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GEORGE HARRISON’S WORDS TO HIS WIFE

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George Harrison, died 18 years ago today. George is best remembered for his contribution to music as one quarter of legendary rock band The Beatles. His incredible legacy also includes a weighty back catalogue of solo material, with hits like My Sweet Lord and What Is Life. On the anniversary of his death, here’s a look at some of the touching tributes paid by his Beatles bandmates and his wife Olivia Harrison.
In an interview with The Telegraph several years after his death, George’s beloved wife Olivia revealed the sweet words he shared with her towards the end, when he knew he was dying.
She told the publication he would comfort her by saying: “Olivia, you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine.”
“Fine is okay, but it is not really good enough, is it?” she mused. “But George was right, I am fine and I am okay, although I will miss him until my dying day. But he walked his road and now I have to walk mine.”
Olivia also said her relationship with George was ongoing, even after his death, saying: “But it is just not a physical relationship any more. And the sooner one comes to terms with that, the easier it is, rather than feeling George has gone and he is never coming back.”
Olivia, explained how she still felt “in communication” with him, saying: “Because you feel so deeply in your heart that if you say a prayer, it goes straight to them.”
George died of lung cancer on November 29, 2001, at the age of 58, having first been diagnosed in 1997.
In May 2001, he underwent surgery to remove a cancerous growth from one of his lungs and, in July, received radiotherapy for a brain tumour.
When he was told treatments could no longer help, George opted not to die in hospital, travelling to Los Angeles, where he passed away at the home rented, at the time, by his Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney.
At the time, his family released a statement saying: “He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends.
“He often said, ‘Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another’.”
Soon after George’s death, Paul paid tribute to his friend in a touching interview, saying he was “devastated” by his death.
“We’ve known he’s been ill for a long time,” he said. “I’m very sad to hear that he’s passed on.”
Asked how Olivia and George’s son Dhani were coping with the grief of his passing, Paul replied: “They’re devastated, like we all are. But they’re very strong.
“Olivia has her son Dhani. who’s a really great guy and is being very strong and very supportive in this situation.”
“In a way it’s probably a blessed release. George has been through a lot of problems recently,” he added.
“I understand the end was very peaceful, so that’s a blessing.”
Praising The Beatles guitarist’s talents, Paul went on to speak about the legacy he would leave behind, saying George was “like a baby brother” to him.
“His music will live on forever. He’s a very strong, loving man but he didn’t suffer fools gladly.
“He’s a great man and I think he’ll be remembered as a great man in his own right,” he said.
Paul also recalled the last time he saw George, calling him a “very brave man” and saying: “He was quite ill. But we were laughing and joking just like nothing was going on.
“I was very impressed by his strength but I kind of knew he’d be like that because that’s how he always was.
“He would’ve wanted us to get on and be loving and remember him as the great man he was.”
The only other surviving member of The Beatles, Ringo Starr, also paid tribute to George following his death.
“We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music and his sense of laughter,” he said.
The drummer later remembered his last conversation with George, sharing an insight into the George´s sense of humour.
Ringo recalled visiting his friend, who was, at this point, too ill even to stand, but having to leave to see his own daughter, who was suffering from a brain tumour, in Boston.
“I said, ‘Well, you know, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to go to Boston,” he said.
“And he was—” the musician broke off, choking back tears. “It’s the last words I heard him say, actually…
“And he said, ‘Do you want me to come with you?’ So, you know, that’s the incredible side of George,” he added.

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OLIVIA HARRISON TALKS ABOUT HOW GEORGE´S COLLABORATIONS WITH INDIAN MUSICIANS

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Olivia Harrison, talks about how George’s collaborations with Indian musicians helped shape her own musical tastes

Among the pioneers who helped to popularise world music, few have done more or had more kudos than George Harrison. In the mid-60s, the Beatles’ guitarist took lessons from Ravi Shankar and introduced the exotic sound of the sitar to Western pop music fans via his songs with the Beatles.

As his wife for 25 years until his death in 2001, Olivia Harrison enjoyed a ringside seat at his collaborations with Shankar and other Indian musicians and they then explored a glorious range of other world music styles together, from Mexican corridos to Bulgarian folk music. Unsurprisingly, George’s influence permeates her playlist selections and her current project, releasing his archive of recordings by some of the greatest Indian musicians of the 20th century.“Being married to George gave me a crash course in Indian music,” she says. “George recorded many great Indian classical musicians, but he never revisited the recordings because he didn’t look back, he just kept moving forward. But I couldn’t sleep if I thought the tapes George made were going to degrade and never be heard. They’re a wonderful legacy.” The archive will be released on the HariSongs imprint, in conjunction with Craft Recordings, a division of Concord Music Group.

Olivia’s first taste of Indian music came when the likes of Shankar, flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia and santoor player Shuvkumar Sharma stayed with Harrison when he was producing the 1974 album Shankar Family & Friends. “Those musicians were the finest exponents of their instruments and it was a divine experience. While they were staying, they did three nights of concerts, which George recorded. The tapes have just been sitting there and that’s what inspired me to do HariSongs,” she says.

Before their release, however, comes the reissue of two important but out-of-print Shankar recordings produced by George, both of which feature on Olivia’s playlist.

