quotes-about-humbleness

George Harrison with Uday Shankar, Calcutta, India, early 1974

Photo: Tekee Tanwar/AFP/Getty Images

“[W]e were greeted by a tall, slender, regal-looking man in his mid-sixties and bearing a close resemblance to Ravi. It was, of course, Uday, warmly greeting us in front of his modest apartment. What happened next, I wasn’t expecting. George immediately laid himself prostrate in front of Uday taking the dust from his feet. I was emotionally overwhelmed at George’s beautiful gesture of humbleness and respect for Ravi’s brother. Tears welled up in my eyes, and in my heart I felt so grateful, so very special, to have witnessed this moment. This was the first time I had seen this side of George, which was almost childlike. Humility is a sign of greatness, and at this moment I clearly saw what that meant.” - Gary Wright, Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation and My Friendship with George Harrison

George Harrison at the Apple launch party for the Radha Krsna Temple’s “Hare Krishna Mantra” - produced by George - at The Wood, Sydenham Hill, London, 28 August 1969 (more photos and information here). Photo © The Beatles Book

Q: “Speaking of Delaney and Bonnie, you toured with Delaney and Bonnie and the band’s European ’69 tour and one leg of that tour featured a special guest player, George Harrison. What are your most indelible memories of George?”

Rita Coolidge: “George was such a profoundly gentle man and at the same time so charismatic. It was almost like a religious leader in a sense.
He had such a magnetic kind of energy around him. But he was so soft spoken. To me, he was like a holy man, just his energy, his aura, everything about him was more beautiful man than probably anybody else I had ever met.”

Q: “And at that time with his mustache and long beard he looked a holy man.”

Rita Coolidge: “Yeah, he totally did. There were a lot of people that had long hair and beards at that time but with George (laughs) it really was effective but it went so much deeper than that with him. I always felt like I was in the presence of greatness when I was around him. He was so very humble and sweet.”

Q: “Didn’t he have a special song he sang for you?”

Rita Coolidge: “Yes, he would sing Lovely Rita by The Beatles (sings “Lovely Rita, meter maid”). (laughs) Every time I got on the bus. (laughs) It was like he would wait for me to get on the bus and sing it to me. It was so fabulous.” - Q&A with Rita Coolidge, Rock Cellar Magazine, 8 July 2016

George Harrison at the pre-Concert for Bangladesh press conference, 27 July 1971

Photo: New York Daily News

“George Harrison’s Silence Is Golden

By Deborah Wilker, The Arts Column, Sun Sentinel, 1 September 1991

It’s not often that we think of George Harrison as an industry trailblazer. The quiet Beatle was typically, and often unfairly, perceived as just a guy along for the ride all those years ago.

But those of us who admire his significant contributions to popular music know that he is more than a mere image from the ‘60s. With the 20th anniversary this summer of Harrison`s precedent-setting benefit for Bangladesh, it seems as good a time as any to look back on his quiet humanitarianism and vision as well.

Particularly since Harrison will never stage a press conference to tell you about it himself.

When Harrison organized the Aug. 1, 1971, Concert For Bangladesh, it was conceived as a day of laid-back revelry at Madison Square Garden. Hastily and inexpensively put together by Harrison and his buddies, the show was a way to raise public awareness - not just money - for a crisis in a distant land.

Unlike more recent all-star fund-raisers such as USA For Africa, Live Aid and Farm Aid, the Concert For Bangladesh never became a media circus.

The show featured Harrison, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell and others. It was not overrun by the kind of desperate has-beens and never-weres who search for recognition and free TV time at such benefit concerts today.

Nor did the concert’s participants gouge promoters for backstage perks, such as the caviar and champagne that flowed freely and hypocritically through 1984′s We Are The World recording session.

BOON FOR UNICEF

At the end of that day at Madison Square Garden 20 years ago, box office receipts totalled a meager $243,418.50 - a sum turned over in full to UNICEF the following week.

Over the years, that small pot of gold has become a comparative fortune for the people of Bangladesh. Though the concert was not exploited with a big TV deal as is now customary, Harrison wisely created other projects that continue to reap millions for the cause.

