George Harrison

George Harrison George Harrison George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943 at 12 Arnold Grove, in the Wavertree area of Liverpool. His parents were Louise and Harold Harrison, he had two brothers Peter and Harry and a sister Louise. George attended the Dovedale Primary School with his brother Peter. In September of 1954 he became a student at the Liverpool Institute. George was a bad student describing school at best "a pain in the neck" and at worse "the worst time in my life".

George was interested in music at a very early age. His mother bought him his first guitar at age 13 and he formed a group of his own called "The Rebels" with his brother Peter and best friend Arthur Kelly but it was short lived. George became friends with Paul McCartney with whom he used to ride on the No. 86 bus to the Liverpool Institute. Paul was a member of a group called "The Quarry Men"and he invited George to attended a few of the gigs. In 1960 the group had a new name, The Beatles.

The Beatles went on to achieve a level of fame and popularity previously unknown in the entertainment and popular music industries. This was facilitated if not caused by their exposure on television, the medium that was becoming the universal mode of communication throughout the world and of course their jaunty appearance and the musical talents of Lennon & McCartney.

Harrison had been introduced to smoking marijuana by Bob Dylan in 1965 and to LSD by his dentist, a rather strange twist, the supposedly "respectable" dentist secretly spiking the coffee of the bohemian musicians and with John Lennon became a user and advocate of the drugs and their supposed spiritual effects.

Paramahansa Yogananda George had met model Pattie Boyd and the two were married on January 21, 1966. In that year he met the Indian musician Ravi Shankar, went to India to begin to learn how to play Indian classical music and first read 'Autobiography of a Yogi' by Swami Yogananda and he immediately accepted it as gospel though its combination of a popular Hindu religion, artless self-disclosure and breathless recitation of accounts of immortal youthful gurus who live in the Himalayas, Indian miracle workers and bizaare "saints" would stretch the credulity of the average westerner. Possibly his instant and complete acceptance could be related to being surrounded by adoring fans, sycophantic hangers-on and his large intake of LSD, peyote, psilocybin, marijuana and hashish, which whatever any other effects have never been noted for producing skepticism and clear thinking in their users.

Harrison was a dour person with (as subsequent events would show) a strong yearning for a guru who would solve all his problems and sweep him away to an elevated consciousness. He was prone to giving didactic harangues about his beliefs to anyone in earshot and not in the least bashful about spreading his wisdom through the media which was handy for them as he ordinarily treated them like plague bearers. On August 24, 1967 the Fabs, femmes and friends attended the One Last Farewell Lecture Tour Maharishi was giving before supposedly taking a vow of silence. At this opportunity of a lifetime, for a limited time only, the Beatles instantly and summarily offered themselves up as disciples at the end of his little talk in which he claimed "This practice will alone bring one to the complete fulfillment of one's life." And so the Maharishi invited them to come to Wales the next day to learn the technique that will produce enlightenment in only a half hour per day. They agreed, and invited their manager who unfortunately had other plans for the weekend during which he killed himself. So it's off to the train station and a big media sendoff. On Saturday, August 26, the Beatles renounced drugs at a press conference in Wales, claiming to have "gone beyond it" - subsequent events would show they were a little premature in this belief.

In February 1968 the Beatles & entourage (including Donovan, Mia Farrow, her sister Prudence, and Mike Love of the Beach Boys) went on a meditation retreat at Maharishis's retreat at Rishikesh, India. As far as can be determined from published accounts, things began well enough, with all four Beatles seemingly committed to the enterprise (although leadership certainly came from Lennon and Harrison). The daily routine began with some sleep-deprivation, an early wakeup call to start meditation. The diet was strictly vegetarian and the participants affected a hip variant on local dress, and engaged in contests to see who could try to meditate the longest.

These activities can become very boring for people without full committment and Ringo's earthy common sense, taste in food and dislike of stifling heat and myriad insects sent him back to England first, and Paul and Jane Asher followed soon thereafter. Though George and John Lennon meditated for hours a day the results were obviously not strong enough to prevent them being convinced by "Magic Alex" Mardas (a Greek TV repairman, set up in Apple Electronics by the Beatles, who promised to build an artificial sun, a telephone you told who to call, wallpaper loudspeakers, a house which hovered supported by an invisible beam, and even a flying saucer. Not one invention was made, and the recording studio he built proved unusable and was demolished. Allen Klein fired him, and he has since disappeared) that the Maharishi sexually exploited some of his students and had attempted this with Mia Farrow. Ms Farrow had left the ashram and George & John allowed themselves to be convinced. This feeling was reinforced when Maharishi questioned them as to why they were leaving and John saw Maharishi's angry response to his quip "Well if you're so bloody cosmic, then you'll know, won't you?" The Beatles' involvement with the Maharishi ended as abruptly as it began. Rolling Stone: John Lennon Remembers, Part 1.

