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Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's wishes: Stuart Ross poem - cricket haibun

note: For a year I've carefully nurtured the following New Year's email exchange between myself and author/poet/absurdist/literarygoodguy Stuart Ross. Last year I didn't have a blog to share with, so here's our exchange, just a year later.

******************  best wishes for 2012 ***************************
Chris & Chase ... wrooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof!

Thanks for the haibun, Chris! Very nice.

Country Boy Stu (now with a dog, too!)

On 11-01-02 12:33 AM, "C FAIERS" <> wrote:

thanks, Stuart, for sharing your bucolic New Year's Day 2011 ... ain't it great being 'country boys'  : )
here's the draft of a brief haibun from today:

Today, the first day of 2011, we experienced further 'January thaw'. It was so drizzly Chase wouldn't leave the house for his afternoon poopifying, so I went for a solo stroll along the Crowe River. The new asphalt path is reminiscent of European towpaths, and I wandered protected by my hoody and blue umbrella. The light drizzle turned to heavy fog, almost Thamesish - the mist rolling up the river from the south, against the fast snow melt current. I decided to sit and enjoy the damp day in a small picnic enclosure.

After sitting on the bench for a few minutes, I started samatha meditation to welcome the new year. I focused on a tall white pine across the river. Its top branches were outspread, folding upwards, as if sharing the meditation. When I was in my late teens, worrying about being conscripted into the Vietnam War, I used to sit in our Florida backyard in full lotus position and focus my consciousness in a small bush about 15 feet in front of me. Over 4 decades later, focusing on the distant tree shimmering thru the rolling fog patches, I was reminded of those long ago meditations - it was interesting to speculate that my field of meditative focus has evolved from 15  to about 450 feet in the intervening 43 years. It was very calm and peaceful dripping with the white pine, and I felt refreshed - a shamanic start for the new year and decade.   

thawing branches
drip into fog chill
roots toe ice current

ancient dancer
guards the river
moves once a decade

thanks, Stuart
peace & poetry power!


Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2011 23:26:45 -0500
Subject: My 2011 New Year Poem for you

Dear friends, relatives, colleagues, comrades!

Here’s wishing you a healthy, happy, artistic 2011. I’m pasting my annual New Year poem below. I hope you enjoy it.

All best to you,

Cobourg, Ontario, Canada


I waited for the next year
to be invented. I took a number.
I passed the time creating
brief theatrical productions
in my head. My head hurt.
I dreamed I was a popular blue
soft drink, a gangly dog cartoon,
a sneaky “u” in American labour.
I dreamed I lived in a big city.

You wake up and you are
in a small town. A building
rings bells, and the lake
is just three minutes away;
the bits touching shore
are covered in ice. Are those ducks
frozen in the lake? No,
they are rocks that look like ducks.
Phew. The relieved townspeople
cluster by Town Hall, squeeze hard,
and the “s” pops out. They are
townpeople now. It is only
one town. It is in Canada.
Twenty Eleven kicks the “s”
down the street, whistling a song
my father liked.

My father never met Twenty Eleven.
My father liked Nelson Eddy, who he also
never met. The song was “Dardanella.”
My father and I build a tent
by the water. The water is solid.
We wait. The year is invented.
He teaches me what it can do.

Stuart Ross
1 January 2011      

Thursday, 29 December 2011

snow magick & shamanic summoning

Snow magick has returned to the trails. Here is an an email haibun/mini essay from last January.

Subject: doe and fawn fade/Three Methods of Summoning
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2011 23:36:42 +0000


I suspected there was a hidden haiku in last week's long walk behind Zion Church. It's very much a shamanic power spot for me, and after the hike I emailed Sylvia about how the bitter cold, the heavy snow loads on the boughs in the mature pine plantation, and a north wind blowing at just the right speed down the plantation laneways created ghostly wisps. At first I thought I had imagined these ephemeral snow ghosts, but after watching for a few more seconds, a second and then a third thin spectre spiralled past.

Chase and I continued on our hike after experiencing the ghostly procession, and we trudged to the end of the long swamp, which added a half hour each way to our cold journey. It was on our tired return approach to the trail intersection that we saw a doe with her fawn. Like the snow ghosts an hour before, the pair faded into the pine plantation without a sound or trace of their passing.
                                                           doe and fawn
                                                           fade into pine alleys
                                                           of snow ghosts

I should have anticipated a shamanic encounter. Nature's realms almost always foreshadow their appearances with subtle hints and signs. I was reflecting on snowflea's excellent owl haiku during this afternoon's hike, which reminded me of my own shamanic owl encounter at that spot, and I realized the obvious set-up for the shamanic visit by the doe and fawn. ... so many thanks, snowflea*, for the haijin inspiration  : )

*snowflea is local poet John Hamley's haijin name - his inspiring haiku:

                                                           Silence --
                                                           then an owl's call
                                                           as clear as the stars

credit: John's haiku published in Haiku Canada Review, October 2009 



Reflecting on these recent mild shamanic exeriences inspired me to further thoughts on how I encourage, or 'summon', the various spiritual and shamanic realms. I concluded there are three main techniques, which I've used since my teen years. There is the subtle, 'haiku way', of gently experiencing nature, often putting myself into synchronicity with beings in nature on long walks or by staying very still in wild locales, maintaining a very focused alertness for what I term gentle shamanic encounters.

