George Harrison: Remembering “The Quiet Beatle”

by Keith Deboer on May 16, 2011

As we approach the 10th anniversary of his passing, it’s sweet to remember George, his music and his humanity. Of course he is best known for the role he played as the lead guitarist of one of the most popular, influential musical groups in modern history. And his own beautiful compositions keep him as a beloved part of our modern music tradition.

george-harrison-maharishi-mahesh-yogi

George with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

We’re also thankful to George for the influence he had on our society’s interest in meditation. It was his fascination with the ancient knowledge tradition of India that led the Beatles to meet Maharishi and to learn the Transcendental Meditation program.

“I had got to the point where I thought I would like to meditate; I’d read about it and I knew I needed a mantra – a password to get through to the other world.”
– George Harrison

It all started when in 1967 George’s wife, Patti Boyd, learned the Transcendental Meditation technique in London while George was away on tour with the Beatles. “I loved meditating and I found the effects remarkable,” Patti said. And it was her enthusiasm that led George to encourage the Beatles to hear a lecture in London by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

george-harrisonThis meeting led to a lifelong dedication to meditation and the quest for higher states of consciousness—one that would set the tone of his personal and professional life. And it certainly influenced his music.

Some of his great contributions to the musical heritage of the Beatles came as a result of his experience studying Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi in India. His compositions that resulted from that special period include “Here Comes the Sun,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Something“—a song that John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the two principle songwriting members of the band, felt was among the very best the group recorded. It was also the second most covered (i.e., recorded by other artists) song after “Yesterday.”

George’s interest in the Transcendental Meditation program and the widespread adoption of Maharishi’s revival of Vedic wisdom continued throughout his life.

In 1992, to show his support for Maharishi’s effort to help raise the consciousness of society, George performed at a benefit concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. George was also enthused and engaged in Maharishi’s revival of the ancient Vedic science of health, “Ayur-Veda.” He regularly visited the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts.

george-harrison-time-magazineDuring the 1990’s, George also visited Maharishi at Maharishi University in Holland. Dr. Bevan Morris, the president of Maharishi University of Management, was present during George’s visit and recalled with fondness the way George approached Maharishi “with great respect and tenderness. It was very sweet to see George’s humility, and how deeply he appreciated being in Maharishi’s presence.”

In our modern world where celebrity often overshadows the integrity of a person’s basic character, George’s life was one of simple dedication to high ideals. In the words of Dr. Morris, “George was a very fine, spiritual, humble and enlightened man.”

“Everybody’s looking for something…. We don’t have to look anywhere–it’s right there within ourselves.” – George Harrison, Press Conference, Los Angeles, 1974

SOURCES:
I, Me, Mine by George Harrison

Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me by Pattie Boyd and Penny Junor

Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison by Joshua M. Greene

The Beatles Anthology, by the Beatles

Many Years from Now by Barry Miles

Dr Bevan Morris’ tribute to George Harrison on the Maharishi Channel

A Tribute to George Harrison

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  • ronan

    George is a lovely soul, his interest in TM and the other Baetles interest prompted me to learn over 40 years ago. I will always be greatful to George and the other Beatles, not only for their music; but more importantly for making me aware all those years ago of TM. I’m sure he has inspired many of thousands like me all over the world to seek the self, and benifit from the Bliss Maharishi has brought us. Jai Guru Dev.

  • http://adventuresintranscendentalmeditation.blogspot.com/ Keith DeBoer

    Thank you Ronan, for telling us your story. :-)

  • http://MagicMauiMusic.blogspot.com Jim Hall

    The remote side of George. George bought land and built a home that was off the grid and remote on the east side of Maui.
    I was contracted to install a radio telephone system for him. Having to pack everything I would need and venture almost 2 hours through the rainforest and hoping the streams were not running and impassable, I generally planned to spend an entire day to do the work.
    Spending time around George and his family, we would spend some time just talking on his porch while waiting out a frequent downpour or on one particularly late working day, my brother, also a guitar player and I enjoyed a dinner with him and his wife Olivia.

    Having been out often enough to adjust the system, one morning I showed up to Olivia and Dhani standing on the steps of the house. Dhani was so excited to show off his new telephone repairman belt and tools to me the telephone man.
    For George, it was hard to find the seclusion he longed for, even in a place where he owned the land all around him. A long used fishing trail to the ocean ran outside his kitchen window, so for all the seclusion, he still subject to people wandering through.
    George liked the private life and the ability to raise his son in such a place.
    George passed on a few years later and I often wondered how his son Dhani turned out and if the quiet seclusion of living in a remote part of Maui had an impact on him.

