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George Harrison and his wife, Olivia, welcomed their only son, Dhani, in 1978. They named him after two Indian musical notes. George strived to raise Dhani out of the spotlight and away from his fame. However, that doesn’t mean George shielded him away from anything. The former Beatle didn’t hold back from telling Dhani things and treated him like an adult.

George Harrison and his wife Olivia and their son Dhani at LAX Airport in 1988.
George Harrison, his wife Olivia, and their son Dhani | Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

George Harrison raised his son Dhani out of the spotlight

Shortly after Dhani was born, George and Olivia decided to keep him as much away from the spotlight as possible. George already wanted to stay away from people, so it wasn’t that hard. George said it was unfortunate that John Lennon’s kids had grown up in the height of publicity and hadn’t gotten a chance to be kids. He didn’t want Dhani to go through a similar thing.

“Everbody wants to know about and find out about your kids, but I think that’s unfair on them,” George told After Nine. They asked George if Dhani would be able to have a normal upbringing. “It’s not normal anyway, having a dad who’s an ex-Beatle, living in a sort of wacky castle. That’s not normal.

“But to him it is normal, and within that framework, he’s still-he’s a good boy and knows that there’s people who aren’t as fortunate, and he’s sensitive to the other things that are happening in the world. He’s not just like, you know, some pampered little horror, like precocious and that. He’d good; I think he’s OK.”

George didn’t hold back on telling Dhani important things

When Dhani was growing up, George didn’t hold back on telling him things no matter his age. George wanted to teach Dhani about spirituality from a young age.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Olivia said she’s “constantly surprised” to hear Dhani talk about things she didn’t know George had told him.

“Whether it was something for history’s sake, or a mantra, or some lesson, I thought, he didn’t wait until (Dhani) was 30 or 40,” Olivia said. “That’s a real lesson, too. Why do we hold back? Why are we so constrained by time? George didn’t live like that. Maybe he was prescient. Maybe he knew.”

George didn’t hold back on anything. He said everything he wanted to say and lived in the here and now.

“One of his favorite things to say was, ‘Be here now,'” Olivia told the LA Times. “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.'”


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The former Beatle always treated his son like an adult

As George said, growing up at Friar Park, the wacky castle, was interesting for Dhani. He used to tell his friends that his dad “pushes buttons” for a living. Dhani might not have grown up in the spotlight, but he certainly didn’t have an ordinary childhood. Although, from his perspective, growing up around rock stars was normal. They weren’t famous to him.

“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 told NPR, “It offers you a different perspective on life to have these people around the house. It made going to school easier, because you wouldn’t take yourself so seriously.”

Dhanu hung around the adults because his father always 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. George showed Dhani music but never pushed him to follow in his footsteps.

Even when Dhani chose to attend military school and study industrial design and physics at college, George never fought his son. Meanwhile, George acted like a teenager himself. He always convinced Dhani to run off with him down the garden to hide, doing “don’t tell your mum kind of stuff.”

Dhani eventually stopped fighting to go into the family business. He started making music, and when his father died in 2001, he started an extensive campaign to remaster all of George’s albums, safeguarding George’s legacy.