It was Patti who opened George's heart and mind to "all things Indian" an ongoing passion that has not diminished for more than 30 years.
In summer 1966, George met classical guitarist Ravi Shankar. In September, George visited India to study sitar and Eastern philosophy with Ravi. To this day, George is the only Beatle who has studied music formally and can read music (Indian notation). While many believe Paul reads western musical notation, Paul himself has denied this many times in many interviews over the years, and most recently and clearly in the CD booklet accompanying his 1997 symphonic poem 'Paul McCartney's Standing Stone.'
The next year, at Patti's suggestion, the Beatles went to London to attend a lecture on Transcendental Meditation given by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Beatles were so intrigued, the next day they left for Bangor, Wales to continue studying with the Maharishi. Their stay in Bangor was cut short by manager Brian Epstein's sudden death. In February 1968, the Beatles and their entourage spent several weeks at Rishikesh, India to begin a teacher's training course at the Maharishi's ashram. George continues to support the Maharishi, now 81 years old, and his Natural Law Party.
Late 1968 saw the release of the soundtrack to the film "Wonder wall," composed and produced by George. It was the first solo album by a Beatle, and the first album issued on the Beatles' Apple label. (While Paul helped write the soundtrack to the film "The Family Way" the year before, George Martin wrote the score. Paul wasn't as extensively involved in "The Family Way" as George Harrison was with "Wonder wall." However, the point is arguable :-))
Starting in 1968, George performed and recorded with friends he'd made while a Beatle. After years of being eclipsed by the brilliant genius of John and Paul, of having to fight for every song he wrote that was included on an album, superstars such as Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan treated George as an equal. No longer was second fiddle, George recognized as a great musician in his own right.
In 1970, George bought the gothic and ornate Friar Park, complete with a 120-room mansion, fantastical caverns (including a skeleton cave!), underground lakes, stone-carved gnomes and gargoyles, acres of meticulously cared-for gardens . . . and some say even the ghost of Friar Park's designer, Sir Frankie Crisp.
At Friar Park, George discovered another passion: gardening. It's not unusual for George to be hip-deep in fertilizer tending to his beloved gardens.
How far George had come! The gawky 15-year-old who tagged along at the heels of his idol, John, was now master of Friar Park estate and a world-renowned rock star.
Long in coming, by April 1970 it was no longer a secret that the Beatles had broken up. Though legal entanglements would maintain the Beatles' existence on paper, they no longer functioned as a musically productive entity.
On July 7, 1970, George's mother died from brain cancer. A warm, loving, jovial woman, Louise Harrison enjoyed hearing from George's fans, corresponding with them and sometimes inviting them into her home. So dearly loved was George's mother, after her death a group of George's American fans started the Louise F. Harrison Memorial Cancer Fund.
1971 was George's year to shine! That year he was unquestionably the most successful Beatle. On August 1, The Concert for Bangladesh, organized by George and featuring an array of megastars, was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Perhaps spurred by his accomplishments and blooming self-confidence, George's creativity exploded like a supernova with the release of his first post-Beatles record. The triple-album set, "All Things Must Pass," flew to the Number One spot on American and European charts, and was hailed as a masterpiece.
In 1974, George went on a North American concert tour -- the first Beatle to have done so. On a personal level, his marriage to Patti was at an all-time low. Years earlier, Eric Clapton had declared his love for Patti. At first Patti put him off, but in time came to return his love. On the plus side, George met his wife-to-be, Olivia Trinidad Arias, an employee at A&M Records, the distributor for George's Dark Horse Records.
With the 1976 release of "Thirty-three & 1/3," things started looking up. That is, until George lost his copyright infringement case over "My Sweet Lord." Its melody and chord structure were similar to the 1963 song "He's So Fine." George was found guilty of "subconscious plagiarism."
On June 9, 1977, George and Patti's divorce came through. Two years later, Patti married Eric Clapton. George, Paul and Ringo were among the guests/performers at the wedding celebration for George's ex-wife and his dearest friend.
In May 1978, George's father died from emphysema. As did his wife, Mr. Harrison enjoyed chatting with George's fans, and by all accounts was a delightful gentleman.
On August 1, 1978, George and Olivia's son, Danni (pronounced "DAH-nee") was born. On September 2, George and Olivia were married.
George's new career as a film producer came about as the result of generosity and friendship. In 1978, after the original backers backed out, Handmade Films was formed to fund Monty Python's movie "The Life Of Brian." Handmade Films made possible fascinating films that in time became cult classics, as well as popular films which, if not for George's farsightedness, might never have seen the light of day. Among them are "Time Bandits," "Nuns On The Run," and "Shanghai Surprise" starring then-husband and wife Madonna and Sean Penn. Altogether, Handmade Films produced about 26 movies. George made cameo appearances in and wrote the soundtracks or songs for a few. In the late 1980s, Handmade Films had a run of bad luck, and was acquired by Paragon Entertainment Corp. in May 1994. Eight months later, George sued his former business partner, Denis O'Brien, for $20 million for breach of contract and fiduciary duties, and disposition of assets. George was awarded $10.9 million by the court, but has yet to collect this money.
George's autobiography, "I Me Mine," was published on August 22, 1979, first as a leather-bound collector's edition, and later as a mass market hardcover. George dedicated it "to gardeners everywhere." Though not especially informative, George's conversational manner and Derek Taylor's side notes make "I Me Mine" a delightful read. George's commentaries on every song he composed up through 1978 make it "must reading" for all George fans.
On December 9, 1980, George was awakened by Olivia. John Lennon had been shot and killed. "All Those Years Ago" was George's musical tribute to John. (John died just after 11 p.m. on December 8 in New York City, which made it December 9 in Europe.)
In 1988, George formed the Traveling Wilbur's. The other Wilbur's were Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orison. Both albums were highly successful. "The Traveling Wilbur's, Vol. 1" went multi-platinum and won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance.
In 1990, Olivia founded the Romanian Angel Appeal to aid Romanian orphans. George and Olivia gave much of their time and money to this most worthy cause.
In late 1991, George and Eric Clapton embarked on a tour of Japan. In 1992, a recording of some performances, "Live In Japan" was released.
Because he released no solo albums during the 90s, fans have the false impression that, except for the Beatles' "Anthology," George was not active professionally. Not true! As he had since the Beatles were still together, George continued to work with many artists. All in all, George has produced and performed on more non-solo albums than any other Beatle. Between 1990 and 1999, George was involved with over two dozen albums and singles.[Please click here for the Discography of George's work with other artists]
George survived a knife attack and three occurrences of cancer. In 2001, he and Olivia bought a villa near the ocean in the south of Switzerland.
George was in the final stages of recording a new solo album, as well as a box set of demos, outtakes and other unreleased material. Wait, there's more! Ownership of his solo Dark Horse 1976-92 catalogue and the two Traveling Wilbur's albums were to have reverted back to George, and he had been considering re-circulating these currently out-of-print CDs with possible bonus tracks. All of this is now in Olivia's (and maybe Danni's) more than capable hands.
On a U.S. morning news show aired June 12, 1997, George said, "For every human is a quest to find the answer to, why are we here? Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? That to me became the only important thing in my life. Everything else is secondary."