‘Raga Manj Khamaj’ was originally released on the album In Concert 1972, which was released on Apple the following year. Featuring a ‘dream team’ of Shankar on sitar, Ali Akbar Khan on sarod and Alla Rakha on tabla, it was recorded at New York’s Philharmonic Hall before Olivia knew Harrison. “I wish could have been there because it’s a great historic moment,” she says. “That was one of Ravi’s favourite ragas. I remember him talking about it.” By the time of her second Shankar choice, ‘Sarve Shaam’ from the 1996 Harrison-produced Chants of India, she had got to know him as a family friend. “You revered Ravi,” she says of the great man. “He carried with him that great tradition, but he was also a very modern man and had a great sense of humour.”

Partly recorded in India and partly at Harrison’s Friar Park home in Henley-on-Thames, Olivia recalls the recording sessions well. “Ravi was very specific about the mantras and how they were recorded and orchestrated and George really wanted people to understand the vibrations of those chants was beneficial to their well-being.”

The track on her playlist is a particularly poignant choice. “At the end of his life George said to me that all he could listen to was ‘Sarve Shaam’,” Olivia remembers. “After all the sounds and sights and tastes you experience over a lifetime, it came down to the purity of ‘Sarve Shaam’.” The piece was also performed as the opening blessing at the Concert for George memorial, held at London’s Albert Hall in 2002.

Two other Indian selections on Olivia’s playlist also carry memories of George. One of U Srinivas’ very first albums, Mandolin Ecstasy, was “one of George’s favourite albums,” she says. “I think he was only 15 or even younger at the time. We went to see him in concert and afterwards George had a chance to inspect his electric mandolin. He had one made just like it and tried to play like Srinivas. He’d have a go at anything.” A track from one of Srinivas’ later albums recorded on Real World features on this issue’s covermount CD.

‘Bhoop Ghara’ from Call of the Valley, recorded in 1967 by Shivkumar Sharma, Hariprasad Chaurasia and slide guitar player Brijbhusan Kabra, was “something George had on our juke box. We played it as a remedy in our home if you were feeling a certain way. Kabra was one of George’s heroes as a slide guitarist, up there with Ry Cooder.”

The Harrisons met Cooder through the American producer Russ Titelman, who also introduced them to another of Olivia’s playlist choices, ‘Kalimankou Denkou’ from the Mystère des Voix Bulgares Vol 1 album, first released on an obscure label in 1975 and a surprise world music hit when re-released on 4AD a decade later. “Russ brought the album with him when he was working with George and we loved it,” Olivia says. When several of the singers on the album, including Yanka Rupkina, were working in London as Trio Bulgarka, the Harrisons invited them to their Friar Park home to give a private concert. “Russ and George stood in the hall and harmonised with them. It was a very reverential experience.”

Although born in Los Angeles, Olivia’s grandparents came from Guanajuato in Mexico. “I grew up with Mexican music and watched Mexican movies and my father played guitar and sang and recorded in the 30s,” she says. In 2016, Olivia presented a Songlines Music Award to the Mexican singer Lila Downs for her album Balas y Chocolate. “I didn’t know much about her until then, but I saw her perform and what a force!” Olivia says. “Last year I brought over a mariachi orchestra and we had a private concert at Friar Park because I got tired of waiting 30 years for someone else to do it. It was my way to let my friends experience that music – which was what George was always trying to do. He wanted people to understand and be moved by the music that he loved.”

Her playlist ends with a unique version of George’s 1968 song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ by the ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro. She discovered his version when it went viral on YouTube in 2006. It has since received 15 million views. “Lots of people wrote to me or sent me a link saying ‘have you seen this?’ I was really floored by it,” she says. “Jake is a master and I then saw him play it one Christmas in Honolulu with an orchestra and it was beautiful. George wasn’t around to hear Jake’s version but he would have loved it.”

source:songlines.co.uk

ORDER “IN CONCERT IN 1972” (2018) … H E R E .

ANNIE LENNOX WON THE PRESTIGIOUS GEORGE HARRISON GLOBAL CITIZEN AWARD

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Last night, renowned artists, world leaders and influencers joined international advocacy organization Global Citizen to announce major policy commitments to fight climate change, end HIV/AIDS, eradicate polio and other pandemics, empower women and girls and provide clean water for all at Global Citizen Live! World leaders took made over 23 million commitments and pledged over $214 million that is set to impact the lives of more than 215 million people worldwide.

Olivia Harrison presented Annie Lennox with the prestigious George Harrison Global Citizen Award for her humanitarian efforts for women and girls around the globe and to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Following her acceptance speech, Lennox joined Dhani Harrison for a surprise performance of George Harrison’s “Isn’t it a Pity?”

Since 2012, Global Citizens have taken more than 11 million actions in the fight against extreme poverty. These actions have resulted in $30 billion in commitments from world leaders that are set to affect the lives of 1 billion people around the world. Global Citizen Week will serve as an opportunity to connect policymakers with the public and expand this community of active and engaged Global Citizens.


ANNIE LENNOX TO BE HONORED WITH GEORGE HARRISON GLOBAL CITIZEN AWARD NEXT MONTH

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The 2017 Global Citizen Festival, a free-ticketed concert held annually to promote volunteerism in New York’s Central Park, will feature Stevie Wonder, Green Day, The Killers, The Lumineers and featuring The Chainsmokers at this year’s event. The show takes place on the Great Lawn in Central Park, on Saturday, September 23, 2017.

The organizers announced that Annie Lennox would be this year’s recipient of the now-annual George Harrison Global Citizen Award. The singer will be honored for her humanitarian efforts at an event on Monday, September 18, at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.