The original soundtrack had earned nearly $1.5 million by 1972; a figure that has increased through the years thanks mostly to royalties. There was also a movie that did well, and finally, to commemorate the 20th anniversary, there is now a CD reissue in stores - the first time new copies of the album have been available in years.

As of this year, Harrison`s Bangladesh projects have earned more than $13.5 million for UNICEF, a figure that will only keep multiplying now that the new CD is available.

But almost as important as the benefit this money has wrought, is the unpretentious manner in which Harrison presides over this accomplishment - without fanfare and without public recognition from fans or the industry.

Unlike many celebrities, he has not junked-up his good intentions with endless talk show gigs. Nor has he sat for the ‘important’ interviews with big publications to mark the occasion, or even held a press conference to champion his activities.

He has never milked the PR train once, which must be some kind of show- business landmark.

He has simply gone about his business, and is now planning a new concert tour with Clapton while presumably writing new songs.

NOT HIS ONLY WORTHY CAUSE

Harrison has been involved with many causes over the years, most recently coming to the aid of Romania’s orphans. That project, organized by his wife Olivia, has earned $500,000 strictly from domestic sales of an all-star album, Nobody’s Child. The Harrisons have made several trips to Romania, working tirelessly to improve living conditions for that country’s tiny victims.

In an age when so many youngsters idolize all the wrong celebrities, it’s refreshing to know there’s at least one guitar hero still committed to rock music’s more purposeful contributions.”

2

George Harrison, onstage in Japan, 1991, as included in the Live in Japan CD liner notes. The tour started on 1 December 1991 and wrapped up, after 11 shows, on 17 December 1991.

Photo: Carl Studna

“George always wanted to know how you were, how you were feeling.” - Astrid Kirchherr [x]


“It was modesty. George was a modest person. That’s why he surrounded himself with all those musicians. He’d never say, ‘I’m the big star and the song goes the way I want it to.’” - Gary Brooker, Uncut, October 2010 [x]


“[T]he George Harrison Bob Purvis [of Splinter] knew and worked with rarely spoke about himself and always asked after his friend’s wife and children. It was as if the superstar had lost sight of his own ego and knew how to touch others: ‘George was always interested in you and made you feel special.’” - While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison [x]


“I don’t think George was very comfortable being in charge, and he was never one to say, ‘OK, we’re going to learn this or that.’ He would say things like: ‘Do you think we should try this song?,’ or, ‘That one isn’t really worth doing, is it?’ He would never say, ‘I want you to play this part,’ or, ‘Do it like this’ which was somewhat endearing, because it made you feel more involved with the process, as though you were part of a band rather than being a sideman.
[…] I learned something about George that I hadn’t expected. I have worked with a lot of people, but not with many others who have made me feel at ease so quickly. It wasn’t long before we were invited to his home, to get to know the family and himself a little better. During the course of the tour he was always calling up after the show and saying, ‘We’ve got a bit of food - would you like to come and share it with me?’ or ‘How about coming up for a glass of nice wine?’ even though he wasn’t drinking at all. It was all very genuine and it makes you want to work much harder for someone who treats you like that. He has that kind of personality where there is nothing to hide and he is very open and honest, which can be a refreshing thing in this business.” - Chuck Leavell, Mystical One: George Harrison After The Break-Up Of The Beatles [x]

George Harrison, 1987, photographed by Peter Figen

“Though he apologized for being a bit ‘nackered’ from jet lag and a right schedule of meetings, he was extremely open, articulate, and witty, occasionally lapsing into Monty Python impersonations. Although time didn’t permit detailed accounts of each and every guitar he’d ever played, it’s clear that he has vivid memories of virtually every instrument that has passed through his hands. […] Throughout the conversation he was typically self-effacing about his guitar playing, and when John Fogerty dropped in briefly to say hello, George exclaimed, ‘Now, here’s a proper guitarist!’ It is that sort of selfless attitude that makes George Harrison such a special guitar player.” - Dan Forte on George Harrison, Guitar Player, November 1987 [x]