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George HarrisonGeorge

Harrison

 

1943 -2001

Hare Krishna to honor spiritual Beatle

 

 

 

By Karen Matusic

The Hare Krishna religious movement said Friday it would honor "Quiet Beatle'' George Harrison in a memorial service to pay homage to its most famous devotee.

 

For the gentle guitarist, whose death was announced Friday, Hare Krishna was far from a passing fancy. This was a decades-long commitment that imbued his music and his life. "I'd rather be one of the devotees of God than one of the straight, so-called sane or normal people who just don't understand that man is a spiritual being, that he has a soul,'' the former Beatle said in a 1982 interview.

 

Harrison first embraced the Eastern religion in the 1960s, along with fellow Beatle John Lennon, after meeting Krishna founder AC Bhaktivedanta Swami. He remained a follower until his death to cancer Thursday.

 

"The community are deeply shocked and very saddened to hear about the passing away of George Harrison who had a long-standing relationship with the movement,'' said Varsana Devi-Dasi, a spokesman for the movement.


Harrison featured the movement's mantra, based on the repeated chant "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama'' in his Top 10 ode to Hare Krishna, peace and love "My Sweet Lord'' and repeatedly chanted it during a terrifying knife attack in his English home in 1999 to try to distract his attacker.

 

Devi-Dasi told Reuters the movement would honor their celebrity son Wednesday at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the movement's British headquarters.

 

The Hertfordshire manor, near London, was a gift from Harrison in 1973: testimony to his devotion to the movement that does not believe in sexoutside marriage or drug-taking. "He had been in our prayers because he had been ill for some time but his death still comes as a shock,'' she said.

 

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, commonly known as the Hare Krishnas, is a Hindu-based movement founded in America in 1966.

 

The movement's shaved-headed, saffron-robed disciples are still seen in the world's cities and airports, chanting and preaching peace, love, vegetarianism and self-denial.

 

In a 1982 interview with the Prabhupada Hare Krishna News Network, Harrison said he always "felt at home with Krishna'' and found calm in yoga and chanting.

"You see it was already a part of me. I think that it's something that's been with me from my previous birth,'' he said, sticking close to the Hare Krishna belief in reincarnation.

 

Harrison told the news network that he once chanted the mantra as he drove non-stop 23 hours from France to Portugal.

 

He re-recorded My Sweet Lord in 2000 to remind himself of the life that exists outside the material world.

 


Hamburg club manager remembers shy George Harrison

 

The manager of a Hamburg night club where The Beatles made their breakthrough in the 1960s said Friday he was always struck by the shyness of former Beatle George Harrison, who died of cancer aged 58.

 

Horst Fascher, who booked bands at the Starclub where the young Beatles played regularly in 1962, said Harrison's priority was always music and he steered clear of band politics.

 

"George was totally obsessed with the music. Whenever there were rows about musical issues in the band, he always held back, he preferred to let the others argue and make the decisions,'' Fascher told Reuters.

 

The "Starclub'' was located in Hamburg's red-light district St.Pauli and the Beatles' rowdy antics during their time in the north German city were legendary.

 

"The band came to Hamburg as boys and left as men,'' said Fascher, describing how Harrison's skills as a lead guitarist blossomed during their time in the port city.

The club closed down at the end of the 1960s and later burned down.

 

Horst Jankowiak, a barman in one of the Beatles' favorite watering holes at the time, remembered that Harrison was not as raucous as the rest of the Beatles.

 

"Despite his youth he was more thoughtful than the others, and even during the band's wild parties here in the neighborhood, he was never one of the loudest,'' Jankowiak said.

 

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