The crudest way, which I've never intentionally practiced, is what our society calls witchcraft. This is the overt, rather crude, summoning of beings from the spirit world through ceremony (i.e. 'bell, book & candlery'). Several times I've done this accidentally through psychedelic experimentations.

The third way of access is through meditation. This is the truest, safest and most satisfying method of connecting with spirit, or higher consciousness, realms. This method also occasionally grants observable, even demonstrable, siddhi powers, like 'sliding' streetlights.

Our materialistic, 'scientific' society often gets things backwards. These incredible contacts with higher, and very different, levels of consciousnesses aren't so much goals to be sought for themselves as much as they are the by-products of our own experiencing of these states of higher awareness.            

These were my reflections on our return hike today from Sorrow Falls (where only the head of the blue Buddha I placed there is now visible above the snow load). Chase and I were starting to shiver from the minus 20 C cold, and I was experiencing parallel kundalini. We had a final confirmation and closure to the hike by another drala spot, a huge half-dead grandfather I call the condo tree because of all the visible nesting holes. 

                                                          crow's guttural croak
                                                          atop the condo tree
                                                         HELLO HELLO HELLO

The creek bank by Sorrow Falls is full of mossy green 'spirit condos'. I don't know exactly which tribe or species of beings live there, but the above pic of moss loving dakini spirits sure looks like possible inhabitants of this sacred space. I found this pic New Year's Day Jan. 2016. 


note: When Chase and I returned late this aft from hiking the same trails as described above, the following daily quote arrived courtesy of Michael Zizis. Synchronicity strikes again! - Chris

"The world is full of magical things patiently
waiting  for our wits to grow sharper.”

Bertrand Russell ~ Taurus

18 May 1872 / 2 February 1970 - British philosopher,
 logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic.

To unsubscribe to this Miscellany of Quotes please send a message to with "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

Michael Zizis

96 Benson Ave.,

Toronto- M6G 2H8

ph: 416/651-0096

blogs:"The world is full of magical things patiently
waiting  for our wits to grow sharper.”

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Hangin' with Bubo (great horned owl): shaman haibun

Hangin' with Bubo (virginiansis)

(Marmora, Ontario trails haibun  -  December 29th, 2004)

Another adventure on the trails of Ontario ... it was so bright yesterday (finally) that I decided to do my daily walk facing into the sun. Chose the snowmobile trail which runs behind the old quarry hamlet of Malone. The first kilometer of the trail is thru an avenue of cedars and white pine, which then opens to a mile-long straightaway across a swamp.

About a quarter of the way across the swamp I surprised two white-tailed deer approaching to browse. This is to be expected, as many trails are lined with sumac and various other seed-bearing appetizers. Unfortunately, the deer caught my scent, and they skipped back through the swamp to a thickly wooded hummock.

Bending bloodred clusters
for a future feast

I continued along the straightaway, stopping for several minutes to soak up much-needed vitamin D. Despite the brightness the day was bitterly cold, at least minus 15C. To keep warm I set a fast pace, and was just about bowled over by a brown and gray buzzbomb from the swamp! A great horned owl brushed within fifteen feet of me, unusual as they are night hunters. I intuited where he had landed in the thick brush on the other side of the trail. There he was, perched in the upper branches of a tree.

Solstice smudging rewards:
another new friend

I had the feeling he was also watching me very carefully, and I gave a thin high whistle to mimic a small rodent. He swivelled his head further towards me like Linda Blair in "The Exorcist". We stared at each other for at least five minutes, and I felt so crazy I held out my arm hoping he'd land on it.

Synchronicity again with the owl tribe. A few days earlier I'd placed a full-colour picture of Bubo virginiansis on my home altar. This was my third major visit from Bubo, and each visit was becoming longer and more intimate.

Ancient monk/warrior readies for fresh battle:
old ways returning

Wanting to mark Bubo's location, I noticed a skeletal stump in the swamp. I paced back to it so I could memorize the spot, and then I noticed an ancient metal number "9", like an address marker on it. Very curious.

