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Wednesday, 15 November, 2000, 16:32 GMT
George Harrison: The quiet Beatle
Harrison
With the Beatles: Harrison, right, was integral to the band
George Harrison was always regarded as the quiet one of The Beatles, but his talent spoke for itself.

After the Beatles split, he was the first to make his mark, by scoring a number one hit single with My Sweet Lord in 1970.

Harrison
Harrison has had uneven success as a solo artist
And despite the towering abilities of Lennon and McCartney, as a guitarist and songwriter Harrison's influence was felt on the Beatles.

He was born in 1943, the youngest of three sons, and grew up in the Wavertree district of Liverpool, not far from John Lennon and Paul McCartney's homes.

He took a liking to skiffle music, an appreciation he shared with McCartney, a friend from the Liverpool Institute.

The two also found they shared an interest in American rock and roll.

Harrison
Harrison after the Beatles split: My Sweet Lord was a big hit
McCartney had joined up with a local band named the Quarry Men that included Lennon and Harrison joined the group in 1958.

In 1960, when The Quarry Men finally evolved into the Beatles, Harrison was mature enough in his style to act as guitarist.

On the set of the Beatles' 1965 movie, Help!, Harrison first picked up a peculiar-looking stringed instrument called a sitar.

This led to an interest in Indian music and Eastern religion, receiving instruction on the sitar from Ravi Shankar, and associating with the religious leader, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Discography
Albums
1968 Wonderwall
1969 Electronic Sound Albums
1970 All Things Must Pass
1972 The Concert For Bangladesh (with other artists)
1973 Living In The Material World
1974 Dark Horse
1975 Extra Texture
1976 Thirty Three And A Third
1977 The Best Of George Harrison
1979 George Harrison
1981 Somewhere In England
1982 Gone Troppo
1987 Cloud Nine
1989 Best Of Dark Horse 1976-1989
1992 Live In Japan

George had always been frustrated in the songwriting department, though he did contribute such hits as Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and Here Comes the Sun, among others. Frank Sinatra said Something was one of the world's greatest love songs.

The end of the Beatles sparked in him something of a musical rebirth.

After All Things Must Pass, Living in the Material World (1973), Dark Horse (1974), and Somewhere in England (1981), he joined with other artists in the "super-group" The Travelling Wilburys (1988-90) and with Ringo Starr and McCartney to produce the Beatles Anthology (1995).

In 1992 he played an Albert Hall show in support of the UK's mystically-inclined Natural Law Party, but it did nothing for their electoral fortunes.

Although Oasis's Gallagher brothers often said The Beatles were a source of inspiration for their work, and took the name of their hit Wonderwall from Harrison's first album, Harrison called them egotistical "rubbish".

Withnail
Withnail and I: Film success
And he was no less scathing about the Spice Girls. "The good thing about them," he told a French newspaper, "is that you can look at them with the sound turned down.

"You know what irritates me about modern music, it's all based on ego.

"Look at a group like U2. Bono and his band are so egocentric - the more you jump around, the bigger your hat is, the more people listen to your music. The only important thing is to sell and make money.

"It's nothing to do with talent."

The Beatles, he said, "had a value which will last forever".

"Today there are groups who sell lots of records and then disappear. Will we remember U2 in 30 years? Or the Spice Girls? I doubt it."

Olivia
Harrison with wife Olivia
He formed Dark Horse Records in 1974, and a film company, HandMade Films, in 1978, producing a number of feature films, such as Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979), Time Bandits (1981, also writing the music and lyrics), A Private Function (1984), and Withnail and I (1987).

However, in 1994 he sold the company for 5m after profits slumped.

He now lives in an Oxfordshire mansion with second wife Olivia and their son Dhani, Harrison's only child. The couple married in 1978.

His first wife, Patti Boyd, left him in 1974 for Eric Clapton. But after an initial feud, Harrison and Clapton became friends again, and Harrison even went to the couple's wedding.

Harrison had a brush with death in 1999, when he was stabbed 10 times by an intruder in his home.

Mr Harrison's stab wound missed his heart by an inch, leaving him with a punctured lung, and his wife was treated for minor injuries.

The assailant, Michael Abram, a former heroin addict, was detained indefinitely at a secure hospital after a jury decided he was insane.

The former Beatle made a full recovery from the attack, and his son Dhani said afterwards the family would continue trying to "rebuild our lives".

In 1998, he was treated for throat cancer - but was given the all-clear.

He is reported to have said after radiation therapy: "I'm not going to die on you folks, just yet."

He had another operation on his throat three years later, resulting in a full recovery - but was reportedly treated for a brain tumour in a Swiss hospital later that year.

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See also:

30 Dec 99 | UK
George Harrison stabbed
30 Dec 99 | UK
Shock at Harrison attack
30 Dec 99 | UK
The Beatles' separate paths
15 Nov 00 | UK
Beatle's attacker 'insane'
14 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Harrison: I thought I was dying
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