Widow Carries on George Harrison's Projects

The following article appeared in The Morning Sentinel on March 17, 2005. This article was written by Randy Lewis.

SANTA MONICA, Calif - Olivia Harrison likes to quip that were she to write a book about her 27 years with "the quiet Beatle," she'd call it "Never a Dull Moment."
George Harrison mixed his well-known passion for music and his quest for spiritual truth with utterly worldly penchants for auto racing, gardening and socializing with a zeal that seemed to run counter to the public image of a shy, inward-looking musician and family man who rarely made a splash in public after the Beatles broke up.
"People would say to him, 'You're not touring and you're not recording - what do you do with yourself?'" said Olivia, a Southern California native who came into Harrison's life after his first marriage painfully and famously fell apart when his wife, Patti Boyd, fell in love with one of his best friends, Eric Clapton.
"He had an extraordinary work ethic," she said, occasionally twisting the wedding ring she still wears. "He never stopped. He always had something going."
So much so that 3 1/2 years after his death from cancer in 2001, Olivia still isn't close to completing the various projects he started.
Not that sh's complaining. In an interview at the Santa Monica offices of Harrison's Dark Horse Records label, Olivia said her only goal is to bring to fruition projects George had begun, or intended to, before his death.
There's the re-lease later this year of the 1971 album (and new DVD) from "The Concert for Bangla Desh." She's also determined to continue the philanthropic work of the Material World Foundation, which Geoge set up in 1973.
She also helped supervise teh six-CD boxed set "Dark Horse Years-1974-1992" that came out last year. She'll be active on George's behalf as Cirque du Soleil assembles a Beatles-centered production slated to open next year in Las Vegas. And she's hoping to see the two albums he made with the Traveling Willburys reissued on CD.
More immediately, she's overseeing U.S. publication this week of "The Concert for George," an elaborate tribute book to the guitarist-singer-songwriter by Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and dozens of others who took part in the 2002 London memorial concert of the same name. Proceeds go to the Material World Foundation.
Oh, and she just collected her first Grammy, as a producer of "The Concert for George" DVD. She can set it next to the five inscribed for the Beatles that sit unobtrusively on the cabinet behind her desk.
"I need a five-year plan just to finish all the things he started," she said with a chuckle, noting that all the activity helps her feel that, spiritually, she still carrying on a relationship with him.
She smiles easily and speaks honestly, even about the reason she prefers to veer away from certain subjects.
The couple spent much time in Hawaii, but when she's asked about favorite memories or locales in the islands, she demured. "I'm sorry, I can't talk about Hawaii. It's too..." Her voice trailed off before she can fill in the missing word.
One memory she dosen't hesitate revisiting is the tribute concert that Clapton organized and that is memorialized in the new 308-page book, which is being published in two editions: a regular, albeit elaborate, handmade version (limited to 2,150 copies) selling for $540, and a $940 "deluxe" edition signed by Olivia and including several additional mementos from the concert. The 350 copies of the deluxe edition quickly sold out.
The heart of the "Concert for George" book, beyond the dozens of gallery-quality photos, is the anecdotes and other remembrances of Harrison provided by Olivia, Clapton, McCartney, Starr, George Martin, Ravi Shankar, the couple's son, Dhani, and others.

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