Time to head back, and reluctantly I turned away from the sun. A haze of clouds was now hanging in the sky, and taking a last glance I saw something I'd never seen before - a huge rainbow was arcing from horizon to horizon forming a corona around the sun! After the deer and the owl I wasn't sure if this was a flashback, so I walked a few hundred yards without again looking towards the sun. Yes, it was a brilliant full rainbow, framing the sun! Sylvia told me that night these are called sundogs, or parhelions.

Buddha so beautiful
a veil is required

Chris Faiers/cricket

email from Dr. John, Oct. 19/14:

Great to hear the audio, in the flesh. Viva voce. In "Hanging with Bubo" you mention sundogs. Shamanic familiars et al. Brought me back to the cremation of Chogyam Trungpa in Barnet, Vermont in '87. The morning started cloudy. Then, as the ceremonies continued, things changed. The sky cleared to reveal a sundog, the classic manifestation at the cremation of a great master. Eagles flew over, all the signs. We, in the crowd, oohed and ahed. Is this CGI? (there was no CGI in those days). All the miracles were there. As in the new testament at the crucifixion. Not part of our scientific Western paradigm, but there it was. No LSD needed. Here's Alan Ginsberg's take:

Chris Faiers (home)   |   biography & bibliography   |   Eel Pie Dharma

This haibun is from my ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun
2008, Hidden Brook Press
isbn: 978-1-897475-25-6

a limited number of copies are available from me @$10 pp - signed if you wish - illuminated free  - also if you wish  (individually illustrated with coloured pen shaman drawings)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Formentera Island: Hippie Magick with the I Ching, 1971 (haibun)

For Conrad, who asked to hear more of my travels/travails. This is a chapter from my 1990 book: EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun -  © 1990 Chris Faiers
about my 1971 visit to the Balearic Islands off Spain.

note: Tai Grove, publisher of Hidden Brook Press, plans to issue a new edition of this book next year with the updated title: Eel Pie Island Dharma.

Chapter 17 - Formentera

To escape the psychedelic nonsense of Eel Pie and the routine of the graveyard, I decided to visit the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea off Spain.  I caught a tourist flight to the island of Majorca, where the Holmes family took their vacations.  There I hooked up with some Spanish street kids, and together we caught a ferry to the hippie island of Ibiza.  After spending the night on a rocky beach, I decided to catch the ferry to the even more remote and mysterious island of Formentera:

Sleeping in ruins
    La Guardia's flashlight
         signals false dawn

By midday I was standing on the ferry's rolling deck eating fresh figs and watching the mountainous shape of Formentera come into focus.  After disembarking I walked the couple of miles up the straight and flat only road road into the main hamlet, which consisted of the bar Fonda Pepe, a hostel, a bakery and a couple of houses.

I wasn't to meet Mette, a Scandinavian girl I had met in Majorca, until the next evening, and so I set off to explore the island.  I met up with a German student on holiday, and he invited me back to his villa.  The only tourists to have discovered Formentera were the Germans, apart from itinerant artists and hippies from all over the world.  The student talked about psychology, and then he wanted to sunbathe nude.  I got a bisexual vibe, and politely made my exit as soon as I could.  I continued following the dirt track.  There was only the occasional farmhouse, and soon I reached the sea.

The path became more rocky and began to climb.  Finally it ended and I followed the hilly rim of the sea.  There were no houses now, and I walked some miles with the hypnotic sea crashing hundreds of feet below me.  It had been a day full of excitement and fresh sea air, and when I reached what seemed to be the highest and most remote part of the island, night was falling.  Luckily, I found a small cave in the cliffs, and tucking my possessions under my head, I fell asleep with my feet in the cave and my head on the ledge hundreds of feet above the Mediterranean.

The sun awoke me early on my perch, and when I looked down into the clear sea, I saw a shark lazily undulating by:

Below the cliffs
    shark undulating
         clear morning sea

I packed my things and wandered in the direction I hoped town to be.  I stopped at a well by a farmhouse, and the old farmer spoke enough English to hold a conversation.  He had been a merchant seaman, and had retired to the outback of Formentera, his home island.

After several hours of walking, I found my way back to Fonda Pepe, where I joined the international throng of hippies, writers, wanderjahr students and hip Spaniards.  We sat in a long, raggle-taggle line on the verandah outside the cafe, drinking beer we couldn't afford and chatting.  A full-bodied blonde hitchhiker from Germany seemed quite interested in this English hippie, but the cold sores around her mouth put me off.  We sat and drank with our feet on a little railing, watching the awesome sunset over the beautifully barren landscape of Formentera.

Later that evening Mette showed up, as good as her word.  We went off and rented a room in the pensione, where they made us keep our passports in their safe.

