George Harrison in a press photo
Born in Liverpool, George Harrison, was the lead guitarist and spiritual guru for a band called The Beatles. The compilation album 1 can summarize the extent of their popularity. Released in 2000, it features all 27 of their songs to chart #1 in the U.S. or U.K.
In 1965, the FAB 4 requested to see a real American diner during their second U.S. tour and Bob’s Big Boy Burbank was lucky enough to fill this need to become a part of Beatlemania.
George as a youth
Labeled “the quiet Beatle” by the mainstream press, Harrison was the first Beatle to adopt silent meditation. He should be known as “the guru,” specifically for being able to flawlessly play 26 instruments and the inventiveness he brought in incorporating Eastern with Western music.
While still in the womb, his mother would listen to the weekly broadcast of Radio India in hopes that the exotic music would bring peace and calm to her baby. This subconscious influence may have had something to do with George initiating the Beatles’ embracing of Transcendental Meditation and the inclusion of other Eastern instruments like the sitar.
George had an Elvis epiphany when riding his bike around the neighborhood; he heard a whiff of “Heartbreak Hotel” playing from a nearby house. This sparked his love affair with the guitar. Early American rock-and-roll was “like the sound of hope,” George said. He wowed John Lennon with his rendition of American rock riffs like “Raunchy”, and despite his young age, was invited into the Beatles. Another American influence on him was Chuck Berry. George would lead the Beatles in their early cover of “Roll Over Beethoven”.
The guru of the Beatles
The early formation of the band was taking place as early as 1957, but their thirteen full-length albums (one a double) happened in just a mind-bending seven years: Please Please Me (1963), With the Beatles (1963), A Hard Day's Night (1964), Beatles for Sale (1964), Help! (1965), Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper's (1967), Magical Mystery Tour (1967), The White Album (1968), Yellow Submarine (1969), Abbey Road (1969), and Let It Be (1970).
They say George put the icing on many cakes before he started writing his own songs. Rolling Stone founder, Jann Wenner described Harrison as a "guitarist who was never showy but who had an innate eloquent melodic sense. He played exquisitely in the service of the song." He is responsible for such musical inventions as the sitar on "Norwegian Wood" and the drone-like tambura on "Tomorrow Never Knows".
Some of Harrison’s greatest songs are: "If I Needed Someone", "Taxman", "Within You Without You", "Blue Jay Way", "Long Long Long", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Here Comes the Sun", and "Something". The last became George’s first A-side with the Beatles. It is widely viewed as having marked his ascendancy to the level of songwriting prowess as Lennon/McCartney. Elvis covered it. Twice Frank Sinatra recorded "Something", in 1970 and 1979, and it became part of his regular performance. Ol’ Blue Eyes called it "the greatest love song of the past 50 years."
1965 Hollywood Bowl concert poster
The Beatles stormed Southern California after their release of Help! (1965). They had four nights off where they stayed in Benedict Canyon from August 23rd to 27th. On the night of August 27th, just days after dining at Bob’s Big Boy Burbank, they would meet their idol Elvis at his home in Bel Air. After playing San Diego on August 28th, they played The Hollywood Bowl consecutive nights, August 29th and 30th.
Album cover for All Things Must Pass
Following the breakup of the Beatles, George released rock’s first triple album All Things Must Pass (1970). Although "My Sweet Lord" was at the center of a copyright suit due to its similarity to "He’s So Fine", popularized by The Chiffons in 1963, the album had an embarrassment of riches due to Lennon and McCartney limiting Harrison to two songs per album. Notably the title song "All Things Must Pass" became a bittersweet reminder of George’s freedom. "My first big break was getting into the Beatles. My second big break was getting out of them." Other songs of note are “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)” about the original owner of his Friar Park estate, "Hear Me Lord", and "What Is Life". The album is credited for introducing the slide guitar as part of George’s signature sound, which was described as "Wagnerian." The album is widely considered his grand opus and also the greatest Beatles solo album of all time.
Geroge Harrison and Bob Dylan
The Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 was a pioneering charity event that brought George and Ringo Starr together on the concert stage for the first time since 1966. The shows at Madison Square Garden also featured Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Billy Preston, and Eric Clapton. A live triple album, The Concert for Bangladesh (1971/1972), was released and won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1973.
Living in the Material World (1973) produced the international hit, "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" and the deeply spiritual "Try Some Buy Some", which he also recorded with Ronnie Spector from the Ronettes. The album is also the title of the Martin Scorsese documentary about him, Living in the Material World (2012).
Thirty Three & 1/3 (1976) marked a return to form after Dark Horse (1974) and Extra Texture (1975). Monty Python member Eric Idle directed music videos for “This Song” and "Crackerbox Palace". In 1979, George formed Handmade Films to finance Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Harrison put the money up for it, as he wanted to see the movie; Terry Jones called it "the world's most expensive cinema ticket."
Almost 20 years after Lennon was killed, George was stabbed several times in the chest after a break-in to his Friar Park estate. George, always the funny one, commented on the intruder, “He certainly wasn’t auditioning for The Travelling Wilburys.” The supergroup consisting of Roy Orbinson, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and George Harrison, took the world by surprise with songs like “Handle with Care” and “End of the Line”.
George with fish and chips
George was the first of the Beatles to go vegetarian. He wouldn’t allow meat or fowl in his house. But he adopted pescatarian habits, still going out of his way for fish and chips. Although they wanted to experience a real American diner, because Fish and Fries was on the 1960's Bob's menu, George may have just ordered his favorite go-to at Bob’s Big Boy Burbank.
George and '64 Jaguar XKE
Harrison was pals with three-time Formula One World Champion, Jackie Stewart. He wrote a song in 1979 about racing called "Faster". And like Bob’s Big Boy Burbank Hall-of-Famer Jay Leno, he got his hands on a McLaren F1, considered the finest car ever made. Only 106 were produced. His other cars earned him the title for most impressive car collection of any Beatle: a 1964 Jaguar E-Type/XKE, a 1969 Ferrari 365 GTC, and a 1964 Aston Martin DB4.
The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and George as a solo artist in 2004. At the ceremony, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne split vocal responsibilities while another studier-of-many-instruments, Prince, shreds (yes, shreds!) the guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
George Harrison’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is at 1750 Vine Street. The Beatles star is at 7080 Hollywood Blvd.
George and a Deuce Coupe