John Lennon called himself a working class hero. George Harrison was a working class mystic. Born in Liverpool as the son of a bus conductor and a shop assistant, for the first six years of his life he lived in a house with no indoor bathroom. This book gives an honest, in-depth view of Harrison’s personal journey— from his blue-collar childhood to his role as a world-famous spiritual icon.
Author Gary Tillery’s approach is warmly human and free of the fawning but insolent tone of most rock biographers. He frankly discusses the role drugs played in leading Harrison to mystical insight but emphasizes that he soon renounced psychedelics as a means to the spiritual path. It was with conscious commitment that Harrison journeyed to India, studied sitar with Ravi Shankar, practiced yoga, learned meditation from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and became a devotee of Hinduism.
George worked hard to subdue his own ego and to understand the truth beyond appearances. He preferred to keep a low profile, but his empathy for suffering people led him to spearhead the first charitable rock-and-roll super event. And despite his wealth and fame, he was always delighted to slip on overalls and perform manual labor on his grounds. At ease with holy men discussing the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, he was ever the bloke from Liverpool whose father drove a bus, whose brothers were tradesmen, and who had worked himself as an apprentice electrician until the day destiny called.
Tillery’s engaging narrative depicts Harrison as a sincere seeker who acted out of genuine care for humanity and used his celebrity to be of service in the world. Fans of all generations will treasure this book for the inspiring portrayal it gives of their beloved “quiet” Beatle.
Having first known him back in the days when he was called only 'the quiet Beatle,' it thrills me no end that George's inner journey has now been so splendidly chronicled.
—Victor Spinetti, actor and Beatles’ collaborator performing in all three films, A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Magical Mystery Tour.
From the early days I noticed George had an inner talent he hadn’t seemed able to unlock. I actually encouraged him to begin writing again after he seemed blocked by the song-writing success of Lennon & McCartney. I saw how he became the member of the Beatles most stretched by his friends, his philosophy and his search for meaning....a meaning which he eventually discovered. Gary Tillery has captured George’s spiritual odyssey in his latest work, which enables us to take the journey with him to unlock the secrets, move aside the veil and gain a remarkable insight. It provides an invaluable companion to his recent work on John Lennon The Cynical Idealist.
—Bill Harry, Founder of Mersey Beat
In this often troubled and desensitized world of stone, Gary Tillery's elegantly written account of Harrison's musical and spiritual life arrives to us as if on the wings of angels.
—Anthony Pomes, Beatles expert, advisory board member of The John Lennon Center for Music & Technology
Often referred to as the “Quiet One,” George Harrison is given full voice in Gary Tillery’s compact, yet highly enlightening Working Class Mystic. Tillery nicely summarizes Harrison’s life and music, framing the ex-Beatle’s life in terms of his life-long spiritual quest. One result of Harrison’s search, which manifested itself as the seminal benefit rock concert known as the Concert for Bangladesh, is perhaps Harrison’s greatest legacy. The sad ending of Harrison’s life at such a young age and the life-threatening experience he and his wife Olivia faced at their home by a crazed intruder are leavened with the peace Harrison felt, even in the face of death. The music, Harrison’s sense of humor and his commitment to living in the spiritual world make this book ultimately uplifting and a great read.
—Steve Matteo, author of Let it Be and Dylan and editor of Pulse magazine.
In Working Class Mystic we see George Harrison not as a self-indulgent super-celebrity, but as an idealist who retained his humanity through it all, and who set an example for all of us by sharing his blessings with others. This exceptionally well-researched book shows that even with all the struggles and pitfalls Harrison had to deal with, and then find ways to overcome, he never gave up his daily search for developing his own purity of spirit. With the publication of Working Class Mystic, Gary Tillery and Quest Books have done a real service to the legacy of George Harrison as an artist of enduring value and man whose ideals remain timeless.
—David Amram, composer and author of Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac
One of the more fascinating Beatles biographies, Working Class Mystic is neither hagiography nor rushed cash-in, but a richly informative account, understanding and empathetic, thankfully without much of the dourness that tarnished Harrison's later recordings. A worthy companion to Tillery's earlier book on Lennon, it is an insightful portrait of one of music's more complex characters, and should be devoured by Harrison's devout disciples.
—Joe Goodden, The Beatles Bible