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When George Harrison didn’t like something, you knew about it. He often made his sentiments known about his time in The Beatles. We know he disliked the press. Their perception of him was all wrong, labeling him as the “quiet Beatle.” George quickly became disenchanted with it all. He just wanted to make music. Everything else that came with being a famous musician was left behind. But certain things hindered George from making new music as well.

George Harrison performing at Ferry Aid in 1987.
George Harrison | Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

George Harrison didn’t write a single song in 1977 because of the music business

In 1979 George gave a rare interview to Rolling Stone. He talked about his upcoming album, George Harrison, and a range of other things, including why he thought people shied away from spiritualism and how his life changed when he met his wife, Olivia.

George explained that he’d not written a single song in 1977 because he’d “turned off from the music business altogether.”

“I am a bit out of touch with the other music. There’re certain artists that I always like to listen to, but I don’t listen a great deal to the radio. I just got out of it – I was ‘skiving,’ as the English say. 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…”

George explained that he got sick of everything else that comes with making new music.

George didn’t enjoy dealing with the extras that came with releasing new music

George said that he’d grown sick of the whole thing, everything that came with releasing a new album. Everyone was “trading papers” and record companies. After being in the business since 1961, the “novelty” had worn off for him.

“Really, it comes down to ego,” he explained. “You have to have a big ego in order to keep plodding on being in the public eye. If you want to be popular and famous, you can do it; it’s dead easy if you have that ego desire. But most of my ego desires as far as being famous and successful were fulfilled a long time ago.”

That didn’t mean that he disliked writing music. However, he’d come to hate the “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. I really don’t like promotion.”

George didn’t enjoy to extras of making an album successful. But he also didn’t enjoy making a hit record because then it made him popular again, and everyone would “bug” him. He wanted to live in peace. “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.”


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Despite hating how the music business worked, George still caved to it

Even though George hated the extras, he continued to release music. George caved for a couple of reasons. He was embarrassed about not doing anything. When he’d go out, people would treat him like a celebrity and ask him when he would release more music. “Musical thoughts were just a million miles away from my mind,” he explained.

Then something his friend Niki Lauda said made him think. After being similarly hassled by everyone, Lauda told George that he liked to relax at home and listen to some music. “And I thought, ‘S***, I’m going to go and write some tunes, because these people are all relating to me as a musician, and yet I’m here just skiving; maybe I can write a song that Niki on his day off may enjoy.’ So that was it.”

George also didn’t want his record label to think the wrong thing, even though they never pestered about his lack of work. Rolling Stone asked if George Harrison was prompted more by other people’s expectations of him and a “sense of obligation” instead of an “inherent desire to make music again.” George said, “Well, partly perhaps. 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.”

Therein lies one of George’s struggles, living in the material world. But the materialistic parts of making music aside, George loved making music. He didn’t care if people remembered him years after he was gone. His music would survive.