George Harrison, an iconic musician acclaimed for his intricate guitar work, joined The Beatles, one of history’s most revered bands, in 1958. At that time, Harrison, hailing from Liverpool, was merely a teenager with a passion for music.
His addition to the band, which was already evolving rapidly in the Liverpool music scene, marked the formation of a legendary lineup that would eventually become known as The Beatles. His integration into the band was facilitated by Paul McCartney, whom he knew from school and who vouched for his guitar skills.
Initially known as The Quarrymen, the band underwent several changes in personnel and name before settling on The Beatles. Harrison’s influence was pivotal in shaping the band’s musical direction and catapulting them to international fame.
His tenure with The Beatles was marked by an impressive array of career highlights, including innovative songwriting contributions that expanded the band’s auditory palette.
Key Takeaways on When Did George Harrison Join the Beatles
- George Harrison became the lead guitarist for The Beatles in 1958, completing the classic lineup.
- He was instrumental in the band’s evolution and international success during the 1960s.
- Harrison’s legacy encompasses signature songwriting and influence on music well beyond his time with The Beatles.
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Early Life and Joining The Beatles
George Harrison’s early life set the stage for his iconic role in music history, as he transformed from a Liverpool-born boy exploring the guitar to a key member of The Beatles by 1958, contributing to their emergence as a seminal band in rock and roll.
The Formative Years
Born on February 25, 1943, in Liverpool, England, George Harrison was the youngest child in his family. His early exposure to music was profound, and by his teen years, Harrison had a keen interest in guitars.
Drawn to the burgeoning skiffle craze, a form of music with jazz, blues, folk, and roots influences, he attended Liverpool Institute High School for Boys alongside Paul McCartney. This connection proved to be a pivotal step in his musical career.
Becoming a Beatle
In 1958, a 15-year-old Harrison auditioned for the skiffle group The Quarrymen, led by John Lennon. Harrison’s guitar skills impressed Lennon, and after several informal sessions, he was invited to join the band. This set the quartet – George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and initially John’s friend Stuart Sutcliffe – on a path to stardom.
Over time, they transitioned to rock and roll, changing their name to The Beatles. Pete Best was their original drummer before Ringo Starr joined, and they were managed by Brian Epstein. The group’s first commercial success came with songs like “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me,” cementing their popularity and heralding a new era in music.
Career Highlights with The Beatles
George Harrison’s tenure with The Beatles showcases a trajectory of professional growth marked by contributions to iconic albums and the development of a distinctive songwriting style that resonated with audiences worldwide.
George Harrison, the lead guitarist of The Beatles, expanded the band’s musical landscape with his innovative songwriting. He crafted songs that ranged from the introspection of “Something” to the spirituality of “Here Comes The Sun,” showcasing a depth that complemented and contrasted with the works of Lennon and McCartney.
Climbing the Charts
The Beatles, with Harrison’s significant input, consistently topped charts around the globe. The album “With The Beatles” broke records and marked the band’s ascendancy to international fame.
Several of Harrison’s own contributions, such as “Here Comes The Sun” on the “Abbey Road” album, added to the band’s chart-topping success. Their musical achievements were recognized formally with the award of MBE (Member of the British Empire) honors.
Harrison’s influence with The Beatles wasn’t confined to the studio; it extended across cultural boundaries, helping to instigate what would become known as Beatlemania. Their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” is often cited as a seminal moment in television history, sparking unprecedented fan fervor.
The Beatles’ influence peaked with albums like “Let It Be,” but eventually, the global phenomenon they sparked led to personal and creative tensions within the band, contributing to their breakup. Following their separation, Harrison went on to release successful solo works, including the critically acclaimed album “All Things Must Pass.”
Solo Career and Later Projects
After his tenure with The Beatles, George Harrison embarked on a successful solo career and partook in various collaborative and philanthropic endeavors.
All Things Must Pass and Solo Success
1970 marked the release of George Harrison’s monumental triple album, All Things Must Pass, which included the hit single My Sweet Lord.
