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George Harrison, a spiritual hero to millions, has passed away. He was 58 years old.
Born in 1943 and raised in squalor by a busdriver and a housewife, that Mr Harrison eventually transcended his humble origins is a tribute to strict parenting and family values.
George first came to fame singing for 'The Beatles', a 1960's popular music group of some repute. He played guitar for the band, but it was inevitable that he would leave them eventually, just as he had left the Quarrymen and Johnny and the Moondogs before.
In 1969 he left the pedestrian Beatles behind and hurtled towards a new destiny. At first he became a solo artist, touring with great success in America in the early 70's. But the success caused him to drift away from his wife Pattie Boyd, and before long his good 'friend' Eric Clapton eloped with her. Poor Harrison was at a new low.
Really, though, he was only just beginning. He soon shacked up with Olivia Arrias, a poor Mexican-Californian unlikely to leave him, and then formed quite possibly the most talented musical ensemble the world has ever seen - The Travelling Wilburys, a band consisting of Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and of course George himself. This new band wowed the world and made superstars of its members, with such hits as Tweeter and the Monkey Man and Heading for the Light. George had finally found the fame he had always longed for.
To appreciate the acclaim Harrison received in this period, one only has to note that a Minor Planet was named after him (4149 Harrison, a minor planet in a 4.35 year elliptic orbit at 12.9 degrees to the ecliptic plane, just as Harrison would have wanted). One has to wonder if he has possessed this celestial body now that he has passed away. Few people get deified in their own lifetime, and Harrison would be just the sort to enjoy the fame of being a Minor God.
After the tragic and distressing break-up of the Wilburys, Harrison became a broken man, He had achieved fame at last, but for what? He became a recluse, refusing to talk of his years in the Wilburys and living in Friar Park, an enormous Gothic mansion in rural England.
That he was sick of the fame he achieved can be seen in this quote:
"I'm really quite simple. I don't want to be in the business full-time, because I'm a gardener. I plant flowers and watch them grow. I don't go out to clubs and partying. I stay at home and watch the river flow."
Poor Harrison had come full circle, a life endlessly spent chasing fame, only to reject it and return to his Liverpudlian, working class hatred of recognition when he finally grasped the nettle and found that it stung.
The famous event in 1999 where he was stabbed in his mansion can really be interpreted as symbolic of Harrison's life. He wanted fame, desperately searched for it throughout his span, but when he finally achieved it with the Wilburys he rejected the consequences. The stabbing was his fame reminding him he can't just ignore it, take the good parts and ignore the bad. Fame demands its own terms, and when it reminded Harrison of this salient truth, Harrison was back on the road to spiritual recovery.
Really, we should all be happy he is finally dead, and that he has at last
reached a sort of resolution - he has all the fame of a Minor Planet, but he
can never be touched or molested now. He wanted fame without any consequences.
Now he has it.
After his death, we see how his real friends react, and how his enemies try to capitalise on his posthumous fame:
I am devastated and very, very sad.This is really a shameless, despicable attempt to capitalise on Harrison's fame by a man long since eclipsed and forgotten. Note that Harrison's true friends from the Wilburys, such as Roy Orbison, have not been seen or heard in this trying time. They have kept a dignified silence, and not polluted the airwaves with such emotional rot as:
George was a best friend of mine.
Many Harrison songs are available here. Long after the Wilburys great rivals, the Rolling Stones, are forgotten, their music will live on, and you can help it live thanks to free software.