On George Harrison's Birthday, We Look Back on his Time with The Beatles

Posted at February 25th, 2016 | by Shivani Goel | in

George Harrison joined The Beatles in March of 1958 when he was just 15 years old as a guitar player. He was a part of the group when they released their first single Love Me Do and their first album ‘Please Please Me’ in 1963.

https://soundcloud.com/margarida-andrade-silva/the-beatles-love-me-do

By this point, Beatlemania had taken over and the group released their second album ‘With The Beatles’, also in 1963, which included Don’t Bother Me, Harrison’s first solo writing credit.

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With the release of ‘Rubber Soul’ in 1965, George started drawing the rest of the band towards Folk Rock music with his interest in The Byrds and Bob Dylan. They even delved into Indian Classical music with the use of sitar music in Norwegian Wood. Harrison claimed that ‘Rubber Soul’ was his favourite album with The Beatles and continued to develop his interest in non-Western instrumentation, playing swarmandal on Strawberry Fields Forever.

By 1966 George started exploring eastern influences and following gurus and religions leaders from Asia which he reflected on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. His sole composition on the album was the Indian-inspired “Within You Without You”, to which no other Beatle contributed.  He later commented on the Sgt. Pepper album: “It was a millstone and a milestone in the music industry … There’s about half the songs I like and the other half I can’t stand.”

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In 1968 Harrison’s song The Inner Light was recorded  in Bombay. During the recording of The Beatles that same year, there was a lot of tension within the group, and drummer Ringo Starr even quit for a while. George’s songwriting contributions to the album included While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which featured Eric Clapton on lead guitar.

Relations among the Beatles were strained during sessions for their final recorded album, Abbey Road. The LP included two of Harrison’s most respected Beatles compositions: Here Comes the Sun and Something, which became the first Harrison song to reach the top of the charts.

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While Harrison expanded as a songwriter, his compositions on Beatles albums was limited to 2 or 3 songs, increasing his frustration with the band, and a major reason for the band’s break-up. George’s last recording session with the Beatles was on 4th January 1970, when he, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr recorded the Harrison song I Me Mine. He then moved on to his solo career and in 1997 was diagnosed with throat cancer and discovered a brain tumour in 2001. He passed away on 29th November in 2001 at a friend’s house in Los Angeles at the age of 58. Because of his penchant for Indian culture, his ashes were scattered in the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers.

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Shivani Goel

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