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George Harrison and his wife Olivia welcomed their only son Dhani on Aug. 1, 1978. As the child of an ex-Beatle and one of the best recording artists of all time, you can imagine that Dhani had a bit of an unconventional childhood. He grew up around great musicians and celebrities. However, outside of having a famous father, Dhani grew up in a bubble of privacy at his family’s home at Friar Park.

Many assumed that Dhani would have become a musician just like George. That’s not exactly what happened. It took some time for Dhani to realize that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Dhani Harrison performing at George Fest in 2014.
Dhani Harrison performing | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

George Harrison surrounded his son with music

When Dhani was a kid, he used to tell his friends that his dad “pushes buttons” for a living. He had no idea that those buttons were making hit albums.

“I hung out with my parents. I was always trying to be with the big kids, and the big kids at my house were like (ELO frontman) Jeff Lynne,” Dhani told Daily Mail. “You’d come home and it was like, ‘Bob Dylan’s here.’ It’s hard to get a bit of perspective on, like, ‘How did your school test go today?'”

Dhani only felt like one of the big kids because his father treated him like one. “My dad treated me like an adult – I got involved, he taught me how to make records from an early age. I grew up in a recording studio,” he said.

It doesn’t seem as if George forced music on his son, though. The ex-Beatle couldn’t help it; that’s what he did for a living. There was no way George could have shielded Dhani from it all. Music was all around, and Dhani formed an interest in it all by himself. However, there were instances where Dhani rebelled against his father’s way of life.

Dhani Harrison used to rebel against his father

Dhani explained that George wasn’t into some things he wanted to do growing up. The ex-Beatle was actually an unconventional father. He tried to get his son to hang out with him instead of going to school.

In Martin Scorsese’s documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Dhani said, “He used to say to me every day, ‘You don’t have to go to school today, do you just wanna go on a yacht in the South Pacific and run away forever?’

“People would probably say, ‘You’re an idiot for not doing that,’ and maybe in a way, I am,” Dhani explained. “But to rebel in my family it was to go to school, I went to like a semi-military school. We did CCF one day a week and he, that used to piss him off, me walking around in an Air Force uniform.”

Dhani always thought his father was cool, but the one moment that truly proved that happened when Dhani was about 15. He got into trouble with the cops, and his father told them to “f–k off.” The father and son grew close after that, and they’d “run off down the garden and hide. Don’t tell your mum kind of stuff.”


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Music wasn’t Dhani’s first choice

George used to tell Dhani, “You look more like me than I do.” In fact, Dhani is the spitting image of his father. It’s both a blessing and a curse. He had many offers to model, act, and, of course, record music, but he didn’t want any of it.

“You know, it’s exactly the best and worst thing about every day – comforting and sad all at the same time,” Dhani said about being his father’s look alike. It’s hard if you’re trying to have your own career. “I always knew that if I was going to do anything and be taken seriously in my life, I had to work and work very, very hard,” Dhani said. “Because you can get a foot in the door by being George Harrison’s son, but you can’t stay there.”

Initially, Dhani rebelled against his father again by not going into the music business. He went to Brown University and got his degree in industrial design and physics. He also joined the rowing club. Straight out of college, he got a job as an aerodynamicist for the British sports car company McLaren.

However, his father’s death in 2001 made him leave and want to start a career as a musician. Going into music was a way for Dhani to stay close to his father after his death. Watching the events of Sept. 11 and his father die made him think, “Well now I’m going to do what I want to do – music, something positive and strong.” It sounds like something his father would say.