Fab One

Friends, fans and colleagues share their recollections of the late George Harrison

George Harrison's legacy as a guitarist, singer-songwriter and film producer is renowned. He was the first former Beatle to score a No. 1 single ("My Sweet Lord") on the Billboard charts and found multiplatinum success again as a member of the singing supergroup Traveling Wilburys. He also was co-founder of HandMade Films, the British production company behind many movies including Monty Python's "Life of Brian" (1979).

Now, for the totality of his artistic contributions, Harrison, who passed away in 2001, is being posthumously recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Simultaneously, Capitol/EMI plans to announce details for a new Harrison music project. (A Martin Scorsese-directed documentary about Harrison is in the works as well.) Located in front of the Capitol Records building, his star will be near John Lennon's, making Harrison the only other former Beatle to be so honored. (As a group, the Beatles were given a star in 1994, which was removed mere weeks after its installation, only to be replaced in 1998).


Harrison performs onstage in 1966 with a Rickenbacker electric guitar
In anticipation of the ceremony, associates, friends and a few famous fans share their thoughts about the man known as the quiet Beatle.

Olivia Harrison, George's widow

"Like every Star on the Walk of Fame, George also earned this honor.

"His first love was music, of course, but his talents spilled into many other areas of the arts, including movies, which he appeared in, produced and scored. His music legacy is documented perhaps better than his contribution to film, which included his first venture scoring the free-spirited soundtrack for 'Wonderwall' (1968); the 1974 film of the sociopolitical stage play 'Little Malcolm' starring John Hurt; the cult favorite 'Withnail & I' (1987) and the legendary 'Life of Brian.'

"HandMade Films enlisted a pretty amazing list of actors, writers and directors including Jodie Foster, Maggie Smith, Bob Hoskins, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Ian Holm, John Turturro, Richard Loncraine, Jonathan Lynn, Dennis Potter, Ian La Frenais, Dick Clement, and, of course, the directors and friends Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Bruce Robinson. Being in the company of like-minded Englishmen was like being in another type of band and he loved the folly of their company much more than the woes of the business.

"Although George would probably place his star in a garden, I think the Capitol Tower near one of his closest friends is a pretty good spot."

Mark Hudson, musician/record producer

"We always think of George as the spiritual Beatle or the amazing lead guitarist of the Fab Four, but rarely do we hear about his songwriting. Well, being in the same band with John Lennon and Paul McCartney would make it a pretty high mountain to climb, but George wrote songs higher than any mountain with haunting melodies and lyrics that touched our hearts and souls. If you listen to 'Here Comes the Sun,' 'Something' and 'While my Guitar Gently Weeps,' they're as good and as well-crafted as any songs John and Paul were writing at the time."

Elton John, singer-songwriter

" 'The Concert for Bangladesh' was one of my benchmarks for live concerts. I'm always playing that DVD. George put that together. It was one of the first philanthropic things I can remember. It worked because the bill was so incredible. He always put together such great bands; he was a band player. Even though he was a lead guitarist, he loved playing with other people. 'Bangladesh' planted the seed for doing live concerts; it was one of the best performances by Billy Preston, Dylan ... George never gave up on his spiritually, even when he was dying. I was very impressed. He was very, very solid in what he believed in and that affected his decision to do his concert for Bangladesh."

Jeff Lynne, musician, Traveling Wilburys

"George could make you cry with the beauty of his slide guitar playing. He could touch the soul with the steady vibrato and deft melodic flourishes. When I first worked with George I was amazed at the apparent ease with which he thought up the slide riffs that were his trademark sounds. His technique was highly influenced by his love of Indian music.

"I had so much fun working with George over the years that it never seemed like work. I think he was the most eloquent of slide guitarists along with his many other talents. He was also a great friend."

Raul Malo, singer

"It's interesting that when Frank Sinatra first heard the Beatles, he thought they were awful. Ironically, years later during a concert he introduced a Beatles song to his audience 'from the hit-songwriting team of Lennon and McCartney.' The only problem was that it was not from the team of 'Lennon/McCartney' -- it was George Harrison's 'Something.' One of the few songs from the Beatles' catalog that Old Blue Eyes deemed worthy of his croon was one of Harrison's masterpieces. He wasn't nearly as prolific as his counterparts and he didn't have to be. His well was deep and apparently never ran dry. His spirituality embraced his music, his voice, and his songs and never let go."

Michael Palin, actor-writer

"One star seems almost inadequate for someone whose influence touched so many people in so many different ways. A small galaxy would have been more suitable for George. He was a musician of huge skill and accomplishment, playing like a dream and composing and performing songs that will live forever. He had a quick wit and a conscience about the world and its problems. It's easy to forget now that his 'Concert for Bangladesh' was a groundbreaking way of raising awareness about the plight of others. His mind was restless and curious. Following George as he tried to work out why we were here and where we were going was as stimulating as it was exhausting. He loved gardens and trees and racing cars, and thankfully, for me and my fellow Monty Pythons, he loved comedy. His decision to invest in 'Life of Brian' when everyone else turned their backs was typical of George's generosity, humor and much under-rated sense of mischief."

Ann Wilson, singer, Heart

"I never knew George personally, but loved him dearly, as all true Beatle people did. It was when he broke through as a songwriter that he really blew me away. Suddenly we had new windows into his hilarious, angry, romantic, spiritual soul. Bless him for giving us so much of himself, especially in such glorious songwriting company."
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