"Ed Sullivan, We're going to be on Ed Sullivan." It was almost forty years ago when a clean-cut, shaggy - haired group of musicians first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in front of a hysterical, crying and screaming audience. They brought a new kind of rock-n-roll to the USA; a lyrical, melodic music with sentimental words, driving beat and interesting harmonies.
John, Paul, George and Ringo. All my friends had pictures of John, Paul or Ringo plastered all over their bedroom walls. No me. My room was covered with photos of George. Even at a young age, I felt something special about the shy Beatle. I don't know if it was the uplifting words of, "Here Comes The Sun", the lyrical guitar further developed with the help of his friend Eric Clapton, or his hidden spirituality that attracted my attention. I think it was a combination of all three.
I told my friends to call me Gigi George Krop, but they ignored me. They told me I was living in another world. My Dad complained, "You are walking on the telephone wires." But my boyfriends were impressed when I played The Beatles albums on my Dad's old console with the Gerrard turntable.
The years passed and my fascination with George Harrison grew. He became a strong spiritual influence on me. One of the first musicians to go to India and embrace it's music and religion. George and the rest of the group meditated with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and the world followed. When their faith in the Maharishi was breached because he made sexual advances on their friend, Mia Farrow, they turned to the teachings of Krishna and Buddhism. The musicians and the actors, the rich and famous; anyone who was somebody went to India to study religion. It was the spiritual awakening of the late 60's and 70's. It was a special time. The slogans of "peace and love" and "drugs, sex and rock-n-roll" reigned supreme. It was the age of freedom, woman's liberation and equality for all. Bob Dylan told us that "The Times They Are a Changing", Jimi Hendrix asked "Hey Joe, Where Are You Going With That Gun In Your Hand?" and Janis Joplin sang, "Take Another Piece of My Heart Now Baby".
There was something very special about the 60's and 70's that brought about the development of new conscious altering drugs, a political and sexual freedom and something more. There was camaraderie amongst people, a love of music and a love for each other, an appreciation of each individual as a beautiful soul and a spiritual bond that joined them together in love. There was an appreciation of the beauty of life and love that doesn't exist in the new millennium. The people of today are so caught up the fast-paced high-tech world that we don't take time to appreciate the simple things. George Harrison didn't allow modern attitudes and politics to corrupt his vision of peace and love. His values and his music remained pure. When I'm disappointed in humanity, when my heart is broken by the selfishness of those I love, when I despair for the violence and hate that pervades today's society, I listen to the music of George Harrison and my pain is relieved; faith is restored.
In the 70's I followed in George's spiritual footsteps: learned how to meditate with a disciple of the Maharishi, took courses in religion and philosophy, studied yoga and experimented with ESP and astral-projection. At night I would dream about a rendezvous on the astral plane with George as my guide.
The Beatles came to New York for a big concert at Shea Stadium but I was too young to go. George returned to New York for the Bangladesh concert at Madison Square Garden. My friend Dennis had tickets but I didn't go. I still remember the conversation:
"Wow, Dennis how was the concert?"
"It was great, we all dressed up in costumes had 10 seats in the 15th row!"
"I love George Harrison; wish I went"
"Why didn't you ask me for a ticket; I would have saved a seat for you."
"I didn't want to be presumptuous."
"Don't worry Gigi, there will be other concerts."
Dennis worked for Columbia Films and always got tickets to the best concerts. He'd pick me up on a Saturday night in his yellow Porsche appropriately named Sunshine, "Dennis where are we going?"
"To a concert at Madison Square Garden. We're going to see Sly and The Family Stone." Another night it was The Jackson Five. We saw many wonderful concerts together, but not Bangladesh. Dennis also went to India to study the Eastern culture; he brought me a beautiful scarf from India, which was lost during my University of Miami days.
But when George Harrison came to the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York, I finally got to go. He had a great band: Billy Preston played keyboards, Tom Scott played saxophone for John Lennon and Carole King. Chuck Finley played trumpet for the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Sonny and Cher, and the Rolling Stones. Robben Ford played guitar with Charles Musselwhite; Andy Newmark played drums for Carly Simon, David Bowie and Sly Stone. Emil Richards was also in George's group. He played percussion for Charlie Mingus, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. The bass guitar was played by Willie Weeks who accompanied Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones. Ravi Shankar played the sitar along with a dozen Indian musicians and singers. So, it wasn't Bangladesh, but seeing and hearing George Harrison "live" in Long Island was my dream comes true.
In The Beginning...
George Harrison's musical tendencies first emerged at the ripe age at 13. When Jewish boys were preparing for their Bar Mitzva, George was drawing sketches of guitars. His mother Louise, an understanding sort, discovered the artwork in George's lesson books and bought him his first guitar. It took him a little while to catch on, but after lots of practice George started to play the guitar. A few years later he made friends with a fellow schoolmate who also loved the guitar; his name was Paul McCarthy. In July of 1957, Paul was invited to a "get together" at a nearby parish church. Paul heard some music from across a field and went to check it out. He was very impressed with the group's lead singer, John Lennon; and Paul's talents impressed John. John invited Paul to join "The Quarrymen". They played well together, but needed a good lead guitar. John Lennon was doubtful about the talents of the young Harrison, but Harrison's talent and Paul's insistence won him over in the end. George was only 15 when the group got a job opening for the Les Stewart Quartet. They took to practicing at John's Aunt Mimi's house with John, Paul and George on acoustic guitar, Pete Shotton on String Bass and John's mom, Julia playing percussion on her favorite kitchen pots. John was a student at the Liverpool College of Art and decided it was time to abandon the name, "Quarrymen".
Julia remembers, "First it was the Rainbows. Then Johnny and The Rainbows. Then the Moondogs. Then Johnny and the Moondogs. And later the Silver Beatles. Finally, of course, they eventually settled on the Beatles..."
