George Harrison at 80

This week is the late George Harrison’s 80th birthday. It’s difficult for me to believe he has been gone for 22 years.

George was the youngest Beatle. Eighty years old – wrap your head around that. Age is such a wonky concept. Eighty might just be a number, but it’s a big number.

The George I remember is the 1970s George – fresh on his own, a prolific writer and force, leaving his imprint on the world. The Concert for Bangladesh. Following his spirituality. Starting his own record label and navigating the post-Beatles world of business. And he was just a young man in his early 30s. Again, it’s just a number.

Much has been written about George, the world knows so much, but as one of the most famous people of the 20th century, he was still a very private person. He tired of being Beatle George and the expectations that forever followed him. He toured only twice, one of them being in Japan. He bought secluded homes, but he had to fight for his privacy, and was almost killed by a deranged intruder who stabbed him.

Yes, he was famous and wealthy. His face was recognized around the world. The expectations of him as an ex-Beatle were massive. All Things Must Pass was a phenomenal achievement, as was The Concert for Bangladesh, in the first years of life after the Beatles. In the eyes of many, he never surpassed those early accomplishments, and was always judged by those expectations. He moved on to other interests and was MIA from the music business for years.

When the Beatles Anthology was in development, the three surviving Beatles regrouped to record musical tracks around two of John Lennon’s home demos. The television series, home video and music recordings were a massive success and brought the Beatles new fans and millions of dollars for each. George was willingly to participate, but he had conditions. Stepping back into the role of Beatle George took him back to a world he had grown out of, yet never escaped.

Ultimately, George found happiness with second wife Olivia, and son Dhani. Life was not without problems: legal, business and health challenges. Though far from a saint, he established a foundation of spirituality that served him well, through personal and professional hurdles. Whatever indiscretions and failings, like the rest of us he could either face them and become a better person, or deal with the consequences.

If George was alive and sitting across from me, what would we talk about? Of course I’d ask him what was he thinking, Shanghai Surprise? Really? Seriously, I’d ask him what advice he would like to give to young George, if he could reach back to himself in the Beatle years. Hopefully, it would include staying away from Allen Klein (controversial Beatles manager).

Happy Birthday, George Harrison. We miss you.

3 thoughts on “George Harrison at 80

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s