Happy Birthday to George Harrison (1943-2001). George played a large role in bringing Indian music and culture to the radar of 1960s pop culture. Inspired by a sitar player on the set of Help! (1965), George went on to study with master, Ravi Shankar, who became an adopted father to the Beatle. George pursued a life-long study of meditation and spirituality and helped to produce records by Indian musicians and spiritual groups. A wonderful box set came out recently called Collaborations, which includes all of the music George and Ravi recorded together, as well as some video performances. George is also remembered today for the role he played in producing Monty Python and other independent film projects. Through his company, Hand-Made Films, Harrison was the executive producer of Mona Lisa, How to Get a Head in Advertising, Powwow Highway, Withnail & I, Times Bandits, Life of Brian, and others.
Harrison was celebrated in the all-star Concert For George at the Royal Albert Hall in 2002. The program included Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Dhani Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Tom Petty, Monty Python, and others. Fans can see the entire film in a free streaming event today on the George Harrison website. A Blu-ray [was released] on March 22nd.
In connection to our post yesterday about instruments and the James Bond Theme, it's worth noting that Harrison was also a big ukulele fan! The Beatles grew up with the sound and humor of UK stage-sensation, George Formby. During the Beatles Anthology project (1995), George, Paul, and Ringo re-visited one of their first recordings, Ain't She Sweet, on a sunny day with ukuleles. Since Harrison's passing in 2001, Paul McCartney has included a ukulele tribute to George in all of his concerts with a performance of the powerful, Harrison classic, Something (Abbey Road/1969). Here is Paul playing the song during the Concert For George with Eric Clapton below.
Spy Vibers can also visit my YouTube channel to see my experimental film for Yoko Ono (now on the festival circuit), and a 75th anniversary film/sound collage I made for John Lennon.