The next day we roamed around looking for a house to rent.  This was a dharma time for me, and I met an American who was about to return to the States.  He offered to let me rent the farmhouse he had been living in, as he still had a month's rent left.  I paid him a few hundred pesetas, and Mette and I prepared to move in the next day.  The farmhouse was a beautiful stone building, with a well in front and the name "Maria Jerome" painted over the front door.  There were only three rooms, a kitchen, a bedroom and a den with an open fireplace, but to us it was a mansion:

         sesame seeds in honey

Maria Jerome faced one of the ubiquitous foot trails on the island.  There was a sparse forest across from the house, and the cottage itself was surrounded by its own fields, and the flower-filled fields of the neighbouring farmer.  The only other farmhouse was about two hundred yards away, and then a hilly vista of fields stretched all the way to the sea, about a mile and a half away.  On clear days you could even see Ibiza, and the "singing rocks" that stand guard that legend has Ulysses passed on his voyage where the sirens tried to lure his ship to ruin with their unearthly singing.

There was no runnning water, and the only toilet facilities were to squat by one of the rock fences that mazed around the house.  Propriety dictated that after shitting in the field, one covers on'e business with a rock.  A poem for the most enjoyable shits I have taken in my life:


Squatting in the ozone air
by the rock field fence
tiny perfect flowers at my feet

across the cool blue Med
the Siren Rocks of Ibiza
sing through these dancing butterflies

Mette and I moved into the cottage.  Even the name seemed a good omen, Maria Jerome being the Spanish equivalents of my mother's name, Marianne, and my brother's name, Jeremy.

We slept in the bedroom the first night, all rolled up in my sleeping bag.  Mette didn't seem horny, and didn't want a repeat of the drunken sex we'd had the night before in the pensione before leaving Fonda Pepe.  She sneezed and hacked and sneezed, and complained that her allergies couldn't stand the dust of the farmhouse.

So Mette moved back into the pensione by herself.  I was just as happy to be living in seclusion, and in a few days I acquired a couple of hippie roommates.  My second or third day in Maria Jerome I wandered the mile or so into the hamlet.  Coming towards me was the raunchiest, scraggliest hippie I had ever seen.  He probably looked like me.  He made a beeline for me, and when we said hello, it became apparent he was English.  Then one of the weirdest coincidences of my life happened.  Roger asked me if I had a place to put him up, and when I told him my name, his eyes opened wide and he pulled a scrap of paper from his dirty pockets.  My name was written on the scrap, and the address of the Eel Pie Hotel, and rough instructions on how to find the commune.

Amazingly, Roger had met California John in Amsterdam, and John had given him my name and the Eel Pie information and told him I would put him up in London.  Roger had changed his mind about going to London, and instead had made the long tour down the European coasts and then hitched across Spain, where he caught the mainland ferry for the Balearics.

While Roger was hitching south, I had decided to take the first vacation of my working career, and had taken a month's leave of absense from the Twickenham Cemetery, and also headed south.  And so this incredible coincidence, Roger and I meeting on this remote island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea!  I was even able to fulfill California John's promise and give Roger a place to stay.  The I Ching was working its mysteries.

I spent several weeks living in Maria Jerome.  Some days I would walk into the little forest and chop up dead wood for our fires at night.  A husband and wife pair of travelling hippies also moved in, and one night we had a party with wine and candles and a blazing fire.  I remember running wild through the starry night and working off any chance of a hangover the next day.

Other days were spent reading and wandering.  An old American beatnik had settled on Formentera, and to eke out an existence, he had opened a nickel-a-day library of paperback books.  I discovered the works of Kurt Vonnegut, and you couldn't have chosen a better setting for reading his classics Sirens of Titan and Slaughterhouse Five, with the flights of fantasy and incredible coincidences and ironies that are Vonnegut's stock in trade.  I felt I was living a life as romantic and exciting as many of his characters.

Other coincidences happened, as well as finding Marie Jerome and Roger.  An American hippie I met at Fonda Pepe had dated a girl I had a crush on in high school, and I learned that she had gone on to become a fashion model.  He also moved into Maria Jerome for a few days.

Every day I threw the I Ching, and one day its message was "it is propitious to cross the waters".  I didn't question the meaning, as my idyll was due to come to an end.  I left Maria Jerome in the care of the other hippies, and walked the long, narrow path down to the ferry.

Eel Pie Dharma is protected by international copyright laws. Individuals may print off a copy of this work for personal use only to facilitate easier reading.

