George Harrison is known, of course, as one of the members of The Beatles, who together were one of the most famous rock groups of all time. Born in the UK in 1943, he had a middle-class upbringing. He loved rock and roll growing up. Later, he attributed his love to a moment from when he was 12 or 13, riding on his bike, and he had an epiphany of sorts when he heard Elvis’s “Heartbreak Hotel.”
When Harrison was in his teens, fellow teen Paul McCartney—who, by this point, had already begun the Quarrymen, the proto-form of The Beatles with his pal John Lennon—asked Harrison to come watch them play. Interestingly, Harrison and Lennon had actually attended the same elementary school, though they hadn’t met before that fateful day in 1958.
At long last, McCartney convinced Lennon to let Harrison audition, even though—at the tender age of 14—he was significantly younger than Lennon, who for his part was 17. Harrison accepted the offer, and performed his audition on the second floor of a two-story lorry.
By the time 1960 rolled around, The Beatles’ careers were starting to come together very nicely. Drummer Ringo Starr joined the group soon after, and, in 1962, “Love Me Do” became a top 20 hit in the UK. The Beatles rose quickly in popularity, and, by mid-1964, Beatlemania had swept over the UK and was conquering the US as well. He continued to perform with them throughout the 1960s (despite a small break in 1969). With the Beatles, he wrote many famous songs, among them “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
Harrison took on an interest in eastern music. He taught himself how to play the sitar, and incorporated Asian influences into his music. He influenced other music groups, like the Rolling Stones, to do the same. Harrison even cultivated brand-new developments in the Beatles albums Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Beatles broke up in 1970; the last song they recorded was the Harrison-penned “I Me Mine.” After this, Harrison began a bustling solo career. He even formed a studio band with Starr, Eric Clapton, and several others to produce those Beatles songs that had never been made.
Harrison died of lung cancer In 2001. He will always be remembered—not only for his innovation in instrumentation and moving lyrics, but also for his virtuoso guitar skills.
Rock and Roll: Something for Everyone
With every new generation, with every new story, one thing has remained constant: the power of music, and its ability to incite a revolution. Rock and roll—a force to be reckoned with, throughout the ages, throughout the eras—is that force, that power to turn the world into a better place.