When I was a kid, I can remember hearing ”Here Comes the Sun” on the radio. I’d be playing with my G.I. Joe and that would come on, and I’d go ”Wow.” I would stop what I was doing and just listen. That song had light to it. Then I heard ”Something” and ”My Sweet Lord.” Those were just amazing records. ”My Sweet Lord” was not only spiritual, it was religious. John Lennon got a lot of flak for saying the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. But George knew that everyone could relate to the real Supreme Being—Buddha, God, Krishna, whatever you want to call Him—and he actually did a hit record about God!
All throughout my time with Run-DMC, they would call me the Quiet Storm because I never used to say too much. In the Beatles, George was the quiet one, the silent one, so you know I can relate to dear George. If you look at almost every religion, they always say that the one who keeps his mouth shut is the wisest. You’ve always got outspoken people blabbing away. Then there’s that one guy over in the corner observing. But when it’s time for him to speak, he always says something phenomenal. George mostly let his music speak for him.
It’s amazing he was able to last so long in the Beatles. Because Lennon and McCartney wrote so many fantastic songs, they tended to overshadow George’s. If he’d been allowed to have more songs on those albums, the fans would have realized how talented he was earlier. But he was humble enough to wait. A lot of times, when you’re creative and spiritual and you’ve got something that you want to say that you can’t, you get to a boiling point. But George kept his cool. He stuck it out with the Beatles until the end for the good of the group and the fans. It says a lot about how much material he had that when he put out his first solo album [All Things Must Pass], it was a three-record set. Everyone was like, ”Wow, George, we never knew you had it in you.” He was probably thinking, I was trying to tell you that the whole time with the Beatles. But he was too humble to say so.
He was the first musician to put together a big benefit concert, with the Concert for Bangladesh. A lot of people at that level would have said, ”Wow, I’m one of the most famous people on earth, let me just keep getting mansions and living the luxury life.” But he used the talent he was blessed with to serve a purpose. It was totally unselfish. He just went on and did it. George had a lot of confidence, but he wasn’t egotistical. That’s what was so special about him. He also was the one who started putting Indian instruments, sitars, on rock records, [a trend] which everybody copied. Once George started following the Maharishi, I guess, it opened his mind.
I remember reading that George said that he thought anybody could be a Beatle. His attitude was like, We’re nobody special, anybody could do what we do, we just went out and did it. I think he really believed that. He had fame and fortune, but he knew there had to be more to life than all that. He was on a spiritual quest, and he put it into his music. He wasn’t afraid to walk the walk.
(Harrison died of cancer in Los Angeles.)