Today (February 25th) would have been George Harrison’s 76th birthday. Harrison, the first of the Beatles to embrace Eastern philosophies and culture, will also be remembered for his humanitarian efforts, such as his 1971 Concert For Bangladesh for famine relief. Harrison died of cancer in 2001 at the age of 58.
Over the course of the group’s recording years — 1962 to 1970 — Harrison wrote such Beatles classics as “Don’t Bother Me,” “I Need You,” “Think For Yourself,” “If I Needed Someone,” “Taxman,” “I Want To Tell You,” “Within You, Without You,” “Blue Jay Way,” “Only A Northern Song,” “It’s All Too Much,” “The Inner Light,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Piggies” “I Me Mine,” “For You Blue,” “Old Brown Shoe,” “Something,” and “Here Comes The Sun,” among others.
Other solo hits included “What Is Life,” “Bangla Desh,” “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” “Dark Horse,” “You,” “This Song,” “Crackerbox Palace,” “Blow Away,” “All Those Years Ago,” and his 1987 comeback single “Got My Mind Set On You,” which is the last solo Number One single by any former Beatle to date.
In 1971, Harrison produced Ringo Starr’s initial solo singles “It Don’t Come Easy” and “Back Off Boogaloo,” as well also co-writing Starr’s first Number One hit “Photograph” with him in 1973. In 1974, Harrison became the first solo Beatle to tour North America. Shortly after his return to the spotlight in 1987, Harrison co-founded the supergroup the Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, and Tom Petty. In 1991 he undertook a brief tour of Japan with Eric Clapton and his band.
Re-released last year in several deluxe packages was the 2002 tribute show, Concert For George. The set was also reissued as a four-LP box set — as well as a “Limited Edition Deluxe,” 10-disc box set. The star-studded Concert For George took place on November 29th, 2002 — one year to the day of George Harrison’s death. The concert, which took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall, was organized by Eric Clapton and featured heartfelt performances by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Jeff Lynne, and Billy Preston, among many others.
The four-LP box set includes the complete sound recordings from Concert For George, on 180-gram audiophile vinyl, featuring a special, mandala-design etched on side-8. This is the first time that all songs from the performance have been available on an audio configuration. The album is also newly available on CD and via streaming platforms, with the tracklisting mirroring that of the vinyl. The two-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets also include the complete filmed concert on the first disc, with a second disc containing the original theatrical version featuring concert highlights, interviews with the performers, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes footage. Exclusive to the Blu-ray format is the second disc, which includes an interview segment featuring Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner, and Ray Cooper, entitled “Drummers.” All profits from the sale of Concert For George products will go to The Material World Charitable Foundation, founded by Harrison in 1973.
2017 saw the release of the multi-disc box set George Harrison – The Vinyl Collection. According to the official press release, “The vinyl box set includes all 12 of George’s studio albums with exact replicas of the original release track listing and artwork. Also included in the box set are George’s classic live album Live In Japan — on a double-LP — and two 12-inch single picture discs of ‘When We Was Fab’ and ‘Got My Mind Set On You’. All the discs are 180-gram heavyweight vinyl and are housed in a high-quality two-piece rigid slipcase box. The original analogue master tapes were used for the new re-masters and were cut at the legendary Capitol studios to ensure exceptional audio quality throughout.”
2017 also saw an expanded edition of Harrison’s autobiography, I, Me, Mine, which was originally released through Genesis Publications in 1980. The new extended version of the book now spans the complete length of Harrison’s career in music, told in his words and through 141 songs with hand written lyric sheets faithfully reproduced in full color. Now stretching to 632 pages it features lyrics to more than 50 songs not previously included, as well as new photographs, many unpublished until the new edition. Unlike the previous high-end version of the book, the new trade edition of I, Me, Mine prices out at around $40.