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Archive for Saturday, December 1, 2001

Harrison’s gift to music world transcended Fabulous Four

December 1, 2001

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Though he was part of pop music's most storied group, George Harrison formed significant and memorable partnerships with other musicians, including Ravi Shankar, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton.

In fact, Shankar, whom Harrison helped make famous during the Beatle's visits to India in the 1960s, was present during Harrison's final hours in California. Harrison succumbed to cancer Thursday at the home of a friend.

George Harrison, left, and Indian musician Ravi Shankar sit at
London's Royal Albert Hall prior to "Ravi Shankar's Music Festival
from India" in this Sept. 23, 1974 file photo.

George Harrison, left, and Indian musician Ravi Shankar sit at London's Royal Albert Hall prior to "Ravi Shankar's Music Festival from India" in this Sept. 23, 1974 file photo.

"We spent the day before with him, and even then he looked so peaceful, surrounded by love," Shankar said in a statement Friday. "George has left so many precious memories and moments in all our lives which will remain with us forever."

Harrison collaborated with fellow guitarist Clapton on various projects. The two remained friends for years, even after Harrison's wife, Patti Boyd, left him for Clapton in the early '70s (the triangle was the basis of Clapton's tortured love song "Layla").

Clapton traded guitar licks with Harrison on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and was the former Beatle's guitarist during a tour of Japan in 1992. Clapton declined to comment on Harrison's death.

Together with Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne, Harrison created the band The Traveling Wilburys in 1988, complete with fictional names and characters for each member. The group scored a hit album with "Traveling Wilburys: Volume One."

Other stars recalled Harrison's legacy as a musician and friend.

"He wrote some of the greatest Beatles' songs, but more than that, he had a gentleness and spirituality that made spending time with him a great pleasure," said Paul Simon in a statement. "I have been dreading this loss, and I will really miss him."

Keith Richards, whose Rolling Stones were rivals to the Beatles in the 1960s, said he felt a connection.

Shelley Joy says a prayer for peace and in memory of former Beatle
George Harrison at Strawberry Fields in New York's Central Park.

Shelley Joy says a prayer for peace and in memory of former Beatle George Harrison at Strawberry Fields in New York's Central Park.

"We both felt we held similar positions in our respective bands, which formed a special knowing bond between us," said Richards. "Let's hope he's jamming with John."

Richards' bandmate, Mick Jagger, said: "He was a very complex character, both quiet and funny with a very sweet nature, but he also could be rather combative at times. He was the first musician I knew who developed a truly spiritual side, and he was generous with his time to both charity and to friends."

Many who did not have a close relationship with Harrison were touched by his death.

"While we were not personal friends, I think that just like everybody in the world, I have always considered all the Beatles to be my friends," said Brian Wilson, whose Beach Boys were considered an American rival to the Beatles.

"Their arrival in America in 1964 was electrifying, one of the most exciting things that ever happened in my life, and their music has always and will always mean so much to me."

Harrison organized the 1971 "Concert for Bangladesh," one of the first rock 'n' roll benefits, and Bob Geldof, who put together the Live Aid concert in 1985, said Harrison was generous with advice.

"During that, he would fax me and ring me. He kept telling me not to make the mistakes they made with all the lawyers in the Bangladeshi concert," Geldof said. "So I remember him with a profound sense of gratitude."

George Harrison, left, and Bob Dylan perform during a 1971 benefit
concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.

George Harrison, left, and Bob Dylan perform during a 1971 benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.

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