Mick Jagger Initially Doubted Whether George Harrison’s Spirituality in the 1960s Would Last

George Harrison always had a firm sense of spirituality, even before getting interested in Hinduism in the 1960s. However, George’s fellow rock star, Mick Jagger, and who knows how many others, looked at George’s spiritualism at face value. It seemed like a passing phase.

George showed him wrong. Spirtualness was always lurking in George’s head.

George Harrison wearing denim with members of the Hare Krishna Temple in 1969.
George Harrison | Wolstenholme/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Mick Jagger said George Harrison’s spirituality initially looked like a ‘faddish thing’

In a special edition of Rolling Stone, “Remembering George,” The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger touched on George’s spirituality. Initially, when George began to get more interested in it, he said it looked like any other phase that a musician would dabble in during the 1960s.

“He could be funny and charming and also quite acerbic,” Jagger said. “He had the sort of quality that normally people would associate with John. And then, later, George developed this other side to him.

“He very much concentrated on the spiritual side of his life, and it was more than a passing fancy. It looked like it was a sort of faddish thing at the time, but it stayed with him. You got the feeling that most people were dabbling in spirituality, but for George it was perhaps the major part of his life once he discovered it.

“And it’s very easy to ridicule someone who does that, and he was ridiculed, there’s no doubt about that, especially in England, for being like that. But he did follow through on the courage of his convictions. He stayed with it and never rejected it.

“And, of course, he made mistakes – anybody following this who was one of the first people of a generation to do that would make mistakes – but not any glaring ones. You’ve got to start somewhere.”

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What other artists had to say about George’s spirituality

We can’t say whether Jagger was alone in his initial doubt of George’s spirituality. However, most of the rock stars who wrote something for “Remembering George” remembered him for his spirituality. It came after his guitar playing skills and before his aptitude for gardening.

Keith Richards said, “His spiritual trip is another thing, but I don’t want to go into it because I don’t know anything about it. As I always said to George, I draw the line at swamis. You know? I always treated it as an interesting thing, like, well, why not learn a bit more about esoteric Eastern religions?

“But I don’t know anything about all this Ganges stuff. One river’s very much like another, they all flow into the same sea.”

Elton John added, “But as people said, he was very spiritual and very serious about his religious beliefs. It wasn’t just a five-minute-wonder thing with him.”

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George was always spiritual

One of George’s earliest memories was spiritual related. According to Salon, George never understood why “priests used to come round to all the houses in the neighborhood collecting money.” It didn’t sit well with him. That was the start of his disenchantment with the Catholic church.

However, George never stopped asking questions. He started getting answers when he met Ravi Shankar, a sitar legend who later became George’s spiritual guru.

“He was searching for something much higher, much deeper,” Shankar told Rolling Stone. “It does seem like he already had some Indian background in him. Otherwise, it’s hard to explain how he got so attracted to a particular type of life and philosophy, even religion. It seems very strange, really. Unless you believe in reincarnation.”

George said ignorance was the reason why his spiritualism was always misunderstood

During a 1979 interview with Rolling Stone, George explained why his spirituality was the most misunderstood facet of his life.

“It’s ignorance,” George explained. “They say ignorance is bliss, but bliss is not ignorance – it’s the opposite of that, which is knowledge. And there’s a lot of people who have fear. And the fear of failure is a bad thing in life; it stops people from gaining more knowledge or just understanding deeper things.

“So when somebody presents them with a whole set of ideas they don’t understand, fear takes over. They want to destroy it, chop it down… Basically I feel fortunate to have realized what the goal is in life. There’s no point in dying having gone through your life without knowing who you are, what you are or what the purpose of life is.

And that’s all it is. People started getting uptight when I started shooting off my mouth and saying the goal is to manifest love of God – self-realization. I must admit, there was a period when I was trying to tell everybody about it; now, I don’t bother unless somebody asks specifically.

“I still write about it in my songs, but it’s less blatant, more hidden now. I’m a very poor example of a spiritual person. I don’t really want anything in my life except knowledge, but I’m not a very good practitioner of that.”

George’s spirituality was always genuine, no matter what anyone else thought.

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