In 1969, some followers of Swami Prabhupada of the Hare Krishna movement were able to contact George and he immediately conceived an absolute belief in their teachings even though they conflicted quite strongly with those of Yogananda & Maharishi especially in Prabhupada's insistence that the only valid spritual technique for these times is chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, a doctrine invented by Chaitanya in medieval times. George's belief in the magical properties of this mantra was so strong that he believed his chanting prevented a plane he was in from crashing and he donated considerable money to the society. Unfortunately, it was not so easy for George to actually obey the rigid precepts of Krishna Consciousness, which include no meat, fish, eggs, alcohol or drugs, gambling, illicit sex, coffee, tea, chocolate, garlic or onions. Of course in this he is not alone and his behaviour was not flagrantly evil like Prabhupad's foremost disciples and inheritors of his spiritual mantle.

In 1969, he and John Lennon hired Allen Klein to manage their affairs against the wishes of Paul Macartney. This decision was to mire hime in some of the longest running legal battles of the 20th century and proved particularly ill-advised when Klein attempted to swindle him of his earnings from his most successful song, "My Sweet Lord" by secretly purchasing the rights to the song "He's So Fine" during a copyright legal battle. Klein's machinations were one of the major reasons that the Beatles broke up in personal acrimony and decades long legal and financial disputes. The following few years were the peak of Harrison's musical career with the very successful triple album called "All Things Must Past" and the "The Concert For Bangladesh" in August 1971 at Madison Square Garden.

In 1974 George's wife left him and commenced an affair with George's best friend Eric Clapton, they were divorced on June 9, 1977. Ms Boyd married Eric Clapton, a marriage made in tabloid heaven but it only lasted until 1982.

In the mid 1970's Harrison had some contact with Sathya Sai Baba the most successful and controversial guru in India and even had a personal interview. George was too old to excite Sai Baba's now notorious homosexual paedophilia though he was probably given some vibhuti or magic dust and may even have been blessed with some costume jewellery that the divine guru materialised from thin air.

George had fallen in love with Olivia Arias, who at the time was a devotee of Guru Maharaj Ji and had been the secretary at Harrison's Dark Horse record company. The couple lived together at George's palatial mansion, Friar Park in Henley. Olivia gave birth to their son Dhani on August 1, 1978 and the two were married the following month. For a time George & Olivia and Maharaji and his wife met often for dinner, they had both married their secretaries so they had something in common. Harrison rapidly became intrigued with the philosophy and meditational techniques of the young Guru's Divine Light Mission but did not end up becoming a serious disciple.

By this time Harrison had been a "sincere seeker after spiritual truth" for a decade, he had extensively used those drugs he considered psychedelic and had close personal contacts with four of the most powerful gurus in the world, had used various of their techniques to increased spiritual growth and had been probably the foremost public figure espousing eastern spirituality in the western media and had achieved great success with music promoting his views. But none of the benefits of this practice were visible. His first marriage during which he had an affair with Ringo's first wife had failed, he had been deeply depressed since the failure of his 1974 tour and his dumping by A. & M. music, had been drinking so much alcohol that he severely damaged his liver and then moved onto cocaine abuse in the 80's. There were claims made in the '60s about the "spiritual" effects of LSD & marijuana but no such claims have ever been made about tobacco, alcohol & cocaine which had become Harrison's drugs of choice. So it seems that after his first decade of spiritual practice Harrison had regressed to being a drug-addicted mean-spirited hypocrite.

That whole period was insane. Friar Park was a madhouse. Our lives were fuelled by alcohol and cocaine, and so it was with everyone who came into our sphere. We were all as drunk, stoned and single-minded as each other. Nobody seemed to have appointments, deadlines or anything pressing in their lives, no structure and no responsibilities.

Cocaine is a seductive drug because it makes you feel euphoric and good about yourself. It takes away your inhibitions and makes even the shyest, most insecure person feel confident.

And we had so much energy – everyone would talk nonsense for twice as long and drink twice as much because the cocaine made us feel sober. George used cocaine excessively and I think it changed him.

Marijuana wasn't destructive. Dope in the Sixties – a very different drug from the skunk kids smoke today – was about peace, love and increasing awareness. Cocaine was different and I think it froze George's emotions and hardened his heart.

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In late 1974, George Harrison launched a two-month American tour in support of his underwhelming LP Dark Horse. It was the first time any Beatle had toured America since the group's final outing in 1966 and tickets went fast, though the shows were quite lackluster. He did play Beatles songs like "Something," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and (surprisingly) the John Lennon-penned "In My Life," but he also gave Ravi Shankar a ton of stage time. The crowd didn't love the long sitar sets, but they also couldn't believe how awful Harrison sounded. He had a nasty case of laryngitis, and snorting mountains of cocaine didn't exactly make his voice any sweeter. By the end of the tour, his voice was absolutely shredded, and with the exception of a brief 1991 tour of Japan, he never went on the road again.  

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Overcame both hepatitis in the mid-1970s (which caused a delay in the release of his album "Thirty-Three and 1/3"), and a cocaine addiction in the early 1980s. - IMDB


Dark Horse: The Private Life of George Harrison
Geoffrey Guiliano

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