Everyone loves the Beatles (well everyone SHOULD). Rolling Stone Magazine was notorious for focusing on the front man, John Lennon but they recently released an article about George. “10 Things You Didn’t Know George Harrison Did” Here’s our favorite five.
George Harrison was as modest as they come. “I play a little guitar, write a few tunes, make a few movies, but none of that’s really me,” George Harrison once said. “The real me is something else.”
He always kept his feet on the ground and kept his head out of the clouds. While the Beatles catapulted him into stardom, he always felt he was much more than “A Beatle”. “The Beatles exist apart from myself,” he said. “I am not really Beatle George. Beatle George is like a suit or shirt that I once wore on occasion, and until the end of my life people may see that shirt and mistake it for me.”
George died 15 years ago, and while most remember him for his most notable role as a Beatle, we thought these 5 things really touched on who he was, outside of them.
1. The Beatles officially landed at the John F. Kennedy International Airport on February 7th, 1964, but George had been to America already. “I’d been to America before, being the experienced Beatle that I was,” Harrison recalled in 1995’s Beatles Anthology documentary. “I went to New York and St. Louis in 1963, to look around, and to the countryside in Illinois, where my sister was living at the time.”.
2. December 4th, 1968, the staff at the Beatles’ Apple Records headquarters in London received this message:
“Hells Angels will be in London within the next week, on the way to straighten out Czechoslovakia. There will be 12 in number complete with black leather jackets and motorcycles. They will undoubtedly arrive at Apple and I have heard they may try to make full use of Apple’s facilities. They may look as though they are going to do you in but are very straight and do good things, so don’t fear them or up-tight them. Try to assist them without neglecting your Apple business and without letting them take control of Savile Row. – George Harrison”
3. He was a Prankster, and Phil Collins was on the receiving end.
In 1970 he was booked to play congas on a session for “The Art of Dying,” to be included on All Things Must Pass. “One night, our managers called me and said, ‘You want to go down to Abbey Road?'” he remembers. “I said, ‘I’m a bit busy, I’ve just had a bath.’ And they said, ‘Well, it’s for George Harrison.’ I went, ‘I’ll get a cab.’ I walked in and there was Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Phil Spector, Klaus Voorman, Badfinger,Pete Drake, Mal Evans and George. Spector was introduced in this brusque way. He was like, ‘Who is this young guy, thinks he can play with the Beatles?'” “After 90 minutes, I had blood blisters. They took a break, and then Ringo’s chauffeur came and said, ‘You’re finished.'” “When All Things Must Pass came out, I looked through the credits and there was no mention of me,” he says.
“I got a tape from George of the song that I played with the congas quite loud,” Collins told EW. “I thought, Oh, my god, this sounds terrible. In fact, it was a Harrison joke. He’d recorded [percussionist] Ray Cooper.’Play bad, I’m going to record it and send it to Phil.’ I couldn’t believe that a Beatle had actually spent that much time on a practical joke for me.”
4. He loved fast cars…REALLY fast cars. “I was 12 when I saw Liverpool’s first British Grand Prix, in Aintree,” he remembered. “I followed Formula One until the time we started being professional musicians, and even then in the Sixties, though we were so busy, I caught a few races, mainly Monte Carlo.”
“When you’re driving a racing car to the absolute limit of its ability, and that of your own ability, it’s a very unique emotion and experience,” he said in Martin Scorsese’s 2011 documentary Living in the Material World. “When that happens, your senses are so strong. That’s what I think George saw in racing. We talked about things like that a lot: heightened sense, of your feel and your touch and your feet. … If you listen to a really top guitarist, or any top musician, and how they can make that guitar talk, or that keyboard talk, or the skins talk, that’s another heightening of senses that is beyond the ken, the knowledge of any normal man or woman.”
5. Scientists wanted to send one of Harrison’s most beloved songs into the outermost reaches of the galaxy.
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, were creatd as the first human-made objects to travel outside the heliosphere and into interstellar space.”The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space,” noted famed astronomer and author Carl Sagan.” After a grueling year-long selection process, the sounds chosen included thunder, bird songs, Morse code and even brainwaves. Musical selections were just as diverse, including compositions by J.S. Bach, Blind Willie Johnson and Bulgarian folk singer Valya Balkanska. If Sagan had his way, “Here Comes the Sun” would have been among them.
“In some ways, the Beatles were the most obvious choice to include on the music,” Jon Lomberg, Sagan’s chief artistic collaborator, told author Jim Bell in 2015. “They were still at the peak of their fame, even though they’d broken up five years before. It would have been like putting on Shakespeare – who is going to seriously say that Shakespeare doesn’t belong among the greatest hits of Earth’s literature? The Beatles were sort of the absolute peak of Western musical achievement at the time.” EMI Records, who held the song’s copyright, vetoed the plan.Sagan included Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”.