Even though he was in The Beatles, one of the most famous bands worldwide, George Harrison was his own person and didn't let fame affect him completely. He was known as the quiet Beatle, but he could talk anyone to death about the things that meant a lot to him. George followed his own path and formed his own opinions. Soon, he formed himself into an intelligent, well-informed intellect.
However, many thought he was unapproachable and intimidating. Some didn't try to converse with him because they knew they couldn't understand his views or philosophies. Others looked up to him and thought themselves unworthy to converse with him because he seemed otherwordly. Singer and actress Jane Birkin fell into the second group of people.
George Harrison was a complicated person
In the early days of The Beatles, George Harrison wanted to be in a famous rock 'n' roll group like everyone else. However, once the band gained popularity, George quickly realized fame wasn't what he thought it would be.
He didn't like that hoards of screaming girls followed him and the band everywhere they went, and he thought touring was pointless. When The Beatles met Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n' Roll's stylist, Larry Geller, found him outside. They talked about spirituality, which George was beginning to get into. His conversation with Geller was more interesting than spending time with his idol.
"George stayed in the room for maybe twenty minutes—then he left," Geller said in Here Comes The Sun: The Spiritual And Musical Journey Of George Harrison by Joshua M. Greene. "Why did he leave? It seemed to me he was distancing himself from the fame and the adulation. This was in 1965, just as his career was spiking, and I remember thinking, 'Interesting. This guy's an ascetic.'"
George did begin to abstain from indulgences once he became more religious. Suddenly, rock 'n' roll and everything that came with it couldn't hold a candle to the feeling George got from meditating and listening to Indian music. He read about ancient gurus and traveled to some of the holiest lands in India. These were not things most rock stars were doing in the 1960s.
Jane Birkin was intimidated talking to George Harrison
In 1967, George Harrison became the first Beatle to record a solo album, although it was the soundtrack for Joe Massot’s debut feature-length film, 1968's Wonderwall. George initially hesitated to do it, but he used it to show people Indian music. "He was free to do absolutely whatever he liked," said friend and arranger John Barham (per George's website).
In the film, French singer and actress Jane Birkin played Penny Lane. George attended the film's premiere at Cannes with her and his fellow Beatle in 1968.
In Martin Scorsese's 2011 documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Birkin spoke about her friendship with the spiritual Beatle. She admitted that he was a little intimidating. How could she talk to an alluring, mysterious spiritualist?
"I remember the mystery that was around George Harrison," Birkin said. "I wouldn't have asked him a question. I wouldn't have added because of… feeling he… he was onto something else."
George wasn't just a mystery to Birkin; he was an wonder to many, and he continued to be for the rest of his life.
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