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He was the quiet Beatle only in that he was standing alongside two louder-than-life characters and in front of a guy playing drums. He held many strong opinions-on Beatlemania, on global want, on his right to privacy, on his God-and gave firm voice to most of them. But George ...
He was the quiet Beatle only in that he was standing alongside two louder-than-life characters and in front of a guy playing drums. He held many strong opinions-on Beatlemania, on global want, on his right to privacy, on his God-and gave firm voice to most of them. But George Harrison was certainly the most reluctant Beatle, wanting out almost as soon as he was in. He often said that his luckiest break was joining the band and his second luckiest was leaving it. The standard line is that George Harrison was an enigma, but perhaps he was transparent: a terrific guitarist, a fine songwriter, a wonderer, a seeker and, overriding all, a celebrity who hated and feared celebrity.
George Harrison died at a friend's home in Los Angeles ten years ago, in late 2001, at age 58, losing his last battle with cancer. He was beloved, and had been for a long time. He had thrived in the aftermath of the band's breakup, becoming a recording artist on the level of his former mates McCartney and Lennon. He became as well the Happy Mystic, leading his legion of fans-of followers-toward a more meaningful way of living.
As would be expected from LIFE, it is all here in pictures-the Hamburg days, the Cavern Club, the craze that was Beatlemania, the fun movies, the psychedelic period, the solo years (replete with Harrison's reaction to Lennon's death, and the subsequent attack on him and his wife at his English estate). The photographers who knew George and the Beatles best-Astrid Kirchherr in Hamburg; Terence Spencer in the UK; Harry Benson in London, Paris and the U.S.; Bob Whitaker as the band's official photographer during the halcyon years; LIFE's John Loengard and Bill Eppridge throughout it all-are all here, as they were in our book on Lennon. This is an intimate look back, with many visual surprises. The narrative is largely written (by and the book is edited by) LIFE managing editor Robert Sullivan, who wrote Time magazine's cover story on George's passing 10 years ago.
One of the many marvels of the Beatles was that, although they all emerged from working-class Liverpool backgrounds, they were such distinct and fiercely individualistic personalities. None more so that George Harrison, who started well in the shadows and came to stand for something very large, and beautiful. This is his book.