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The Day George Harrison Died

Ian Showell, Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Ian Showell, Hulton Archive, Getty Images

As we mark the anniversary of the death of George Harrison, many fans can’t stop debating whether he should have received a larger share of credit for the Beatles‘ enormous success and musical influence.

It might ease you to know that Harrison didn’t pay much attention to career accolades.

“I was pretty sure he was just a gardener,” his son Dhani Harrison has said, noting his father often spent 12 hours a day nurturing plants on his estate grounds. “Being a gardener, and not hanging out with anyone and just being home, that was pretty rock n’ roll, you know? When you’re in a really beautiful garden, it reminds you constantly of God.”

If he had cared for such things, George would have had plenty to boast about: He was listed as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone – at No. 11 to be exact. His time with the Beatles included classic songs such as “Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

Harrison then moved on to a sterling solo career highlighted by the album All Things Must Pass (which was filled with hauntingly beautiful songs like “My Sweet Lord”), and founded the Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison. Oh, and let’s not forget he led the all-star 1971 benefit Concert for Bangladesh. That’s just the tip of George Harrison’s achievements.

His widow, Olivia Harrison, son and close friends say he was pleased by and grateful for the attention to his work, but Harrison felt there was something more important in life. He eventually grew weary of the cacophony of rock instruments, the screams of fans and the details of the music business. That led him to an increasing focus on his faith, and the outdoors.

At one point, he actually proclaiming himself a gardener (as opposed to a musician), in his autobiography I Me Mine, named after one of his Beatles songs. Harrison rarely gave his son advice, but what he said resonated. “The only two things he felt I had to do in my life were be happy and meditate,” Dhani Harrison once told Rolling Stone

When he died of cancer on Nov. 29, 2001, Olivia Harrison is positive a glow filled the hospital room as his soul left George Harrison.

“He would say ‘Look, we’re not these bodies. Let’s not get hung up on that,'” Petty told Rolling Stone. “George would say, ‘I just want to prepare myself so I go the right way and go to the right place.’ I’m sure he’s got that worked out.”
 
 

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