Eel Pie Dharma - contents   |   previous chapter (16)   |   next chapter (18)

Formentera - La Fonda Pepe

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Winter Solstice Smudging (haibun) - Chris Faiers/cricket

Winter Solstice Smudging 2005

Had a great smudging ceremony last nite, altho it's obviously more fun when Morley joins me. Stated the fire around 11 pm, & had to break a trail to the chiminea thru a foot of snow. I've gotten so good at starting winter fires, even when my wood is covered in snow, that I had the chiminea roaring in 10 minutes. Had a large, almost empty bottle of Pelee Island chiraz, & made several (many?) trips back inside to take a sip & get warm while I waited for midnite. It was by far the coldest of the 3 Solstice ceremonies so far.

At midnite I did my usual ritual ringing in the 4 points of the compass, & got to use my spiffy new Tibetan bell - great strong sound! Then smudged in incense & rich smoke from the white pine boughs I collected on Monday's hike. When I awoke this morning it took a second or 2 to realize the great smoky aroma was in my hair :) Always feel refreshed & purified after the Solstice ceremony. When I looked out the window at noon all the trees were covered in white hoarfrost!

Solstice morning:
smudge smoke in my hair
hoarfrost on every tree

Chris Faiers

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Rock On in Brahma with AC, George! Feb. 25/43 - Nov. 29/01


George Harrison

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
George Harrison
Black-and-white shot of a mustachioed man in his early thirties with long, dark hair.
George Harrison in 1974.
Background information
Also known as Carl Harrison
L'Angelo Misterioso
Hari Georgeson
Nelson/Spike Wilbury
George Harrysong
George O'Hara-Smith
Born 25 February 1943
Liverpool, England, UK
Died 29 November 2001 (aged 58)
Los Angeles, California, US
Genres Rock, pop, psychedelic rock, experimental, world
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, actor, record and film producer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, sitar, ukulele, mandolin, tambura, sarod, swarmandal, bass guitar, keyboard
Years active 1958–2001
Labels Parlophone, Capitol, Swan, Apple, Vee-Jay, EMI, Dark Horse
Associated acts The Quarrymen, The Beatles, Traveling Wilburys, Dhani Harrison, Ravi Shankar
Notable instruments
Gretsch Country Gentleman
Rosewood Telecaster
George Harrison,[1] MBE (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001)[2] was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles.[3][4] Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle",[3] Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other Beatles, as well as their Western audience.[5] Following the band's break-up, he was a successful solo artist, later a founding member of the Traveling Wilburys. Harrison was also a session musician and a film and record producer. He is listed at number 21 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".[6]
Although most of The Beatles' songs were written by Lennon and McCartney, Beatle albums generally included one or two of Harrison's own songs, from With The Beatles onwards.[7] His later compositions with The Beatles include "Here Comes the Sun", "Something" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". By the time of the band's break-up, Harrison had accumulated a backlog of material, which he then released as the triple album All Things Must Pass in 1970, from which two hit singles originated: a double A-side single, "My Sweet Lord" backed with "Isn't It a Pity", and "What Is Life". In addition to his solo work, Harrison co-wrote two hits for former Beatle Ringo Starr, as well as songs for the Traveling Wilburys—the supergroup he formed in 1988 with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison.
Harrison embraced Indian culture and Hinduism in the mid-1960s, and helped expand Western awareness of sitar music and of the Hare Krishna movement. With Ravi Shankar he organised a major charity concert with the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh. In addition to his musical accomplishments, he was also a record producer and co-founder of the production company HandMade Films. In his work as a film producer, he collaborated with people as diverse as the members of Monty Python and Madonna.[8]
He was married twice, to model Pattie Boyd from 1966 to 1974, and for 23 years to record company secretary Olivia Trinidad Arias, with whom he had one son, Dhani Harrison. He was a close friend of Eric Clapton. He is the only Beatle to have published an autobiography, with I Me Mine in 1980. Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001.



[edit] Early years: 1943–1959

Harrison was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on 25 February 1943,[9][10] the last of four children to Harold Hargreaves Harrison and his wife Louise, née French.[11]

