George Harrison

(1943 – 2001)

George Harrison was only 14 when he teamed up with classmate Paul McCartney and a neighboring high-schooler, John Lennon, to form a skiffle group called the Quarrymen in 1958. By 1960, the group would change their name to the Beatles. The band would go on to become one of the most popular and influential Rock acts of all time, releasing a record-breaking 27 No. 1 hits in the United States and Britain.

The Beatles' songwriting was chiefly a Lennon and McCartney collaboration, with lead guitarist George struggling to distinguish himself as a writer during the band's near decade together. Harrison's best material with the Beatles emerged during the group's last years together. Songs such as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Here Comes The Sun," and "Something" rank among the Beatles' finest moments. 

Despite his emergence as a creative personality within the band, tensions with bandmates led Harrison to quit the band in 1969, though he did attend a last recording session in January 1970. The other Beatles' relative disinterest in Harrison's songs resulted in a backlog of personal material that would form the bulk of his first solo album, All Thing Must Pass, released in 1970. The following year, Harrison organized with Ravi Shankar the Concerts for Bangladesh, a pair of benefit concerts featuring Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Harrison and others. Held to raise money for (and awareness of) refugees from a civil war in Bangladesh, the concerts provided a model for how high-profile Rock musicians can marshal their star power in support of a cause.

Though Harrison continued to release music steadily through the next two decades, he shunned publicity and generally avoided performing live. In 1988, he collaborated on an album with Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, which was released under the name The Travelling Wilburys. The album was a critical and commercial success, spawning several successful singles and eventually reaching triple-platinum status in the US. Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 58.