classical music into his own song writing without making it sound like exotic local colour, and he organised the Concert for Bangladesh, which helped raise consciousness in the West of the refugee crisis caused by the Bangladesh Liberation War.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Harrison was a vegetarian as well as being a well-known hippie.
  • Gallows Humor: Harrison was making snarky statements about his near-fatal stabbing about 24 hours after it happened. And according to his friend Eric Idle, as the bloodied Harrison was being taken away by EMTs in the immediate aftermath of the attack, he happened to catch sight of a groundskeeper he had hired only a week earlier. Reportedly George deadpanned, "So, how do you like the job so far?"
  • Garnishing the Story: Harrison's guest appearance on Rutland Weekend Television as Bob the Pirate (including speaking the lingo), culminating in him performing a sea shanty instead of "My Sweet Lord".
  • Generation Xerox/Identical Son: His son Dhani is an eerily dead ringer.
    • So much so that at the "Concert for George," Harrison's wife Olivia quipped to Paul McCartney that with Dhani up onstage alongside Paul, Ringo, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, and George's other friends, "it looks like George stayed young and everyone else got old."
  • God-Is-Love Songs: Several. "Long, Long, Long" from The White Album is the most well known example.
  • Grief Song: "You said it all/Though not many had ears/All those years ago".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Let's be honest, George Harrison and Eric Clapton's relationship had to have been extremely close for it to survive Clapton stealing George's wife away.
    • Heck, after they patched things up they would refer to each other as husbands-in-law.
  • Interfaith Smoothie: The backing vocals of "My Sweet Lord" transition effortlessly from chanting "Hallelujah" to chanting "Hare Krishna," and eventually become a Vedic prayer to Vishnu.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: At least publicly, he took this attitude toward Patti Boyd and Eric Clapton's marriage (and even attended their wedding, giving the bride away and calling himself "the husband in law").
  • It's Been Done: The Trope Namer thanks to his guest appearance on The Simpsons.
  • Love Triangle: Himself, his wife Pattie Boyd, and Eric Clapton. Eric won.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Like all the Beatles in Help!, George's shirt being blown by the dryer has got the most recognition.
  • New Year Has Come: "Ding Dong, Ding Dong".
  • Paper-Thin Disguise / Gratuitous Foreign Language: "L'Angelo Misterioso" plays guitar on several albums by George's friends, even writing the last big Cream hit.
  • Properly Paranoid: After bandmate John Lennon's murder, George retreated to his home and installed a seemingly crazy number of security features. Reportedly his staff was known for hiding or throwing away hate mail/death threats because they knew how much it would freak him out. Unfortunately, in 1999, a crazed attacker did successfully break into his home and stabbed Harrison several times. If not for his wife beating his assailant until she knocked him out, he would have died.
    • Also claimed in 'The Beatles Anthology' that when going on an American tour, he refused to ride in a Ticker Tape Parade, citing the proximity of the tour to the assassination of President Kennedy.
  • Protest Song: "Bangladesh." It may not sound like one today, but at the time, merely calling the country Bangladesh (instead of "East Pakistan") was a political statement that directly went against U.S. policy.
  • The Quiet One: Perhaps the Trope Codifier. George is the least well known Beatle among the general public due to him being very quiet and soft spoken during interviews, preferring to stay behind and occasionally make a funny wisecrack. That especially applied when Beatles arrived in America for The Ed Sullivan Show: George had come down with strep throat and was medically advised to minimize talking until he performed with the band on the show. The press noticed George was not talking much and labelled him the "Quiet Beatle" as a result, which amused him for the rest of his life.
  • Rearrange the Song: When he re-recorded the White Album outtake "Not Guilty" eleven years later on 1979's George Harrison, he changed it from a strident rock song to a jazzy, moody ballad, and transferred its Epic Riff from electric to acoustic guitar.
  • Raised Catholic: His later embrace of Hinduism was the result of his retaining an interest in spirituality but rejecting what he saw as the dogmatism of the religion of his youth. "Awaiting on You All" delivers a couple Take Thats to the Church.
    The Pope owns 51% of General Motors
    And the stock exchange is the only thing he's qualified to quote us
  • Renaissance Man: Specifically as musician, George could play 26 instruments: guitar, sitar, 4-string guitar, bass guitar, arp bass, violin, tanpura, dobro, swarmandal, tabla, organ, piano, Moog synthesiser, harmonica, autoharp, glockenspiel, vibraphone, xylophone, claves, African drum, conga drum, tympani, ukulele, mandolin, marimba, and Jal-Tarang.
