Thursday, 29 November 2001

George Harrison

It was with a great deal of sadness that I learned of the death of George Harrison this morning.

Although known as "the quiet Beatle", and somewhat over-shadowed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harrison will always be known as one of the pioneers of British popular music, and when one thinks of some of the great guitarists to come out of the sixties, you have to rate George Harrison among them. He may not have been as flashy as Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton, but he was right up there with them.

Because the writing partnership of Lennon and McCartney was so prolific, Harrison's work does tend to be overlooked somewhat. Yet, if truth be known, two of my favourite Beatle songs were written by him, "Within In, Without You", from the excelleant Sgt. Pepper album, and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", which was covered excellantly by the Jeff Healy Band in 1990. Indeed, Harrison himself performed on that very track, playing rythmn guitar and providing backing vocals.

It also seems to be forgotten that it was actually Harrison who was the first Beatle to release a solo project after the band split in 1970. "My Sweet Lord" was probably one of the best tracks from the early seventies. It is perhaps because he didn't seem as prolific as Lennon and McCartney that his solo career is overlooked. However, in 1986, he did produce two great songs, "Got My Mind Set On You", and "When We Was Fab", which itself had a great video.

Harrison was also something of a movie mogul. His company, Handmade Films, produced one of my favourite films of all time, Monty Python's Life of Brian, as well as The Long Good Friday, still regarded as one of the best British gangster movies ever made. The company did have it's flops however. The disastrous Shangai Surprise, starring Sean Penn and Madonna, comes to mind.

Harrison will also be remebered for his work with The Travelling Wilburys, a super-group consisting of fellow rock legends Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. Again, "Handle With Care" was a great track.

Almost twenty-one years after the tragic death of John Lennon, the world is mourning the loss of another Beatle. George Harrison will be sadly missed by all those who listened to his music, even if they only listened to it for a few minutes. Harrison's contribution to the world of popular music must never be forgotten, and he will always live through that music.

Rest in peace Mr. Harrison.

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