George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle by Philip Norman - review by Wesley Stace

Wesley Stace

Sitar Hero

George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle


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George Harrison came to me during lockdown. Perhaps I needed to hear that, as he sang in ‘The Inner Light’, ‘Without going out of my door/I know all things of earth’. Behind that locked door, I felt myself further drawn into his exquisite solo records. I was in so deep that I purchased the All Things Must Pass Uber Deluxe Box Set, which includes ‘1/6 scale replica figurines of Harrison and the gnomes featured on the iconic album cover’, not to mention a ‘wooden bookmark made from a felled Oak tree (Quercus Robur) in George’s Friar Park’, the entirety of this glorious and silly collection ‘housed in an artisan designed wooden crate’. I unboxed everything and put the gnomes out, but the crate itself felt useless when empty, an extravagance, perhaps even the symbol of a material world that George himself despised. So I decided to use it as a storage box for my Dylan LP collection: it’s what George would have wanted.

Far be it from me to tell you that George should be your favourite Beatle. He certainly isn’t the apple of Philip Norman’s eye. In fact, the author of George Harrison: The Reluctant Beatle once harshly likened the minority of Beatles fans who idolise George to ‘those who pick the green ones in packets of wine gums’. But some people like the green ones. And now he’s picked one himself. Why?

Harrison was a quarter of the most famous band of all time. Looking for a life beyond its confines, he led his bandmates, and by extension everyone who listened to them, further within themselves and without themselves. He became the first Western musician to play a sitar on

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