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George Harrison

The Reluctant Beatle

Read by David Holt

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About The Book

From the author of the million-copy selling Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation and the bestselling John Lennon: The Life comes a revealing portrait of George Harrison, the most undervalued and mysterious Beatle.

Despite being hailed as one of the best guitarists of his era, George Harrison, particularly in his early decades, battled feelings of inferiority. He was often the butt of jokes from his bandmates owing to his lower-class background and, typically, was allowed to contribute only one or two songs per Beatles album out of the dozens he wrote.

Now, acclaimed Beatles biographer Philip Norman examines Harrison through the lens of his numerous self-contradictions. Compared to songwriting luminaries John Lennon and Paul McCartney he was considered a minor talent, yet he composed such masterpieces as ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Here Comes the Sun’, and his solo debut album ‘All Things Must Pass’ achieved enormous success, appearing on many lists of the 100 best rock albums ever. Modern music critics place him in the pantheon of Sixties guitar gods alongside Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards and Jimmy Page.

Harrison railed against the material world yet wrote the first pop song complaining about income tax. He spent years lovingly restoring his Friar Park estate as a spiritual journey, but quickly mortgaged the property to help rescue a film project that would be widely banned as sacrilegious, Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Harrison could be fiercely jealous, but not only did he stay friends with Eric Clapton when Clapton fell in love with Harrison's wife, Pattie Boyd, the two men grew even closer after Clapton walked away with her.

Unprecedented in scope and filled with numerous colour photos, this rich biography captures George Harrison at his most multi-faceted: devoted friend, loyal son, master guitar-player, brilliant songwriter, cocaine addict, serial philanderer, global philanthropist, student of Indian mysticism, self-deprecating comedian and, ultimately, iconic artist and man beloved by millions.

About The Author

Photograph by Jessica Norman

Philip Norman grew up on Ryde Pier, Isle of Wight. His bizarre childhood as the son of an unsuccessful seaside showman inspired his memoir Babycham Night. Norman went on to win the Young Writer of the Year Award contest organized by The Sunday Times Magazine (London), where he became a star interviewer, profiling celebrities ranging from Stevie Wonder to Libyan President Moammar Gaddafi. Norman’s early career as a rock critic led to his first biography, Shout!, which received critical acclaim and sold more than a million copies. He is the author of numerous highly praised works, including John Lennon: The LifePaul McCartney: The LifeSlowhand: The Life and Music of Eric ClaptonRave On: The Biography of Buddy HollyWild Thing: The Short, Spellbinding Life of Jimi Hendrix; and a memoir of his Sunday Times years, We Danced on Our Desks.

About The Reader

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio UK (October 24, 2023)
  • Runtime: 16 hours and 21 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781398525412

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Raves and Reviews

'You've got him'

– Pattie Boyd

‘You have taken your readers right down the steps and into the Cavern as it really was’

– Bill Harry, editor of Mersey Beat

'Norman captures the creativity, the humanity, and the great humor of the man in this keen and lovely tribute'

– Booklist, Starred Review

‘Norman has fashioned an authoritative portrait of Harrison that leaves you liking and feeling sympathy for his subject while being fully aware of the tetchiness…that was never far away'

– Will Hodgkinson, The Times

‘(a) fleet and confident new biography…Norman is hardly the first writer to unspool Harrison’s life…but his status as a respected chronicler of The Beatles, and 1960s culture more broadly, makes this biography a significant addition to an otherwise over-saturated field’

– The Telegraph

‘A deep dive by the acclaimed Beatles biographer paints a revealing portrait of perhaps the most undervalued band member…A fascinating story about a man of contrasts, and a must-read for fans of the Fab Four'

– Woman & Home

‘Beatles chronicler Philip Norman turns his attention to the shadowy George Harrison…Norman sheds light on his poor but happy childhood in Wavertree, Liverpool, and traces the path to The Beatles with assurance'

– Daily Express

'a fully realised portrait of a complex man: spiritual but peevish, brilliantly talented, but for ever shadowed by the Lennon/McCartney axis'

– The Times, Books of the Year

‘[A] partial re-evaluation of the most underated Beatle [which] contains valuable input from Harrison's second wife Olivia and their son Dhani'

– Uncut

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