Seventy years ago today George Harrison, the youngest of the four Beatles, was born in Liverpool, England. As a boy, George became friends with Paul McCartney, an older student at the Liverpool Institute who was also an aspiring guitarist. It was then that McCartney introduced him to his Quarrymen bandmate, John Lennon, and—after much persistence and proving his undeniable skill on the guitar—he landed the role of the group’s lead guitarist in 1958 at the age of 15. The Lennon/McCartney/Harrison lineup—after several name changes—became The Beatles in 1960, cementing their final foursome with Ringo Starr in 1962.
Harrison, known as “the quiet Beatle,” was overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney as a songwriter, having only one or two of his songs included on each album—the brilliant “Here Comes the Sun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for example. It wasn’t until the year before the dissolution of the Fab Four that one of his contributions was released as a single. That song was “Something,” and it eventually (along with McCartney’s “Yesterday”) became the band’s most-covered song. Frank Sinatra even called it “the greatest love song of the 20th century.”
After the Beatles, Harrison launched his solo career in 1970 with the triple-record set All Things Must Pass, and its first single, “My Sweet Lord,” was the first track by any of the former Beatles to reach the top of the charts. He continued to release albums through that decade before taking a break from the music industry in the early 80s. Then in the late 80s and early 90s he joined forces with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty to form The Traveling Wilburys.
On Nov. 29, 2001, George left the earth at far too young an age after a battle with lung cancer. But we will always have his music to remember him by and celebrate his life. As he once said: “I think people who can truly live a life in music are telling the world, ‘You can have my love, you can have my smiles. Forget the bad parts, you don’t need them. Just take the music, the goodness, because it’s the very best, and it’s the part I give.’”