george harrison
  • Faith: Hindu
  • Career: Musician
  • Birthday:  February 24, 1943
  • Date of Death:  November 29, 2001

George Harrison was a singer, musician, and songwriter who achieved international fame as the lead guitarist for the Beatles. Often called “the quiet Beatle,” Harrison embraced Indian culture and helped broaden the scope of popular music through his incorporation of Indian instrumentation and Hindu-aligned spirituality in the Beatles’ work. Although Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote the majority of the band’s songs, most Beatles albums from 1965 onwards contained at least two Harrison compositions.

His songs for the group include “Taxman,” “Within You Without You,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Here Comes the Sun,” and “Something.” Harrison’s earliest musical influences include Django Reinhardt and George Formby, while subsequent influences were Chuck Berry, Chet Atkins, and Carl Perkins. By 1965, Harrison started leading the Beatles into folk rock through his interest in the Byrds and Bob Dylan and towards Indian classical music through his use of Indian instruments, like the sitar, which he’d become acquainted with on the set of the movie “Help!”

Harrison played sitar on numerous Beatles songs, starting with Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” Having initiated the band’s embrace of Transcendental Meditation in 1967, he ultimately developed an association with the Hare Krishna movement. After the Beatles broke up in 1970, Harrison released the triple album “All Things Must Pass,” a critically acclaimed work that produced his most successful hit single, “My Sweet Lord,” and introduced his signature sound as a solo artist, the slide guitar. He also organized the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh with Indian musician Ravi Shankar, a precursor to later benefit concerts like Live Aid.

In his role as a film and music producer, Harrison produced acts signed to the Beatles’ Apple record label before founding Dark Horse Records in 1974. Initially, he co-founded HandMade Films in 1978 to produce the Monty Python troupe’s comedy film “The Life of Brian.” Harrison released several best-selling singles and albums as a solo performer. In 1988, he co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. Harrison was featured as a guest guitarist on tracks by Ronnie Wood, Badfinger, and Billy Preston. He also collaborated with Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty. Rolling Stone ranked him number 31 in their 2023 list of greatest guitarists of all time.

Harrison is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and posthumously for his solo career in 2004. He died of lung cancer in 2001 at 58 years old. His remains were cremated, and the ashes were scattered according to Hindu tradition in a private ceremony.

What religion was George Harrison?

Harrison followed the Hindu religion. By the mid-1960s, Harrison had become an admirer of mysticism and Indian culture, introducing it to the other Beatles. During the filming of “Help!”, they met the founder of Sivananda Yoga, Swami Vishnu-devananda, who gave each of them a signed copy of his book, “The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga.” In 1968, Harrison traveled with other Beatles to northern India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

His experiences with LSD in the mid-1960s catalyzed his early pursuit of Hinduism. In a 1977 interview, Harrison said, “For me, it was like a flash. The first time I had acid, it just opened up something in my head that was inside of me, and I realized a lot of things. I didn’t learn them because I already knew them, but that happened to be the key that opened the door to reveal them. From the moment I had that, I wanted to have it all the time – these thoughts about the yogis and the Himalayas and Ravi’s music.”

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