George Harrison didn’t like feeling pressure from fans. Whenever he performed live, they wanted him to play certain tunes. When he hadn’t recorded anything in a while, they haunted him for new music. However, George hardly let those pressures affect him in any way. He lived his life the way he wanted to. If he didn’t want to even touch his guitar for a prolonged period of time, he didn’t.
George Harrison said he didn’t touch his guitar once during 1977
During a 1979 interview, Rolling Stone asked George why he thought John Lennon had recently been inactive.
“He’s probably not,” George replied. “Just because he’s not Beatling doesn’t mean he’s inactive. It’s like, for me to do this interview now people can see that I’m here talking. But if I’m not doing the interview I’m inactive. But I’m not really – I’m at home doing other things, or going places doing various things…”
George couldn’t blame John for not being publicly active. “I’ve found if I take a two-week holiday, by the end of those two weeks, I’m just about ready to enjoy the holiday and I have to get back to work.
“If you retire or knock off the work, then there’s a while of feeling, ‘Wow, I should be doing something,’ until you slowly mellow out and think, ‘Wow, this is good. I don’t have to be mad all my life, I don’t have to live in the public eye.’ And I’m sure that’s all he’s doing, enjoying his life.”
Rolling Stone pointed out that “fans feel almost cheated when the performer stops performing.” George replied, “That’s their own concept. It’s a selfish concept to think, ‘Go out and kill yourself for me…’ But I myself would be interested to know whether John still writes tunes and puts them on a cassette, or does he just forget all about music and not touch the guitar.
“Because that’s what I did, all of 1977 I never picked up a guitar, never even thought about it. And I didn’t miss it.”
George got sick of the music industry
George might have said that he didn’t touch a guitar for the entire year in 1977, but that isn’t the complete truth. He performed “This Song” on Disco that year. We can hardly believe that George could abstain from playing music for a whole year. He loved it too much.
Still, George had become disenchanted with the music industry. “Well, all of 1977 I didn’t write a song, I didn’t do anything; I was not working at all really, so I decided I’d better start doing something. I’d just turned off from the music business altogether,” George explained.
“Everybody else doesn’t notice, because if your past records still get played on the radio, people don’t notice that you’re not really there. But I just got sick of all that… Just sick of the whole thing.”
“Everybody’s changing companies, and this artist has gone to that label and that artist to this one… Having been in this business now for so long… the novelty’s worn off. Really, it comes down to ego. You have to have a big ego in order to keep plodding on being in the public eye. But most of my ego desires as far as being famous and successful were fulfilled a long time ago.
“I still enjoy writing a tune and enjoy in a way making a record. But I hate that whole thing of when you put it out, you become a part of the overall framework of the business. And I was a bit bored with that. If I write a tune and people think it’s nice then that’s fine by me; but I hate having to compete and promote the thing…
“In the Sixties we overdosed on that, and then I consciously went out of my way at the end of the Sixties, early Seventies, to try and be a bit more obscure. What you find is that you have a hit and suddenly everybody’s knocking on your door and bugging you again. I enjoy being low profile and having a peaceful sort of life.”
George decided he’d better record something but only because he felt embarrassed
Ultimately, George did what he wanted to do throughout his career (“if a career is what you’d call it,” he once said). Still, he did cave under pressure sometimes.
At the end of 1977, he thought, “God, I’d better do something.” But only because he felt embarrassed whenever people came up to him asking if he’d been working on new material.
“I was getting embarrassed because I was going to all these motor races, and everybody was talking to me like George, the ex-Beatle, the musician, asking me if I was making a record and whether I was going to write some songs about racing, and yet musical thoughts were just a million miles away from my mind,” George explained.
Plus, he didn’t want any flak from his recording company. So, Rolling Stone asked if 1979’s George Harrison was “prompted more by other people’s expectations of you, a sense of obligation on your part, rather than an inherent desire to make music again?”
“Well, partly perhaps,” George replied. “But once you do write a tune, I don’t know why, but there is that desire to have it made into a proper record. If I were to die, I’d rather people find a good finished master of my songs than a crummy old demo on a cassette. Maybe originally it was other people’s expectations that prompted me, but once I got writing tunes I got my motor ticking over again and it’s fun – you get in the studio, you get going and you can enjoy it all over again.”
George couldn’t resist the pull to music. It’s like his friend Tom Petty once said, “George was never far from music.”