Harrison's first home – 12 Arnold Grove
He had one sister, Louise, born 16 August 1931, and two brothers, Harry, born 1934, and Peter, born 20 July 1940. His mother was a Liverpool shop assistant, and his father was a bus conductor who had worked as a ship's steward on the White Star Line. His mother's family had Irish roots and were Roman Catholic;[9] his maternal grandfather, John French, was born in County Wexford, Ireland, emigrating to Liverpool where he married a local girl, Louise Woollam.[12]
Harrison was born in the house where he lived for his first six years: 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool, which was a small 2 up, 2 down terraced house in a cul-de-sac, with an alley to the rear. The only heating was a single coal fire, and the toilet was outside. In 1950 the family were offered a council house,[13] and moved to 25 Upton Green, Speke.[14]
His first school was Dovedale Primary School, very close to Penny Lane,[15] the same school as John Lennon who was a couple of years ahead of him.[16] He passed his 11-plus examination and achieved a place at the Liverpool Institute for Boys (in the building that now houses the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts), which he attended from 1954 to 1959.[17]
Harrison said that, when he was 12 or 13, he had an "epiphany" of sorts – riding a bike around his neighbourhood, he heard Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" playing from a nearby house and was hooked.[18] Even though he had done well enough on his 11-plus examination to get into the city's best high school, from that point on, the former good student lost interest in school.[18]
When Harrison was 14 years old, he sat at the back of the class and tried drawing guitars in his schoolbooks: “I was totally into guitars. I heard about this kid at school who had a guitar at £3 10s, it was just a little acoustic round hole. I got the £3 10s from my mother: that was a lot of money for us then.” Harrison bought a Dutch Egmond flat top acoustic guitar.[19] While at the Liverpool Institute, Harrison formed a skiffle group called the Rebels with his brother Peter and a friend, Arthur Kelly.[20] At this school he met Paul McCartney, who was one year older.[21] McCartney later became a member of John Lennon's band called The Quarrymen, which Harrison joined in 1958.[22]

[edit] The Beatles: 1960–1970

Black-and-white picture of two young men playing electric guitars, the guitarist in the foreground wearing a leather jacket and the one in the background a white collared shirt. Other individuals are visible in the background
Stuart Sutcliffe and Harrison (right) in Hamburg
Harrison became part of The Beatles when they were still a skiffle group called The Quarrymen. McCartney told Lennon about his friend George Harrison, who could play "Raunchy" on his guitar.[23] Although Lennon considered him too young to join the band, Harrison hung out with them and filled in as needed.[23] By the time Harrison was 15, Lennon and the others had accepted him as one of the band.[24] Since Harrison was the youngest member of the group, he was looked upon as a kid by the others for another few years.[25]
Harrison left school at 16 and worked as an apprentice electrician at local department store Blacklers for a while.[26][27] When The Beatles were offered work in Hamburg in 1960, the musical apprenticeship that Harrison received playing long hours at the Kaiserkeller with the rest of the group, including guitar lessons from Tony Sheridan, laid the foundations of The Beatles' sound, and of Harrison's quiet, professional role within the group;[28] this role would contribute to his reputation as "the quiet Beatle".[29] The first trip to Hamburg was shortened when Harrison was deported for being underage.[30]
When Brian Epstein became The Beatles' manager in December 1961 after seeing them perform at The Cavern Club in November,[31] he changed their image from that of leather-jacketed rock-and-rollers to a more polished look,[32] and secured them a recording contract with EMI. The first single, "Love Me Do", with Harrison playing a Gibson J-160E,[33][34][35] reached number 17 in the UK chart in October 1962,[36] and by the time their debut album, Please Please Me, was released in early 1963, The Beatles had become famous and Beatlemania had arrived.[37]
Black-and-white picture of four young men outdoors in front of a staircase, surrounded by a large assembled crowd. All four are waving to the crowd.
Harrison (third from left) with the rest of The Beatles in America in 1964
After he revealed in an interview that he liked jelly babies, British fans inundated Harrison and the rest of the band with boxes of the sweets as gifts. A few months later, American audiences showered the band with the much harder jelly beans instead. In a letter to a fan, Harrison mentioned jelly babies, insisting that no one in the band actually liked them and that the press must have made it up.[38]
The popularity of The Beatles led to a successful tour of America, the making of a film, A Hard Day's Night (during which Harrison met his future wife Pattie Boyd), and in the 1965 Queen's Birthday Honours, all four Beatles were appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).[39] Harrison, whose role within the group was that of the careful musician who checked that the instruments were tuned,[40] by 1965 and the Rubber Soul album, was developing into a musical director as he led the others into folk-rock, via his interest in The Byrds and Bob Dylan,[41] and into Indian music with his exploration of the sitar.[42][43] Harrison's musical involvement and cohesion with the group reached its peak on Revolver in 1966 with his contribution of three songs and new musical ideas.[44][45] By 1967, Harrison's interests appeared to be moving outside the Beatles, and his involvement in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band consists mainly of his one song, "Within You Without You", on which no other Beatle plays,[46] and which stands out for its difference from the rest of the album.[47]
During the recording of The Beatles in 1968, tensions were present in the band;[48] these surfaced again during the filming of rehearsal sessions at Twickenham Studios for the album Let It Be in early 1969. Frustrated by ongoing slights, the poor working conditions in the cold and sterile film studio, and Lennon's creative disengagement from the group, Harrison quit the band on 10 January. He returned on 22 January after negotiations with the other Beatles at two business meetings.[49]
Relations among The Beatles were more cordial (though still strained) during recordings for the album Abbey Road.[50] The album included "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something", "Something" was later recorded by Frank Sinatra, who considered it "the greatest love song of the past fifty years".[51] Harrison's increasing productivity, coupled with his difficulties in getting The Beatles to record his music, meant that by the end of the group's career he had amassed a considerable stockpile of unreleased material.[52] Harrison's last recording session with The Beatles was on 4 January 1970. Lennon, who had left the group the previous September, did not attend the session.[53]