This critically acclaimed album is often hailed as his most significant solo achievement, solidifying Harrison’s reputation as a singular talent in the wake of The Beatles’ breakup. “My Sweet Lord” became a massive hit, topping charts worldwide and receiving a Grammy Award nomination.
Traveling Wilburys and Collaborations
In 1988, George Harrison co-founded the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. Their debut album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, was instantly recognized as a classic, showcasing the powerful synergy among these legendary musicians. Additionally, Harrison’s own label, Dark Horse Records, became a conduit for his collaborations with artists such as Billy Preston.
Philanthropy and Personal Ventures
George Harrison’s humanitarian efforts are exemplified by the iconic Concert for Bangladesh in 1971, considered one of the most pivotal benefit concerts in history.
Furthermore, he ventured into film production with Handmade Films, which notably helped finance the Monty Python film Life of Brian. His last studio album, Brainwashed, released posthumously in 2002, earned him a posthumous Grammy Award, exemplifying his enduring influence in music and beyond.
Personal Life and Legacy
George Harrison’s personal life and the lingering impact of his legacy are defined by his deep spiritual beliefs, his relationships, and his contributions to music and philanthropy. His passing left a void in the music world, commemorated by heartfelt tributes from fans and contemporaries alike.
Influences and Relationships
George Harrison was profoundly influenced by Indian culture and music, specifically through his friendship with renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar. This friendship guided him toward the incorporation of Indian music into Western rock and pop, notably changing the soundscape of the time.
Additionally, Harrison was a follower of Transcendental Meditation under the guidance of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and became a devotee of the Hare Krishna movement, which further shaped his life and music.
Relationship-wise, Harrison’s first marriage to Pattie Boyd ended in divorce, partly due to her relationship with his friend Eric Clapton. He later married Olivia Harrison with whom he had a son, Dhani Harrison. His personal relationships were often in the public eye, leading to notable interactions with figures such as Frank Sinatra, which added to his complex and multifaceted personal narrative.
Passing and Tributes
George Harrison’s battle with cancer ended on November 29, 2001, when he passed away in Los Angeles. His death evoked global mourning and a spectrum of tributes, showcasing the vast influence of his music and the love of his fans.
He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, as a solo artist, cementing his status as an icon. In 1979, he organized the Concert for Kampuchea in New York, which underscored his commitment to charitable causes and his enduring impact beyond music. His legacy continues through the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF and other philanthropic endeavors initiated in his memory.
Frequently Asked Questions
How did George Harrison become a member of The Beatles?
George Harrison was invited to watch The Quarrymen and later joined the band as a guitarist. This group evolved into what is known today as The Beatles.
What age was George Harrison when he became a Beatle?
George Harrison joined The Beatles at the age of 15, becoming the youngest member of the band.
Which songs did George Harrison contribute to The Beatles’ discography?
George Harrison contributed to many of The Beatles’ songs, including notable tracks like “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”.
What was George Harrison’s role in the dynamic of The Beatles?
As lead guitarist of The Beatles, George Harrison was known for his unique playing technique and for contributing to the band’s innovative sound.
How did George Harrison’s solo career compare to his time with The Beatles?
After The Beatles disbanded, George Harrison enjoyed a successful solo career, releasing critically acclaimed albums like “All Things Must Pass”.
What was the nature of the relationship between George Harrison and Paul McCartney?
The relationship between George Harrison and Paul McCartney was complex, with both collaboration and occasional friction, typical of close bandmates and creative peers.
My name is Howard Matthews and I have been playing the guitar since I was knee-high. My parents like to joke that I was pulling the strings even before I was born. In fact, one of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my dad’s guitar, wreaking havoc on the chords.
Now, 40 years later, I can attest that I play them much better than I did back then. I have followed in the footsteps of both my parents – much to their delight – and have been the main guitarist in my band for the best part of three decades.
Music has always been my passion, and until recently my life has been so consumed with it that I haven’t had a moment to have a breath (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)!