The boys first tour was in May of 1960 with bass player Stuart Radcliff and Tommy Moore on drums. Harrison reminisces, "That tour was our first hope of actually making it one day."
But by the summer of 1960, things were not looking good. Tommy Moore left the band to pursue other goals and the guys were left without a drummer. The solution to their problem arrived in the form of the handsome and charismatic Randolph Peter Best. He had a brand new drum set and his Aunt Mona owned a teen club. In August 1960, Allan Williams found the band a gig in Hamburg at a strip joint called The Indra. When that didn't work out, they moved over to the Kaiserkeller to share the bill with Derry and The Seniors. The place was seedy, but the boys made the best of it. The four-month gig gave them great experience and helped to develop their style. At another nearby club, the group's competitors Rory Storm and the Hurricanes were attracting a lot of attention. The boys approached Peter Eckhorn, the owner of the Top Ten Club and were scheduled to open there a few weeks later. But the gig was cancelled because George was only 17. Broken-hearted they returned to Liverpool.
Paul took a job on a delivery truck but they got back together to play a gig on December 17th. On December 27th they played at the Litherland Town Hall. This was the job that placed them on the path to success. They were so superior to the other groups, "We just couldn't believe how much better we sounded than the rest of the lads, "Harrison recalls. As a result, the group got a job at the then famous Cavern Club, which soon became a popular nightspot for live music and George found his place as lead guitarist for one of Liverpool's top groups.
On November 9, 1961 Brian Epstein visited the Cavern to hear the Beatles and agreed to be their official manager. On April 10th, Stuart died of a (probable) brain hemorrhage and Paul took over on bass. In July 1962 Brian negotiated a recording contract with producer George Martin and EMI. Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr (the former drummer for Derry and The Seniors) and The Beatles were born.
On February 9, 16 and 23, 1964 a deal was made for the Beatles to appear on the Ed Sullivan show for a total fee of $10,000 followed by two shows on February 12th at Carnegie Hall. In January 1964, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" hit the America record charts.
In 1964 Patty Boyd appeared in "A Hard Day's Night" and captured the heart of Harrison. They were married on January 21, 1966 at the Epsom Registry Office in Surry.
On August 1, 1978 George and Olivia's son, Dhani was born and on September 2nd, George and Olivia were married. In 1978 George also formed HandMade Films to fund the Monty Python movie "The Life of Brian, "Time Bandits" "Nuns On The Run and "Shanghai Surprise". George published his autobiography, "I Me Mine" on August 22, 1979 and in 1991 George and Eric Clapton went on a tour of Japan; the recording "Live in Japan" (out of print) was released in1992. Between 1990 and 1999 George was involved with over two dozen albums and singles. He survived a knife attack and several occurrences of cancer.
Not just a musician, not just a "former member of The Beatles", George Harrison was a writer, film producer, record producer, car-racing enthusiast, slide guitarist and most importantly, a spiritual seeker. He is missed.
In 1997 George said, "For every human is a quest to find the answer to, why are we here? Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? That to me became the only important thing in my life. Everything else is secondary."
In December 1968, George released his first solo album, Wonderwall Music. Stifled by his limited role with the Beatles, George was the first one to release a solo album when the Beatles broke up.
"All Things Must Pass" is an incredible 3 record/ 2 CD masterpiece of beautiful uplifting songs. Harrison sings of life and love, the ways of the world; the materialistic world and a life beyond the physical realm Whenever I'm feeling sad: after September 11, 2001 when I was depressed about the foibles of humanity, on December 20, 2000 when I saw life depart the body of someone I loved, or on Christmas Eve 2001 when my car died on a deserted back road in central Florida, I listened to the music of George Harrison and once again believed in the beauty of life.
His album Dark Horse was released after All Things Must Pass, the Concert For Bangladesh and Living In the Material World followed shortly thereafter. The lyrics from his sixth album, Dark Horse are well served today, "While the world wages wars, it gets harder to see, who your friends really are…" Wonderwall and Dark Horse were strongly influenced by George's love for Indian music.
According to Ravi Shankar, Indian music is based on the human voice; the raga and tala explore the world of improvisation. Ragas are melody forms and talas are complicated and sophisticated rhythmic cycles. The tamboura instrument creates an atmosphere with its hypnotic drone. Indian Music is an art form. It takes eight to ten years of training under a guru to reach a high standard of improvisation and control over the ragas and talas, the two most important factors of Indian music.
Extra Texture was released in September 1975 followed by Thirty Three & 1/3 and Cloud Nine in November 1987. George got together with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne to create the Traveling Wilburys in 1988. In October 1990 they released Traveling Wilburys Vol 3. But something was different, Roy Orbison was no longer with the group, he passed away at the height of his comeback.
In 1997 Harrison's single "Give Me Love, Give Me Peace on Earth" was released on Capitol records.
But now his guitar sits in silence, his lips no longer sing the words of peace and love because George Harrison has come to the end of the "Long and Winding Road". He now treads upon a different path, somewhere beyond our universe between the quarks and electrons, dangling from a super string in the eleventh dimension, George is sending his message of peace and love down through the ages and beyond time because he is "A Dark Horse..."
But he is not gone, for his music remains with us, his love still dwells within our hearts, and his soul has reunited with the infinite oneness of the Divine Presence.
For more information, take a look at these web sites dedicated to George Harrison:
When We Was Fab
1. Dark Horse, The Life and Art of George Harrison, Geoffrey Giulano, DeCapo Press, 1997
2. George Harrison Ravi Shankar 1974 Concert Program, "All Proceeds From the Sale of This Program Will Go To The Appalachian Regional Hospitals Inc."