[edit] Relationships with the other Beatles

For most of The Beatles career, the relationships in the group were extremely close and intimate. According to Hunter Davies, "The Beatles spent their lives not living a communal life, but communally living the same life. They were each other's greatest friends." Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd described how The Beatles "all belonged to each other" and admitted, "George has a lot with the others that I can never know about. Nobody, not even the wives, can break through or even comprehend it."[54]
Ringo Starr also stated, "We really looked out for each other and we had so many laughs together. In the old days we'd have the biggest hotel suites, the whole floor of the hotel, and the four of us would end up in the bathroom, just to be with each other." and added "There were some really loving, caring moments between four people: a hotel room here and there – a really amazing closeness. Just four guys who loved each other. It was pretty sensational."[55]
John Lennon stated that his relationship with George was "one of young follower and older guy", and admitted that "[George] was like a disciple of mine when we started."[56] The two would often go on holiday together throughout the 60s. Their relationship took a severe turn for the worse after George published his autobiography, I Me Mine. Lennon felt insulted and hurt that George mentioned him only in passing. Lennon claimed he was hurt by the book and also that he did more for George than any of the other Beatles. As a result, George and John were not on good terms during the last months of Lennon's life.[57] After Lennon's murder, George paid tribute to Lennon with his song "All Those Years Ago" which was released in 1981, six months after Lennon's murder. It contains the lyric "I always look up to you", suggesting implicit agreement with Lennon's appraisal of their relationship.[58]
Paul McCartney has often referred to Harrison as his "baby brother",[59] and he did the honours as best man at George's wedding in 1966. The two were the first of The Beatles to meet, having shared a school bus, and would often learn and rehearse new guitar chords together. McCartney stated that he and George usually shared a bedroom while touring.[60]

[edit] Guitar work

Harrison's guitar work with The Beatles was varied and flexible; although not fast or flashy, his guitar playing was solid and typified the more subdued lead guitar style of the early 1960s.[61] The influence of the plucking guitar style of Chet Atkins and Carl Perkins on Harrison gave a country music feel to The Beatles' early recordings.[62] Harrison explored several guitar instruments, the twelve-string, the sitar and the slide guitar, and developed his playing from tight eight- and twelve-bar solos in such songs as "A Hard Day's Night" and "Can't Buy Me Love",[62] to lyrical slide guitar playing,[63] first recorded during an early session of "If Not for You" for Dylan's New Morning in 1970.[64] The earliest example of notable guitar work from Harrison was the extended acoustic guitar solo of "Till There Was You", for which Harrison purchased a José Ramírez nylon-stringed classical guitar to produce the sensitivity needed.[65][66][67]
Harrison's first electric guitar was a Czech built Jolana Futurama/Grazioso,[68] which was a popular guitar among British guitarists in the early 1960s.,[69] The guitars Harrison used on early recordings were mainly Gretsch played through a Vox amp.[70] He used a variety of Gretsch guitars,[71] including a Gretsch Duo Jet – his first Gretsch, which he bought in 1961 second hand off a sailor in Liverpool;[72] a Gretsch Tennessean,[73] and his (first out of two) Gretsch Country Gentleman, bought new for £234 in April 1963 at the Sound City store in London, which he used on "She Loves You", and on The Beatles' 1964 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.[72]
Black-and-white picture of two men, one, in the foreground to the right, in his mid-forties, and the other, in the background to the left, in his mid-twenties. Both are sitting cross-legged on rugs, and the man on the right holds a sitar.
George Harrison with Ravi Shankar, 1967
During The Beatles' trip to the US in 1964, Harrison acquired a Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar. He had tried out the 12-string electric guitar during an interview with a Minneapolis radio station, and was given the guitar either by the Rickenbacker company or the radio station.[74] The 360/12 was an experimental 12-string guitar with the strings reversed so that the lower pitched string was struck first, and with an unusual headstock design that made tuning easier.[70] Harrison used the guitar extensively during the recording of A Hard Day's Night,[75] and the jangly sound became so popular that the Melody Maker termed it "the beat boys' secret weapon".[76] Roger McGuinn liked the effect Harrison achieved so much that it became his signature guitar sound with the Byrds.[77]
He obtained his first Fender Stratocaster in 1965 and used it for the recording of the Rubber Soul album, most notably on the "Nowhere Man" track, where he played in unison with Lennon who also had a Stratocaster.[78] Lennon and Harrison both had Sonic Blue Stratocasters, which were bought second hand by roadie Mal Evans.[79] Harrison painted his Stratocaster in a psychedelic design that included the word "Bebopalula" painted above the pickguard and the guitar's nickname, "Rocky", painted on the headstock. He played this guitar in the Magical Mystery Tour film and throughout his solo career.
After David Crosby of the Byrds introduced him to the work of sitar master Ravi Shankar in 1965,[80] Harrison—whose interest in Indian music was stirred during the filming of Help!, which used Indian music as part of its soundtrack—played a sitar on the Rubber Soul track "Norwegian Wood", expanding the already nascent Western interest in Indian music.[81] Harrison listed his early influences as Carl Perkins,[82] Bo Diddley,[83] Chuck Berry[84] and the Everly Brothers.[85]

