All Things Must Pass
George Harrison, 1943-2001
First Appeared at The Music Box, January 2002, Volume 9, #1
Written by John Metzger
On February 25, 1943, a baby boy was born in Liverpool, England. Well before he had reached the age of 30, he had played a key role in the most influential rock band in history (The Beatles), launched a successful solo career with an astounding three-album collection of material (All Things Must Pass), written dozens of classic songs, bridged both generations as well as cultures, mastered both the guitar and the sitar, brought much needed attention to various social and political causes, and organized the first true, large-scale benefit concert (to feed the poverty-stricken people of Bangladesh). That person, of course, was George Harrison.
The past few years had not been easy ones for Harrison. In December 1999, he was nearly killed by an intruder in his home, and since 1997, he had fought an ongoing battle with throat, lung, and brain cancer to which he succumbed on November 29 at the age of 58, his wife Olivia and his son Dhani by his side. "I am devastated and very, very sad," Paul McCartney told reporters outside his London home. "He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother."
Harrison customarily took everything in stride, meeting life's many obstacles with an unwavering sense of style and grace not often attributed to such a superstar. Often referred to as the "Quiet Beatle," Harrison rarely spoke at press conferences, and often played the role of sideman to his more outspoken band-mates — so much so that he often wasn't taken very seriously. However, the truth is that Harrison was anything but quiet; he just allowed his thoughts and words to be conveyed through his music and his actions. Whether playing acoustic or electric, 6-string or 12-string, guitar or sitar, Harrison was able to speak volumes with scant few notes. It was he who introduced the sound of a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar to the world; it was he who brought the sitar to the West. Though his lyrics were often simple and straight-forward, a deeper philosophy brewed just beneath the surface.
There's no question that Harrison never felt comfortable being in the limelight. He didn't have a pressing need to record or perform nor a driving urge to conduct countless press junkets. He did so only when he wanted, only when he had something to say, and often with little fanfare. He was a man marked by his spiritual quest for enlightenment, but where many search for a lifetime and find nothing, Harrison quickly found it within himself.
"He often said, ‘Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another'" the Harrison family said in a statement to the press. "He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends."
We thank you, George. For sharing your music. For sharing your life. And for the hope and joy you brought to the world. It surely will never be the same, but life goes on within you and without you.
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box