George Harrison was a popular songwriter and musician, best known as a member of The Beatles.
Born 1943 in Liverpool, England, he attended a "smart school" but was regarded as a poor student, and colleagues described him as one who would "sit alone in the corner." He met Paul McCartney in the mid 1950s and played lead guitar in the band (initially called the Quarry Men) that eventually became the Beatles.
During the height of the Beatles' popularity, he was often characterized as the "quiet Beatle," noted for his introspective manner and his growing interest in Indian mysticism. In the mid 1960s he began playing the sitar, which influenced the sound of the Beatles music in such songs as "Norwegian Wood," "Love You To," and "Within You Without You." While not the primary composer in the group (Lennon and McCartney wrote most of the Beatles' material), as time went on his songs improved greatly and his material earned respect both from his fellow Beatles and the music-buying public. Notable examples include "Taxman," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (which featured a guitar solo by Eric Clapton), "Here Comes the Sun," and "Something."
After the Beatles split in 1970, Harrison released a number of albums which were critically and commercially successful, both as solo projects and as the member of other groups. After many years of having been limited in his contributions to the Beatles' catalog, he unleashed a torrent of material in first major solo work released after the breakup, the triple album All Things Must Pass. The album included the number one hit single, "My Sweet Lord." Harrison was later sued for copyright infringement over similarities between "My Sweet Lord" and the 1963 Chiffon's single "He's So Fine." Harrison denied deliberately stealing the song, but he did lose the case in 1976; in the ruling, the court granted the possibility that Harrison had unconsciously taken the Chiffons song as the basis for his own song.
Harrison was probably the first modern musician to organize a major charity concert. His "Concert for Bangladesh" on August 1, 1971, drew over 40,000 people to New York's Madison Square Garden, and raised millions of dollars to aid the starving refugees of Bangladesh. The concert included other popular musicians such as Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, and Billy Preston.
During the 1980s, he helped form the Travelling Wilburys with Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty). He was also involved in film production through his Handmade Films company, providing financial backing for the Monty Python film Life Of Brian as well as the independent production Withnail and I.
Throughout the 1990s, Harrison, a former smoker, endured an (eventually fatal) battle with cancer. There was also a 1999 attempt on his life by a crazed fan who stabbed him at his home in Henley on Thames, puncturing his lung.