Edited by Olivia Harrison & Brian Roylance
Introduction by Paul Theroux
The Concert For George brought together some of the world's finest performers for one unprecedented night of celebration. Rock stars, comedians and classical musicians in both the Indian and European tradition all checked their egos at the door and took to the stage of The Albert Hall in perfect harmony, united by one thing: a love for their friend George Harrison whose earthly life had come to an end exactly one year before.
Rehearsals for the show had begun three weeks before, under the musical direction of Eric Clapton. With Olivia and Dhani in attendance from day one, a decision was made to split the show roughly in two. The first half - under the direction of his friend and mentor Ravi Shankar - would consist of the classical Indian music George so loved. The second would be dominated by George's own work. A 'house band' consisting of the likes of Eric, Jeff Lynne, Billy Preston, Gary Brooker, Andy Fairweather Low and Dhani Harrison were gradually joined by more of George's friends including Joe Brown, Jools Holland, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. As they familiarised themselves with George's often complex songs, so they found a kind of healing, even a closeness to their departed friend. In an adjacent room, Ravi Shankar composed as his orchestra rehearsed, fine-tuning his eulogy with his daughter Anoushka at his side, conducting. Gradually, East and West were brought together and memory sparked memory. Each had a story to tell and each story was like a different little piece of the George they knew. By the time everyone took the stage on November 29th, 2002, George Harrison was manifest in all their hearts.
This remarkable book follows that story from the rehearsals, the soundchecks, to the stage and beyond. It's told in 34,000 words from the mouths of those who were there, and who knew George. Most of the 450 photographs have never before been seen and include images of George throughout his life.
Concert for George is more than the story of one concert however. Eric Clapton talks about George's contrariness while Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Ringo Starr reveal a quiet, social recluse who loved company and couldn't shut up. Sam Brown remembers his ruthless honesty and compassion, Klaus Voorman his desperate anger at the state of the planet and Ravi Shankar his dedication to meditation and the sitar. Tom Petty recalls the time he spent as a Traveling Wilbury, along with Jeff Lynne who is just one of many to comment on George's unusual songwriting. Tom Hanks and Andy Fairweather Low tell of high-speed rides in 'The Rocket' and Jim Capaldi and Terry Gilliam remember George's love of laughter. Most poignantly, Olivia and Dhani Harrison recall a husband and a father.
Concert for George is an intimate blend of laughter and tears; a personal insight into one of the Twentieth century's best-loved songwriters.
Text written by: TANMOY BOSE, GARY BROOKER, JOE BROWN, SAM BROWN, MIKE CAMPBELL, JIM CAPALDI, ERIC CLAPTON, RAY COOPER, LEE DICKSON, CLAIRE FERGUSON, TERRY GILLIAM, TOM HANKS, DHANI HARRISON, OLIVIA HARRISON, JOOLS HOLLAND, ERIC IDLE, JON KAMEN, JIM KELTNER, KATIE KISSOON, ALBERT LEE, DAVID LELAND, ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW, JEFF LYNNE, GEORGE MARTIN, TESSA NILES, MICHAEL PALIN, TOM PETTY, BILLY PRESTON, EMIL RICHARDS, ALAN ROGAN, BRIAN ROYLANCE, ANOUSHKA SHANKAR, RAVI SHANKAR, RINGO STARR, PAUL THEROUX, KLAUS VOORMANN
'George once said to me, "If we'd known we were going to be The Beatles, we'd have tried harder."' Eric Idle