  • http://adventuresintranscendentalmeditation.blogspot.com/ Keith DeBoer

    Hi Jim and thanks for sharing this very personal story. Regards, Keith

  • http://after-ours.com Bill Beres-Schieve

    After so many years with Maharishi (’73 to ’79), lead to him by being a huge fan of George and “the Boys” and their similar spiritual searches to mine, it was a major blessing in my life to actually meet and chat with George in San Diego in January 1994 (on Maharishi’s birthday, cosmically!) in the hallway after a Deepak Chopra seminar. He was staring at me because he “thought I knew you from somewhere”, so we had a nice chat. He was very gracious and happy and relaxed (we mainly talked music: I got to tell him he was the best and most unique slide player in the business) and it is still one of the best stories of my now long life. Jai Guru Deva, George!

  • Paul Q.

    It was because I wanted to eventually meet Maharishi so I could ask him about the Beatles is why I went to my first introductory lecture in 1970. So silly. I was relieved when on my first day of Teacher Training in 1975 Maharishi said it doesn’t matter why you’ve come, you are here.

    Jai Guru Dev

  • Ken Roseboro

    There is a wonderful DVD, “A Concert for George,” that shows the concert Eric Clapton organized one year after George’s passing at the Royal Albert Hall. It features Clapton, Paul, Ringo, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Billy Preston, Ravi Shankar, Dhani Harrison, and other fantastic musicians. It’s a great, heart-felt concert and tribute to George. I recommend it highly.

  • David Spitzman

    I spent two incredible weeks with George in 1996 And 1997. He and I were @ the same meditation/ayurvedic treatment facility. I was blown away being there with him being such a big fan of his. It just happened that he was there the two times I was there also. There were only about seven people on the course. It was very imtimate and we really had a chance to get to know each other. The first week I never mentioned music, the Beatles, or who he was out of respect to him He was there for the same reasons I was. I think he really respected that. The second time we greeted each other and I could not believe he actually remembered my name. After the first time I said to myself if I am ever lucky enough for this to happen again I am going to talk music with him. One evening after dinner I said to George would you like to see my new guitar? He said sure go get it. He held it in his hands for 10 seconds and said something does not feel right. Sure enough the action was off. So I said I’ll get my other guitar and he said sure. I played Blackbird for him that evening. His response was oh thats not my song! Oh Well? He went on to play for several hours. Not one beatles song. all Hawaiin music and Dylan songs I had never heard of. I was lucky enough to play Don’t think twice with him. He played my guitar for two hours. I could not sleep that night I was so excited. I’ll end with the most amazing musical experience I have ever had of the thousands I have experienced over the years. George came to my room the next day and knocked on the door. He asked to borrow my guitar. I said sure come on in. He took the guitar sat down on my bed and proceded to play Here comes the sun for me. I could not function I was so overwhelmed. He wanted to teach me some things on the guitar and I just could not function. That was the GENEROUSITY of George Harrison. I was someone who was absolutely no one to him. He was willing to give me an experience of my lifetime. He was trully a spiritual person in the truest sense of the word. He grew more spiritual through his selflessness. That is the true meaning and sign of a person who knows where its at. George was that person and influenced the whole world and will continue to do so for many years to come. David Spitzman

  • http://adventuresintranscendentalmeditation.blogspot.com/ Keith DeBoer

    Thank you everyone, for sharing your personal stories of
    George. He was a very special human being!

  • joyce

    thought that you would like to read this.

    Love,

    Marty

  • http://www.JohnKaye.com John Kaye

    I learned much from George growing up as a musician. The Beatles were the reason I became a musician. I was recently inducted into the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. This would never happen if not for them. I’ve played many Beatles songs in my life and George’s compositions are among my favorites.
    Because I have enjoyed a lifetime of music, I wanted to give back to the community. I am publisher of an Art & Entertainment magazine dedicated to promote people’s passions. If not for the Beatles passions, I would not have enjoyed life as much as I do. Thank You George, John, Paul, and Ringo !!!

  • jonathan

    I was in a small town store in Massachusetts. At the time I was working for a large bank and had some business in the town of Lancaster. A few people milling about to make a purchase in a line. This man walked in and we glanced at each other. Something was familiar about him too me. I said you look like that guy, and before I could finish, he said I’m’ George Harrison. I said Oh hi..
    he said hello back. The man behind the counter heard our exchange he glanced up and continued on with his clerking duties. I made my purchase, a soda,and walked to my car got in and thought could it really be him.

    A short while after that I learned of his connection to that town and his frequent visits. It is a great story and one that has led me to many esoteric discussions with those who I have shared it with.

    He is and was long before my chance encounter with him one of my all time favorite musicians.

    Jonathan Pino

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