George Harrison Was a ‘Worrier’: ‘He Could Be Quite Jittery’

TL;DR:

  • George Harrison began to worry about his safety while touring with The Beatles.
  • George Harrison was reportedly prone to worry.
  • With his spirituality, George Harrison was able to assuage some of his concerns. 
George Harrison sits in a chair and strums the guitar.
George Harrison | GAB Archive/Redferns

George Harrison had a calm demeanor, but people who knew him said he was prone to worry. He was concerned with performances, travel, and general day-to-day problems. His concerns reportedly made him feel very jittery. He used his devotion to spirituality as a way to combat his worries. 

George Harrison began to worry about the dangers of touring with The Beatles

The mania that followed The Beatles was exciting at first, but Harrison started to wonder if he was in danger while on tour. 

“I sensed this in 1965, and I said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want ticker-tape parades,” Harrison told Rolling Stone in 1987, adding, “‘I don’t want to be put on this big pedestal.'”

He explained that the band had “scrapes and near misses” with natural disasters, political unrest, and swarming fans. 

“Every time we went to Texas, we nearly got wiped out,” he said. “The first time just by the police not listening to our advance man tell them how to handle the situation. We landed on the runway in Houston; they put about four police at the airport, and so there were thousands of kids. They were actually running along the runway, and the pilot just turned the engines off and let the plane coast to a stop. Within a few minutes, they were all over the plane. They were on the outside of the plane, knocking on the windows and all over the wings. It was ridiculous.”

People who knew George Harrison said he was full of worry

Harrison’s worries didn’t abate when The Beatles stopped touring. The musician was insecure about his songwriting and performances, and stressed about day-to-day problems. 

“He was a worrier,” drummer Andy Newmark said, per the book Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison by Joshua Greene. “He would turn to musicians he invited to play with him and want to know, ‘Do you like this? Are you having fun?’ If something was wrong, he would wonder, ‘What have I done wrong?’ In day-to-day stuff, he could be quite jittery.”

The musician used his spirituality to combat stress

To combat his stress, Harrison turned to his spirituality. While on a frightening plane ride in the 1970s, Harrison believed that chanting Hare Krishna saved his life

“Once I was on an aeroplane that was in an electric storm,” Harrison told The Guardian. “It was hit by lightning three times, and a Boeing 707 went over the top of us, missing by inches. I thought the back end of the plane had blown off.”

He believed that chanting made the difference between life and death for him.

“I ended up with my feet pressed against the seat in front, my seat belt as tight as it could be, gripping on the thing, and yelling Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare at the top of my voice,” he said, “I know for me, the difference between making it and not making it was actually chanting the mantra.”

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