    • That of course doesn't include his work, as a composer, actor and film producer.
      • He also took up car racing and gardening.
  • Self-Deprecation: Like all The Beatles, he was a master of it. He famously described himself and Ringo Starr as "economy-class Beatles", and in the 1980s referred to himself easily as "a middle-aged ex-pop star." He also achieved a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment when asked about John Lennon's murder, by half-joking that he wasn't important enough to try to kill.
    • Regarding the love triangle, he once said in a press conference, "I'd rather she was with him than some dope."
  • Self-Titled Album
  • Separated by the Wall: The cover to his album Wonderwall Music (note the hole in the wall).
  • Shout-Out: "Crackerbox Palace" is an extended one to Lord Buckley, and Harrison also says "It's twue! It's twue!"
  • Shrinking Violet: He was described as the shy one of the Beatles.
  • Solo Side Project: Wonderwall Music and "Electronic Sound", both released while he still was a member of the Beatles.
  • Super Group: Not just any Super Group: THE Super Group. Harrison founded The Traveling Wilburys, consisting of Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Jim Keltner and Harrison himself. The group came about because Harrison had called up his friends to record a B-Side for his single "This Is Love", but his record company saw the potential in the song and encouraged the group to do more with it than make it "filler".
  • Surreal Music Video:
    • The music video for "When We Was Fab" starts off simple enough, with George playing the song in question against a wall on a street full of people. Then, a truck comes along and drops off Ringo Starr. And then comes the extra arms...
    • And of course, the dancing furniture from the second "Got My Mind Set on You" video.
  • Take That!:
    • "Taxman" from Revolver was quite the shot against the British tax system of the time.
    • "This Song" was written about the "unconscious plagiarism" George allegedly committed against Bright Music and The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" in writing "My Sweet Lord".
    • "Sue Me, Sue You Blues" was one to the judicial system he had to put up with during the lawsuits filed through the Beatles' breakup.
  • This Is a Song: "This Song"
  • Trademark Favorite Food: He came to regret announcing that he liked Jelly Babies after fangirls throwing them at him and the other Beatles became a regular feature of life on the road. It was even worse in America, where the fans couldn't find the soft Jelly Babies and instead purchased jelly beans: "Imagine waves of rock-hard little bullets raining down on you from the sky." It got to the point where he feared that one might hit him in the eye and blind him.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: His son Dhani really is the spitting image of him. It's like seeing a ghost.
  • Uncle Pennybags/Promoted Fanboy: Financed Monty Python's Life of Brian after the original producers got freaked out by the "religiously offensive" content and backed out. For no reason except that he was a massive Monty Python fanboy (and friend of them) and just wanted to see the movie. Eric Idle called it "the most expensive movie ticket ever purchased", at least $4 million.note 
    • More importantly, this led to the start of Harrison's film production "Handmade Films".
  • Unplugged Version: Harrison recorded a well-known acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." It finally got released with The Beatles Anthology.
  • Violently Protective Wife: The knife-wielding maniac who nearly killed George in 1999 was subdued when Olivia Harrison smashed a lamp over his head. Soon after the incident, George got a message from his good pal Tom Petty saying "Aren't you glad you married a Mexican girl?"
  • We Used to Be Friends: George Harrison and Paul McCartney were the first Beatles to meet each other and went on to become boyhood friends, with McCartney even lobbying to John Lennon in order to recruit Harrison as guitarist. But both men wound up probably being the most estranged pair of Beatles after the band's breakup. They did reconcile when George was terminally ill with cancer.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Harrison's estate at some point after his death, mentioned the existence of enough of his unreleased recordings to fill entire albums, but to date none have surfaced, at least not commercially.
  • Win Her a Prize: The first "Got My Mind Set on You" video is centered around a boy trying to draw a girl's attention by winning her a toy ballerina she wants.
  • World Music: Harrison is well known for experimenting with traditional Indian music in his songs. Two of the three Beatles songs with sitar music, "Love You To" (Revolver) and "Within You Without You" (Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) were written by him ("Norwegian Wood" (Rubber Soul), composed by John Lennon, is the exception). "The Inner Light" (Past Masters), another heavily Indian-influenced piece (though it does not contain any sitar), was also composed by Harrison. Ravi Shankar taught him to play the instrument. Harrison's first solo album Wonderwall Music is almost entirely full of Indian music.


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