George Harrison Had a Lot in Common With His Wife Olivia, From Their Upbringings to Their Spirituality

George Harrison went through 10 years with The Beatles, a horrible American tour, a (the first) benefit concert, seven solo albums, a major lawsuit, a public divorce, the creation of his record label, and the birth of his son Dhani, by the time he married his wife, Olivia.

Olivia hadn’t seen such a huge part of his life. However, she took on the hardest job in the world. She and George’s similarities were what bound them together.

George Harrison and his wife Olivia in London, 1990.
George Harrison and his wife Olivia | Tom Wargacki/Getty Images

George Harrison and his wife Olivia met in 1974

In 1974, George split from his first wife, Pattie Boyd, and things went downhill. George said he had “no voice and almost no body at times.”

In 1972, Olivia Arias started working at A&M Records. She began having regular correspondence with George over the phone because A&M was distributing George’s new record label, Dark Horse Records.

Olivia impressed George. So, he arranged for her to work at the new label. The first time they met in person, Olivia greeted George outside Dark Horse Records’ offices on its launch day.

“I thought somebody should,” Olivia told Rolling Stone in 2020. “He drove onto the lot by himself in this little car, and I thought, ‘Jeez, this is a big day in his life,’ and I went outside and said, ‘Welcome!’ George asked Olivia, “What’s going on?” Olivia said, “He was very excited, but it was just me.”

Shortly after that, George and Olivia started dating. In 2005, Olivia told the LA Times, “I was from outside of his world. I was shelter from the storm. I was simple, and he needed some simplicity at that point.”

Olivia told the publication that she “never really stopped to think about the implications of getting involved with a musician, much less an ex-Beatle.”

She explained, “You can’t really think about it that way, otherwise you’re just playacting.”

George and Olivia soon found out that they had similar interests and upbringings.

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George and Olivia had similar upbringings

In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, Olivia said she and George both came from modest backgrounds, “poor you’d say.” In her new poem, “SHE: 34° North,” from her book of poetry, Came the Lightning, Olivia talks about her childhood, living in a part of LA where her family was the only Mexican family.

Her grandparents immigrated to California from Guanajuato in central Mexico. She and her four siblings grew up in a “happy but humble home.”

Before taking George there, she tried to prepare him. However, there was nothing for Olivia to worry about.

George said the modest home was “a mansion compared to my youth.” He was also happy, growing up in two-up, two-down with an outside bathroom.

In his memoir, I Me Mine, George wrote that the house he shared with his parents and three siblings was small. The door was straight onto the street. It had a little iron cooking stove, no hot water (they used to heat water by the fire and dump it into the zinc tub, and did a similar thing to keep their beds warm in the winter), two bedrooms, and each downstairs room was 10 square feet wide.

George eventually took Olivia to see Arnold Grove. Nothing had changed, unlike them.

“From 34 degrees to 54 north,” Olivia wrote, speaking of the latitude, “such a gap between us yet there was no force/ That could pull us apart.”

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The couple was very spiritual too

George and Olivia also had similar interests in spiritualism. George began his spiritual journey after he’d hit a wall. He craved knowledge, but nothing gave him answers until he did LSD and met Ravi Shankar. The legendary sitar player gave George his first sitar lessons and lent him various religious texts.

George also studied Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. Meanwhile, Olivia studied meditation with the Indian guru Maharaj Ji before meeting George.

In Martin Scorsese’s documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Olivia said, early in their relationship, she didn’t tell George about her spirituality.

He found out when TSA agents searched Olivia’s bag at the airport and pulled out all her religious books. Olivia said, “He was approving of my journey. He, I think, considered himself a bit of an expert on spiritual matters.”

“We had our differences. I might have done a different technique than he did. But we both had the same goal, and I think that was really the key to everything in our lives.”

Throughout the Harrisons’ 30 years together, “George was relentless at keeping our spiritual aim true,” Olivia wrote in her forward in the reissue of I Me Mine. “We were only humans walking a long road towards our shared goal of enlightenment and I, for one, welcomed any reminders.

“In the course of a day I might have said, ‘Oh, your bit of the garden looks great,’ to which he would reply, ‘It’s not my garden, Liv.’ It was his way of reminding himself and me that we are pure Spirit…”

Olivia told the LA Times, “One of his favorite things to say was, ‘Be here now.’ Sometimes he and Dhani would be talking and Dhani would ask, ‘Well what if this happens?’ or ‘What if that happens?’ George would say, ‘Be here now. Be here now.'”

It’s been more than 20 years since George and Olivia have seen each other, and that’s still true. They might not be together, but they’re still in communication.

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