Happy birthday, George Harrison

When I was 4 years old, I wanted to be George Harrison when I grew up.I know it’s stupid and childish in retrospect, but when I first heard “She Loves You” by The Beatles, my small, 4-year old world was turned upside-down. Everything about that song struck me: the vocals, the “yeah yeah yeah” and, most importantly for me, the guitar.

This Friday, Feb. 25, would have been George’s 68th birthday, had it not been for a lifetime – starting at the age of 11 – of smoking. And, unlike John Lennon’s recent 70th birthday remembrance this past Oct. 9, there won’t be a Google Doodle banner, a YouTube dedication page with celebrities wishing him well or other various commodities capitalizing on his name and likeness.

To be fair, such things are not a reflection on John, but on his estate, which continues to bring in millions of dollars each year through song royalties, merchandise, etc. Sure, it can be fairly argued John was vital to The Beatles’ commercial and critical success, and is therefore better remembered for being “more important” than George.

But this isn’t the case with me.

George’s guitar playing is second to none in my book. While not as boldly innovative as a Jimi Hendrix or Jeff Beck, or as flashy as an Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page, no other guitarist could have ever done a better job as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Being a good lead guitarist is not about having the most skills or the flashiest licks; it’s about knowing what works and fits into the song that makes a lead guitarist great.

Of course, he would never tell you he was great. He was much too humble to ever brag, referring to himself not as an ex-Beatle or anything like that, but simply as “an old Skiffle man from Liverpool.”

George is practically forgotten by the public. People forget he not only had the first No. 1 single (“My Sweet Lord”), but also the first No. 1 album (“All Things Must Pass”) post-Beatles. Neither Lennon nor McCartney did that! Nor did either of them organize the first-ever rock benefit concert, 1971’s The Concert for Bangladesh, years before things like Live Aid.

On Friday, you won’t see any of this. There might be some Facebook posts and Tweets, but by and large, there will be nothing, largely forgotten.

But I’ll never forget.

I’ll never forget what George means to me. He’s the only reason I ever wanted to play the guitar in the first place, let alone actually spending the countless number of hours doing it. He proved to me it’s okay to be open and unashamed about one’s spirituality. His unwavering faith made him unafraid of death. His humility, despite being in the biggest rock group ever, is truly an inspiration for all. He’s even the reason I have the haircut I do.

Simply put, he’s my hero. Happy birthday George. Hare Krishna.