George is easily my favourite Beatle, which is a combination of elements:
He is easily overlooked by Lennon and McCartney, so he is somewhat of a hidden gem. You can argue all you want about who has the best solo career (he would be my pick), but it's hard to argue that he doesn't have the most interesting solo career. He's the underdog. I love rooting for the underdog. And he has an underdog story.
Known as the "Quiet Beatle," living in the shadows of the great Lennon and McCartney, being limited to 2 songs per album (thus building up a stockpile of songs to be used for a later date). Although he was behind Lennon & McCartney at the beginning of their songwriting career, he catches up to them, and passes them by having the best songs from The White Album and Abbey Road, and finally, is allowed to have one of his compositions released as a single (but not without a Lennon composition to be its double A-side), all the while composing the soundtrack for a movie (and becoming the first Beatle to put out a solo album).
Once the Beatles break up, he uses his stockpiled songs and puts out a TRIPLE album of material, All Things Must Pass, containing the first #1 single by a solo Beatle ("My Sweet Lord"), and becoming the first to be nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys, with what remains to this day the biggest-selling solo album of any of the Beatles.
Along with a little help from some of his friends (including Ringo, but no John or Paul), he brought life to the concept of an all-star benefit concert with the legendary Concert for Bangladesh, winning the Grammy for Album of the Year (also the first ex-Beatle to do so).
With his follow-up studio album Living in the Material World, George topped both the album charts, and the singles charts with his lead "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" (knocking Paul McCartney's "My Love" off the top).
Perhaps at this point, George no longer seemed to be the "overlooked" or "breakout" Beatle, put instead the "lucky" one, as critics began to dismiss his musical output. This didn't stop fans from buying his records (or radio stations from playing his tunes), and by the end of the '70s, had produced eight Gold records, and ten Top 40 hits, all the while producing and writing songs for other artists, such as Cream, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Joe Cocker, Badfinger, Cilla Black, Jackie Lomax, the Radha Krishna Temple, Lou & Derek Van Eaton, the Shankar family, Splinter, the Remo Four, and Monty Python.
His success may seemed to have slowed a bit in the '80s, yet looking back, one can see a still successful artist at the time. Although his next two albums became his first and second studio albums to go without a Gold record, they still produced a #2 hit ("All Those Years Ago," his tribute to his late ex-bandmate John Lennon), and two more singles that charted, but failed to make the Top 40. He also contributed again to a lot to soundtracks, such as Time Bandits, Shanghai Surprise, as well as sequels to Porky's and later, Lethal Weapon.
In 1987, after a brief hiatus, George released Cloud Nine, his first Platinum album which contained a handful of hits: "When We Was Fab," "This Is Love," "Devil's Radio," "Cloud 9," and his version of "Got My Mind Set on You," which became the last hit single by any of the Beatles to make #1. The album was a huge success, both commercially and critically, being regarded easily as his best output since All Things Must Pass. Sadly, the album was Harrison's last solo record of new material released during his lifetime.
While recording a B-side to "This Is Love" in 1988 with guest musicians Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne, Harrison ended up forming a supergroup known as the Traveling Wilburys, and put out two albums, selling 4 million copies, gathering hit singles and multiple Grammy award nominations along the way.
Before his death in 2001 at age 58, Harrison had been recording material for a new album, which would be released under the title Brainwashed nearly a year later. It earned several Grammy nominations, and even gave Harrison a posthumous win (for the instrumental "Marwa Blues").
Well, by the time I had finished writing, I realized it was too much. Oh well. Here's to George!