George Harrison, MBE (February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001) was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as “the quiet Beatle,” Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other Beatles, as well as their Western audience. Following the band's break-up, he was a successful solo artist, later a founding member of the Traveling Wilburys. Harrison was also a session musician and a film and record producer.
Harrison was invited by his friend Paul McCartney to watch the skiffle band The Quarrymen playing. In 1960 the band was changed to The Beatles and Harrison eventually became a full member and the lead guitarist for the quartet. John Lennon's impulsive rhythm guitar playing and McCartney and Lennon's ability for writing and composing songs led Harrison to his nickname “the quiet Beatle.”
Although most of The Beatles' songs were written by Lennon and McCartney, Beatle albums generally included one or two of Harrison's own songs, from 1963’s “With The Beatles” onwards. His later compositions with The Beatles include “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” After a meeting with Indian musician Ravi Shankar he discovered a new musical instrument, the sitar, which was used in songs like “Within You, Without You” and “The Inner Light.” Later he also tried out with the slide guitar, which he used on the last three Beatles albums.
Harrison's debut album was 1968’s “Wonderwall Music,” the soundtrack album for the film “Wonderwall.” It became not only the first official solo album by one of the Beatles, but it was also Apple Records' first LP release. This album was not very successful, peaking at #49 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
His next solo album was the experimental “Electronic Sound,” which was the second and last album released by short-living recording label Zapple Records.
By the time of the band's 1970 break-up, Harrison had accumulated a backlog of material, which he then released as the triple solo album “All Things Must Pass” in 1970, from which two hit singles originated, a double A-side single, “My Sweet Lord” backed with “Isn't It a Pity,” and “What Is Life.” It was certified 6× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and became the best-selling album by any of the former Beatles.
With Ravi Shankar he organized a major charity concert with the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh. In addition to his musical accomplishments, he was also a record producer and co-founder of the production company HandMade Films. In his work as a film producer, he collaborated with people as diverse as the members of Monty Python and Madonna.
He joined the supergroup Traveling Wilburys in 1988, consisting of Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jim Keltner and his son Dhani Harrison. There he received the nicknames “Nelson Wilbury” (on its first album) and later "”Spike Wilbury” (on its second album). The group released in October 1988 its debut album “Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1,” which received a 3× platinum certification and peaked in the top 10 of several music charts worldwide. . Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001. In honor to Harrison, “Concert for George” was released two years after his death, which received an 8× platinum certification by the RIAA.