Former Beatles member George Harrison lost his battle with cancer in November 2001. On the first anniversary of his death, his friends in the music business staged a tribute concert in London. The Concert For George has just been released on CD and DVD.
In November 2002, George Harrison's friends and colleagues gathered at London's Royal Albert Hall to sing his best-loved songs as a solo artist and member of rock's most influential band, The Beatles. George's old bandmates Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were on hand, along with his close friend, legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, who served as the musical director for the "Concert For George."
"George's wife, Olivia, had given me this job of being musical director to single out people for certain songs, and I found that really hard," said Clapton. "We were all quite protective of our relationships with George."
The concert included long-time Beatles session organist and singer Billy Preston, former Squeeze member Jools Holland, Gary Brooker of 1960s and '70s band Procol Harum, and George's colleagues from the Traveling Wilburys, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. George's close friend, famed Indian musician Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka also participated in the tribute, as did George's son Dhani Harrison, who sang and played guitar with the all-star cast. Paul McCartney played a ukulele version of The Beatles' classic written by George Harrison, Something.
"Sometimes if you'd go around to George's house after you'd had dinner, the ukuleles would come out," Paul McCartney said. On Something, Paul was playing the instrument that George gave him at one of those informal gatherings.
Proceeds from DVD of the Concert For George will go to the former Beatle's Material World Charitable Foundation, which he founded in the 1970s. The documentary is packed with extra features, including special interviews and backstage footage.
In March 2004, George Harrison will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. He was earlier inducted in 1988 as a member of The Beatles. During the Concert for George, the song While My Guitar Gently Weeps brings together three of the five musicians who played on the original recording; Ringo Starr on drums, Eric Clapton recreating his classic guitar solo, and Paul McCartney playing piano and harmonizing with Clapton's lead vocal.