George Harrison’s Wife Olivia Shares Heartwarming Footage Of The Former Beatle On Ukulele

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Mark Seliger

A little ditty that always cheers me up,” George Harrison‘s second wife Olivia writes via Instagram. “‘Smile on your face a melody in your heart’, George on a Danny Ferrington Keoki ukulele.”

(Danny Ferrington is a noted guitar maker and good friend of Harrison‘s, who has also supplied instruments to Kurt Cobain, Eric Clapton and Johhny Cash.)

The footage, which has surfaced on YouTube in the past, shows the former Beatle‘s formidable command of the uke, an instrument he became increasingly fascinated in the 1990s.

“George was passionate about the ukulele,” Harrison’s friend Jeff Lynne once shared of George’s love of the instrument. “He played it brilliantly, studied it, and collected hundreds of vintage instruments. There’s not much you can do with a ukulele that doesn’t sound happy. I think that’s why he liked it.”

Everyone I know who is into the ukulele is ‘crackers,’” George wrote on what he termed his “uke-philia” two years before his death in 2001, “you can’t play it and not laugh!

In addition to having an extensive collection of ukeleles Harrison, who ordered the instrument in batches rather than individual purchases, gave many hundreds away.

They would also pay an important role towards the end of his life.

I’d sit beside him and play some ukulele very quietly,”, Jeff Lyne once recounted, explaining how he used the instrument to lift the ailing Harrison’s spirits as his body succumbed to cancer. “He’d wake and smile…. I half expected him to tell me I was doing it wrong.”

Following George’s death, Paul McCartney would pay homage to Harrison, delivering his own rendition of Abbey Road’s ‘Something’ on one of his former bandmates ukuleles at tribute Concert for George in 2002.

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