George Harrison, the ex-Beatle who went on to have a long and fruitful solo career, died on November 29, 2001, after a long battle with cancer. Here are 5 surprising facts about the “Quiet Beatle” that you may not know…
He Could Play 26 Instruments The wide-variety of instruments can be heard throughout the many solo and Beatles albums that Harrison has appeared on. He could play all of the following: Guitar, Sitar, 4-string Guitar, Arp Bass, Violin, Tamboura, Dobro, Tabla, Organ, Piano, Moog Synthesizer, Harmonica, Autoharp, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, Xylophone, Claves, African drum, Conga drum, Tympani, Ukulele, Mandolin, Marimba, Bass Guitar, Swordmandel, and Jal-Tarang.
Harrison Invented The Megastar Rock Benefit Concert The mega charity benefit concerts that you see today weren't actually a thing until 1971 when Harrison organized a benefit concert for Bangladesh, which had suffered through a devastating cyclone. Harrison was compelled to devote himself to the cause, and recruited stars including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, and Billy Preston among others. Together, they played two shows at Madison Square Garden on August 1, 1971. The shows were then turned into an album and film which raised more than $12 million for the cause. Profits from sales of the film and soundtrack continue to benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF.
He Paid $4 Million To See a Movie When Monty Python’s classic feature The Life of Brian was days away from filming, their production company abruptly pulled the plug due to the potentially blasphemous nature of the script. Harrison was such a huge fan of Monty Python that he mortgaged his home, lending $4 million to the production of the movie. “He paid for it because he wanted to see it,” Python member Eric Idle recalled. “The most anybody’s ever paid for a cinema ticket in history.”
He Was the First Beatle To Visit And Play In The United States.
George Harrison came to the United States two years before the Fab Four’s splashy entrance into the country. In 1963, Harrison visited his sister in Benton, Illinois. During his 18-day stay, he became the first Beatle to play in the United States—appearing on stage with the group called The Four Vests. He played the second set with the band, taking over lead guitar and singing "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Your Cheatin' Heart."
His Birth Date Is Often Disputed
Up until his 49th birthday George Harrison believed he was born on February 25th. You’ll find most books and biographies state this date, including Wikipedia. In 1992, he announced, "I only learned recently after all these years that the date and time of my own birth have always been off by one calendar day and about a half hour on the clock." The family birth record noted him as being born shortly before midnight around 11:50 pm on February 24th, 1943 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England.