[edit] Song writing and singing

Harrison wrote his first song published with the Beatles, "Don't Bother Me", while sick in a hotel bed in Bournemouth during August 1963, as "an exercise to see if I could write a song", [emphasis in original] as he remembered.[86] "Don't Bother Me" appeared on the second Beatles album With The Beatles later that year, then on Meet the Beatles! in the US in early 1964, and also briefly in the film A Hard Day's Night. The group did not record another Harrison composition until 1965, when he contributed "I Need You" and "You Like Me Too Much" to the album Help!.
Harrison's songwriting improved greatly through the years, but his material did not earn respect from his fellow Beatles until near the group's break-up. McCartney told Lennon in 1969: "Until this year, our songs have been better than George's. Now this year his songs are at least as good as ours".[87][88] Harrison had difficulty getting the band to record his songs.[89][90] The group's incorporation of Harrison's material reached a peak of three songs on the 1966 Revolver album and four songs on the 1968 double The Beatles.
Harrison performed the lead vocal on all Beatles songs that he wrote by himself. He also sang lead vocal on other songs, including "Chains" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret" on Please Please Me, "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Devil in Her Heart" on With The Beatles, "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You" on A Hard Day's Night, and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" on Beatles for Sale.

[edit] Solo work: 1968–1987

Before The Beatles split up in 1970, Harrison had already recorded and released two solo albums, Wonderwall Music and Electronic Sound. These albums were mainly instrumental. Wonderwall Music was a soundtrack to the Wonderwall film in which Harrison blended Indian and Western sounds;[91] while Electronic Sound was an experiment in using a Moog synthesiser.[92] It was only when Harrison was free from The Beatles that he released what is regarded as his first "real" solo album, the commercially successful and critically acclaimed All Things Must Pass.[93]

[edit] All Things Must Pass (1970)

After years of being restricted in his song-writing contributions to the Beatles, All Things Must Pass contained such a large outpouring of Harrison's songs that it was released as a triple album,[93] though only two of the discs contained songs—the third contained recordings of Harrison jamming with friends.[52][92] The album is regarded as his best work;[94] it was a critical and commercial success, topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic,[52][95] and produced the number-one hit single "My Sweet Lord" as well as the top-10 single "What Is Life". The album was co-produced by Phil Spector using his "Wall of Sound" approach,[96] and the musicians included Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Gary Wright, Billy Preston, and Ringo Starr.[52]
Harrison was later sued for copyright infringement over the song "My Sweet Lord" because of its similarity to the 1963 Chiffons song "He's So Fine", owned by Bright Tunes. Harrison denied deliberately plagiarising the song, but he lost the resulting court case in 1976 as the judge deemed that Harrison had "subconsciously" plagiarised "He's So Fine". When considering liable earnings, "My Sweet Lord"'s contribution to the sales of All Things Must Pass and The Best of George Harrison were taken into account, and the judge decided a figure of $1,599,987 was owed to Bright Tunes.[97] The dispute over damages became complicated when Harrison's former manager Allen Klein purchased the copyright to "He's So Fine" from Bright Tunes in 1978. In 1981, a district judge decided that Klein had acted improperly, and it was agreed that Harrison should pay Klein $587,000, the amount Klein had paid for "He's So Fine", so he would gain nothing from the deal, and that Harrison would take over ownership of Bright Tunes, making him the owner of the rights to both "My Sweet Lord" and "He's So Fine" and thus ending the copyright infringement claim. Though the dispute dragged on into the 1990s, the district judge's decision was upheld.[97][98]

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